mixing guitars

The Secret to Wide and Full Guitars in a Mix

For as long as I could remember, I though that in order to get full guitar sounds, I needed to record multiples takes of the same part. You know, a couple on the left and right and then one straight up the centre. Why only use a couple when you can have 4 or 5 right?

But the funny thing is that it isn’t about how many you use, it’s about how different they are.

Distinctive Sounds Are Massive

The easiest way to get a fuller and wider guitar sound is to record one guitar, twice and then pan one hard left and on hard right. But let’s go even further than that. To truly make those guitars sound wider, we need two completely different tones on the left and right side. We can then trick our ears into hearing a wide and massive guitar sound.

There isn’t only one way to get a guitar sound in a home studio. You could try using different guitars, unique mic placement on the amps, different pedals, different plugins etc. Whatever you can do that isn’t going to break your budget and is in your limits, you should do it. Whatever you have to do to get two different tones will make a huge difference to how wide and full your mixes sound.

Try Changing the Chords Around

I’d be the first to tell you that I am an average guitar player ad best but one thing I have learned is that by inverting the chords around it can really help with fullness and width in the mix. What do I mean? Here’s a really basic illustration: There isn’t only one way to play an A major on the guitar. So if your music involves you playing an A Chord, why not play a regular chord and then play the power chord to compliment it?

Another option is to use a capo and play the same chord but with a different finger patter. You could also go way up on the neck to play notes that are in an A chord to compliment your original chord. Your still playing an A chord for but since the tone is different it’s going to add a different color to the sonic landscape. The result is that you are going to hear different separation from the parts you played.

When In Doubt, Do Something Different

I hope that you are able to see the points that I am trying to make. The best kept secret to wide guitar tones is to have different colors and tones on the left and right side. It’s that simple and it will leave a huge impression on the person who is listening to the song.

But you can expand on this even further. You could do completely different guitar parts all together or use a completely different string based instrument. Why not a banjo? Minute differences in the left and right pan positions can make a big difference. So on the next session you have where you are recording guitars, why not try and do something different on the second take?

Once you pan them left and right, I’m positive you will be happy you did.

Sample Go a Long Way

A lot of times it not feasible to record guitars, because either you just aren’t capable or you don’t have the money to pay a session player.  In these cases, it’s always good to have some quality VST plugins on standby or even some really great samples and loops.

I generally recommend Loopmaster Guitars for their samples as I feel they are very very high quality.  Again a little tiny investment will go a LONG way.  Don’t be afraid to spend money on your craft because when you do it usually pays you dividends in the long run.

Happy Mixing!


Multitracks for Mixing Engineers to Practise

Hey Guys,

I wanted to tell you about something cool that the guys over at modern mixing have put together.  They created this new page on their website where you can buy and purchase multitracks.

So why is this a good idea?

Well when I was starting out in this audio world it was almost impossible to get my hands on some high quality multitracks.  I had to beg borrow and steal just to be able to work on a song.  Never mind getting paying, I was trying to get them for free.

But all of that took a lot of time and energy that by the time I got the files I was exhausted and didn’t feel like working on the songs anymore.

If there was somewhere that I could go, spend a little bit of money but save me HOURS of time.  I would have paid probably double or triple what Modern Mixing is charging because they make it so easy.

But on top of that all of the multitracks over at their site are ridiculously high quality, from the recordings down to the actual song itself.  Trust me, you will not be dissapointed.

But besides the multitrack files, Modern Mixing does a very good job of breaking down the mixing process for even the most beginner mixers.  So check out their site to see what’s going on over there.

Check out the multitracks here.


Better Mixes By Going For the Big Wins

Are you interested in some really useful mixing advice? Arlgiht, here it is: don’t waste to much time focused on the small details. Of course all the fine adjustments are important but you don’t want to waste a lot of energy doin it. If you spend most of your time doing these three sings that I list in this article, then you will see major wins with your mixes. Let’s go

Get a Really Great Static Mix

I can relate to the fact that you might want to start loading up plugins and automating faders but a lot of what comes from a great mix actually happens before the mix evens starts. One of the best things you can do for your songs is to start working on a static mix and then make it sound really good.

