Guitars will be the Death of Me!!!

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Rockstar Vatican Assassin
Member Since: Mar 20, 2009

OK guys.... I'm so confused right now that I'm spinning in circles. You've seen some of my other posts (
www.homerecordingconnecti...20926&frm=8 ) and I've used a lot of info contained within them. But now I think I've attempted to attack guitars at three different angles and all three ended up in crap. The problem is trying to create an uber-crunchy metal with a touch of 'airy-ness" to give it that professional recording sound (keeping in mind, I record both guitars through a POD6). Every article i've read both here and elsewhere talks about duplicating a guitar track and adding subtle delay (HAAS) to that copy to create that stereo effect. Well that's all great, but I have two guitarist (2 original tracks + two copies = 4 total tracks).

I've tried inverting the polarity on the duplicate tracks, adding HAAS delay to them, using nothing but panning w/ no FX... all crap!! No matter what I try, I seem to be creating more "flatness" than "air" and it sounds like a high-pitched cluster _ _ _ _ in my car's stereo.

So here's my questions in order of processing/editing:

If I already have a "left" and "right" guitar track (each with their own sound), should I still create the "copies" to make 4 tracks to play around with (panning, fx, etc..).

Depending on the answer to the first question, which tracks should I bus over to a HAAS delay? The originals or the copies? (Note: The mains are EQ'd; the copies are in their raw form (no eq or effects or compressors.. just a copied WAV file plastered into a track).

When I add the delay, am I always making sure what's left stays left and what's right stays right. Or am I using the delay to create the L guitar to appear on the right and vice versa? Should I cross pollenate, if you will, or keep the respective guitar in their proper "stage" spot?

A trick to HAAS delay, supposedly, is to keep the original and the copy (keeping in mind, one guitar example) panned dead center and to use the BUS with the HAAS to move the sound around L and R, respectively. That theory works with only two tracks... but with 4 tracks, is this a good idea?

What is the typical dry dbs for a delay (I usually sit around -1.7)? Feedback % (about 10%)?

If the guitars sound crispy as a result of all of this, should I be EQ'ing 1k or so out of the guitar track, or the BUS with the Delay?

If a screenshot tells a thousand tales, I can upload an image of my mixer to a file share. PLS HLP!!!


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Since: Feb 07, 2005

Apr 07, 2011 02:35 pm

You could be running into a phase issue. Have you nudged the copies of the tracks?

Rockstar Vatican Assassin
Since: Mar 20, 2009

Apr 07, 2011 02:46 pm

I tried nudging the copied tracks for a "manual" delay before I realized I had a HAAS delay... so I put them back to "lined-up" with the original tracks and am using the plugin now with a 20 and 25ms delay, respectively. I will zoom in though and make sure the peaks line up... now that you mention that.
Since: Nov 11, 2007

Apr 07, 2011 02:47 pm

The main complaint I have with the short delay guitar effect, at least by my methods, is that I lose a lot of aggressive pick attack and the detail in the raw tone. The only real benefit I've noticed is that the guitar tends to sit in some mixes a little better when there's a lot of competition for the guitar freq's. I think that the delay effect has a musical effect, like chorus, but I don't think that it contributes to that raw overdriven amp sound very well. I think it takes away from the rawness of it, at least the way I've done it (stereo aux bus fed from main guitar mix bus, 15 ms delay on left, 30 ms delay on right). I'm having much better luck using a software EQ to make space for the elements of a mix.

I have the most luck getting the fullness in the mix from 1.) EQ, 2.) a little conservative compression on things that are too dynamic, and 3.) some attention to panning (definitely in that order, IME). So far, the only good results I've had using a delay bus on guitars are as effects and not tone sweeteners. I have never used a multiband compressor...but I have a hunch that it could really give us a meaty guitar sound. For now, I EQ the main guitar bus just before compression, then out to the main mix bus.

This post is as much for me as it is for you, as I find myself reaching for the short delays to make tone more 'in your face' a lot too...but it almost never works for me! Ignore at your discretion, ha.

