There is a trap that we all fall into when we first start recording – we try and get everything louder.
Guitars are no exception.
So what can we do to get them to sit in the mix better and have a feeling of greater loudness.
Let’s look at compression on guitars.
Using distortion or overdrive can add a lot of energy to a guitar recording but be careful too much and you run the risk of killing it.
Don’t be fooled distortion does not necessarily increase volume and can have the opposite effect.
Sometimes a waspy guitar tone can sound thin and weak.
Pull back on the gain and double up on the recording – I tend to half the effect and double track that guitar part – pan left and right.
EQ can also be of immense use – if other instruments are fighting for the same space as your guitars the perceived volume and energy will be affected.
Carve your guitars out of the mix using EQ first and see if that works.
Also using a type of compressor like a limiter will also help push up the enegry levels.
Distorted guitar can be compressed quite a lot but be careful you can really crush a sound – if it’s a really driven sound you desire then go for it – remember it’s an effect and as such use your ears to determine wether it works in the mix.
Don’t solo the guitar – if you solo the guitar out of the mix you can’t get it to sit properly.
Soloing to listen to the effect working is fine but try to work on it within the mix as much as possible.
Always when mixing you’ve got to bear in mind the other instruments in the mix – vocals especially will disappear behind a badly mixed guitar and bass guitar will lose some of it’s impact if your guitars are not processed in a way to allow it to breathe in the mix.
Be aware of the space you want to create – the song you are recording is defined by it’s dynamics – don’t crush them out of your guitars.
If you want a big brash sound doubling up your guitars will work wonders, adding a limiter and calming the peaks and bringing up the volumes will work a treat but be careful not to take up space that other instruments need to occupy.
At the end of the day it’s a matter of taste and experimenting.
I believe in having a fixed guitar sound that you can alter, a goto sound for each occasion.
But I aslo believe in having a limited amount of resources when it comes to effects.
Find one effect unit or vst plugin for each process and use them until you’re comfortable.
Too many choices cloud the decision process.
If you’re new to the recording scene find yourself a limter, a compressor and an eq and get to grips with those before you move on.
All EQ’s, Compressors and Limiters have a sound of their own but they all pretty much work in a similar way. Learn to use one of each before you move on to getting other ones to experiment with.