Guitars

Mixing Guitars | Solos

Mixing Guitars | Solos

Guitar solos need to pop and stand out in a mix. They're the pinnacle or crescendo of a song in many cases, so they need to have that grand finnale attitude. Let's dive into a discussion about mixing guitar solos. 

Recording | Guitars

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Recently recorded a project that had some heavy guitar riffs. The guitarist wanted to get that overdriven tone, but still retain clarity. This is always a challenge for any engineer. Mic choice and placement are crucial. Amp volume rears its ugly head in your face and can create a nightmare for you in the mix. Here's how I did it without spending a lot of time trying to get just the right take in one shot.

Setup a few mics in front of the cab. I like to use a Shure SM57, Shure SM7B, Sennheiser e606, and Sennheiser 421. Put one in front of each cone slightly off-axis and pointing away from each other. Then run the guitar to a DI for tracking the clean signal and then thru to the amp head. Based on how many mics you setup + the DI, you'll have a decent amount of tracks to work with. Normally, I don't use all the tracks, plus there can be phasing issues. All I need is one good track from the take and we're golden.

The first take should be at the level of overdriven tone that the guitarist prefers. Then reamp the clean signal with the amp at a slightly lower volume. This should give you more clarity from the performance. You can keep doing this routine until you get enough layers to blend in the desired sound for the guitar tone. Pan out the different takes and adjust volume levels to widen the mix.

This is just the concept. You'll need to experiment with your setup to find out what works best.

Today's FAQ : What's a DI?

DI is short for 'direct input' and it means you take a direct signal from a source. Usually a DI will be used for recording guitar, bass, and keyboards.

"Why should I use a DI, when I have a perfectly good amp that can be mic'd?"

Good question. If you like to mic up your amp, go ahead and do it. As a secondary back up, I'd suggest splitting the signal and tracking a DI along with your amp. You'll get a nice clean track along with your amp track to work with when you mix. Think of it as a safety net in case the amp track doesn't work out. Maybe the mic didn't capture the tone you wanted, but the performance was epic. If you tracked a DI, then the performance has a chance to be relived & re-amped!

Re-amp your performance with the DI track. You can now play back the clean DI track and feed the signal into your amp. Move the mic around until you find the tone you desire. Now you have lots of options with minimal effort and you look like a seasoned pro. There are other options like using the DI track with amp emulated software. This way you can shape your tone with digital ease. There are so many possibilities with digital software that you can try out many different sounds to hear what works best for your mix. There are so many options at the fingertips of engineers, this is a great time in musical history. Take advantage of the DI and begin to explore what your music can become.

Mixing Guitars | Wall of Guitars

Getting a solid guitar sound in your mix can be frustrating. I know it's not easy, so here are a few tips to help you along the right path to make your guitars big and loud.

First, track your guitar as you normally would. Use a little bit of EQ were some effects and you're done. That was easy.

Next, record your guitar again as a second take. This time change a few of the settings on your amp or choose a different pick up on your guitar. This will give you a new tone that will help separate the sounds of the guitar when you go to mix the tracks.

Now do a third take and this time use an EQ to pull out the bottom of the tone. Give this guitar an effect that sounds like it's on the radio by filtering out everything below 250 Hz.

Pan the first two takes slightly right and left in the mix. Adjust compression as needed and you should be getting a bigger sound out of your guitar mix.

Please leave a comment if you'd like more info on this technique.

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Trade Gear for Studio Time | Get More From Your Gear

Trade your musical equipment and instruments for studio time. Great way to unload the gear that you don't use or don't need any longer and get some quality studio time to work on your next recording or mixing project. You can also trade gear for Pro Tools lessons. Click the post title for more details.

Today's FAQ : What's a DI?

DI is short for 'direct input' and it means you take a direct signal from a source. Usually a DI will be used for recording guitar, bass, and keyboards.

"Why should I use a DI, when I have a perfectly good amp that can be mic'd?"

Good question. If you like to mic up your amp, go ahead and do it. As a secondary back up, I'd suggest splitting the signal and tracking a DI along with your amp. You'll get a nice clean track along with your amp track to work with when you mix. Think of it as a safety net in case the amp track doesn't work out. Maybe the mic didn't capture the tone you wanted, but the performance was epic. If you tracked a DI, then the performance has a chance to be relived & re-amped!

Re-amp your performance with the DI track. You can now play back the clean DI track and feed the signal into your amp. Move the mic around until you find the tone you desire. Now you have lots of options with minimal effort and you look like a seasoned pro. There are other options like using the DI track with amp emulated software. This way you can shape your tone with digital ease. There are so many possibilities with digital software that you can try out many different sounds to hear what works best for your mix. There are so many options at the fingertips of engineers, this is a great time in musical history. Take advantage of the DI and begin to explore what your music can become.

I use a Countryman 85S for most of my DI tracking. It does provide clean and clear tracks without coloration. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a solid DI. It is my go-to DI for nearly every direct recoding done at the studio.

Most preamps can be used as a DI. I have a GML 2032 that I regularly use as a DI for bass guitar. The built-in EQ works wonders on shaping the bass sound so that it fits beautifully within the mix. Typically all I have to do is add a little compression and the bass finds a pocket in the mix.

I also have a BBE DI-1000 w/ a Jensen transformer that works amazingly well on acoustic guitars. The BBE Sonic Maximizer allows me to add just the right amount of brightness to the DI track. That way I don't have to spend hardly any time EQing the track.

I'd love to hear more from everyone. Please share what DI boxes you use for tracking.

Recording Guitars and Guitar Amps

Recording guitars can be a bit tricky, so here are some helpful tips. First, you should always track a dry signal of the guitar. Run a DI box before the amp to make sure you get a straight tone in addition to any mic recording you capture. This will give you the option of re-amping the track. Who knows, this could be the track you wind up using.

Try tracking with different mics. Use dynamic and condenser mics on the amp in different locations until you find the tone you're looking for. Angle the mics directly at the cone and then angled off to one side. You'll get very different tones and this can help you shape the texture of each track.

Be sure to check your phase alignment if you use multiple mics for the same take. Using two mics on a single amp can help you blend a tone that is unique and works best for your mix. Just be sure that you don't choke the tone by having tracks that are out of phase with each other. If the mics sound great on their own, but sound thin when combined, this usually means there is some phase cancellation between the two tracks.

These at just some starting points to keep in mind. Leave a comment if you have questions or would like more details about my techniques. Thanks for reading my blog.