It may be a good idea to draw a big line, write 20 Hz on one end and 20Khz on the other. Take a look at your mix elements and decide where you want them to sit. Maybe try this method: Solo each element (master guitar bus, master bass buss, master vocal bus, master keys, etc.), sweep a narrow EQ over each element while solo'd, write down what frequencies you like in one column on a sheet of paper, write the freqs you don't like down in the other column, and then take all EQ settings off (leave the plugins there for later). Now review where each element sounds good and where each element sounds muddy. Based on what you liked/disliked, draw some tick marks on the 20Hz-20Khz line to break up the instrument space visually. If you're like me, you'll have freq's that you prefer to hear boosted across more than one mix bus, which won't work in the mix, but it's good to know what you like on those buses for later.

Now play the mix back as a whole. Start by cutting the mud freq's by a few db one at a time and see if that clears up the mix (stop when it does, you don't want to suck out all the tone by satisfying your out-of-context-solo'd-track preferences). If there are still elements that are competing and you like both of the EQ boosts at about the same freq's on the competing tracks I've had great success cutting one instrument in a narrow band, and then boosting the corresponding freq on the other instrument. For instance, I had two high gain guitar parts that were messy together; I chose to boost one at X Hz (3-4dB) and reduce the other at X hertz (3-4 dB). Because I liked the solo'd tracks with the same EQ boost when they were solo'd, I made space by boosting Y Hz on the second guitar guitar track, Y being just a little bit higher than X in the freq spectrum. The same method could be applied to the rest of the mixing process.

I mentioned panning and compression as other methods to improve the mix. I don't have any method for compression other than experimentation. If you aren't doing it already, I REALLY recommend mixing in mono and save panning until the last possible moment. It's easy to make space by panning things left and right, but when you listen back in mono you may be horrified. I have been on several occasions. Once the mono mix sounds good, then you can really increase the 3D feel by panning. Know that the mix is properly separated before you even touch panning. Panning for separation is a cool effect; but I let it serve as a crutch in my mixes for a while.

Hope that helps

Rockstar Vatican Assassin
Since: Mar 20, 2009

Apr 07, 2011 03:44 pm


That is some great advice. I have been mixing with the instruments panned first; perhaps that was my downfall as I can't really tell from that angle what is actually competing. The problem is even more compounded by the fact that Guitar A is "mid" heavy whilst guitar B is "low" and "high' heavy. You'd think that would be the best case scenario.... right? In my case.. its not. It's like they are playing jedi mind games with me.. forcing me to tweak until my ears ring and my eyeballs pulsate. The other actual real problem is that I don't really have a trained ear. I guess time and experimentation fixes that!! I'll give it another go and see where I end up. Thanks!
Since: Nov 11, 2007

Apr 07, 2011 04:19 pm

Yeah it does seem logical that they would fill each other out rather than compete. I dunno. You could try using an EQ to make the separation more extreme (cut mids on the guitar B part) Another thing I've experienced using EQ is that I always, without fail, like the sound of an EQ when it's too extreme at first. I think a good method for checking yourself and preventing insanity is to get an EQ that you think you like in context of the mix, then cut all your monitoring for a while. Give your ears a 30 second rest in silence before listening again. Typically changes my opinion. After beating my head against a wall enough times, I get spooked if I boost/cut more than 4 db.

I don't remember if I mentioned it before but I recently switched from using the EQ that came with my DAW and now use URS N series EQ instead. You can get a trial and see if that helps your mix. Some EQ's are pretty bad! Mine was.
Since: Nov 27, 2007

Apr 07, 2011 09:04 pm

duping tracks will just be making the whole thing louder.
Duping and slightly offsetting will cuase phase issues and it usually mosty sounds like *** anyway.

I thought your gits sounded not too bad when i heard them.
But, seriously, top end crunch on guitars should be kept down to a minimal man.

Leave all the op end for the cymbals, hats, kick click, and vocals.

so you have the drums and their top end, which is what around 9 to 11/12k? same with vox? they can sit around that area too, their top end does at least.

Try this, keep your mix the as is, roll the top off your gits till the cymbals and kick click suddenly get more pronounced.
then if you have to, turn those gits back up.
check your mid range on the gits again, still to much mess?
scoop them again. Transperancy is what yer looking for.

if they not transparent then how can you hear the drums properly?
If your wanting to put delay on them and pan they delay across the stereo field, again, how are you gonna hear the drum clarity properly?
delay will introduce mess and lessen the response time of the gits, as does reverb.

