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What should raw guitar sound like?
Old 16th October 2013
Here for the gear

What should raw guitar sound like?

Hello! I'm a live sound engineer of 2 years, trained at an audio engineering tech school, so I have a good foundation, but of course extremely green.

I've recently started building a home studio for my own music, nothing special. And after tracking one of my songs I've found myself unimpressed with the quality. And I do not know if it's the quality of the raw guitar recordings that's so poor, as well as a bad mix, or if the recording is fine and the mix is just terrible haha.

I'm hoping to get some feedback and mixing critique. For the most part I have a general idea of what I want the mixed guitar track to sound like, but I'm unaware of what a good starting point is when recording, and what sound I should be expecting from a raw guitar track that can sound fantastic with good ears and mixing.

What I'm recording is hard-rock/modern-rock. Punchy, heavy, and aggressive.

To record guitar I have an sm57 going into an mbox 3 into Pro Tools 10. KRK Rokit 6" monitors.

I've attached a short clip of the raw guitar, tell me what you think of it's quality. I recorded it with an on-axis sm57, about 2 feet away from a 2x10 cabinet, about 1 inch off dead center between both speakers. Cone level of speakers.

I'll also attach the roughly mixed song for you to reference, to get an idea of what I'm going for to help influence your advice. Any and all critique is welcome, iron sharpens iron.

I appreciate it a lot.
Attached Files

raw guitar track.mp3 (1.16 MB, 1385 views)

Old 17th October 2013
Gear Addict
JustMastering's Avatar

The raw guitar sound you captured has reasonable tone. It's a good starting point, but it has a fair amount of bass in it. I suggest highpassing it at 80 or 100Hz to help clean that up a little (will help bring it into focus, and will clarify your mix).

The s8 mix2 file is mono (may have happened by accident during the render?), but listening to the sample, there is a lot going on in the bottom octave (0-80Hz) that could be cleaned up a little, and I would try to bring out more articulation in the bass if you can (say 800-1500Hz or thereabouts, which will help it cut through the mix and be heard on smaller speakers).

Getting back to the guitar track, after high-passing it, you could also use other techniques to bring it forward, and thicken it. The haas effect is very useful for that, but even a longer delay can work sometimes. You could even apply a reverb to the delayed version (i.e. keep the recorded track relatively clean in one channel, and the delayed version with reverb mixed in on the other).

Best of luck!
Old 17th October 2013
Lives for gear
jdier's Avatar

I think your raw guitar sounds good. Maybe a little heavy on the bass. I would not cut or tweak... I would point that mic a bit more towards the center of the cone to see if I could get a little more high end.

Until you have it together it will be tough to tell. You say you are green... The more you do it, and the more songs that go from raw to mixed product the more you learn.

Maybe keep that track and do another with the mic position changed... then see which works better at mix time.

Again, sounds good.
Old 17th October 2013
Here for the gear

It should sound like !!!WEARN!!! !!!BUM WUM WUM WEAR WUM BUM BUM WUM!!!
Old 17th October 2013
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Tinderwet's Avatar
The raw guitar sound you captured sounds pretty good, but are you sure about that arrangement? It's midrange on top of midrange, with the multiple guitars playing in pretty much the same octave. The amount of distortion doesn't help that particular case either. In its current form it sounds somewhat confusing and chaotic, not something panning would be able to help significantly.

For punchy and hard, you need clear, healthy transients. For a guitar, it's the attack of the note (the moment when you pick) that brings out those transients. You also need the decaying "tail" of the notes to be reasonably lower in level compared to the attack, so you have a very pronounced rhythmic feel.

It's the easiest to achieve with a single rhythm guitar track, but if you want it to happen with multiple guitars playing at the same time, you either have to get the two (or more) tracks in perfect sync, or you have to figure out a rhythmic pattern that connects those tracks in a meaningful, musical question-and-answer sort of way, without creating a crowded, confusing feel.

Once you got that down, you have to arrange the rhythm and lead guitar parts apart from each other pitch wise, so they don't fight for the same frequencies in the mix.
Old 18th October 2013
Here for the gear

Originally Posted by JustMastering View Post
The s8 mix2 file is mono (may have happened by accident during the render?)
Oops! Bounced Mono Summed.

I updated the mix a little using your advice, and bounced stereo, re-uploaded.

Thanks for the advice everybody. I'm gonna try keeping the mix and redoing the whole thing with different mic positioning, also going to use a different amp with a 12" speaker with close mic'ing, and take the unnecessarily high gain advice and try it again with less gain. Maybe aim for clean and squeaky and not so much BIG AND STRONG, and let the mix add the size later. The 2nd guitar was done with the same mic and amp only with a tele and not a les paul, so this time I'll actually try a different position and settings, to really set it apart.

Compare the 2 after.

Thanks again for all the advice, any more advice is so very appreciated, I wanna absorb as much of your wisdom as I can. Thank you!
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