Recording Guitar
for a Big Mix

These tips for recording guitar take place in the mix. This is where it gets really interesting and exciting!

On page one we recorded our rhythm guitar part twice, so we have two tracks to work with.

If you also used a condenser mic to capture some room sound you would have four tracks. We'll start with the close-mic tracks.

Editing

Getting rid of unwanted noise between audio is crucial to a powerful mix.

Even if you can't hear the noise because of other tracks that may be playing, if it's there it adds up. And it makes for a muddier mix. Try to get into the habit of editing your tracks right away.

Panning

I like to pan my close-miked rhythm guitars hard-left and hard-right. This can leave a little too much space in the middle, so if you have those two condenser tracks you can bring them up and pan them around <30 30>.

If you just have the two close-miked tracks we can fill up the space using some subtle effects.

Compression

recording guitar and getting a great-sounding mix

I know some engineers prefer not to compress their rhythm guitar tracks.

Personally, I think it shapes a track nicely.

Keep in mind though, it's very easy to overdo it.

I like to start off with something like this: Ratio 3:1, Threshold -25.0db, Attack 20ms, Release 80ms.

That's just a starting point. What I end up with depends upon the type of song and style of playing. Don't be afraid to play around with it a bit.

Up-tempo, chunky rhythms will call for faster attack and release times. Slow, sustained chords sound great with slower attack and release times.

Equalisation

One of the most important things to keep in mind when recording guitar is how it will fit in the mix. For a balanced mix each element must occupy its own space.

A big part of a rhythm guitar's power actually comes from the bass guitar.

Since the fundamental frequency of bass falls between 40 Hz and 80 Hz, it makes sense to "get out of the way" and cut those low frequencies on a guitar track.

I usually cut mine below 100 Hz.

You can boost a bit between 2-3 kHz for crunch, and also up between 6-8 kHz for a bit more "air".

This is where you can vary the tracks. If you boost one track at 2 kHz, boost the other at 3 kHz. If you give each track a different tonal character your guitars will sound bigger overall.

Time-Based Effects

To give your guitars depth and space use time-based effects such as chorus, reverb and delay.

A fast reverb with a slight pre-delay works very well to give an impression of spaciousness.

Try applying it to each rhythm track and panning it in the opposite direction.

Don't make it too "wet" or it'll start to lose some of its edge.

Use a touch of slow chorus to fatten it up and it should be starting to sound good.

When recording guitar, experiment and have fun. There are no rules here. If it sounds good and it suits the song that's all that matters!

You'll find many more recording tips within these pages, so explore and try some out. You may also want to check out Home Recording for Beginners by Geoffrey Francis for tons more recording tips.

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