With verb and delay, if you have to use, then all those freq on that verb or delay that will smother everything int hat range, unless you scoop everything feq wise, and leave the very very top end so it can get over the top. If you wanna leave some meat, then find where its not smashing into anything else.

Look at it this way,
Youve got your great drum sound,
Paste the guitars "around" that, not over it.
that means, find the feq's in your gits that cover the drums and scoop them slightly. when the gits have the same feqs, they will cover the drums, then youre in for probs, because whether you realise it or not, you start boosting drum freq's....then the ****hits the fan.

by this i mean, car stereo tragedies, crazy *** freq's on the gits to get over drums, that exist to get over gits. That and verbs and delays making the whole thing worlds worse, and their freq's "as well" So x2, first a dupe of the gits then their own freq's.
That combined with possibly shitty cymbal freq's in certain areas (the same as your gits freq) and youve got death on your hands.

IMO opinion, things mostly cannot be boosted, only replaced, or made to "fit".

Boost things to accentuate that instrument, not necessarily to get over something else.

If youre having mess issues now, then come master time, man it'll a million times worse.

Look at it like this,

There's only so much that can fit in one space.
Once its been compressed, that multitude of guitars along with cymbals etc etc, will just turn into a nightmare.

I think guitars have all the fattness they need already, adding things makes them smooth and flacid.
Only so much you can polish a turd as the metaphor goes.

Can i ask,
What in particular is bothering you about them man?
Can you post a snipet that i can download and take to my studio for a better listen?

Rockstar Vatican Assassin
Since: Mar 20, 2009

Apr 08, 2011 02:42 pm

@ Dematrix

The Song I have uploaded to this site is rather one-dimensional; it lacks that "airy'ness" about it when played in bigger audio sources.

I have two basic problems (trying polishing that turd, if you will).

One: when we recorded guitars, we went direct. And we did this because my one guitar player's amp had a blown speaker and the other was in process of getting a new amp. So to avoid all that BS, we went direct thru the POD. It sounded good at the time, but in hindsight, I wished I mic'd instead. They're flat, high pitched, and lack that oomph. I recorded another band mic'd and the guitars are SOOOO much more powerful and in your face. But its way to late for that... we can't possibly go back and re-record everything.

Two: The guitars are the two extremes like I detailed before. They don't even come close to each other. And because one is very bassy, and the other very high-end, one drowns out the other depending on where they're at in the song. So I keep getting the "can you turn my guitar up" line depending on which song is playing (despite me making them both/all uniform across the track timeline).

I'll uploaded a new revision of one of the songs in a bit. I can also provide a single guitar WAV if you want to take a stab at it and let me know what you would do. At this point, I'm grasping at straws.
Since: Nov 27, 2007

Apr 08, 2011 07:56 pm

Is that the song crimson secret?

I cant download it, i need a file i can save to my zipd drive so i can take it to my studio.

Pod isnt too bad really.
at least you can mess with it afterwards.
I end up using amps and mics i would never consider using pod, for me what i aim for these days guitars wise is nothing like you'd expect and you'd never use it if you were playing by yer;sef. they sound anything but exciting but thats what works imo.

Typo Szar
Since: Jul 04, 2002

Apr 09, 2011 09:36 am

Listening to ur track I dont think u should worry about airyness just yet. It sounds like when u recorded with the POD ur setting was too high gain. Guitars on tape with too much gain kind of get tinny very fast.

There was alot of good advice throughout this thread already, but the main thing is recording guitars (especially direct) r actually kind of counter intuitive as versus other instruments. Its a kind of "forest for the trees" scenario with guitars in my experience.

U really do have to watch ur gain, coz too much can swallow up ur attack and also, to ur ears, a guitar usually sounds nice when the breakup is at about 3khz to 6khz, it sounds really alive. But if hit those frequencies n think, yay they sound great and u dont try to get a good spread across ur mid range ur gonna end up with really thin guitars, which r wat im hearing here. U also will lose clarity after a while. This is one of the erasons is good to mic an amp, its not so much about soudn but its about how the guitar breaks up when an amp is being pushed as versus when it is being compressed into distortion.

right now ur guitars sound thin, which i think is wats bothering u. I would retrack them really, coz the problem is not in the mixing, its very much the raw tracks u had. U can still do it direct, but back off teh gain and really take time to double or triple them if u want that huge sound. Use different guitars and such and different amp settings and always listen so that their doing wat u want, which means taht their beefing up and that their complimenting the song.

