013 MixCoach Minute – Tricks for mixing strings

A friend texted me with a question about how I process strings. After thinking about it for a minute, I gave him 3 tips.

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Check out the next MixCoach Minute get more mixing tips!

Raw Transcript:

Hey guys, it’s Kevin again with MixCoach. This is the MixCoach Minute. I
can’t remember which episode it is, but it should be Monday. I just wanted
to get right straight to the question. I was talking to a friend, Blake
Bennett, who is a recording engineer, also a graphic designer and does
everything. He was asking me via text, “How do you process strings?” Of
course, the first thing I had to tell him was that it really depends on how
well the strings recorded. If they’re recorded well you really shouldn’t
have to do much, but there are one or two tricks that I do on almost every
string session that I do when I’m mixing. I’ll let you know about that.

Before I get to the question let me ask a favor of you. I’ve been doing all
these… They are kind of random, I’ll admit that they’re kind of random
questions, because it’s just questions that people are asking of me, and
things that I think would help you, and things that don’t require me to do
the videos in front of my computer. Because there are plenty of great
tutorials out there like that, and I wanted to help you in a way that I
could help you.

Let me know by liking. When you watch the videos if you like what I’m
talking about or you want to know more about it, why don’t you give it a
thumbs up. Let me know by liking the video whether you want me to talk more
about that. Or, maybe just follow up with me on Facebook. Ask me a follow
up question or something like that. I’d love to answer them. I love doing
this. I actually do love answering questions like this.

Anyway, Blake asked me how do you process strings. If they’re well recorded
strings it makes a lot of difference. If you’ve got a room mic it usually
makes a big difference if it’s a great sounding room it’s recorded in. But
two things that I almost always do are this; I almost always take 2K and
pull it out just a little bit, maybe a 1 or 2 dB of 2K. It’s right around
2K. It could be like 2.5K, but usually that’s where you hear a lot of the
rosin across the bow of the string. They tend to get a little harsh no
matter how well they’re recorded. Especially if they’re recorded close with
close mics. Now, room mics you don’t have that much to worry about because
it does smooth them out.

I don’t think that strings were ever intended to really record with close
mics. When you record in Europe they kind of laugh at the way we record
strings here in Nashville and New York, because we tend to put the mics
right up on the strings. Sometimes we have to do that because we don’t have
concert halls to record strings in or big huge facilities and sound stages
like they do in Europe. I almost always take 2K out especially if they were
recorded with close mics.

The second thing is since we don’t have huge rooms over here verbs make all
the difference in the world. You get a sweet sounding verb. If you’re using
a Lexicon there is one on there called medium and hall, and there’s one on
there called large and hall depending on how huge you want the tracks.
Usually medium and hall works really well.

I’ve been using Bricasti samples lately on my altiverb. You can also use it
on Waves IR. You can go to samplicity.com and download the Bricasti
samples. It’s something that my friend Steve Genewick let me know about.
Thank you, Steve, I really appreciate it. I noticed that a lot of great
engineers were starting to use that Bricasti. When I ran into him at NAM
although I didn’t get an interview with him I did check out the Bricasti.
And it was one of those things that you listen to every presetting and you
go, I could totally use that preset. So, yes, I use the Bricasti quite a
bit. Also, if you have an old Yamaha REV5 or REV7, I think it’s a REV5,
there’s actually a patch on there called strings that I got a lot of
mileage out of while I had one of those.

So, here’s another trick. This is a bonus answer. When you listen to the
reverb, listen to it without the strings and make sure that it sounds like
it could be a nice sounding room. You don’t want it to be too washy and
unintelligible. You don’t want it to muddy up the strings which is what
long reverbs will do. You want to make sure that the reverb sounds good by
itself so that when you add it to the strings it complements it and doesn’t
make it muddy.

Out of three things, the first thing is make sure they’re recorded well.
Some mics in a nice room, great engineer, good pre-amps, all that stuff
helps. It’s all tiny things that make the big difference. Second, you can
take a little bit of 2K out. Not much, I’m talking about a dB, maybe a dB
and a half at 2K. The first thing is find a nice sounding verb and use them
across the total string bus. Usually what I’ll do is I’ll take the strings,
put them to an auxiliary end, and then across that auxiliary end or at
least send from that auxiliary end to my string reverb.

So, that’s how I treat strings, Blake. Thank you for asking such a great
question. Remember to like the videos that you like. I’ll try to do more
videos like that. Until tomorrow. I’ve got a great series coming up
tomorrow, so be looking out for that. Have a good Monday. See you soon.
Bye. MixCoach.

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