I need help making my guitar recordings sound bigger.

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by atl123, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. atl123

    atl123 Guest

    I have an acoustically treated room. I am using a Presonus Firepod. I have an SM57 and are using a variety of guitars and amps. I have also used more mics and different mic placements. I just can't seem to get the guitar to sound big on my recordings. This is much more evident the more distortion I use. The problem is the only way I get it to sound big is be turning the volume way on it, and it just drowns out the other instruments (even with some EQ work). I have tried reverb, mulitple tracks and delays, but am just not happy with it.

    I play a variety of genre's from blues, fusion, classic rock, to heavy rock. But my mixing problem stands out the most on heavier track. Go to amazon.com and listen to Godsmack's Shine Down song.


    Listen to the rhythm guitar. It sounds huge, but yet it doesn't drown out the other instruments or the vocalist. (This is just one example.)
  2. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    North Vancouver
    I sometimes find a little compression (LA2) helps
  3. MarkG

    MarkG Guest

    An option that I have used occasionally for loud guitars but still having the vocal stand out is using a sidechain compressor off of the vocal so when the vocal comes in the guitars duck a little.

    I have been using this ducking on a lot of different tracks trying to get more volume without using outrageous mastering settings.
  4. mhutch

    mhutch Guest

    I have had success double tracking (not just doubling) the heavy guitar and panning the 2 tracks hard left and right. We had a slightly different sound on each, and it worked out pretty well. If your vocal sits in the center it should cut through. Also try cutting the eq slightly on the guitar tracks in the vocal range.
  5. DonnyWright

    DonnyWright Guest

    Both double tracking and copy paste will help the guitar sound bigger.
    Copy the track, pan one hard L and one hard R. Scoot one track ahead or behind by 10 miliseconds or so. Scoot it around until you like it. If you go too far it will sound like echo.
    If you double track you might not do the scoot thing, because the tracks will be ever so slightly different any how (unless you are one hella-perfect guitar player!!!), but you could!
    Also try a second mic on the amp a little farther back. Mix the tracks together for a sound.
  6. MarkG

    MarkG Guest

    I missed this part when I first read your post. One rule of thumb on distortion is ... Turn it up until it sounds good, and then crank it back one notch, now your ready to record.
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Listening to the sample as you indicated tells me there is no double tracking. There is only a 15 to 20 ms delay, perhaps from a room microphone, into the right channel, of the guitar. That's what makes it slam with that big left right feeling. Leaving the center image clear for other stuff like vocals.

    There's no tricks. It's just good mixing. No special plug-in blah blah any thing. It's the balance. Not the unbalance.

    Crazy but balanced wacky engineer
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  8. foolsfortune

    foolsfortune Guest

    I have played around with my guitar tracks A LOT. One cool thing that worked was to track 5 tracks of guitar. One dead center, one 100% left, 100% right, 50% left, 50% right.

    I found using LESS distortion on the amp or pre amp actually made for better sounding tracks as well.

    When you play each track, try to play it EXACTLY the same each time.

    Fun stuff.

  9. That is the worst idea I have ever heard.
  10. jordy

    jordy Active Member

    Aug 25, 2008
    Reedsville, PA
    Home Page:
    uhhh...sorry, Shadow Fox...but that's actually not that bad of an idea...
    why do you think so?
    i don't know if i would put a guitar dead center, but i've done 4 tracks at 75R, 75L, 100R, and 100L....each played seperately with different eq settings/ different amps and it sounded pretty darn thick....and tight.
    i now use this technique with all my new rock recordings...
    and i can't agree more with the whole less distortion for recording is better.
  11. i hear his problem. my distorted guitar sound really thin and not beefy enough, even with some low end help from an eq.
    i think it might be my converters in my mackie 1640 or maybe its cubases converter when i get the final mix down
  12. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    "maybe its cubases converter"

    Rule out Cubase. Your software is not the problem.
  13. Greener

    Greener Guest

    Cubase is software, not a converter. You can't say digital summing is doing conversions? Yeah it's converting one thing into another. Both things are still digital.
  14. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Well, I've heard a LOT worse ideas in my life, you must not get around much, dude...LOL!!!!!!! I agree that a cenetered guitar can be an issue (especially if there are vocals involved). But a lot of times, "less is more" when it comes to distortion, and that doesn't appear to be the case until you start stacking tracks. Frankly, there are TONS of posts here offering suggestions on this subject, maybe try the search engine...?
  15. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    FoolsFortune, mhutch , RemyRAD have the right idea. I would leave the center channel out if there are vocals in the mix. It's far superior to the pan an delay ideas that DonnyWright suggested. Unless the goal is to make the guitar sound thin and week.
  16. BDM

