Correct panning of guitars?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by corrupted, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. corrupted

    corrupted Guest

    For hard rock music, what do you people all think the best way to track/pan the guitars is?
    For a band with 2 guitarists where one isn't necessarily the lead, I've been recording 4 tracks and balancing them evenly.

    -GuitarA - 2 tracks, one extreme left and one extreme right, both at the same level
    -GuitarB - 2 tracks, same setup

    I find this gives me the best balance from left to right and yet still has a nice wide feel to it. I've experimented in a few different ways and I haven't found anything else that sounds as good...
    Is there a "standard" for this that I should play around with?

    I was thinking of trying this:

    -GuitarA - 2 tracks, one extreme left at 100% and one extreme right at 25%
    -GuitarB - 2 tracks, one extreme left at 25% and one extreme right at 100%

    This seems logical to me, but I'm afraid of having an "unbalanced" situation when the tone is different between guitarA and guitarB. And also, I feel that if I don't pan them to the extremes, then I will lose the stereo depth.

    Any suggestions? It's simple to play around with, but I don't know if there's some simple trick to getting a nice full sound and good separation...

  2. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    I don't think it's possible to have something set to extreme anything at only 25%. :)

    Obviously, the setting you propose would make the one guitar strong on one side and the other strong on the other. There's nothing wrong with that. It sort of depends on the material and what each guitarist is playing and the engineer. Don't be afraid of having different guitar tones panned to either side. It may sound weird but it can be cool.

    There isn't any standard. Listen to some old Van Halen pre 1984, ("And the Cradle Will Rock" is a good example. The guitar was recorded on the left side...everything else was straight up. Some parts of the song would have a different part on the right side. The parts may be similar or wildly different. It sounds pretty's weird in headphones though.
  3. McLaughlin

    McLaughlin Active Member

    Aug 7, 2006
    since your afraid of losing depth, heres a good tip I use to develop a perception of depth.

    Bus your guitars to a Stereo Delay, panned hard left and right, set a short stereo delay. Delay the left 20ms (any shorter and you could get phase issues), and the right between 40-50ms. Now mix in the delay so you cant hear the delay but you can sense it. A-B it by using the mute.

    As for mixing, depending on the track I'm mixing, sometimes I like to think of it as a stage. Place guitar player 1 to the left, player 2 to the right. Maybe automate the pan on the chorus to slam them way wide, or automate the solo to come right down the middle.

    You have lots of possibilities, it really depends on where you have space in your mix. You'll notice (since you said its hard rock), your kick and bass will really battle your guitars (assuming they have some distortion), so you might have to build around those since they are your foundation.
  4. What I've been doing with this screamo/post-hardcore band's stuff is panning Guitar 1a (the guitar that plays everything) 90% left, then taking Guitar 1b (essentially guitar 1, but the guitarist played it again) and panning that 90% right. Then I'll have guitar 2, which accents the chugging and staccato chords, panned between 65-75% right.

    As for levels, I have guitar 1a and guitar 2 at roughly the same level, and guitar 1b just low enough that you can hear it behind guitar 2, but it doesn't stick out. Kind of a subliminal guitar.

    There's no wrong way, just what sounds good to you and works for the music. This has been working for me.
  5. Nirvalica

    Nirvalica Guest

    making a track 100% left and another 25% right would just make the guitar sound 75% left..... you might as well save some time and just use one track for each guitar and pan it 75% to which ever side you want....
  6. corrupted

    corrupted Guest

    Sorry guys, I didn't make that clear. What I meant was:

    -GuitarA - 2 tracks, one extreme left at 100% volume and one extreme right at 25% volume
    -GuitarB - 2 tracks, one extreme left at 25% volume and one extreme right at 100% volume

    And, Nirvalica, I see what you mean, but keep in mind, these are separate takes, not duplicates. So, you still would get the stereo field that you're talking about.

    I will experiment with it a bit more and try some of these ideas! Thanks!
  7. 1000heads

    1000heads Guest

    There isn't just one "proper way" to pan guitars, or anything for thaat matter. Just like everybody said, you should experiment and do what feels right or good in the mix to you and the artist. When I was still learning the craft, I was interning about 6 years ago at APG studios (i'm stilll a baby), and two guitarists in this local band we were recording wanted to have a "walking" feeling in their solo(really a duet, but they called it the solo). After about 20 minutes of trying to figure out what they were talking about, the engineer asked me if I had any ideas. That was when I slowly panned one guitar from left to right up to 80% and back again, and the other in the opposite direction 80% and back again. It was kind of cool to see these "accomplished" musicians and "seasoned" engineers look at me in suprise and approval, as I, the student, captured that "walking sound" from speaker to speaker. So, there are many things you can do in the mix with panning. Don't limit yourself to one school of thought, and experiment. Keep your ear as fresh as possible, and listen to everybody, no matter how much experience they have, because a great idea can come from anywhere.

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