Guitar Compression

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by bassmac, Dec 4, 2001.

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  1. bassmac

    bassmac Guest

    If you have a song with a lot of different guitar parts that need taming to blend together better, would it make any sense to put them all into a sub-group and use one main compressor on them all, or would you treat them all separately?

  2. slicraider

    slicraider Guest

    I would treat them seperately. Try to find out how they fit into the arrangement scheme and prioritize their importance. You will need to use panning and possibly different treatments so they all have a seperate voice yet balance them so they are one tapestry. A stereo bus comressor will certainly help, but I wouldn't go the sub group bus route. Then again it maybe cool and I just never tried it. Remember there are no rules. The above is just my subjective view of it.
  3. MadMoose

    MadMoose Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    Electric guitars or acoustic guitars? Either way I hardly compress them unless it's needed. When I do it's individualy about 98% of the time. Sometimes I'll mult them to a stereo pair and do a few little tricks that I doubt I could describe.
  4. erockerboy

    erockerboy Active Member

    Mar 16, 2001
    Awww, c'mon Jay... don't be a tease! At least TRY and describe a little trick or somethin'!

    Anyway, I'll jump on in. I can't think of a situation where I would ever want to bus together a bunch of guitar parts and then compress that. You're asking about "a song with a lot of different guitar parts that need taming to blend together better"... I dunno, but whenever there is too much sh*t goin' on, it seems to be more a question of fixing the arrangement than fixing the mix, at least in my experience. 98% of the time, my favorite mixes are the ones where I just kinda push up the faders and the song mixes itself; when all the parts "sit" together well, and my job is simply to take what's already there and make it sparkle. If I have to work too hard to make a bunch of parts "blend", I tend to think the arrangement is what needs work.

    Sometimes you can compress individual guitar parts to help them behave better, particularly if you're talking acoustics or clean electrics, where you've got lots of spiky transient stuff going on. I don't compress distorted electric guitars much, cuz it seems like a saturated amp and cabinet kind of acts like its own compressor. If I DO compress a distorted electric, it's more because I want to "thicken up" the tone, rather than tame its dynamics (which are probably fairly flat already... hey, the guy already turned it up to 11, right?).

    Good luck, and remember a great mix starts with a great song, a great arrangement and a great performance.
  5. bassmac

    bassmac Guest

    Originally posted by EJolson:
    a great mix starts with a great song, a great arrangement and a great performance.

    Is there a plugin for that :eek:

    All good advise - let me clarify. These are distorted guitars tracked with a POD, about six parts panned to various degrees. Just for the hell of it I sub-grouped them all and squashed them with a Ren Comp, and it really helped take off the brittle edge you can get from a POD. It also gave them more depth, fattened them up, and helped them all get along rather well.

    I'm sure if they were tracked with a Marshall they'd already have the depth, fatness, etc., but maybe non-traditional recording methods calls for non-traditional mixing methods???
  6. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    Since I'm FAR from being a professional engineer, I rarely post on recording issues. Everything that I've learned about recording has been through hints and help from friends, and tons of trial and error. When I saw this topic, I just thought I'd throw-in my very meager experience with this, because maybe it could be of some help or value. Most of my "techniques" ( I use that term VERY loosely) are at best off-the-wall, but some of them are results of hours and hours of experimentation and frustration which ended-up in personal success. So, I'll share this, you take it for face value, try it if you want, or just laugh REAL hard...
    Personally, I HATE what electronic compression does to a guitar. When I record my own songs, I don't just hope for an acceptable guitar sound...I know EXACTLY what I want my guitar parts to sound like, and I won't accept any result other than "that sound". I know that I do the whole recording process bass-ackwards, but I don't care. I consider my guitar sound to be the most important part of my recording, so I record and mix the rest of the parts and whole song around my guitars.
    *SonOfSmawg pictures all these engineers here rolling on the floor laughing their ^#$%ing asses*...probably rightfully-so...
    Anyway...enough disclaimer and BS...
    To avoid electronic compression, I use the guitar speakers to provide compression. I play through a Kustom amp with a 15" JBL and a Fender Twin with 2 Celestion greenbacks. The Kustom is generally set for a clear, bassy sound, and the Fender is usually switched to 1/2 wattage but cranked-up pretty strong to drive the Celestions to a pretty hefty compression. The JBL is close mic'd, there's a close mic on one of the Celestions, and I usually have 3 ambient mics, but I don't always end-up using the signals from all of the ambient depends how it goes when I'm mixing the signals together. Now, a lot of times, I'm not happy with the overall "tightness" of the sound, so I play the recorded track from the close-mic on the Celestions BACK THROUGH the Fender, recording it on another track. This gives you WAY more drive and compression. There is a slight time lag, so you have to scoot the whole track back a bit. This resulting "over-the-top" track, when blended with the others, makes all the difference.
    Ok, so it's very involved and time-consuming, but it allows me to get the end result I need without using electronic compression that always ends up in some sort of compromise.
    Ok, you can stop laughing now and move on to the next post...
  7. GT40sc

    GT40sc Active Member

    Jan 14, 2001
    Seattle WA, USA
    I'm not laughing, I'm learning. Because I'm ONLY an engineer, and not a guitar player. You never know when an idea might be worth trying...

    As far as what bassmac says about the POD, this has been my experience with it as well. Too many POD-guitar tracks in the mix means too much greasy buildup. I prefer the textures of different amps, different microphones, different guitars, etc. Too much work? I thought that was my job...

    damn, too old school...

  8. MadMoose

    MadMoose Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    Originally posted by EJolson:
    [QB]Awww, c'mon Jay... don't be a tease! At least TRY and describe a little trick or somethin'!QB]

    Ummm... I really don't know if I can. I can tell you how I patch the gear together. Making it work without destroying a mix is totally different. If I do the stereo guitar mult I usually have anywhere from 1 to many things keying that compressor so the guitars are ducked. What keys it and by how much and what kind of blend? Well, that's what I can't tell.
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