Mixing Rock: EQ’ing and Fading Distorted Guitar Tails

[guitars]

Now, here’s a little trick I did with the guitars. I liked this one a lot.

Now, I’ll describe it to you and hopefully this will translate, but very often when you’re recording heavy guitars, you’re not in the best environment, and one of the things that happens a lot is you get those buzzes.

Especially as the guitar decays, so…

[guitar]

Listen to the decay. Now, often with the decay, you’ll get [mimes decay buzzing], and you get this terrible buzz coming out.

Now, the original playlist is no longer there, I may not have even kept it, but what I did is I took the decay and I EQ’d everything above 1kHz off. I went there and used a lowpass filter, and everything above 1kHz is completely gone.

So any 2, 3kHz and above buzzes are not there to be heard at all.

[guitar]

Now you might go, “That’s terrible!”

Well, the thing is as the note decays, all that’s left are those fundamentals and those low notes anyways, so what I do then is put a huge, fat fade. You see these big fades here? This massive fade.

So it fades between the, “kraaaaaang,” and when it goes to [softer]”kraaaaaang,” what would happen normally is that as the signal-to-noise ratio changes, here’s my guitar decaying and slowly decaying, decaying, decaying, here’s my noise floor of my amp that’s just buzz, because maybe it’s a single coil pickup, it’s a less than perfect studio environment.

So my guitar signal is decaying, and when it gets down to about here, this buzz comes in that’s absolutely terrible.

So what I do is I take the whole last chunk and I’ll just take 1kHz and above and just wipe it out. Then I put a big fat crossfade into it so it feels gradual. It feels like the top end is slowly rolling off like this.

It’s a great way to treat end decaying guitars and stuff like that. I did it on all of the electrics. Every single one.

[guitar mix]

See?

I can hear the hum in there.

But with this guitar, as it was decaying, I will cheat. I’m going to go to waveform here and do something I shouldn’t do, but I’m going to. I’m just going to undo it afterwards.

Listen to this.

[guitar]

Noise floor. You hear it? Undo this.

[guitar]

All the high frequency hiss is gone that was bothering me. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, because it’s just one guitar. You just fade it down and it’s fine.

But when you have multiple guitars, all holding out chords, all little buzzes and clicks, EQing that 1kHz and above and then gently fading into it is a wonderful trick. I highly recommend it.

I do it in the middle of songs if I’ve got breakdowns. I just EQ the high end out on the decay, but I put a big crossfade in so as the note is decaying, so is the top end being removed.

It’s a wonderful trick. I do it all the time. It’s better than fading down. You can spend ages trying to get your fade to go down and still hear the buzz, but if you EQ out that and then put a fade across it so that you’ve got the natural sound going into the EQ’d sound, you’d be amazed at what you can get.

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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