Tips for Using Steep Slope Bell Curves on Guitar with FabFilter Pro-Q 2
So, we’re going to be discussing an interesting topic. The FabFilter Pro-Q 2, as many of you know, is probably my go-to EQ. I use it on basically every mix. It sounds wonderful, it’s got a lot of great settings, a lot of different features that you can access, and one of them is that you change the steepness of your bell curves, and that’s not something that a lot of EQs do. It then immediately poses the question, “Why would you want to do it?” So, that’s what this tutorial is going to be about.
Let’s check it out. So, here I have a curve for these guitars. So before we get into that, let’s just hear how the guitars sound dry.
And now, with my compression effects and distortion effects.
[guitars play with compression and distortion]
That’s pretty cool.
And now, let’s throw on these EQs and hear what that sounds like.
[guitars with all plugins on]
So, that sounds pretty good, but could it be better? Well, yeah. Instead of using these soft curves here, I’m going to switch over to these steeper curves, and let’s hear what that sounds like.
One more time, let’s A/B that real quick.
So, there’s a couple of differences that I want to point out. The first is a textural one. I would describe the sound as being a little bit harder. It’s got a certain amount of edge to it when it has the steeper slopes that isn’t present when I’m using the gentler slopes.
Is it as smooth sounding? No. That’s sort of the opposite of what we’re doing, so if we want something smoother sounding, something where the EQ is a little more transparent perhaps, and it doesn’t have that certain hardness to it, then maybe the smoother slopes, the more gradual slopes, are going to be better.
But, if we want something to have a little bit of edge to it, then maybe using the steeper slopes is the way to go.
Now, the other thing is that there’s a certain punch and focus to using these steeper slopes, because if you have a certain frequency area that you want to either attenuate or boost, and you use a gradual slope, you’re going to get a lot of stuff that’s sort of around that band, and a lot of times that’s exactly what you want, but sometimes what you want is just a straight up chunk of frequency. Everything from here to here, and nothing else before or after.
So you have a very focused palette when you’re using these steeper slopes, which is kind of cool. Now, of course, there are artifacts that come with doing that. The steeper the slope, the more you get the ring, resonance, and ripple. The three r’s that I talk about in my tutorial.
That’s important to recognize, too. But, those are not necessarily bad things, they are just things, and sometimes they’re perfectly okay. So, for this sort of harder guitar sound, this rock and roll guitar sound, these harder curves I think really work and flatter the sound very well.
So, one more time, before and after.
[guitars, before and after adjusting slope steepness]
Now, is it a huge difference? Um… I wouldn’t say it’s a huge difference. I would say it’s a noticeable difference, but it’s not a huge difference. When you add it all up over the course of a mix, every EQ move you’re considering these kinds of things, doing it the way you want to hear it and making those subtle differentiations and going with the one that you feel is best every step along the way, that makes a big difference, and that’s ultimately what’s going to separate a mix from being good, versus being great.