Simple Steps for Studio Quality Sound
Anyone who uses electric guitars and acoustic guitars in a song will always use an equalizer when mixing to raise or lower certain frequencies.
Songs from a variety of music genres whether it is from acoustic or electric guitars like blues, rock, funk, soul, metal, pop, jazz and many more, tend to be very different, as well as the used guitar sounds.
You can hear soft, loud, fast or shrill guitars that are plucked, sometimes picked, sometimes beaten, sometimes caressed, sometimes maltreated.
So, does it make sense to make standard recommendations for equalizer settings?
Certainly not! And anyway, does an EQ always have to be used? Not either!
That would be like some people who spice up their meals before they have tasted the dish just once.
It should also apply when mixing guitars the principle: first listen, then optimize.
Introducing some “spices” that you can try to refine your soup.
1. The most important EQ tip
We do not always have an influence on the recording and often we have to live with what we have received.
But for all those who record an acoustic or electric guitar themselves, this tip is also the most important of the whole article:
Take the guitar as you want to hear them in the mix.
Please give yourself the greatest effort from the beginning.
The better the quality of the recording, the better the final result and your options in the mix.
The sound is created in front of the microphone.
What influences the sound? For example, the choice of the instrument, the strings, the plectrum, the amp or the recording room. The tone control of the amp also contributes a lot.
Next is the selection and positioning of the microphone. Even if you can not rely on a huge microphone park, it is worthwhile here to try out all the possibilities.
The old saying must be discarded “We’ll fit it in the mix“.
Equalizers were originally developed in order to be able to reset a “distorted” sound.
And the best equalizer is unnecessary if nothing is “distorted” before, at least when we talk about limiting the damage of the recording signal.
This does not mean that the use of an EQ would be bad in itself.
In many cases, it is the tool of choice to subsequently correct a failed or unfavorable shot.
Nevertheless, who starts with an optimal recording, it has much easier later in the mix.
2. Remove bass on guitar recordings with the low cut
The Low Cut Filter is often activated on all instruments that are not bass or bass drum.
The purpose is to remove low-frequency components from the signal.
Within a large song arrangement with many different instruments, the use is often recommended to keep the bass range for deep instruments.
But also here it says: do not activate in principle, but first listen carefully, how the whole thing affects the sound.
It always depends on the musical purpose of the guitar.
If you still occasionally have noise in the bass range, you can also automate the EQ and enable the low-pass filter only in the appropriate places.
But you have to find out what is the optimal cutoff frequency?
3. Regulate muck and heat in the guitar signal with the equalizer
In the range between 200 and 400 Hz, guitars often require action.
In bad recordings occur often in this area unsightly resonance frequencies that “gobble” the guitar signal.
These resonances mostly come from the space in which they were recorded, sometimes even from the instrument itself.
A narrow-band dip (with a high Q factor) of the affected resonant frequency often works wonders.
A dynamic equalizer provides, in addition to the classic functions of an EQ, a freely adjustable operating point (threshold) and a ratio that determines the amount of boost or cut when the operating point is exceeded.
You already know the principle of a compressor.
The advantage is that this is only equalized when it is absolutely necessary.
This means: If the resonance frequency exceeds the set operating point, the EQ works – in other places it does nothing. Give it a try!
Otherwise, you can also raise the lower middle range slightly, if you want to help the guitar to more “warmth“.
Or you lower a bit here to make the guitar slimmer and to create more space, for example, for the vocals.
4. The hollow sound of the guitar signal?
Sounding guitars somehow too “hollow”, you can try in the range of 500 Hz to 1,5 kHz times, if a small increase of the guitar helps to more substance.
If it sounds more “wooden” or “nasal“, this is possibly this frequency range, which you should lower a little.
By the way, the fundamental tone range of a guitar usually ends in the region around 1.3 kHz with the three-pointed E – this naturally varies from instrument to instrument.
Nevertheless, this is not the end here, because the sound of a guitar does not consist of pure fundamental frequencies, but is very complex and consists of many overtones and noise.
5. The guitar sounds shrill or limp?
Let us dedicate ourselves to the range between 2 and 4 kHz.
Here lies the signal portion, which is called “Presence” and which is very responsible for the assertiveness.
Especially electric guitars often bring with them a lot from home.
If it sounds too “shrill” or “sharp” you can try to defuse the guitars a bit. Or you want your guitars to bite even more in the mix because you somehow still sound too limp?
Then try to raise something here.
It should also be said that many cheap AD / DA converters often have problems in this frequency range. It can help to look for disturbing resonances here and to remove them, as I have described in point 3.
Another small extra tip for those who want to get more presences from the guitar signal:
Try out an exciter instead of the equalizer.
This generates additional harmonics from the signal.
6. Adjust the stop and string sounds with the EQ
If you want to elaborate more details of the guitar playing, you can take the range between 4 kHz and 8 kHz under the magnifying glass. Here hide the noisy parts, such as strings and strokes. Rhythm guitars, which take on the function of a tambourine rather than a harmonic instrument through the strumming, contain important information here. In the higher frequency ranges, try to use broadband increases or decreases (smaller Q factor), because that sounds more natural.
Hope you have found the above-discussed topics useful for creating better Guitar Signals and we would like to get more updates regarding the same if you know more about the topic which will be helpful for other music producers also.
Share your comments in the box below and Happy Sound Engineering.