The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
How important is a uniform guitar sound across album? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 2nd April 2008
Gear Addict

How important is a uniform guitar sound across album?

Hello, this might seem like a stupid question but..

I understand how important it is to have a uniform vocal sound on an album.. but.. how important is it that the acoustic guitar is always recorded the same on every track?
I am producing and recording an album for a singer/songwriter who's tracks are always either acoustic guitar or piano.. accompanied often by strings/melodicas etc..

How important is uniformity in the ac gtr throughout every track? Bearing in mind the stereo image will be much more occupied by other instruments in the some tracks.. but some tracks, the acoustic is the main feature along with the voice..

I ask this because there's a few tracks I feel that a mono guitar will sit better with things, and the stereo pair of sdc's don't do the strumming justice as opposed to the intricate picked parts..
If I use various guitar sounds through techniqie on different tracks, will it seem odd to the listener?

Thanks in advance.
Old 3rd April 2008
Lives for gear
chrispick's Avatar

I don't think there's a need for uniformity of any element across an album, short of maybe RMS levels.

Do what's right for the song.
Old 3rd April 2008
Gear Addict

Thanks for the reply man..

This is my first commercial project, and I feel that the tracks have so much variation, I see them all as separate individual pieces that make up this bigger picture..

I was worried that some tracks have a wide stereo imaged guitar, but then another track will be much narrower in the imaging..

I think I should just go with instinct maybe.. if the tracks sounds right.. the album will..
Old 3rd April 2008
Gear Guru
Karloff70's Avatar

I second the last poster. Although I'm about to record a similar thing of my own and do want some continuity in the guitar sound for this. Ultimately its your stylistic choice and if it does not sound weird to you, why should it to the listener? If the instrumentation is different on each track + each track having its own message/angle, just go where it wants to live. I'll probably start with a mic setup of 2 sdc's, a ribbon and an LDC for all guitar foundation takes with a similar mic placement vibe. But then in the mix with other instrumentation depending on track, some of these mics will be louder or quieter or even not make it, if they don't add/do their job.........

Just my little vision of what I want out of it, go with yours.
Old 3rd April 2008
Gear Addict

Yehh totally..

I guess I should just go with what works per track.. and not worry too much.. the tracks are stunning as they are.. I guess just capturing my own vision will be right.. since it works for me, surely it'll work.

I am kinda spoilt for choice with mics and pres... so I'll just go with instinct..

Thanks for entertaining this post btw
Old 3rd April 2008
Gear Guru
Karloff70's Avatar

Variation makes for an interesting journey as long as you get he order right. Order is definitely vital.
Old 3rd April 2008
Lives for gear
peeder's Avatar

Some people say you gotta have a different guitar on every track!
Old 3rd April 2008
Gear Guru
Karloff70's Avatar

Some people, honestly.......some people have a different colour on every strand of hair on their head heh
Old 3rd April 2008
Gear Addict

Originally Posted by peeder View Post
Some people say you gotta have a different guitar on every track!
You just filled me with masssssses of confidence man

It's really the stereo imaging and colour of the guitar on each of these tracks.. Since it's always the same guitar being used too..

I just didn't wanna go down the route of making the tracks sound the way I think they should, but then the tracks not sounding right against each other on the album as a whole.. mainly though sense of space and colour..

I reckon you guys are right tho.. it's down to placement of the tracks on the album.. and ultimately the message i'm trying to convery through this sense of space and colour that will make it work.

I should stop worrying.. the tracks sound great. I'm a lucky guy to be in this position, with such amazing equipment too.

Old 3rd April 2008
Lives for gear
Anselmo's Avatar

I say, no need to maintain uniformity at all... my opinion!
Old 3rd April 2008
Not to be contradictory to all the other responses here but if you are going for a possibly commercial success with this album, I would definitely suggest some type of uniformity. I'm not saying that all the guitars need to be the same, however you need to make sure that there is a "definable sound" to the album. You don't want a song that is along the lines of Coldplay and another that is along the lines of Rob Zombie with yet another song that is classic rock in nature, etc.

Years ago I made this exact mistake and the label flat out told me that I needed to rethink the album before it would be something they could market.

Now, if the album is just for you and you have no interest in a deal, by all means do whatever you want. I just thought I'd share my experience and some words of wisdom in case you are trying to attract a deal.

Best of luck with the project!
Old 3rd April 2008
Lives for gear
allencollins's Avatar

uniformity these days is kinda important cuz labels are into cookie cutter corporate rock.

But uniformity can also be formula in a way. I mean you could have 5 unique guitar sounds in a song. But to play it safe an stick to the corporate rock formula just use the same 5 guitar sounds in every song on the record.

