layering multiple guitar tracks for a bigger sound?

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by COLUMBIA_05, Dec 30, 2004.

  1. COLUMBIA_05

    COLUMBIA_05 Guest

    i understand the principles, but what is the best way to do this?

    when i want to record a fairly heavy rock song with many distorted rhythm guitars.... i want the song to get louder and fuller in the pre-chorus, and louder and fuller still during the chorus

    1. how many guitar tracks should i layer for each part of the song?

    2. should i just copy and paste the same tracks, or should i play separate tracks over top (maybe with different amp settings, mic positions, EQ, etc?)

    3. where should i be panning these tracks(my recorder does L16 - R16)

    4. how distorted should the sound be so idon't end up with a bunch of noise that won't allow for the lead guitar or vocals to be heard correctly in the final mix

    5. and finally, what type of volume levels/EQ/compression should i be putting on these guitar tracks to give a broad, full, professional sound, that gets even fuller and louder in different parts of the song?

    i apologize if some of this doesn't make sense, i'm really just trying to soak up as much info as possible, and need some of you guys who have experience to guide me!

    thank you very much....
  2. smog99

    smog99 Guest


    A few soft rules:
    Don't copy tracks, record every one separately
    Pan hard for bigger mix
    USE LESS DISTORTION THAN YOU THINK !!!!!!!! It all will add up.
    Even though it sounds cool with 4 or more tracks all the way through, leave them out of where they don't belong. In fact, build it backward, start with 4 in the chorus and take 2 out in the verse to get a feel for the build.
    Use different inversions.

    Hope that helps.
  3. Pete_Weaver

    Pete_Weaver Guest

    Hey Columbia . . .

    Check out these two tracks.

    This is a band I recorded recently. If this is the kind of guitar tone
    you're after, let me know and I'll tell you exactly how I recorded it.
  4. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    Pete, that's a pretty good heavy guitar sound you got there. I'd like to here how you got it. :cool:
  5. COLUMBIA_05

    COLUMBIA_05 Guest

    thanks for the replies!

    Pete, those guitars sound ^#$%ing brilliant

    that is definitely what i'm striving for in my mixes.... but maybe not as metal-ish.....

    "Dirty Deeds" by AC/DC.... "Rock 'n' Roll Star" by Oasis..... and "Drain You" by Nirvana are the exact tones i would LOVE to be able to attain

    but i would love to know exactly how you did record those guitars..... and then maybe some slight adjustments i could make in tone

    also, i am confused as to what sound i want coming from the amp... i am worried that my sound is too distorted, making everything a mess when i go to mix.. can you give me any suggestions about amp settings as well? (i have a BOSS ME-50 effects pedal, and just a small fender amp with gain, treble, middle, bass, and reverb knobs on it)

    cheers for all the help!
  6. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    What pre's are you using, Pete? That sounds really nice!
  7. Pete_Weaver

    Pete_Weaver Guest

    Hey gang,

    Thanks for the kind comments!

    First I'll list the gear used and the signal chain, then my thoughts
    that might help you.

    These two particular songs were recorded with two guitar players.
    One panned hard left, the other panned hard right.


    1. Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Combo
    2. Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifer Head through a Randall 4x10 cab.

    I always put TWO mics on any guitar amp:

    Studio Projects C1 on a speaker cone
    Shure SM57 on another speaker cone

    Preamps and A to D covnersion . . .

    Both mics go directly into an Apogee Trak 2 which then goes
    via opitcal cable into Pro Tools LE. Recorded at 24 bits 44.1k

    That's it for signal chain . . . the room used was a living room,
    which has not been acoustically treated nor tested in any way.

    Now for theory stuff . . .

    The mics and preamp I used make all the
    difference in the guitar tone we achieved . . . however here's how
    I approached the tracks . . . since two mics are used simultaneously
    to capture the guitar tone, for each guitar amp . . . the mics are fed
    to two seperate tracks in PTLE, a sm57 track and a C1 track.
    Though these are tracks are seperate, they should be treated as
    ONE instrument . . . a guitar.
    In fact, during mixing, I run the two tracks into a mono aux input . . which is where I bring up any plugins.
    I blend the volume of the two mic tracks to get a generally pleasing

    Plugins . . .

    On the aux input channel I put DAD Valve set to the distortion guitar
    preset. See

    Next plugin is Waves Renaissance EQ - 4 band.
    OR . . . Waves Audio Track
    I roll off the low end
    anywhere from 120 up to 170 hz to get it out of the way of the bass
    guitar. If you were to solo the guitar up, it would have a little bit of
    a thin tone . . . but in the case of hard rock, the bass kicks in and
    gives the impression of low end in the guitar tone. This may not
    work for other styles of music but in the case of hard rock I find it
    crucial to roll off the low end in the guitars to get rid of muddiness.
    I then boost around 2.5k between 1 to 5 db to give guitars bite.

