Modern Djent bands like Periphery and Meshuggah have been influential to modern progressive metal music. They have a distinct and unique sound that is difficult for beginners to emulate. Part of the reason this tonal quality is hard to replicate is because this style of music requires 7 and 8 string instruments. These “custom” guitar systems will also include a whammy or tremolo system. Playing technique also has a lot of influence on this type of sound, just as with any genre, and the fact that the lowest notes that are played vibrate slightly out of tune due to the low frequency oscillations created by the performer. If you can get this far then it is time to set up your effect chain.
You will need a DAW that can load plugins (Some plugins are stand-alone). There are many brands to choose from and most will contain the common components you will need to emulate the Djent guitar sound. Some will have useful effects while other programs will have libraries of available pre-programmed chains and open user chains that can be utilized. First off we will start with the rhythm guitar setting. This is a chunky bass laden distorted signal that usually performs odd time chugs and short bends.
To set up a Djent rhythm guitar sound start your effects chain with a distortion effect. Set your distortion control at around 60%, your tone at around 50% and your output at 15%. This should give you a solid but smooth distortion signal without clipping and without being too muddy. Add an equalizer after the distortion effect and start with a flat response. Pull the middle frequencies around 1 Khrz down to scoop out the mid frequencies on the equalizer. Leave enough bass and treble in to keep the sound uniform. These are general settings to start with. As mentioned before this sound comes mainly from the performer and his guitar. If you wish to tailor your sound to a specific guitarists sound you can season to taste. Most effect chain settings for Djent styles will also contain a touch of reverberation and compression. The sound you hear on a track that has been released from your favorite band has had some serious editing and effect chain adjustments during the recording session. There are components that are used in the studio that you may not have available so each case is different.
To set up a Djent lead guitar sound you can use the same settings with the addition of a strong reverberation effect. The other guitar is set up to be tight and choppy. We want this guitar to be light and dreamy with a lot of delay and/or reverberation effect. Distortion is optional and in some cases the dreamy guitar effect might sound like a synthesizer or electronic keyboard. Set your reverberation controls for a large hall or chamber. Select plate reverberation for the best effect that keeps a lot of the high frequencies active on your equalizer. When you play a short note and stop you should hear a few seconds of the effect while the signal decays. Using a 2-3 second decay works well. Using slow delay settings or long reverberation effects creates the upper registry guitar sounds for Djent styles of music.
Now record a few lines of the choppy guitar and then record another track with the light dreamy guitar. Here you have the basic Djent style captured. Save your settings or add new ones for future use and season to taste or to fit your favorite band’s sound. A slight bit of overdrive boost (1%) after the distortion effect can give you a more aggressive sound.