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Getting Guitar and Bass to sound full...
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#1
24th May 2010
Old 24th May 2010
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Getting Guitar and Bass to sound full...

I started mixing this song yesterday it's like the 3rd song I had ever mixed with my new setup(pro tools) and I tracked the guitars and bass and when it came time to mix they don't sound full at all...is there any tips on how to get them to sound better?
#2
24th May 2010
Old 24th May 2010
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Did the guitars and bass sound full as you were tracking them?
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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more input please.
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evanjmyers View Post
Should I reamp them?
There's a good chance you will have to (if you took a proper DI). We really need more specific info, but let me just tell you this. Great records are not made during mixing. Great records are made during pre production and tracking. Mixing and Mastering are processes that can enhance the recording you have made, but if you haven't made that great sounding record in the first place, then you are just mixing bad sounding music and there is only so much you can do in post. Next time you record, start with pre production such as song writing and arrangement etc. Then when you are tracking pay more attention to the sounds you are recording and try to have a vision for how the sounds within that arrangement are going to work together in the big picture. To be honest, the engineers that talk about "fixing it in the mix" tend to make the worst sounding records in my experience. Try to make your tracks sound like a great finished record right from the start. There is no such thing as making it good later. Place a high emphasis on pre production and tracking, and do not rely on a process down the line to fix everything and save the project. Mix engineers are happy campers when they have great material to mix, and mastering engineers love to receive a great sounding mix to master. It all starts with you!


Sorry for the tangent. I hope my comments were applicable.
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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possibly reamping. Adding a reverb/delay on the guitars. Not for a processed sound necessarily but to fatten them up.

Another thing you can do depending on the arrangement , providing the parts were played several times throughout the song, you can cut and past. In other words if say the gtr player plays the same arrangement in all the verses and /or choruses, you can make copies of what he played on say the first verse then copy it to the second and vice versa now you have doubles possible triples. It will fatten them for sure

Then there's always the first thing you try.....eq
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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I've had some success fattening up guits and bass by sending them to a BF76 on a bus.
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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what are the levels that you are tracking with? for instance, if you are recording hot then by the time you add drum samples you will need to turn everything down at the fader to avoid clipping the master bus. it's important to take into consideration what will be added to the track while doing the first recordings. 90% of what "goes wrong" in a mix usually stems from the lack of planning. In other words, if you're going to add drums and other music, when you record your guitars and bass do so at a level that allows you room to add fx, eq, and compression without needing to drastically change the channel fader thus changing the behavior of the effect (eq, compression, tape saturation).

That's the boring part. What you can do is record a few passes of the guitar with different settings on the guitar or whatever sim-amp you use. get some inversions going on the guitar as well as the tonal difference and you'll be able to blend the two (or 3 or 8) sounds into one sonic palette. Also, don't be afraid to cut cut cut cut the bass and guitar with eq. If you are adding drum samples it's almost a certainty that you'll need to adjust the eq of both the bass and kick drum to create space. Same goes with snare and guitar and lead voice.
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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Here's something to play with...

Put a short stereo delay on one track of the guitar (0% feedback).
Put a sample delay on one track of the bass (0% feedback).

Move the timing parameters to taste.

I used both of these tricks on this recording (look on the right for the full-rez download)
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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The fattest guitars I have ever achieved were done by combining a recorded track using an e609 in front of my boogie panned left and an amp sim track panned right. Combining multiple tracks of the same sound will sound louder, but not fatter in my experience. If the guits are getting lost when you bring in other instruments, then you probably have some frequency fighting going on. Careful EQ'ing here can make all the difference. Delays and verbs can really fatten the tracks as well, but if its a fast paced piece, this can also take away from the definition of the guitars. Make sure toi EQ these verbs and delays so that they don't add too much mud.

When you recorded the guitars, were your 2 mics in phase? Out of phase mics will kill fat guitars. Try playing with phase.

For bass, I will smash the living crap out of it with an opto compressor to get it solid, then EQ in a way that compliments the guits and drums. Experimentation and patience should get you some rocking guitars!
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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Quote:
I'm still unclear what you mean by recording "hot"?
Hot would be any level that doesn't allow enough headroom to add comp, eq, automation without clipping. -5db might work for some songs while -9db will work for others. It's not vague, in the 24-bit world I think it's good practice to err on the side of caution as the difference between -5db and -9db aren't quite as drastic "resolution-wise".

