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Incorporating single rhythm guitar in mix?

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by TACurtis, Jul 27, 2003.

  1. TACurtis

    TACurtis Guest

    Hello. Please bear with me. . . I'm a recording newbie and I'm running into the damndest things I never thought about before.

    I'm recording direct using Cubase VST Score and my latest conundrum is how in the world to incorporate single rhythm guitar in the mix so that it sounds full without muddying everything else up. The signal has been recorded mono and located at L34 with a subtle stereo echo. The echo helps some but you can still literally close your eyes and point to the spot on the horizon where the signal originates.

    I realize I'm asking about specifics but I suppose I'm asking more about the philosphy, for want of a better word, of recording a single rhythm guitar (in a multi-piece recording). I'm sorry if I'm not clear on what I'm asking; I'm not so sure myself. All I know is, the rhythm guitar, which (I think) acts as both a basic fill and as a rhythmic timekeeper in the entire mix, sounds too isolated and directional.

    Any thoughts, comments, observations, chastisements, etc., would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Rob de Boer

    Rob de Boer Guest

    You will never hear a single rhythm guitar coming 'from left AND right' using a single mono track. Your trick with the delay to the other channel is widely used (I think, at least I do), but because the sound first appears in the (in your case) left channel, the brain of the listener will always perceive the sound coming from that direction. What you could do to get the idea that there are two guitars playing is by recording two takes and panning one hard left, and the other one hard right. This way you'll keep a nice open spot for your vocals in the middle.

    Anyway, you can further keep your guitar track from muddying up the whole mix by some intelligent eq-ing. It all depends what kind of sound your guitar track has, but you could start with removing something around 200 Hz, I often also cut the low end up to, say 100 Hz, which creates some room for the kick and bass.

    But then again, it also highly depends on what other instruments are in the mix. Multiple instruments in more or less the same frequency range will easily congest your mix.

    Now that I read your post again, I get kinda confused. You say you want to keep the guitar from muddying up the mix, but later on you say that it sounds isolated... eeerrrh...

    Let me know if anything of the above helped,

    good luck,


  3. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member


    I kind of agree with the post above, but I have to add that these decisions IMO fall under the production responsabilities; I think that a single guitar part panned to the side can be just right for some situations where you need a little more space for things like vocals or other instruments solos, or during a verse, then you double it up when you need more punch, like in a chorus, whith the doubling technique ( recording the same part again either with the same tone or a different one and panning it on the other side), that will thicken the sound (metal and hard rock "walls of guitars" are done this way); the stereo delay can be nice, but it's not going to give you the same effect as double tracking.

    Like I said before, once you get in the realm of recording and music production the possibilities become many, and you have to choose what technique serves the song better.

    I hope this helps

  4. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    I like to do two tracks and pan hard left and right. It brings the guitars out to the side and opens up the middle of the mix. The only problem is many guitar players can't match them selves well which makes the mix sound sloppy. One trick I have used is to pan the guitar track hard left then make a copy of it and pan it hard right and print a MONO chorus to the copied track. This won't give a true stereo separation but it gives the allusion of movement between sides. Or if you don't want to double the guitar, just pan it to about 10 oclock to one side or the other to make a little room in the middle.
  5. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member

    Maybe the answer would be to do a 2 channel recording of the rhythm guitar with a matched pair of mics........ then the guitar tracks would match perfectly.......... :D :D :D

    You could then pan and EQ to your hearts content.



    (although with digital it's just as easy to copy a whole track to another track).
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I'm in sort of the same thought process as everyone here in that ALL of these suggestions work well and it makes sense to begin the recording operations with some choices being made initially. The material will usually dictate what works well and what might create a bigger headache than not.

    Some rhythym guitars simply will not sit well in a mix if they are multed.To my ear these are the ones you want to pan out and then pan away with an echoed version of the original for space.

    Sometimes it works to simply let it sit just off of the axis of the vocal and then put a heavily panned left and right reverbed version of the same track and place it back in the mix...sort of a 'pad' effect.

    Like Rod, I like to use two mics at tracking and then have two tracks available for doing what ever I like to em.I do not, however, use a matched set of mics.I'll use two different flavors and try to capture a different essence on each track.Then if you decide to just use only one track, you have a lot of choices.This also helps in creating a HUGE guitar sound.

    While PLAYING two identical tracks can certainly be done, with digital its so easy to create another track from the original and hold it back a few cents to widen the focus of the instrument.
  7. TACurtis

    TACurtis Guest

    Excellent replies! These are exactly the kinds of things I wanted to hear. . . all good, different (and some not-so-different) ways of tackling the same "problem."

    Each solution seems to have its own advantages as well as disadvantages. Duplicating the rhythm onto another track could add depth or texture to the sound (especially with a slight delay) but with multiple stereo tracks already, space is nearing a premium: I still have backup vocals and at least one lead guitar track to think about (as well as two channels reserved for a mixdown track).

    EQing is the great uncharted area for me. I don't have a clue how or why to do certain things at certain times for certain instruments. I'll take the advice above and try some of the EQ settings given. Perhaps in combination with track duplication I may end up with a new sound I wasn't expecting.

    I appreciate the replies. . . RO rocks!
  8. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member


    I've never tried that like that - 2 tracks - different mikes - I'm gonna give it a shot now though.......


