Any ideas of how to fix the black hole guitar?

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Phantasm, Apr 2, 2004.

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  1. Phantasm

    Phantasm Guest

    My friend and I are mixing a project right now and we're running into what we're referring to as the "black hole guitar."

    Specifically, we can get the drums/bass/vocals mixed together and sounding fantastic, but as soon as we add the guitar and it gets to the right volume level in the mix it's eating everything else!

    The vocals aren't up front anymore, the bass gets muddy, and the kick loses its punch and focus. But boy, it sure brings out the hi hats and cymbals!

    Does anyone have a general path that they use to correct this? The guitars don't sound horrible soloed, so I don't think that it's unfixable, but I'm not sure where to proceed from here.

    Thanks to all who advise,

  2. dymaxian

    dymaxian Guest

    Well, first and foremost, what kind of music are you recording?

    From my limited experience, the mids are what makes a guitar sound appear or disappear in the mix. My band, for example, has a pretty narrow spot for the rhythm guitar to sit; my bass below and the keyboards above fence the guitar in pretty tightly. The thing that made the guitars sit in the right spot was getting the mids right.

    A guitar can sound awesome with it's mids scooped out, at least soloed- but that will make them just vanish in the mix, and by the time you can hear the guitar clearly it's dominating everything else.

    Take the low mids down just a little bit, to give the bass and kick drums some room. Don't castrate them, but back them off. The 'wall-of-sound' effect is the combination of guitar and bass playing in unison, not just the guitar sound like so many people believe. The guys in Fear Factory never seemed to figure this out. ;)

    If you do that, and put a little more of 'the rest of the mids' into the guitar, it should poke thru the mix nicely. Don't worry too much about how the guitar sounds solo, because no one else is going to hear it soloed. If it sounds right in the mix, you've got it right. And don't over-EQ anything- make just barely enough of an adjustment to get it to work.

    Hope this helps- other older voices on the board may have better advice or other ideas.

    "to hell with the CD sales- download the MP3s and come to the shows!"
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Kase has the right idea. You might try taking the guitar and boosting the mids 6 to 12 dB with a narrow "Q". Then sweep the frequencies by moving the frequency selector around untill you hear the mud or the offending frequencies. You will find something that sounds really bad somewhere in there. Cut that frequency and check how the guitar sits in the mix.

    Kurt Foster
  4. Phantasm

    Phantasm Guest

    That is a pretty important piece of information, sorry...

    The music is sort of in the area of Nickelback. The instrumentation is two guitars, bass, drums, and male vox. Thanks to all who have made suggestsions so far.

    I find myself wondering if it's the low mids that are too low and the bass freq's are too high. When i eq the overall mix and cut the low end and boost from 500-4k, the guitars start to come back in the mix - but the cymbals start going KISH KISH KISH KISH!@$@!$@!#$ HELLO I AM A CYMBAL AND YOU WILL HEAR ME A LOT NOW!!!

    Should we try rolling off the bottom, setting the mids and volume and rolling the bass back in until it sounds "right?" Anyone else have any other tricks or ideas?
  5. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    I disagree a little. I'd use ahi pass filter...80hz up to soimetimes 300hz. After you do that you can add some 300 with a bell shaped eq to add some bottom but at the same time get rid of what yyou don't need. Add a little around 5K. Lots of people get to much voice coil when they record...cut aroun3K a bit. Also...many times gtr and snar should be quiter than you think,,bass and kick louder
  6. blackbox

    blackbox Guest

    Wow! When my cymbals speak it's usually something like "Combien pour la fillette" or "Quiconque a peint cette maison etait aveugle."
    I didn't think cymbals knew English at all. Anyway.....

    Try a mix where you start with vocals and guitars. I doesn't matter that the bass and drums rock soloed. People can't solo your rockin' bass and drums at home. Guitars are pesky indeed. An 1176 helps alot I find.
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