What does that entail?

It’s pretty simple, you achieve a static mix using only the volume, pan and nothing more

Why is this so effective? By messing around with the faders and pan pots, you are forcing yourself to listen to the song over and over again, giving each sound a place in the mix. Try and think of where the best volume and pan position would be for each track in the mix. Try and create a really good balance using nothing but volume and pan pots because this is where the best place is to start your mix.

Try Only Using EQ

So now that you’ve got a great rough mix, it’s time to bring the big dogs out. A this point, try to pretend that your EQ is the only tool you have to sculpt a great mix and make it come to life. Your EQ is probably the most important mixing tool you have next to the fader of course, it’s also the most powerful as well.

Try to spend the majority of your mixing time in this phase. Try and do whatever you have to do with the equalizer to get all your tracks to work well together. Use your EQ tool to emphasize things, carve out pockets or even drastically change a sounds character to make it work. Also try and work with the EQ in mono. You will be surprised at the kind of mixing decisions you’ll make…go ahead give it a try.

80% Of The Time Should Be Focused on The Important Things

What I’m saying is that since, compression, EQ and general leveling is the most important aspects to the mix, you should be spending 80% of your time on these activities and 20% on the other stuff. Why? Well it’s pretty simple, since these activities are the most important to the overall success of the mix, then you should at least get better at it. Leave the rest of the mixing process (effects, automation, etc.), to only help enhance what we’ve already done.

So as you work on your next track, try and give it a try. Don’t spend most of your time working on the fine details, focus on the bigger gains and you’ll see your best mixes yet. Go for it, I dare you!

A Warning About Reverb and Delay

Everyone knows that delays and reverbs can really add some interesting spice and texture to your recrods. But if we are really being honest, it’s extremely easy to let them get away from us quickly.

In today’s post I want to give you a couple warnings about reverbs and delays and how you can avoid falling into those traps. So let’s look into it.

Delay Can Mess With Panning

One word of advice on delays, just like how reverb can ruin all your hard work with equalization, a lot of delay can obscure your sense of stereo separation.

This can be even more true if you are adding delay to things that aren’t a mono source. Your ear is going to here the hard panned sound as well as the delay bouncing back and forth.

Your mind is going to start playing tricks on you telling you that the hard panned sound is not quite panned so much. The end result is that you tracks with sound closer than they actually are.

This may not be a big deal to you, but what I know from experience is that it won’t take much for delay to start demishing all that nice stereo width you worked so hard to achieve.   Try and keep things simple and just pay attention to the stereo image as you manipulate your delays.

Less is More With Reverb

Let me try and persuade you a little bit in regards to reverb. Less is often more, especially with reverb plugins. If you use too much reverb, trying to use it as “glue”, you could just as easily go over board and completely destroy what once was a clear sounding mix.

Just stop for a moment to reflect. You ‘ve worked your butt off to get a really good recording and then used some tastefull EQ to open it up. You definitely don’t want to be adding in a wash of reverb to your tracks. Too much reverb will wash away all your hard work, literally.

One thing that I do as a general rule is to push the sound into the rverb until it becomes noticeable and then I pull it back until I can barely hear it. So I won’t really hear it but if I push the mute button, It will feel like I’m missing something.

You’ve Been Warned

Of course I can only give you my best practical advice and then hopefully you will take it. Just remember that reverb and delays are meant for subtle enhancement (unless you’re amiming for a crazy effects). Try to respect your EQ and compression by going easy on the reverb and delay.

For a basic primer on using reverb and delays, watch this video from WinkSound

Welcome to my blog

Hey there,

I go by Mugs and Magic.  I used to be a producer but have since gone on to focus more on recording and mixing music.  I’ve decided to start a blog to talk about my experiences and give help to others who are trying to learn and grow.

Stay on the look out for more to come :)