Good levels would be keeping all the channel faders at "0" without constantly driving the mixbus into the red. This of course will change from session to session and can be achieved quite easily in PT by putting the "Trim" plug-in in the first insert spot and adjusting your level there first. That way if you have something "hot" you can adjust it without moving the fader.

As far as recording technique - use as many guitar/amp/mic combinations as possible.
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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Interesting that there is so much "advice" even though we haven't heard what you've captured. As you can see, there are HUNDREDS of things that could have possibly gone wrong. Upload a clip and we might be able to give you something useful instead of random guessing.thumbsup
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evanjmyers View Post
How do I check phase?
There are two ways to 'check' the phase relationship between two or more tracks for any given instrument (the SM57 and SM7 on the guitar amp, for example...or the two bass tracks)

One way is to invert the polarity on one track. Play both tracks together while switching the polarity of one track, then listen to see if the bottom end is increased, decreased, or remains unaffected.

The other way is to use a 'sample delay'. As you increase/decrease the number of samples, the tracks will have various phase relationships. Adjust it until it sounds 'right'. This works much better then eq'ing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by evanjmyers View Post
Also do you have any tips on making each instrument stand out in it's own frequency?
Not unless we can hear the track. Can you post a snip?
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evanjmyers View Post
How do I check phase?

Also do you have any tips on making each instrument stand out in it's own frequency?
There are a couple of techniques for making good EQ decisions. On guitars, high pass them to about 80hz to get rid of unwanted low freqs. Use a filter with a tight Q, boost it and sweep it back and forth in the mids and low mids looking for unwanted freqs that reduce definition. When you find something, cut it by 1db or so. Small cuts tend to work better. Big cuts can thin out the guitar too much. Low pass filters can help define the top end, but too much can introduce some weird phasey sounds. The 1.5 to 3K range is very important for definition. Check your 500-800hz for "boxy" freqs.

Make sure your bass and kick are sitting in slightly different ranges. If you have the kick at 80hz, put the bass at 100hz. Use a tight Q bell filter at the at 100hz on the kick to cut a couple db, do the same on the bass at 80hz. High pass bass at around 50-60hz same on the kick. These are just some simple EQ tips that I have learned, but it all depends on the track.

To check phase, you will need a plug with a phase invert button. Which DAW are you in? Pan both guitar tracks to the same spot, make sure they are at the same level, then invert the phase on one of the tracks. If the phase is right, the sound should be really thin and crappy when the phase is inverted. If they don't sound thin and crappy, your phase may be out. Then you need to nudge one of the tracks over until it is thin and crappy, then flip the phase back. Then your sound should be full and loud. This will only really affect you if both mics were recorded at the same time using the same source.

Last edited by Insomniaclown; 25th May 2010 at 06:42 PM.. Reason: Forgot important point
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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So in PT, load up the Trim plugin on one of the guitar tracks, and push the black button that has a cirle with a line through it. That will invert the phase.

If you are recording 24 bit, you can easily track at -20db RMS. -10 and -6 are pretty hot. I have found it much easier to mix a complete song without clipping the master bus when all my tracks sit at around -20db RMS.
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25th May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evanjmyers View Post
Also should I be recording in 24bit/96?
Cause right now it's at 24bit/44.1
No. That will not cause any appreciable difference in the problem you're having. Stay away from the 48K (and its multiples) sample rates, unless your final medium is video.

It sounds like you have to check the way you're tracking. Mic placement may be a problem for the guitars. Your key statement is: "and they kinda sounded full but not really during tracking." If they're not sounding full during tracking, you're not getting some component of the sound.

Side question: Are you using the hi-pass buttons on the 003 inputs? That could trash your tracks.

Also, and forgive for asking: is the timing tight on the guitar/bass tracks, or is it all over the place? You should be tracking with drums, or some sort of metronome. If the playing is sloppy, all hell will break loose when you add drums that conform to the grid.

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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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Eq will only clean up your mess you made going in.

My typical guitar set up is two mics per cab, two cabs if I'm lucky and the band brought me some toys.

Then I double every single part they have, so 2 takes of the rhythm, 2 takes of the lead.

Come choruses or breakdowns or bridges or wherever needs that extra 10% I'll throw another track with a cleaner tone to fill out the low mids. Sometimes even another track just playing octaves or triads way up the fretboard.

