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Guitar EQ

Discussion in 'Production' started by GearMan2point0, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. GearMan2point0

    GearMan2point0 Musician/Engineer

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    I have been having trouble making room with my mixes. I want to know what you guys resort to doing when you run into these problems.

    Here are a list of ideas I came up with that sometimes helps, but maybe you have better idea's to fix each problem.


    Troubles:

    1. My snare's low end doesn't punch through.

    a. I could try cutting at around 200 out of my guitars and bass?
    b. I could try Side-chaining my bass and snare?
    2. My Cymbals don't sit on top
    a. Maybe add 4k to the Overheads?
    b. I could try to cut out some 9-10k out of guitars?
    3. My bass and guitars don't mess as well as commercial Mixes.
    a. Maybe bass isn't limited and/or compressed enough?
    b. Maybe using the wrong tones?

    *** The main thing going for me is my kick, bass and guitar relationship. Always sounding full and thumpy without distortion of course.
     
  2. JeffEstrada

    JeffEstrada Ascend Recordings

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    to make my snare punch through I don't eq it out of the guitars. I take out 150-200Hz from my kick and a little bit out from my bass.
     
  3. GearMan2point0

    GearMan2point0 Musician/Engineer

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    Jeff: When you are taking that out, are you taking out of the bottom snare? Because I feel if I took out of the top snare it would take out that bottom punch
     
  4. timislegend

    timislegend Member

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    guitars are (for the most part) intended to sit in the midrange... so finding a good level for those first is key. if you use a lot of gain on your rhythm guitars, try pulling it back a little bit in effort to reduce some higher frequencies masking with other instruments.

    don't be afraid to lowpass the guitars aggressively. the natural frequency response of popular cab speakers is around 7k so you can cut all the way down to about 7.5/8k without losing detail. guitars also benefit from limiting over basic compression because a limiter reacts a lot faster. also, to bring out more clarity and/or detail in the higher frequencies in the guitars, it would help to introduce a harmonic exciter in the mid to high mid frequency range. this would be done (of course) after applying whatever necessary additive/subtractive equalization. for instance; it's pretty common that a high gain fizz lives around 4khz. it is also common that a certain muddiness lives around the 400-800 range (depending on many different factors).

    it almost always helps to employ a high pass filter to guitars. anywhere around 100hz would allow the bass to blend better with the lower-mid range of the guitars.

    drums are difficult to mix (for obvious reasons). you must treat all the instruments as if they were pieces to a puzzle. some frequencies actually sing together though so it is important not to completely subdue one or the other as the is a musical piece, not a appendectomy.

    bass guitar can be cumbersome because, let's face this with determinism... we are all trying to achieve a bass tone we have heard in the past. or some chronicle bass tone that has inspired the current attempt our bass mixing experience. ***philosophically speaking (i guess). it's simple: bass needs to be a lot less than you are currently mixing it. best bass is achieved by almost completely lowering the dynamic range. so; multi band compression, limiting, more compression, more limiting, etc. etc. there are also tons of frequency enhancing techniques out there, like using maxxbass, automation (fader riding) and a ton of sidechaining techniques as well. one very important thing about bass with regard to drums, you will almost always get a perfect fit/blend of kick and bass if you track the bass guitar with the cab placed directly where the kick drum was. the beatles did it, zeppelin did it... and so on. it works!

    tbh, i wouldn't boost 4k into anything accept the master... and even that is a stretch. 4k sits really harsh in a mix and is sometimes almost unbearable to listen to at high levels. there are certainly eq's out there that treat any frequency with linear phase distortion and when boosted at any frequency can make any instrument sound like butter cream ...but let's face it, if you had one of those 5-10 thousand dollar eq's you wouldn't be asking most of these questions.

    make sure you leave plenty of headroom for your mix to sit nice and quiet on the master bus. if you are mixing directly to a master chain it is important that you pay attention to the gain stage of each plugin, instrument, etc etc. nowadays, things change quite a bit during the mastering stages therefore create tons of noticeable disparities in the piece that may seem like small inconsistencies (at first) but then play a huge role of how bad the song can end up sounding (if that makes any sense).

    the fact that you can hear the difference between your mixes and other commercial releases is a good sign that you have what it takes (for the most part) to change your workflow and critical listening methods in an effort to improve your mixes.


    i don't really know if i answered any of your questions with exactly what you wanted to hear ... but i sincerely hope any of this helps you. :)


    live long and prosper!
     
  5. GearMan2point0

    GearMan2point0 Musician/Engineer

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    Timislegend, What you said makes a lot of sense and does help a lot.

    1.) Bass Chain:
    a. Compression....
    -20 threshold, 8:1 ratio, 10ms attack because I like to keep the click of the bass, release around 200ms.
    b. Eq......
    Cut some mids, sometimes wide Q depending on tone, Hi-pass and low pass unnecessary high and low frequencies.
    c. Compression
    -20 threshold, 6:1 ratio, 15ms attack, release 100ms, works with the previous compression well, it swells at key points.
    d. Surgical EQ, cutting bad frequencies, adding attack at around 3k
    e. Maxxbass I could START putting here...As it would add the important frequencies to the mix. am I correct?
    e. Then limiting, ( I will admit I don't know how to work limiters well) But the limiter on the end to package everything up.
    ***as for the tone I generally use, is the rock head on podfarm along with the 8X10 cab tube far.