    That's it for plugins.

    Panning . . .

    I tend to pan all heavy rhythym guitars hard right and left.
    If the band has only one guitarist, I will usually request him to play
    the song top to bottom twice (each time using the same two mics
    which results in four tracks of guitar, but each pair is considered a
    single instrument.) In other words, I always double track the
    rhythym guitar parts and pan them hard right and left.

    Finally . . .

    On the master fader in PTLE I placed one plugin . . . McDsp Analog
    Channel, set to Console 3 preset.
    I put this on at the beginning of the mix and "mix into"
    this plug. If the mix starts sounding too compressed or pumping
    too much, I back off the input of Analog Channel until I cant hear
    pumping and breathing anymore.

    So . . . to get more of an AC/DC tone . . . I would recommend a
    Marshall half stack because that's what Angus uses, and his gain
    is not cranked very high. Tube distortion will definitely sound
    different than stomp box distortion, but the use of dual mics
    should go a long way towards capturing the guitar tone once you
    have the amp sounding the way you like.

    We tended to go for beefy metal amps with the gain seriously
    cranked. I would think you should try recording your tone with the
    distortion gain backed off and then see what the cumulative effect
    is when you combine your double tracked, panned guitars.

    Hope this helps!

    Pete Weaver
  8. RobDahne

    RobDahne Guest

    Mic position

    Hey Pete,
    Im using the same mics (57, C1) to track guitar next week.
    How do you have them positioned relative to the speaker cones?
  9. Pete_Weaver

    Pete_Weaver Guest

    Hey Rob,

    I place them each in front of their own speaker, sometimes lower
    speaker, sometimes upper, about 3 inches from the grille cloth.
    The mic is typically aimed about 2 inches in from the edge of the speaker. I never aim it at the center of the speaker.
  10. bobbo

    bobbo Active Member

    Dec 11, 2004
    re double micing the amp

    you have to watch out for phase problems, I had that happen to me in a session, the mics were both equal distance from one of the speakers on the 4x12 cab and every thing sounded good until I combined the two tracks and wham it sounded horrrrable. I actually prefer the sound of recording each guitar track seperate, I feel it gives a bigger sound because the wave forms are a little different and has a little bit different sound and is more of a doubled sound than an exact copy. Thats just my take on it, plus you need to watch out and not have too much guitar drowning out the drums.

    PS you got to love those mesa boogies

  11. bobbo

    bobbo Active Member

    Dec 11, 2004
    RE micing

    Here is something I did on a 16 track about a year ago, we used an older marshall tube combo amp, and there are 4 guitars on there, all recorded seperate. I changed mics (sm57, 602, AM51) preamps, the placement and I even I think on one of the tracks I went to through a v-amp.


    PS: This was recorded through cheap equipment just to let you know, and the toms were kind of wack.
  12. Pete_Weaver

    Pete_Weaver Guest

    Hey gang,

    I realize I was a tad vague about a couple of important points on how I got that guitar tone.

    I always double track distorted guitars, and pan them R and L . . .
    However . . . as I record the first guitar track, I use TWO mics each
    placed on two seperate speakers of ONE cab. I never use both mics
    on the same speaker at the same time, but rather, two speakers at
    the same time. I print these two mics each to a track.
    When mixing, I treat the two tracks as ONE instrument simply blending the volume
    faders to a tone I like. Then I repeat this whole process for the second
    (double tracked) part. This give me TWO guitars, spanning FOUR tracks.
    I am a firm believer in true double tracking.

    Hope this helps.
  13. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    Pete after hearing your recording, and getting some recomendations, I'm serioulsy considering getting a Mesa Dual Recto.

    I noticed on your recording that you used the Mesa Combo amp. Do these little combo amps sound as good as the full blown Mesa half stack?

    I'll be using this amp for recording only, so I don't need it to be that loud.
  14. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    Mar 22, 2004
    New Delhi, India
    I was visiting the Messa site, and could not find a link to the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Combo . any clues.

    Thats one insane guitar sound youve got. Tell me, if you have had any experience with emulators... can they sound close ? espesially the virtual ones ? Guitar rig, Amplitude or greenmachine. ??

  15. Pete_Weaver

    Pete_Weaver Guest

    Johnjm22 and Sidhu . . .

    The Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier combo was an older rig that
    sounded quite good but not as good as the Triple Rectifier half

    Also, a HUGE element of that guitar tone is the combination of the
    two mics (Shure 57 and Studio Projects C1) each aimed at
    seperate speakers running through an Apogee Trak 2 (which is both
    a mic pre and A to D converter) straight into Pro Tools LE.

    Both bands had two guitar players, I recorded them each playing
    the same rhythym part, on two seperate tracks which were then
    mixed panned hard left and right, with low end rolled off at about
    150hz and a boost at 2.5khz until I felt it had sufficient bite.
    Rolling off the low end allows the Bass guitar to do its job.

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