Pro Audio Files

Tips for Mixing Guitars

Transcript
Hi, it’s Warren Huart. I hope you’re doing marvelously well, and I’d like to talk a little bit about mixing guitars.

I’m going to go back to the Chase song that I’ve used a couple of times, “Gone.” On this song, I’ve recorded acoustic guitar, and I also played electric guitar.

So I’ll show you a couple little simple tricks I do to blend the guitars into the mix.

Now, let’s firstly go to the electric guitar. Now, I have a simple part here that I’ve done.

[electric guitar]

What I did is there’s a couple of things here. I’ve got a DI here and an amp.

Now, I like to print the DI as well as the amp, if I can. It gives me a little bit more options in the mix, or I can either take the DI and reamp, or usually, I can just stick a SansAmp plugin, or a Decapitator or something fun like that across it. But in this instance, I’m not using the DI. Anything other than maybe editing.

Another thing about DI if you’re printing a DI is it makes editing a little easier. You can pick up a transient a little quicker and easier, because when you’re picking with the guitar, that sort of as the pick goes across, it’s barely audible by a DI, but through an amp, that can be quite a… And that might not be where you want to have the transient land on the beat, so having a nice clean DI can make editing a lot easier.

Anyways, so in this instance though, I’m not using the DI for the mix. So I’ve got — I’ve recorded my Pro Junior with an SM57, and I’m using here a McDSP Analog Channel. I love this. It does a lot of work for me, it does a lot of EQ for me, because yes, it’s compressing, but you see, I’m also doing a little low rolloff here by selecting the tape speed that I want. You know, and it’s got a modern or a vintage setting. If I go to vintage, it might give me a little bump. Let’s go to 7.5. There’s all sorts of fun things I can do to shape the sound.

Here’s the bias control here. So if I whack the bias up, it wipes off some of the top end. You know, it’s — I can go from Swiss, to Japanese, to American sounds… You see, by selecting that, it changes the slope on the bottom end.

You know, I grew up in England, and all the studios I worked in as a musician — at least the expensive ones — had Studers like I have over here. You know, I have an A80. Which are relatively inexpensive now. If you want to go to tape, you can get a decent Studer for like, $5,000 or less. Which is stupidly insanely cheap, considering the amount of incredible steel and other wonderful things they put in.

But most of us don’t have a lot of money to spend on it, so this is a great solution. Tape simulation can really, really help you, and I love this McDSP one. There are other ones, I have a Kramer tape simulation, etcetera, but I love the McDSP stuff. It works great.

So anyway, I’ve got a little bit of stuff going on with this.

[electric guitar]

See, if I put on the gain reduction, it’s just slightly hitting it. It’s very occasional. But I use it — I use it just because I like the way it sounds.

[electric guitar]

Now, here’s a trick. I’ve duplicated the channel, and I’m panning it far right, which is this channel here, I’m using the same compression/EQ that the analog channel brings, and I’m just putting a D-Verb on it, giving it a second worth of verb.

[electric guitar]

And that’s giving me some width in the mix. So I’ve got the guitar panned over here 50% to the left, and then full right, I’ve got the same guitar, but with 100% mix of verb on it, and that gives me some extra width.

So you can hear that in the mix. So let’s listen.

[mix]

Cool! Now let’s listen to our acoustic guitar. Let’s go to the chorus here. The acoustic, I’ve done some similar kind of tricks. Here’s acoustic left and right.

[acoustic]

I’m rolling off everything below 100 with a fairly gentle slope. I’m boosting some low mids, just lightly. To be honest, it helps me control my slope as well if I took that off. You see my slope is a little too aggressive for me. It’s an old trick I learned on a console, to boost and cut in similar-ish areas, so I just do a little boost, and it keeps it a little more even.

Not doing anything in the mids, then on the high mids and above, I’m doing a nice gentle slope, which you can control here, of 5kHz and above.

[acoustic guitar]

Compression is being supplied by again, our Analog Channel.

[acoustic guitar, compressed]

Not a huge amount. You’ll hear it here on the strums.

[acoustic guitar]

Great.

And then for a little bit of fun… Have a listen to this.

[acoustic guitar with SPL Transient Designer]

This is — I like this. This is the SPL. It’s adding a little extra processing on it, which is kind of distorting it just a little bit.

[acoustic guitar]

Subtle. It’s very subtle, but it’s adding some — a little extra sparkle across the top, which I really, really love.

You can do that also with Aphex. They make an Aphex plugin which does that same kind of extra — it’s the Aural Exciter, and it adds a little extra sparkle. It’s like an easy way to do some high end EQ without sitting there and going crazy on it, because these are adding additional harmonics.

So left and right, hard right, hard left for the chorus.

[acoustic guitar]

Then the other thing I’m doing is I’ve got my acoustic guitar panned hard left, but it’s being sent to the right hand channel of the split mono reverb. Then of course, the hard right acoustic is being sent to the opposite side, and that gives us some nice, big, stereo width.

[acoustic guitar with split mono reverb]

Just again, just a good old fashioned D-Verb. It comes with the AVID Pro Tools. AVID supplies it. I’ve got it about 750 milliseconds, so it’s not too long. That gives us width.

[mix]

Another trick if the guitar — the acoustic guitars are overly bright is to use a de-esser. Now, with Pro Tools, with AVID Pro Tools, the de-esser that comes with it is pretty darn good, so you can put that across either individual tracks, or you could put it across a stereo bussing of the acoustic, and I like that. It will get rid of that kind of zithery, sitar kind of high frequencies that you can get. It’s a nice trick.

De-essing in general is a quick and easy way to control very high frequencies. It’s not just for vocals, you can use it on any kind of instrument that’s getting a little out of control.

So — well, thanks for watching. Please subscribe. Go to the email list, and you can go to producelikeapro.com, and you can get exclusive content on recording drums, and pianos, and also you can download files that I’ve recorded that you can edit yourself. You can do that with the Beat Detective one, you can do that so that you can learn how to edit drums with Beat Detective. We’ll talk in the future about editing drums manually, and we’ll have some fun.

So please subscribe, and go to the email list at producelikeapro.com! Thank you ever so much for watching.

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Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at producelikeapro.com.
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