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How to mix MASSIVE Rock Guitars with Ulrich Wild, Bob Marlette & Warren Huart

Warren: Hello everybody, I hope you’re doing marvelously well. In this episode, we’re going to talk about Rock guitar mixing with three totally different approaches.

As ever, please subscribe, somewhere around here, and if you hit that notification bell, you’ll be notified when we have a new video.

So I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently, because we put out a video with some heavy guitar mixing on it. Been getting some mix questions, also I’ve been getting some production questions. Somebody just asked, actually two days ago or yesterday, about how many guitars is enough either side to create a large guitar sound?

So we’ve got three excerpts here. We’ve got me and Ulrich from that Snakebite course that you saw a couple of days ago, and there’s me mixing in a hybrid fashion, so you’ll get to see some of the EQ and compression that I do inside of the box, but also EQ and compression I do on this lovely little SSL I have. So I mixed that song in a hybrid fashion in Pro Tools.

Now, Ulrich mixed the song entirely in-the-box on Logic, so you’ll get to see two completely different approaches. One mixed in-the-box in Logic, and one mixed in a hybrid fashion in Pro Tools.

But for a bonus, and this is really, really cool, Mr. Bob Marlette, a very good friend of mine, a producing partner of mine as well, and he is going to show us what he did to get massive guitar sounds, and this is really cool. It’s not just the mix process, it’s like an additional production to make the guitars sound absolutely massive.

So for those of you who want to know about big rock guitars and how to make them sound big and rock, and best of all, you can enter to win the ultimate rock bundle. It has Ulrich Wild, it has Bob Marlette, it has me, it has Cameron Webb, Motorhead are featured in this. It’s a wonderful bundle.

So don’t forget, you can enter to win that as well. Alright, check out the videos.

Now, there’s no compression on these rhythm guitars on the console, which is interesting, but there is EQ, there’s some top end boost, and there’s some low rolled off, and it’s a gentle at 127. It’s not a steep high pass, it’s a low one. Again, nothing wrong with high pass used properly. I’m sending to a reverb the opposite side. So I have my guitars, my rhythm guitar to the left, I have its reverb to the right. So if you go to the verb of these guitars, it’s down here. It’s 51 and 52, and as you can see, I’m panning to the right. So the guitar is panned to the left, the reverb’s send is going to the right, and it appears in the right hand reverb.

What reverb are we using? Well, we’re using just a good old fashioned D-Verb. Again, three quarters of a second. It’s a medium room. It’s a good sounding reverb, very stock, does a great job.

And then the other guitar, same thing. Time adjuster, panned the other way. What these are, these are — I believe this was a Hughes and Kettner amp. So here is our main rhythms. They’re going out 13 and 14 to the console. No EQ or additional compression on them, just going out like that.

[rhythm guitars]

As you can see, there’s a volume ride, and then after that, they duck back into the track, because an additional guitar comes in.

So very straightforward stuff. Same EQ on both ones, just the top end boost. It’s about 7kHz-ish. Gentle slope. Gentle slope rolloff. Not a huge amount of EQ going on. All I did was adjust the phase on the guitars so they’d cut.


EQ out, boosting at about 200 about 5 or 6 dB. Cutting again at about 900. Cutting at 2kHz, and boosting at 5kHz. I’m doing quite a big boost there. About 6dB on it. And again, similar kind of idea. I’m going a little lower and preserving up to about 18. I’m coming up to about 9kHz. So 18 and 9kHz like this. Just keeping those guitars just tightened enough.

Okay, next up is some Kemper.

[Kemper guitars]

Which sound good, however, they’re not as natural sounding, because they’re not natural. So there’s a lot more work going on with the Kemper than there was on the 57. The first thing we did is multiband compressed it.

[guitars without multiband compression]

You hear that kind of really ugly low rumble?


The problem for me was that low rumble was not consistent. So what was happening is sometimes it was coming in on the guitars, and sometimes, it wasn’t, and I don’t want chords to kind of go, “chug chug, thin thin, chug chug, thin thin,” so I needed to control it, so I’m using a multiband there. So if you watch it…

[guitar with multiband compression]

So it’s even the whole time, and it’s not super loud, it’s only in there where I need it. Those kind of have a separate pair on 15/16. They start off with the multiband compressor evening out that low rumble, then the same boost as the other ones, just to control them in the same area. But then, most importantly, they just didn’t have the edge that I wanted, so I added the Decapitator. So if you hear this guitar, for instance…

[guitar without and with Decapitator]

A little too polite.

So I’m — no low cut, no high cut, tone in the middle, mix in the middle, just a bit of drive. Just giving it just a little bit more middle finger, a little bit more “eff you” kind of tone. Then we have an MC2, another multiband compressor, which is just controlling the low-mid area here.

Just controlling the lows here at 128, and again, just keeping it even. There was just a little bit of buildup in those lows. I don’t know if it was a combination of the guitar with the Kemper sound, but it just got muddy in there, and I want these guitars to be thick and huge, but I don’t want them to sort of muddy up the bass thickness, and all the drums low mids, and so that’s coming out of 15 and 16.

I’ve already done a lot of EQ in there, but I’m doing even more. I actually don’t mind the Kemper stuff. It did come in sounding sounding pretty huge. But those low mids were horrible. But now that I’ve controlled them, I can boost them again. So I’ve boosted them at about 275. Here’s out. You can hear it’s thickness. You can also hear the 5, 6kHz boost I did on the guitars, and the cut at, you know, at about 900, and the cut at about 2kHz, and doing those kind of little cuts, so you’ve got low mid boost, high mid boost, and little cuts at about 900 and about 2kHz, and they’re just little dips, and what they do is they get rid of those areas where the snare is, where the aggression of the kick is, like I said, I used to like to boost about 2.5kHz on the kick there, and where some of the vocal is.

