mixing distorted guitars

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mixing distorted guitars

Postby ditto » February 12th, 2015, 11:53 am

Okay, gimme a hint. How to mix distorted guitar against clean guitar? EQ just doesn't cut it with the distorted guitar cuz basically the whole thing is a frequency storm. Panning helps, but sum to mono and the masking is still pretty bad.
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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby Timboalogo » February 12th, 2015, 2:30 pm

It's pretty simple and a good way to learn EQ.

To start, find the frequency of the clean guitar that makes it sound the way you like. Cut this frequency from the distorted guitar. Repeat this technique with the distorted guitar and cut from the clean. Probably pan each to opposite sides. Solo the 2 tracks and keep adjusting the EQing. When the distorted guitar sounds too thin, you've gone to far.

Oops, forgot to add that next is to shape the sound of the 2 tracks to make them sound the way you want.

There is no other way, except using temporal muting e.g. mute the clean when the distorted plays and vice versa.

It'll work but you have to be patient and listen.
Last edited by Timboalogo on February 12th, 2015, 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby Farview » February 12th, 2015, 2:31 pm

It depends on what you are trying to do. You could make the clean guitar bright and the distorted guitar dark. Maybe the distorted guitar is too distorted.

Are they playing the same parts?

Can the clean guitar be much louder than the distorted guitar?

Try double tracking the distorted guitar, pan them hard and put the clean guitar in the middle.
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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby J-Bot » February 12th, 2015, 5:52 pm

In addition to what was mentioned, I'd also like to add that sometimes when recording, guitarists feel like they need similar distortion to what they use when performing, and that's a quick way to get a less than stellar distorted guitar sound. What sounds good live is often way overkill when recorded to a track. Less is definitely more. Possibly less than they would feel comfortable using, which might take some convincing and explaining. If they still don't believe you, shove their ear against the cabinet's grill. xD

In addition to cutting out a spot for the clean sound, you could also try shelving the highs on the distortion to mellow out some of the top end fuzz/fizz. You probably want the details of the clean sound to shine through the distortion anyway.
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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby ditto » February 13th, 2015, 1:37 am

Timboalogo wrote:It's pretty simple and a good way to learn EQ.

To start, find the frequency of the clean guitar that makes it sound the way you like. Cut this frequency from the distorted guitar. Repeat this technique with the distorted guitar and cut from the clean. Probably pan each to opposite sides. Solo the 2 tracks and keep adjusting the EQing. When the distorted guitar sounds too thin, you've gone to far.

Oops, forgot to add that next is to shape the sound of the 2 tracks to make them sound the way you want.

There is no other way, except using temporal muting e.g. mute the clean when the distorted plays and vice versa.

It'll work but you have to be patient and listen.


I've done the temporal muting thing as much as possible on this track, but there are still two sections where both guitars play at the same time.

What do you mean by 'shape the sound of the 2 tracks to make them sound the way you want'. I thought that's what the EQing was about.
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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby Timboalogo » February 13th, 2015, 5:46 am

I'm no pro, but for simplicity's sake I think of this situation in 2 ways: one is to get the guitars out of each other's way (and/or the way of the other instruments) by removing frequencies and [edit] making use of [/edit] space, and the second is to shape the sound of the individual instrument(s) by one or more of a touch of additive eq, compression, effects, and anything else you can pull out of your hat.

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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby ditto » February 17th, 2015, 1:17 am

FWIW, here's the first mix:

https://soundcloud.com/yousemusic/lover
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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby Farview » February 17th, 2015, 12:25 pm

I don't see anything wrong with that. The clean guitar sounds like it's close to you and the distorted one seems farther away. If you pan them away from each other a little more, it would give you more separation and accentuate the syncopation of the parts.
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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby ditto » February 17th, 2015, 1:34 pm

Okay, thanks. The only thing I'm concerned about is how the distorted guitar part sort of disappears in the same two segments when both guitars are playing.

The panning call's a tough one. For different verses only one of the guitars plays, so panning the parts left and right would produce an off-balance mix.
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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby Timboalogo » February 17th, 2015, 2:02 pm

ditto wrote:For different verses only one of the guitars plays, so panning the parts left and right would produce an off-balance mix.

If it doesn't sound good, you could envelope the pan and move the guitar when it's playing by itself.
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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby ditto » February 17th, 2015, 2:10 pm

I used to do that sometimes back in the day, but then I thought it wasn't a 'done' thing very often. I'll try it though - thanks.
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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby Timboalogo » February 17th, 2015, 2:14 pm

ditto wrote:I used to do that sometimes back in the day, but then I thought it wasn't a 'done' thing very often. I'll try it though - thanks.

One of the pros would say, "If it sounds good, then do it." I'm not a pro, so I can't say it. :lol:

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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby Farview » February 17th, 2015, 7:18 pm

ditto wrote:Okay, thanks. The only thing I'm concerned about is how the distorted guitar part sort of disappears in the same two segments when both guitars are playing.

The panning call's a tough one. For different verses only one of the guitars plays, so panning the parts left and right would produce an off-balance mix.
Automate the pan, if you must. You could also add another guitar part to the clean only sections to balance it out.

Of course, you don't have to pan them much. In fact, you shouldn't because then the two parts won't play off each other as they do. Just 15-25% in both directions should do it without making the mix too lob-sided.

Automated panning is something that is done all the time. There are hundreds of stupid, anal-retentive things that go into commercial CD's. 98% of everything you buy is NOT recorded and mixed by some purist that uses minimal processing. Damn near every drum part is quantized to the beat and layered with samples. Nearly every guitar part is layered with some amp simulator on top of the miked sound, assuming there is a miked sound in the first place. It is mostly the amateurs on audio forums that are wringing their hands about 'purity' and 'authenticity''.

There is a reason why 'reality shows' are popular and 'documentaries' are not. Actual reality is boring and kind of sucks, augmented reality is much better.
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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby ditto » February 18th, 2015, 1:44 am

Farview wrote:Of course, you don't have to pan them much. In fact, you shouldn't because then the two parts won't play off each other as they do. Just 15-25% in both directions should do it without making the mix too lob-sided.



Well, I'll try that next, then. Cuz here's the second mix with panning really obvious:

https://soundcloud.com/yousemusic/lover-2
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Re: mixing distorted guitars

Postby moontree » February 19th, 2015, 8:42 pm

I liked the first mix. I believe both guitars were pretty well situated in the mix. The second mix (obvious pan), is too polarizing to my ears. I am a guitar player and in general, I will lay down two tracks for every main guitar part then hard pan each to opposite sides and maybe back them off to taste. Also, the two tracks will be either different guitars or amps or both or different pickups on the guitar. This way you can dial one of the guitars up a little louder on one side and a little less pronounced on the other. Don't know if any of that makes sense?

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