    BDM Active Member

    Oct 23, 2008
    Mali, Africa
    i think getting the bass guitar to interact nicely with the guitars helps to create sort of a 'phantom' bottom on the guitars. some of the tiniest sounding soloed guitars can sound quite large in the mix. i think Jimi Page used a puny champ for some songs... also, the best (and hardest) thing i've done is to dial back the distortion. i also find doubling by replaying the same parts is more organic than cut and paste, and can create really interesting overtones and chorusing, especially with different amps and guitars. or doubling with chords played in different positions on the neck. or hanging upside-down from the ceiling and then inverting the mic phase... oh, wait. THAT didn't work at all...
  17. Benzilla

    Benzilla Guest

    Here are some tips that I have come across in my pursuit for the "perfect guitar sound". I should note that I work with energetic, modern rock/metal - not blues or softer rock. Also, these are tips that have worked for me, but you should use them at your own discretion.

    1. Use less distortion - unless you want the notes and rhythms to be mush.

    2. How you play will greatly affect how your guitar sounds on the recording. Learn to be a CLEAN player. Simplify your rhythms. Everything you do while playing translates into your recorded sound. How you place you fingers on the fret, whether or not you mute unused strings while playing a chord, how you strum the strings. Practice the parts you are going to record, and PAY ATTENTION to how you are playing. Become ANAL about how you play. If you want a bad ass recording, you're going to have to be able to play the part right.

    3. Always record with new strings, and make sure you tune the crap out of your guitar between takes/songs. Check your intonation. Listen for crappy string buzz. Put a piece of duck tape on the strings between the nut and tuning pegs. If you don't know how to set up your guitar, have a professional do it.

    4. Mind your recording environment. Some of the bigger, punchier sounds I've gotten were from recording in semi-acoustically dead large rooms. A large closet full of clothes has worked fairly well in the past. Just make sure its big enough so you don't get bass frequency problems!

    5. Do not over track your guitars! If you have 5 guitar tracks playing the same thing, its essentially equivalent to turning your distortion knob all the way up. You may have a "loud and full" sound, but in the end all of the notes will be mushy and you are going to have hell trying to make room for the other instruments in that wall of guitars.

    6. Listen to the sound coming from your amp. If you don't like the sound coming from your amp, you're never going to like it on the recording. Also, keep in mind that the microphone "hears" the sound coming directly from your speaker - which is not the same sound you hear when standing in front/above your amp (unless your speakers are at ear level).

    7. Keep in mind that the "rumble" in your gut you feel when you play your guitar in front of your amp is not going to come from your monitors (unless they are cranked, and you have them in a similar cab enclosure).

    8. I have had the best luck with amp EQs that have some of all frequencies (i.e. Don't drop your mids to 0). Start with a a flat amp EQ, and make small adjustments according to what you don't like about the sound. I currently record guitar with my mids at 4, bass at 5, treble at 6 and presence at 6 (Dual Rec). Your settings WILL be different, depending on the guitar you use, amount of distortion, type of music, etc... Use your ears!

    9. Start with one guitar track and play with your amps/mics/guitars until you get a fairly big sound. Don't use any EQ/compression/effects yet. Then, double the track and pan the two tracks left and right to taste. It is important that your double is played exactly like the original track - otherwise you start getting mush.

    10. The rest of the mix is essential to getting that punchy, full sound you're looking for. The cleaner all of your tracks are, the better everything will sound in general. This especially holds true for bass (which I feel is usually overlooked in the tracking process).

    11. High pass your guitars at somewhere at or below 100Hz. You don't want those low frequencies muddying up your bass/kick region (and they will!).

    12. Watch your low-mid frequencies. A lot of mud happens in this region, but this region is also essential to a big guitar sound. Consider using a multiband compressor to tame these frequencies, but don't overdo it. Careful EQing in this region for each instrument will likely be necessary.

    13. When mixing, know when to make the guitars back off and when to bring them to the front. Linkin Park is a great example of this. In their intros, the guitars are brought up in volume, but in the choruses they are tucked lower in the mix. A great mix has DYNAMICS - even if the song is an all palm muting, head banging, wail fest. Your BIG parts will sound BIGGER if they are next to a small part.

    14. In my opinion, a good guitar recording does not need an assload of EQ/effects to sound right. If you are not getting the sound you want, try a different mic, amp, amp eq, guitar, etc...

    15. Many BIG guitar sounds have simply come from an SM57 placed 1" or so off the grill, pointed at the intersection of the center cone to the outer cone. Buy yourself a brand new SM57, and don't let anyone touch it or use it for anything other than recording guitars.

    16. Search for recording ideas in forums/magazines/books, etc... Try different ideas. Keep trying different amps/guitars. The more you try, the better you will get. Even the pros still search for a perfect sound. :)

    I'm sure there are more tips that could be given, but I'm out of time. :)

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