MixCoach Podcast 020 : Bringing On The Electric Guitars

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On this Episode of the MixCoach Podcast, Kevin addresses the electric guitar and his typical signal chain. He talks about techniques for EQing and compressing electric guitars. Kevin touches on panning Fender Electric Guitars or Gibson Guitars to excite the mix in stereo.


Question:

How do YOU make your guitars sit in the mix with out them getting too loud?


20 comments

  1. Well…again, awesome advice!

    The Metallica song you were referring to, is Enter Sandman from their 1991 self-titled album (often referred to as ‘the black album’).

    Anyone can confirm Kevin’s point regarding how ‘pointy’ the sound of the kick drum is in order to allow the heavy guitars sit well down there. Visit http://stevenslatedrums.com/ and, in the ‘SOLO DRUM AUDIO DEMO’, click on the Metallica Kit and listen…

    I’d like to add for those interested in the concept to listen to ‘Enter Sandman’ and also notice how you can hear the pick attack on the bass guitar making in very pointy as well and getting out of the way for a much better and solid overall low end…

    Thanks again Kevin!

    …and before I forget, come on mixcoach followers let’s have some discussion around here!!! That’s how we all learn 🙂

    God bless!

  2. Sorry kid’s! Meant to add something.

    The drums you listen to if you go to the Steven Slate website as I mention in my last comment, are actually based on Enter Sandman!!

    If you take a listen to ‘FULL MIX AUDIO DEMOS’ Metallica model (again this is in the same SSD page), you’ll notice that the song is based on Enter Sandman.

  3. Thanks Luis… Enter Sandman.. couldn’t think of the name of the song.

    You are a guitar player aren’t you Luis? What do you use and how do you treat your EG in a mix?

    Kevin

    1. Yes! I’m a guitar player. I do all my electric guitar work with Avid’s Eleven Rack; that thing is incredibly awesome! Prior to that, I used to play through an old Fender Twin Reverb and a bunch of stomp boxes, miking the amp with an SM-57.

      I treat my electric guitars just the way you thought me:-) which is what you explained here… And I don’t think there’s a better way really… So, I usually start rolling off the unnecessary low end. Next, I’ll apply compression as needed. Lastly, I’ll start sweeping through with the eq to find the ‘bite’ which as you mentioned resides around 1k. At times with clean EGs I try to fine tune the upper frequencies accordingly. I try to make any adjustments on the highs after the compressor as to my ear they breath more naturally…

      There’s a little trick I picked up somewhere I can’t remember…
      And that is using a de-esser to attenuate frequencies above 2k-4k depending on the range being played and the tonal characteristics of the guitar itself.

          1. Yes! It works really good if you’re trying to round off the top end without having to use a low pass filter. It helps cutting some finger/pick noise in some cases. However, that’s not the reason I use it as I believe that’s just characteristic of a guitar performance, unless it is a little out of control:-)
            In my opinion it gives you more flexibility than the LPF.
            I find it especially useful with clean arpeggiated guitar parts played in the higher register.
            I normally use the DIGIRACK De-Esser Dyn 3 starting with these settings:
            Options: HF Only
            De-Esser: Freq=4kHz/Range=-20dB
            (adjust Range for desired gain reduction and sound your shooting for…) Very subtle effect; more felt than heard…

  4. Have nothing much to say here I’m afraid. I usually remove away lots of bottom with a HPF (12 dB), and tries to make the thing that’s nice (sweet spot) with a sound even nicer by EQing. If one guitar and amp is recorded in several tracks or if several tracks sound similar, then I find the sweet spot or some spot that fits the song and add 3-5 dB on it, and then reducing 3-5 dB and in the same freq on the (a) other one while sometimes augmenting another freq on it.

    Compressor is almost always needed I think and often some delay synced to the tempo. I usually record clean, chorused and disted guitars only, but has happened that I’ve recorded with reverberation with good results.

      1. Whenever I can control it, I always use room or hall, even when I had my beloved deluxe reverb. Just as I do with food I dislike, I do go back again in case I’ve changed; I try the spring but still end up with room or hall.

      2. Ah, I probably misunderstood your question. Yes when I successfully recorded guitars with reverb, then it has actually been spring (never thought about it before now, thanks) with the excetion of the last time I did it. The last time I did so was in a Studio about 3 years ago where I layed some guitar tracks on a song. The producer told me to “just tweak the knobs” on a Line6 POD for a solo, I selected “blackface” and a room reverb and it sat perfect in the final mix, which we both knew it probably would do when recording it.

