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Mix Tip: Automating Effects for Guitar Licks

Mix Tip: Automating Effects for Guitar Licks
Mix Tip: Automating Effects for Guitar Licks
Hey guys, David Glenn of, and This is a new song, not finished mixing it yet but it sounds pretty sweet. The artist is Samantha Encarnacion, one of my best friends Victor Encarnacion produced it. The production is finished and my mixing assistant Neil Devaro is prepping the rest of the files. I’m gonna hit play and show you how we’re gonna take a special guitar lick and add a quick effect with automation instead of creating a new track.

[music + electric guitar]

So kind of a rocking pop/rock tune, we’ve got this lick right here, you just heard the lead guitar was the one doing this.

[lead distorted guitar]

Then over here after the verse he did this little lick. For me, in the mix, I could hear an effect, kind of a telephone filter on an EQ to kind of give it some separation. So I’m gonna quickly walk you through the new FabFilter Pro-Q 2. This is available for anyone on Pro-Q 1 you can still do this. You go to presets, they’ve got a sweet one here called phone. I’m gonna take a listen to what that sounds like.

[guitar with telephone EQ effect]

I feel like a little more low end could come in. What I’m gonna do is quickly bypass it, hold all three modifier keys: control, option, command, or Windows: alt and control. Hold all three, click on bypass. This would be a Pro Tools thing. Sorry if you’re not on Pro Tools, but you can still do this with your DAW. I’m gonna enable automation for the master bypass. Now I’m gonna hold command and control and click on the master bypass and close the plugin. You’ll see the automation lane for the master bypass is now active. I’m gonna highlight the section that I want this to apply to and click and drag so it’s no longer bypassed. There you see it’s bypassed.


[guitar without FabFilter Pro-Q 2 EQ bypass automation]

Whenever we get to this lick it’s active.

[guitar with FabFilter Pro-Q 2 EQ bypass automation]

Let’s hear what it sounds like in the track so at the tail.

[guitar with FabFilter Pro-Q 2 EQ automation bypassed]

Let’s make it inactive and hear that same thing. So it’s a little muddy — doesn’t stick out enough, so cleaning it up using that effect. A quick automation of that we could probably go throughout the song see if there’s any other parts that we like that same effect too. Highlight them, pull the bypass up or down depending on what you’re doing there.

One thing I think that might be cool. Throw a kind of a strand of effects, let’s go mono-stereo for this Plugin & Mix Tremolo Pan, and I’m gonna throw the width out wide. I’m going to sync it like maybe a 16th note. We’re gonna go the depth all the way to do that. We’re gonna bypass it through out modifier keys, we’re gonna enable it. Command, control, click. That lane is up. We’re gonna now come in here and unbypass is for that section.


[guitar with tremolo pan effect automated]

That’s actually pretty sick. Let’s go 32nd note and see what that does.

[guitar with tremolo pan effect automated]

The other thing to note is by doing a mono to stereo the track is now in stereo format. We need to take that and wipe out my left automation here for the rest of this stuff and we’re gonna throw it all the way to the left. Let’s see what that sounds like. Might be a bit much, let’s see what happens in the track.

[mix + guitar effect automation]

A bit crazy, maybe that doesn’t work, let’s try 16th and see if that works. You win some you lose some. Maybe the tremolo pan is not quite working, you can get rid of that, try something else and move on from it.

A cool tip about that, something I’ll do, I learned from the Tony Maserati camp over at the Mirror Ball Entertainment guys, they have a 10 minute rule. So they won’t work on any one separate effect or anything for more than 10 minutes. So what I do is pull my phone out and set a timer, I say Siri set a timer for 10 minutes, and when it goes off if I’m still messing around with it and it’s not working, get rid of the whole things it’s done. And I get back to mixing, get back into the meat of stuff that’s gonna actually get me to the finish line with the mix.

So a couple tips on how to quickly automate an EQ effect with Pro-Q 2. The Tremolo Pan that maybe didn’t work out, but hopefully you learned and work that into your arsenal so that you can quickly get in and out of a creative idea.


David Glenn

David Glenn is a producer/engineer/musician based out of Orlando, FL. Credits include: Pablo Villatoro, Blanca Callahan (Group 1 Crew), Aimee Allen, and more. Learn more and get in touch at