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Guitar swamping everything

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by AUD10, Feb 7, 2010.

  1. AUD10

    AUD10 Active Member

    Hi there,

    I find that whenever I have an acoustic guitar in a live mix, it seems to swamp other instruments.

    I tend to reduce the lower-mid frequencies to prevent the swamping effect but then I usually cannot hear the guitar through the mix.

    Any advice appreciated.
  2. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Can you post an example?
  3. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I regularly have trouble with bands fronted by acoustic players who started as solo artists. They tend to overplay, strumming full chords non-stop with little regard for arrangement. There's only so much mixing can do to compensate for bad arrangement.
  4. KingSix

    KingSix Active Member

    Mute the guitar in the PA, just leave in his monitor....
  5. AUD10

    AUD10 Active Member

    Guitar heard by others.

    Then I get complaints from other musicians that they cannot hear the guitar!

    Are there any specific (lower) frequencies I can reduce and increase other high frequencies to still allow the guitar to be heard in the mix?
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    How are you micing the acoustic? Bridge pickups ( bla) , acoustic or electric amp and DI, or ? That's the big question.
  7. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    What else is in your "mix" and how are those being inputted mic, DI? Are you using stage monitors? What mixer?
  8. Kent L T

    Kent L T Active Member

    Your on the right track bring it up in the mix some after you cut the lows. The upper mids and highs are what you want to come through anyways not the lows. That way it doesn't interfere with the other instruments that exist in the lower mid range. If he starts playing solo you might have to make some adjustments though cause it will sound too tinny.
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Low cut. Balance. Get a beer. Flirt with patron girls.
  10. AUD10

    AUD10 Active Member


    Kent L T, this is exactly what I am finding. I tend to increase the highs and upper mids and reduce the lows although this can often end up with the guitar sounding 'tinny'.

    Davedog, I usually have the low cut enabled anyway.

    audiokid/jg49, the setup is generally a bridge pickup, into a DI. I sound engineer on different mixers so could be Mackie, Allen & Heath or SoundCraft - oh and sometimes a Behringer! Don't always have monitors but when there are, the sound can become quite 'muddy' with the guitar.
  11. Kent L T

    Kent L T Active Member

    I usually find there is enough high and mids without boosting. I am usually using my eq to take out things that annoy me. It is easier if the guitars are of a decent quality but, the ones I keep dealing with I usually have to eq the crud out of them before I can tolerate them.
  12. hamjam

    hamjam Guest

    the sweepable high pass filter is your friend try 180hz - 360hz (or more) depending where it needs to be to fit into the music. also def compress it. (FOH only) try this 4:1 ratio / -20 thresh / fast attack med release / squash it a bit see what happens
  13. Cacacas

    Cacacas Active Member

    Muddiness comes from two things: The first one is the sharing of frequencies. When two instruments share the same frequency range, it becomes unclear to the human ear which instrument is playing. It sounds "mushed" together and indistinguishable. The second reason is the main PA speakers aren't properly equalized before the final output of sound. A frequency resonates within the room adding extra ambient noise and muddying up the whole place. If your guitar is muddy, and you've boosted the mids and highs so much to where it sounds tinny, then you have not distinguished it from the rest of the instruments. You need to do three things in this order : 1) eq your main speakers properly. Play something familiar through them and eq it to taste. Also, there are many good frequency programs to help sort this out. 2) Cut back the other instruments which share the frequency range of guitar. Is the bass cutting into the mids? Cut back all other instruments from the mix and create a hole which only the guitar can fill. 3) Peak the guitar in a hole that only the other instruments aren't touching. If you peak too much, distortion or weird sounding guitar. If you don't peak enough, you haven't "distinguished" it from the mix. The guitar sounds distinct from all other instruments. If you cannot distinguish it with all the other instruments though a PA, it's not the guitar, it's the PA. GOOD LUCK!!! If none of these work, you may have a "side" issue, and may need to start isolating where the problem is coming from. Try adding just the guitar player, and then each instrument until it becomes muddy. I bet you'll find the mud when only a certain instrument is added, in which case you've found the problem area. If all else fails, isolate the problem. Try a different pickup / guitar. Have fun!
  14. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    There's a great thread somewhere on here related to frequency slotting.
    While the subject is a bluegrass band, the principles are much the same as Cacacas described.
    The only variance I would add is to do more cutting than boosting.

    Mixing is rather backwards to a musician. An instrument solo'd may sound like poop, but when mixed w/ everything else, is fine.
    I refer to it as different instruments "stepping on each other". You'll find that bass, guitar, drums, keys, and vocals all have some fundamentals in the range Cacacas mentions.
    If the song isn't arranged so as different instruments aren't competing for attention, then you have to do it w/ EQ (frequency slotting).

    It's not so much the ear as how the human brain processes auditory signals.
    Like a conversation - you can't pay attention if everyone is talking over each other.
  15. joejoe888

    joejoe888 Guest

    The frequency spread of the acoustic guitar is almost the same as the human voice (300Hz to 3Khz or so) so if you crank the mids they're going to pile on top of each other and muddy each other up. The vocals are the most important thing in a live mix so they get to occupy those frequencies. Instead you can try cutting the acoustic guitar's EQ with moderate Q around those ranges and sweep the frequency point around - see if it clears up. (My rule of thumb is whenever possible, cut don't boost EQs to sculpt what you want. It keeps things much cleaner.) What makes an acoustic guitar interesting in a full mix is the "sparkle" of the strumming. If there's an electric guitar playing rhythm with it, let that fill the "guitar space" and let the acoustic sound be the icing on top.

    I've found it helps if the acoustic guitarist has his or her own amp (one designed for acoustic guitar like a Roland or SWR) in the backline like all the other instruments, or even better one that's shaped like a wedge, pointed at them and away from the audience. It means they can tweak their own sound to their heart's content without ruining the vocal mix in the monitors, and the band can hear it too. Through the mains do what you've been doing - roll off the low end (just use the channel's highpass filter if you have it) but also try a dip in the midrange, so what comes though is mostly the "strum" sound. Check out recorded mixes by The Who (esp. "Who's Next" and "Quadrophenia") and listen how Pete Townsend mixes acoustic with electric guitars into an overall mix.
  16. There's a certain component that may not be being considered here - I'm assuming you're taking a direct off an internally preamped acoustic, not miking the soundhole, right?

    Make sure the knucklehead on stage isn't "scooping" the guitar's onboard EQ, else you'll never get a good FOH sound out of it.
  17. joejoe888

    joejoe888 Guest

    Good point! Make the guitarist set the guitar's onboard EQ flat and turn the volume control up pretty high. That way you get a cleaner signal and lower noise floor, and the idiot isn't walking all over your attempt to make him not sound bad.
  18. Live Sound Audio

    Live Sound Audio Active Member

    Everyone can mix better than the mixer. It's interesting you're introducing a producer's ears into the equation. It sometimes feels bad to accurately reproduce a badly produced musical mix. Your conversation and agreement with the band will be key here. Solo guitar players tend to "play every instrument" by their style and cannot stop without getting hammered in the studio by someone they respect.

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