  9. Treena Foster

    Treena Foster Active Member

    Another suggestion if you decide to do another track, (and not just bounce the one you already have) try different voicings when playing the chords. If you used open chords try bar chords.. :roll:

    Treena :h:
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Treena's is a fine suggestion.I was going to mention this also and spaced it out! If I'm going to bed a couple of tracks together,often I'll play one as written and then transpose the track and use a capo.The harmonics all change and its amazing what kind of huge sound you get from this.
  11. Hack

    Hack Active Member

    When I overdub guitar parts I always get the sound while the player is playing along with the song. This way you can play with the sound until it is fitting before you track. This will tell you if you need one mic or two or five. I normally overdub things in mono. I always double track for the big rock sound. My general big rock rule.... one track les paul, the other strat or tele. Double tracking with different guitars is my fav way to get big rock sound. I have read about the new radial box that splits inst level into mult outputs. With this you could run one gtr into several amps. Put mics all over the place and mix and match while overdubing.
  12. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Consequently you could run one of the outputs direct into the recording media dry, then reamp that signal at a later time. Barring those crazy tone-freaks, no one will be able to tell the difference. Sometimes, having one track from a real amp and one track from an amp-sim module/plugin can contribute to that huge sound.
  13. TACurtis

    TACurtis Guest

    Again, more good suggestions. Yesterday I copied and pasted the rhythm onto another track and played with various volume, EQ, compression and delay settings on the two tracks. Although I got some interesting results, I'm now leaning towards just dumping the duplicate altogether and recording another rhythm guitar track (with a different guitar -- he's got two others we can try) using different voicing.

    What originally started out as a question about simply "widening" the rhythm guitar sound has got me thinking and experimenting about a lot of new things. . .

    Very cool.
  14. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    The two mic trick will work in a pinch but just doesn't get the same sound as a doubled track. It works better if you put each mic on a different speaker. And even better if you put the slight mono chorus on one track in mixdown.
    If you copy the track and shift the duplicate it will cause phase problems. It sounds OK stereo but if your stuff gets played mono it sounds like sh!^.
  15. TACurtis

    TACurtis Guest

    Hm, it just occurred to me that I could use an acoustic guitar, too.

    It could work (on this particular song, anyway).
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Hey there all...Hope its going good for you TA. Mr. Tripnek...YES by allmeans a separate speaker for each mic.Different cabinets if need be.I'm using a 4-12 with all vintage english drivers in it. When I owned a Marshall cabinet for just studio work, I loaded it with 4 different speakers and a jack plate that allowed different hookups.It had an original 20 watt greenie,a 75 watt celestion,a Weber VST, and a 1962 vintage Jensen out of a Deluxe.We also had a regular paired 2-12 cab with a set of 30 watt celestions.Dont know if any of you remember the Mitchell Cabinets, this was one of those "Sand Cabinets"...You could put a 100 watt head on it and never cause any damage.This was, I think, due to the way it was damped.Great for recording...sucked onstage.

    Oh and TA, using an acoustic,transposed,with a capo, and doubling a track this way, is a longtime Nashville trick......
  17. Matt Watkins

    Matt Watkins Guest

    Hi People

    New to the forum.

    Here's a copule of things I do sometimes.

    Nashville tuning or hi string gtr) mixed panned with original part. (a variation on the capo re-voiceing trick)

    If I want to keep the gtr panned to a certain place and don't want to record any more gtrs but want to give it alot of stereo space whilst being mono compatible i do a kind of fake M/S set up.

    (assuming daw) make two clones of the gtr track pan hard left and right REVERSE the polarity of one cloned track usually the right. Then delay both clone tracks equally by around 20 - 30 ms then link the clone track faders.

    Set the original mono gtr roughly where you want in the mix then gradually raise the level of the cloned tracks to suit. This creates a lot of space and air around the original panned mono track. It's also mono compatible because the clone tracks are opposite polarity and cancel out when summed to mono as long as they are kept at exactly the same relative gain.

    Might be worth a try. Matt
  18. volthause

    volthause Guest

    Danger Will Robinson!

    If you use a short delay time (5-20ms) when you fold this to mono you end up with a comb-filtered hellish guitar sound. Not pretty.
  19. TACurtis

    TACurtis Guest

    As for an update: I'm still where I was. I have a friend who will let me borrow a Bill Lawrence acoustic guitar pickup for an indefinite amount of time. :) I managed to jury-rig a vocal booth using a room divider and a couple of blankets but haven't attempted any backup vocals yet.

    Anyway, I'm thinking of posting the song as-is in the review forum just for the heck of it. . .

    Yeah, I think I'm just going to stay away from the duplicate-track-plus-delay-thing altogether. I like being able to control each instrument individually in real time and I just have this gut feeling that it's going to cause more problems than it's going to solve. (ICBW, of course, and YMMV.)

    Hm, but this sounds interesting; at least worth trying. How do you reverse the polarity? Is it a normal function in a music production program like Cubase?
  20. 3dchris

    3dchris Active Member

    To get big stero sound from a single amp try this:
    if using a small amp put it flat on the floor with the speaker facing the ceiling. Close mike it with sm57 (never direct the mic on the middle of the speaker! angle it slightly). Put a second mic (preferably large diagram condenser) about 4-5 feet above the speaker (remember that the amp is lying flat on the floor so the mic is directly above it). Record on 2 separate channels. Pan them left and right and you'll have great stereo sounding guitar with natural delay (since the distant mike receives the sound slightly delayed). You can also eq the tracks separately to your liking. Have fun and experiment.



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