Personally I can't stand Def Leppard but they used to do that. Hysteria has a different gtr sound in each part of the song . Verse is different than the prechorus and that is different in the bridge and that is different in the chorus the solo and so on. But in typical Mutt Lange Fashion he finds a way to formulate the same 'uniformity' throughout the record. And it worked. Nickelback has the corporate rock formula

I like Tony Iommi he's had the same sound for 40 years. Angus too, the same sound for 35+ . They play on note or one chord and you can instantly recognize them. How cool is that? Iommi could play on a McCartney or Boy George record, he could play 1 note and youd know it's him. Gotta respect that.

You can say what you want about certain players but if you have 1 sound people identify with it. One day that 1 sound may go out of fashion but when it comes back it's all yours. Iommi is proof. So is Eddie and Hendrix

Hendrix clones like SRV, Mike mcready, Kenny Wayne on down the line. They play a couple notes and you think it's Jimi. How cool is that to have people clone your sound? Same with Eddie in the 80's hair bands. These days all the kids sound like Malmsteen. Arpeggio heaven again. Who would have thought shredding would come back?

So long story long uniformity is important unless your someone like Jimmy Page.
And he's the only one in rock that has gotten away with being diverse. But only cus he was such a genius.
Old 3rd April 2008
Gear Guru
Sid Viscous's Avatar

Not important at all...
unless you're AC/DC.
Old 3rd April 2008
Lives for gear
A LaMere's Avatar

When creating an album... I tend to think the most important thing is communication. There are many different ways to get it done... but the idea is that the album is communicating something.... that something is tying the album together. I'm not sure how much you really have to think about it most of the time.. because it's pretty rare that a songwriter doesn't have some common-alities tying everything together in some way...

It's also pretty rare that an album is worked on in such a diverse manner that the music doesn't have some common elements...

That being said.. I'll say that usually, in order to communicate something well... over the course of the album there almost have to be some common elements.

Uniformity in the ac guitar, or elec guitar sounds, or the vocals isn't important or needed in my opinion... but some common theme and some common elements usually are in order for an idea to be communicated thouroughly.
Old 3rd April 2008
Lives for gear
BLueROom's Avatar

For the really heavy stuff it is prretty dang important to keep exactly the same tone on the whole album. I find most of these guys want to create their own niche in metal and a LOT of it has to do with the drums and the guitar tone.

A rock or alternative type band can get away with several different tones as long as the vibe of the album doesn't change too much. Vibe is everything IMO.
Old 3rd April 2008
Gear Addict
carival's Avatar
yes, mono

The uniformity comes from the artist NOT being lost in the production. Make the record you want to make. Serve the songs. Make em all sound different!
Old 3rd April 2008
Lives for gear
syra's Avatar
If we're talking about an artistic/commercial record, I don't agree with the "do whatever is best for the song", "uniformity is not important" kinda statements.

Producing/recording just a song is very different from producing/recording a GOOD album. A good album is not just different pieces put together. It has to work together as a whole. And in order to achieve that you need a good amount of uniformity.

Having said that and to answer the OP's question, if the acoustic guitar should be tracked stereo for some songs and mono for others it doesn't really make a big difference. That is as long as the songs don't start mainly with acoustic guitar.
Old 3rd April 2008
Lives for gear
peeder's Avatar

I'm certain we can give examples of platinum albums that were very consistent song-to-song and other platinum albums whose main consistency were that they were mastered by the same person and had the same singer, but most of the songs were written produced and mixed by different people in different studios.

Picasso went through a blue period where he virtually only used blue. Not sure if you could say blue period Picassos make a better show than multicolored Picassos, or that a focused show of one period of his art would be better than a retrospective survey. That would be a matter of taste.

If your or your producers' taste sucks, then your album will suck too. If the taste is good, and the skill is there, then the album will be good. Grasping wildly for some dogmatic constant that you can rely on to free yourself from making tasteful choices is common, and a cop-out. You cannot be an effective artist until you have faith in your own opinion.

You will benefit greatly from having the courage to make your own artistic choices, and doing so will over time develop that faith in your own taste. People who stomp in and annouce rules about what HAS TO BE if you want a GOOD ALBUM may have faith in their own opinion, and at the same time be toxic to your artistic process. ****can that kind of advice.

Old 3rd April 2008
Gear Addict

The album is a commercial one.. for a label that is putting out quite a lot of cutting edge popular music.. however, the artist and her tracks are not for the mainstream pop market... They are an acquired taste.. think joanna newsom or kate bush, which appeal to a different mass market than the mainstream chart pop stuff..