So I’m just doing little cuts, I’m doing quite big boosts on the high mids, and I’m shelving at 8kHz. So 8kHz here is just cut.

Again, no compression. All the compression is being done by the MJUC in there. The Klanghelm.

Ulrich: That’s what I ended up with. Let’s find out how this is all put together.


Sounding pretty swell. What I ended up using was this Universal Audio Precision Enhancer.

[guitar with UA Precision Enhancer]

Just get a little bit of extra grit in there.

Just a little bit. Like, 22% at 1kHz. Wasn’t about making it louder, as you can tell, it actually gets quieter, but that’s okay. Let’s see what the next track has to say for us here.


That one was obviously kind of… Kind of harsh sounding up on top. I think this is the same again. It almost seems like it’s harsher now, but apparently that’s what we needed to have when we dug into this SSL plugin again. You can see, that’s pretty serious scooping going on here. Minus 15dB at 5kHz.


[guitar with EQ]

That stuff. We took it out, we got rid of it. Because of that, we needed to add a bit more top end back in because you can tell this guitar sounds kind of mid-rangey and has that peak that’s in there and gets in the way. That 5kHz, you saw that we boosted a ton of 5kHz for the bass. Here, we’re taking a ton of 5kHz out of that guitar.

You can see the correlation, literally, the bass got this, and the guitar got that, so they kind of switched places in that frequency.

Put a little bit of warmth in there, probably 3dB at about 800Hz, and probably…


Didn’t even compress it. Rolled off just a little bit of muck down at the end, the very low stuff, because that’s the bass’ place. Let’s see what these guys sound like together.

That sounds pretty swell together. Let’s see what they sound like.

That’s what we ended up with, but I wasn’t quite happy with that, so I started adding in — I was playing around to see what I could find out, or what I could get with this DI sound.

[DI guitar]

As you can hear, it’s a DI sound. It doesn’t do anything for you really.

I got a little bit more dirt in there, a little bit of grime. There’s — these things, I’m guessing they were done with Strats and single coil, and at first, I was kind of battling that, and I was trying to get it to be more metal, and more like, I don’t know, EMG pickup-y kind of thing, and more scooped and modern metal, until I started embracing the — you know, the twang that those single coils are bringing.

[single coil guitars]

We’re adding a little bit of that in there, and as you can tell, it’s very subtle, because you didn’t want to overdo it, and we really just boosted a tiny bit — a tiny bit… 6dB at 5kHz. Er, 3kHz. And a little bit of 1kHz, and just to fill up some of the holes that we left behind in there.

This all might seem a little bit insane, but it all seems to work.


Sounds pretty swell.

Bob: So, guitars, usually, we kind of separate it into two — essentially two different categories of guitars. We have our foundational heavy guitars, it’s going to be our big sort of fat, you know, outside walls, and then we have our fairy dust guitars. In this particular track, there’s not a lot of fairy dust guitars, because it’s done more with the keyboards, but essentially the principle is the same.

So in the chorus again, we’re working on primarily the chorus, because it’s the biggest aspect of the song, and we want to sort of set our ceiling of the boundary.

Now, with guitars, you know, I’m always asked, how did you get that guitar tone, or why did you go for that particular guitar tone?

A lot of it is just experience. Doing it enough times that you go, “You know what, in this chorus, this just simply needs a big, fat, heavy tone that gets us our big peripheral outside fatness. In this instance, I always have the heavies hard right and hard left, because that’s their space that they occupy.

Let’s look at our first guitar track.

[guitar, left]

So there’s your basic foundational guitar, but one of the tricks that I do that I do on a lot of records is I add this other component that just gives me a lot more width and clarity. This component is…

[electric guitar]

That is a Danelectro baritone guitar, and what I do is I’ll take the Danelectro, and I’ll add an octave and kind of a fuzz to it to create its own unique stamp, so it has that kind of tone…

[fuzz guitar]

That’s got a little bit of octave on it, and some fuzz and distortion.

Here’s the other side of that.

[fuzz guitar, right]

Hear how fuzzy that is? The cool thing about that is when you blend it in with all of these more traditional, heavy guitar tones, gives it a little bit more unique stamp, and it’s great, because those two guitars, the way they add to the other stacks of guitars, they make that poke out really nice, so it just is super big and heavy on the outside, and then we have this other set of guitars…

[guitar, left]

Playing a slightly different, more energetic part.

Stick them all together, and all of a sudden, you’ve got a massive, wide…

[all guitars]

It just sounds mega wide and cool, and then you combine that with these guitars over here…

[guitars with bass synth]

The synth bass. A lot of it also is in the production itself making sure that it’s not too busy. That is has an ability to be simple enough, big enough, to poke out without getting too messy so it messes up the rest of the track.

Warren: I hope you really enjoyed that. Thank you ever so much Ulrich and Bob. Two great mixers, great producers, and great engineers. Ulrich’s resume is insane with Static X, and Pantera, and he was Terry Date’s right hand man for a long time.

Like Cameron Webb, who also worked with Terry Date, and of course, Bob has an amazing resume, so check them out as well, so please, enter to win the ultimate rock mixing bundle, and have a marvelous time recording and mixing.


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