  5. Hi,

    I’m still trying to get better guitar sound, but this is what I do for now, which also is common with Kevin’s advices:

    * two tracks panned all to Left & Right, and playing the same or different parts (e.g left gtr playing heavy riffs on low strings, while right gtr performing some more melodic part on higher string(s))
    * High Pass Filter to remove very low frequencies
    * I find using Tape Saturation a nice effect to make the sound a little bit more natural (I use POD which produces very “digital” sound, so I try to make it more “analogue” if possible)
    * Sometimes I add the third guitar which is centered, and plays some melodies/solos; I also add Reverb to this guitar which in my opinion is perfect for such parts along with the tremolo picking style
    * High volume for guitar tracks 😉

    Well, that’s basically all, but I’m still “researching” this topic, so maybe I’ll find a few more interesting hints.

    Thanks, Kevin, for your advices – I can always learn new things from your materials; I haven’t tried to compress guitar tracks, but it seems I should have.

    Cheers!
    Tomek

    1. Yea Tomek. If you are not compressing, you are missing a really cool treatment of a guitar. It “spanks” it pretty good.

      I love the SSL with the threshold all the way up and the ratio about 2:1.

      or an 1176 is good too…. right out of the box. big knobs at 10 and 2. Little knobs top L bottom R 4:1

      Try that and let me know what you think.

      Kevin

      1. To be honest I’ve planned to use the compressor integrated within Mixbus.

        I have also some other free alternatives as LADSPA plugins (I work in Linux), but I suppose the SSL you mentioned is not supported on my OS.

        Tom

      2. Hi,

        I’ve turned on the Mixbus compressor on guitar tracks, but to be honest I have heard only a slight difference (if any). My guitar tracks are quite flat (meaning without high peaks), so maybe that’s the reason I can’t hear any noticeable difference. Or maybe it’s just me, and my deaf ears… 😉
        But anyway, maybe for the whole mix it will have a value – as we know a good mix is a sum of small changes, which all play a role.

        Tomek

        1. Hola Tomek!

          Sounds like your guitar tracks were already compressed (maybe over-compressed?) as they were printed. So, there is a chance you might not hear much of a difference.
          However, you can still benefit from using a compressor not necessarily to continue to squeeze your signal but to add some character instead.
          If you do a little research, you’ll learn that engineers like Chris Lord Alge, Michael Brauer, Manny Marroquin, Dave Pensado among others, sometimes use a particular compressor for it’s sound rather than any gain reduction (compression).
          Not sure how much of a character you can get out of your compressor in Mixbus. But if you tried some of the vintage emulations by Waves, UAD etc you might hear or (as I would say) start to feel something in your sound.
          My advice would be: isolate one track, assign a compressor and then try different settings to see what it does. Then add other tracks and see how it works in context.
          I’ve found that learning the sound of compression could be one of the most challenging journeys in the art of music production.
          Be well and…God bless!

          1. Hi Luis!

            Thank you for your suggestions. I guess I have a few plug-in compressors available besides the native one in Muxbus, so I’ll check if they make noticeable difference. However my electric guitar tracks have a lot of overdrive so I suppose it will be hard for me to set up anything outstanding. However if I record some part using a clean guitar (which I plan on my next song), then I’ll pay more attention to compressing of the tracks.

            Good luck!
            Tomek

  6. Luis. I had a situation yesterday where I was trying to go direct and do an electric pass. I found myself in need of some go-to GTR tones.

    If you have some plugs like GTR, amp farm, amplitude and such (which I think you do) can you give me some advise on how to get a good sound on those plugs?

    I’d be forever grateful.

    If any other mixcoach/ guitar players could chime in, that would be even cooler

    1. Kevin! I don’t use GTR a lot since I’ve been using Eleven Rack and it pretty much fulfills my guitar sound needs.

      However, it’s funny you mentioned this because I just happened to be playing around with GTR for a couple of days now. I found this place: http://www.wavesgtr.com/html/presets_artists.html

      Go there and check out Johnny Hiland, Dory Lobel as well as other artists presets. I downloaded some of them and after playing a little bit with them I’m blown away! Some of these artits have videos showing how they developed their own presets so, it’s a learning experience as well!

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