Stupid EQ Tricks

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George Sawyer walks through some tips to getting the most from your EQ by pointing out many key frequencies that can make a dramatic impact on your sound.

Hi folks. Dan asked me to write sort of an "eq primer" for the web site so here goes...I'm easily distracted, but I'll try to remain focused.

A couple of ground rules first. One, you should try to cut about five times as often as you boost, especially with shelves. High and low shelves were designed to remove hiss and rumble, respectively. Having said that, I use 'em to boost too.

Two, I'm in the habit of rolling off stuff on almost everything I eq. I like to leave the low end to, well, low end instruments-bass and drums. We all know that the human ear hears about 20 to 20k. Well the first octave, (20 to 40 hz.) is generally made up of stuff like thunder and trains. So don't boost it, Ok?

Three, be VERY careful about boosting anything around 200 hz. This makes your whole mix sound muddy. A little can fatten things up, but hopefully you won't have to use this.

Four, take all this with a grain of salt. This is meant to be a guideline, to help get you started. This is NOT meant to be a cookie cutter solution to everything. If it sounds good, it is good.

  • Kick Drum - Boost at 80 hz., cut around 350-400 hz., (removes "cardboard" sound) and beater smack is around 2-4 k.
  • Snare Drum - Fatness at 240 hz., crispness at 5 k.
  • Hats/Cymbals - Gong sound at 200 hz., shimmer/air between 8-12 k.
  • Toms - Boom between 60 and 200 hz., scoop out 100 hz. to 4 khz., attack at 5 k.
  • Bass Boost between 80 and 150 hz., to make a passive bass sound active, scoop around 350 hz., Boost 800 hz. for clarity or punch, and the slappin' poppin' thing is around 2.5 k.
  • Electric Guitar - Rolloff at 80 hz., cut at 800 hz. to remove "cheap" sound, and edge is around 2.5 k.
  • Acoustic Guitar - Bottom at 120 hz., body at 240 hz., clarity at 2.5 to 5 k.
  • Piano/Organ - Just like acoustic guitar except piano might need a little boost around 10 k.
  • Vocals - Scoop at 240 hz. if muddy, boost at 4 k for presence, and anywhere above 8 k to brighten (sibilance is between 8 and 10 k).

Well, that's all for now. If you found this helpful at all, let Dan know, and perhaps I'll write more. So until next time, have a beer, practice, and take care.

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