re: recording volume... food for thought. This is a track i cut with my TSL, mic'd with a cheap radio shack sm-57-style mic, direct into my 4-year-old laptop's generic sound card, with the master set at just about 2, VPR on. That's loud enough to talk over without raising your voice too much.
the encoding gave it a bit of a hit- it's a 128kbs clip taken from a 128kbs mp3 mix that i did in a hurry for someone else- but you can still hear the fundamental tone. If anything, it sounds overdistorted, and the gain's only about 5.5 on the lead channel. A hearty "amen" at danhops' gain suggestion.
When i recorded the second track, panned them (~60% either direction), and played it back, my jaw dropped- by all acounts (especially as the EQ was set for what i normally play lead with) this should have sounded like absolute arse, yet this is my favorite rhythm tone i've gotten on disc yet. I still couldn't get over how strange it was...
...until i was directing someone to Vinnie moore's Dual Recto settings for "The Maze," and saw that his typical lead settings featured a master volume setting of a whopping, jaw-dropping, overpowering 2.
When you think about it, though, it makes sense. A lot of guys in search of "heavy" sounds end up using things like KT66 powertubes- our very own valvulator is a strong proponent- which are known for their comparatively high headroom- they only break up at extreme volumes. Thus, you're essentially modding your poweramp to run as clean as possible.
Sure, i'd like to be able to work a bit louder... i mean, a better signal-to-noise ratio, at least. but even a good preamp and a better sound card ought to solve most of that problem...