It never works out for me, when i think oh i can fix that later. U have to lay the ground work.

There was already so much said so i dont wanna get long winded so ill leave it there for now

Rockstar Vatican Assassin
Since: Mar 20, 2009

Apr 09, 2011 10:30 am

OK.. I've uploaded a new rendering of the song plus the original sound files so you can have a reference. Once you've heard all three... tell me where I went wrong!! LOL!!

I hear ya man... I'd love to re-track everything, but it took like 4 months to record the album and with playing shows, the moving in and out of equipment just makes it way too hard.

Latest Attempt (full band mix)

Guitar Left (ogg format):

Guitar Right (also ogg)

The guitar tracks take a few seconds to kick in (FYI).
Since: Nov 27, 2007

Apr 09, 2011 08:46 pm

my 2c.

I can hear the cymbals, very loud, i cant hear much of the drum sound itself, also the guitars are sitting under the cymbals which makes them hard to hear.

I cant tell if this is because its my compy speakers or not. but they seem real loud to me right now. seems like they a smothering everything from this point of view.
metal cymbals arent generally loud from my exp. and the hat panning can also interfere with guitars.

I would remove what ever effect you have on the guitar at the start of song which is definately gonna make it sound thinner, if you have compression on them, say on a bus, only have it just taking the top off the peaks, and thats it, this is another thing that'll smear them alot.

Only fx i have on guitars is nothing. Maybe a touch of verb on leadwork.

remove more top end up to 6k then turn them up a bit.
Make sure all guitar amp settings are different and/or use a different mic in pod.

Hope this helps a touch more.

what guitars are they using, pick ups ""string gauge""" is a biggy too.
Since: Nov 27, 2007

Apr 09, 2011 08:47 pm

oh yeah, how ****ing sick of music are you right now?? hahaha, this is how im feeling atm.

So hangin out to get these song of mine of this computer and start fresh.

A drummers every step is music
Since: May 15, 2005

Apr 10, 2011 05:52 pm

Man I went through the whole heavy guitar mess before and I know how you feel. Honestly of all the tricks Ive learned I went back to simplisity to get my guitar tracks to sound big and powerful.

Now I doubt you want rerecord the track, but instead of using the dupped track with delay a much better approach to the same idea is to track 2 tracks. It takes more work but the end result is a much more natural sound. For every guitar/guitar track record a track for the left pan, and one for the right pan. This can get to be really stressful if you dont just do it! One thing I do is never let the guitarist listen to the track until both sides are recorded. You can always go back and fix small parts.

Another thing, Im not too familiar with the pod so correct me if Im getting ahead of you. The best thing I have ever realized was the power of a single SM-57 on the best speaker of your cab. I always make it perpendicular with the cone, somewhere around halfway between the center and edge. But this is something you have to find by sweeping the mic. I put the mic right against the grill too. I have yet to find a better way to record a guitar cab.

Other than that I like to do a scratch track to find where I kind of what my instruments to lie within the mix, then when I go to record the final mix I can tailor the raw sound to the overall mix. Its so much easier to mix when before even touching your faders, you can hear everything and it all sounds decent. Just because your guitars sound great alone, doesnt mean they are going to fit in the mix.

Nothing beats good mixing though. Knowing how to cut more than boost, making a place for every instrument, making sure nothing is colliding with another instrument, etc. Its really just messing around with stuff. If this is one of your first mixes I wouldnt get too frustrated. You have a very decent sound already.
Since: Nov 27, 2007

Apr 10, 2011 08:03 pm

i didnt realize you still had duplicated tracks panned.
Those will be causing phaising issues for sure.

honestly, go to you tube and check out "wrong side" by SYL (not the live versions) and tell me what you think about those guitars.

That's one track each, panned L/R.

Rockstar Vatican Assassin
Since: Mar 20, 2009

Apr 17, 2011 06:55 pm

I've exhausted this as far as I can go. My final attempts at polishing this turd are posted in my profile. Check it out.... if you like it and want to hear the whole album, I'll post the URL for the torrent. In return, you have to tell your friends to download it too... and then the same rules apply to them!!! LOL!! Deal?

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