As everyone mentioned, its a great idea to split your chain before you go to the amp and get a DI track. Good days I'll have 5 tracks per guitar take.

Split the bass as well, DI track, and an amp. Usually I'll overdrive the amp as well, get something really nasty and dirty to bridge the gaps between guitars and bass.

Having the DI track is VERY helpful. You can reamp if need be AND come edit time, you can see transients.
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25th May 2010
Old 25th May 2010
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So 5 tracks. Here would be my chain when recording my own stuff.

So guitar in the control room, plugs straight into a Boss TU-2 Tuner. The bypass goes to a preamp, the output goes to my cable snake and into my live room. In the live room, snake goes to a Little Labs STD, Little Labs S T D Signal Transmission Device, a guitar / instrument cord line driver | VintageKing.com
That splits the signal again so I now have two cables coming out of the STD that go to two Stacks, an Orange and a Marshall.

Track 1 - DI input, clean.
Track 2 - 414 on Orange stack.
Track 3 - sm57 on Orange stack.
Track 4 - EV/Blue Cardinal on Marshall stack
Track 5 - sm57 on Marshall stack.

Make sure you isolate the hell out of the two cabinets. When using the two mics, be extremely cautious about phase. Use logic. Put your ear up to the cab and find a speaker you like. The place the mics equidistant from the speaker. So if you're aiming at the edge of the cone, get both mic's capsules the same distance from the edge of the cone on each side. So mic 1 is 2 inches back from the left side of the cone, mic 2 is 2 inches back from the right side of the cone. If you're going off axis, make sure both mics are at relatively the same angle.
Just remember that the entire speaker moves the exact same way, so the top of the speaker will sound exactly the same as the bottom of the speaker (in theory.)

As mentioned, load a trim plug in on one of the tracks and flip the phase. (the null symbol) The sound should go from LOUD to thin, fuzzy, awful, crate amp distortion status.

If youve got some nice isolation headphones, you can try another trick.
Send a signal from your DAW of white noise (under instruments and signal generator) to your amps. Flip the phase on one of the mics and send the signal of the two to the headphones in the live room. Move the mics until you get everything to cancel out as absolutely much as possible.

Also keep in mind that this is only for a certain sound. If you want a wall of guitars this is the way to do it. Layers and layers. Change the settings on the amps for each guitar part and use a different guitar. If you can, use completely different amps. (I usually have 3-4 different heads that I switch between but typically use the same cabinets.)

For many and most records you will be fine with one mic, two tops and one cab recording one take of each part. Its when you get the rock bands and metal bands that want super human production that you need to go extreme.
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26th May 2010
Old 26th May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evanjmyers View Post
Since my live room is not big enough I guess just two mics and a DI should be fine?

And yes most of the bands I'm going to record want HUGE guitars....is it better to have the head in the control room? Also is it best to always use a dynamic and a condenser when tracking guitars?

I really enjoy getting awesome advice!
Yes, you can still get very big guitars that way. The key is in the doubles and in the changing of amps and guitars. Don't forget to mute the DI, its sonically useless in the mix (unless a part calls for it or something.)

I always leave the head in the live room. Speaker cables are tricky. I'd rather add 30 ft to the instrument cable than the speaker cable, but I really can't support that choice with any scientific reasoning..hah.

It is best to use two different flavors. So dyn & con, dyn & ribbon, ribbon & condenser, or even two of the same types (dyn &dyn) if they have very different sounds.

Think of guitars like an orchestra, most parts are doubled up if not tripled, quadrupled, you know? Its the subtle differences between the way each person plays that part and their instrument that thickens it up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by evanjmyers View Post
Also after you have those 5 tracks do you pan them all to the Left and then go back record again and pan them to the right for stereo?
Yes. But after I send all 5 to a single bus for that guitar. I'll usually keep them between 40-60 for the verses and 100 for the choruses, or the extra "chorus" tracks will fill in the hard pan gaps at the 100s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by evanjmyers View Post
Sorry for all these questions, but how do you track bass?
All I have access to is a shitty create amp, sansamp, BBE sonic stomp, and a UA Solo/610. Fender P Bass.
Same way, one DI and one amp. The only difference being that I blend the two to get my tone as opposed to guitars where I just mute it. Figure out which one sounds best in your room and with your bass, its really subjective.
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