This is the worry, because there are a good amount of songs that start solely with acoustic guitar.. with vocals being the rich texture in the song (masses of harmonies and ornaments)

The tracks are simply divine.. And part of me does feel I need to maintain conformity between the acoustic guitar sound on every track... But some tracks I want to put a "darker" impression across.. or a bigger one through imaging, or a feeling of isolation.. something that myself and the artist talk about at length with regards to the feeling of particular tracks.

My main worry now is, as producer and engineer, that the label are gonna kick up a fuss with different sounding tracks across the album.
Being my first proper gig, it scares me a little.. because I really love to push boundaries.

Hmmmm... thanks for the response btw guys thumbsup
Old 3rd April 2008
Lives for gear
pootkao's Avatar
Hey Binary
I get the vibe you're going for, as I work in similar genres.

I've found that almost all albums -- PARTICULARLY indie-folk/art-rock albums -- really really need some sort of sonic anchor. You need to find a couple things that are constant, because a listener is going to need something to feel rooted in the broader scope of the album. The listener needs to be able to jump from track to track and recognize that its the same record.

This is one argument for using mostly the same pre's / mic's etc on a whole record. Its also an argument for making sure that a couple key instruments always sound the same unless they are specifically SUPPOSED to sound different for that particular song. If you're doing sessions days, weeks or months apart, its imperative that you write down your settings. I even draw little microphone placement maps sometimes.

Joanna Newsom's Ys is a great example -- there are tonnes of colourful sounds throughout the record, but the harp and her voice remain as the sonic and musical anchors.

Adding "darkness" can be approached in the instrumentation and arrangement that you choose. Dark piano, moody electric guitars with lots of delay and tremolo, fuzzed out drums... all of these things can make a song "darker" without having to change your acoustic sound too much.

Yes, stereo spread can vary, and thats okay. But in terms of RMS levels and EQ and where they sit in the mix, you want a bit of consistency. Please understand that this is just one man's opinion -- but it is a man who is also in the land of adventurous recordings. And I've found from past mistakes that if I'm going to make experimental albums, they still need focus or else listeners won't be able to really dive into the core of the musical message. Elliott Smith's albums are probably a good example.

Sorry, I'm getting longwinded here. Hope it helps!
Old 3rd April 2008
Gear Addict

It makes complete sense Pootkao yeh..

The album is experimental indie/folk, and each track is regarded as its own little gem.. But I am trying to take each one and craft it into an album.

The same mic/pre/positioning on every track unless specificaly going for an effect was something I wondered about.
Since these can make subtle differences that will affect the listener subconsciously.. I reckon they probably are important.

Problems I am running into tho are...

Some tracks are exclusively picked.. quite fast, rhythmic fingerpicking.. where transients are very important..
I've found that an sdc or pair of sdc's (i only have beyer mc930's that are imo similar to KM184's) - I've found these to work well on the picked stuff.. but not so well on strumming, where my ldc m269 works a treat..

But the flavour between these two mics are very different.

I've also found that I prefer my Api pres for the picked stuff, than my Dav or Neve for the strummed.. But then this again injects another flavour..

Do you think I should just go with gut instinct? Or keep trying mic /placement/pre combination til i get a uniform sound working for strummed and picked?

Or just get a better guitar!? lol

It's becoming a real annoyance becasue the upright and grand piano stuff is not a problem, as I can maintain uniformity throughout these.. But most tracks have acoustic guitar as the main instrument..

I don't think there's too much problem with imaging through the tracks, as the other instruments in certain tracks take care of that...

But, having worked in this genre.. would you find a non universal guitar sound to not work on an album?
I think Y's is a different beast entirely, as there's a theme running through that album where the harp does remain constant, and speaks for her..

The theme on this album is.. adventure.. multi-instrument.. texture and innocence..

I'm thinking of scrapping what I've already tracked now (1 acoustic track and all BV's) because I don't wanna keep that gtr sound throughout I don't think.

Hmmmmm... stressssss!
Old 3rd April 2008
Lives for gear
chrispick's Avatar

Well, if it helps any, I think we're in the ebb of long-form audio content. With iTunes and MP3s, we're back in an era of the single, for better or worse. So, if market dictates count to you, focus on the individual product over the collective product.

This isn't to say that albums (or whatever long-form content) won't find a resurgence. It may. I hope so, as I love long albums, long movies, any commercial art I can really get immersed in. But, right now, the single reigns again.
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.

Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread Starter / Forum
r0ck1r0ck2 / So Much Gear, So Little Time
ripper / So Much Gear, So Little Time
echo unit / Gear free zone - shoot the breeze

Forum Jump
Forum Jump