    2.) Guitar Chain
    a. First thing is EQ, hi-pass and low-pass
    b. Sometimes saturation depending on tone and song
    c. Surgical EQ, elimination of fuzz and others.
    d. Then I use Frequency enhancer, something like D82 sonic maximizer.
    e. Then limiter (again may not be using right)


    I think a huge problem is that I cut too much mids out of he bass so that the guitar and bass don't blend and sound as one. It sounds too seperate (lacking dah glue!)
     
  6. timislegend

    timislegend Member

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    have you ever tried to do a quick 'level' mix then bounce it just to hear what you can change?

    i would recommend taking a look at the overall level of any mix just to hear the balance of it first. listen to it a few times on a couple of different sources ie car, computer speakers, etc. you want to make mix decisions based on the context of the song and how it was recorded (i suppose). for example, if you tracked a band:

    guitars - 5150
    bass - ampeg svt 8pro
    drums - sjc/truth (in a large room)
    vocals - scratch with dynamic mic (or whatever)

    you want to find the context of the recording based on how the talent played it. on the other hand, if you used all programmed drums, podparm, no vocals and direct bass? you are going to have some trouble with the context of the music unless you took a butt load of notes and already had some ideas on how you wanted the songs to sound.

    for instance, i have found myself in situations where i would track all the songs for a band in a few hours, wrap up then the next day bring the mix to a fresh pair of ears while working with input... and as a result, would hardly need to do anything to the mix (other than the more common arrangement decisions and subtle eq/limiting).

    my method after tracking works like this:

    since i track with a hpf and la2a on almost every track, i have made the decision to print my audio effected with subtle compression and filtering, which makes the mixing process a little simpler. after tracking every song the best i can with all the takes i need for whatever instrument... i can move on to editing, drums/guitars/bass/vocals/misc. once that is finished i work with the artist to make any arrangement changes or offer my own production input, maybe even some possible outside input from a fellow engineer etc. after the song sounds the best it can in terms of arrangement, i move on to level mixing. sometimes i will even do fader riding (and other automation) in effort to complete more natural "compression" with some stray increased levels. now that i have a proper level mix that doesn't really peak passed -15db i will do an internal layback within pro tools then write it to a realtime cd burner. once i have that quiet ass cd, i will drive to target while bumping the songs as loud as i can get my speakers to go (periodically lowering the volume in the car). once i feel i have a nice listening level i park my car and turn off the engine so that only the music is playing... this REALLY helps with locating any disparities as your brain compresses other noises while you drive it becomes difficult to pay close attention to the mix entirely. then i take the cd into target or walmart, or whatever store that has a cd player department. ...yes! i am that guy that goes to the stereo department and plays a song really loud so that everyone stares... whatever.

    if i can't find any problems with the mix i take it back and make subtle finishing touches to it using outboard (or itb) processing. if there are terrible issues with the mix i obviously take note of it and make the corrections as needed. some common corrections:

    - bass is too loud and doesn't sit proper -solution- multi band compression and mild subtractive eq (mostly lowering the dynamic range more with a limiter)
    - overheads are too harsh and sit too high above everything else -solution- limiting and transient designer to soften the stick attack (also, subtle additive eq).
    - vocals are too quiet and don't play a comfortable medium in the dimension of the entire track -solution- sidechain the vocals to potentially masking midrange instruments like keys, guitars, drums or all three. if you must sidechain the vocals to anything you would benefit from clipping them or soft limiting them through highend converters first. it is a practice used a lot in pop music production and it treats the vocals really well.

    - usually a final issue that is common is that the mix doesn't really have instruments that stand out when they should -solution- re work the level mix using a combination of aggressive processing and automation.

    i can say that in the past that i have found more error than success but when you find a song that moves you in a way that you are excited to work with it... you will notice it to be a breeze and will hardly be difficult.


    one thing is for certain, if you can't track it good you can't fix it in the mix or master. which is a common misconception.
     
  7. Joshandhisguitar

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    1. I always suggest Gclip for making the snare come out more in the mix, that way you can compress it, so it's still full and pops out of the mix, giving you the low end.

    2. low pass guitars to at least 8k, people may call me crazy, but a natural tube amp out of celestion speakers only outputs to 6000hz.

    3. Tone is one thing, but in my opinion the less dynamics the bass has the better it will sound, and sit in the mix. It will sound smooth. use a compression (a thick one) then hard limit them. I also tend to hard limit guitars.


    this is just my thought
     
  8. GearMan2point0

    GearMan2point0 Musician/Engineer

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    First thing is first, I need a decent set of monitors to work with. I have listened to my mixes using different resources....cars, stereo systems, PC speakers, but in reality, never listened using studio monitors. Trying to find a pair for around $200 right now, something decent, and if you guys can lead me to something around that price range and good I will appreciate that. For drums I program using Superior Drummer, and I usually send my kick to a bus/track and replace the kick with Kick10. I notice that to me at least, the kick sounds good. I have it so that the kick blends with the other kick, but also I am getting plenty of resonance, and sustain from the overheads which I highpass at around 200-300. I usually have luck with the snare because I have my own way of mixing it (leveling bottom snare, and 1176 and top). I honestly don't know how to use limiters very well, I am not familiar with gain reduction and threshold use as far as that. I have looked up tutorials before, never really picked up on it. Gclip sounds like it could work but I am not sure how to use it (again). I will look that up for sure. One other thing I need to work on is multiband compression. So what I am going to do is learn Gclip/limiters and multiband compressors.

    On the other note, I realized the truth behind the "less you do, the better." I notice that sometimes people can get carried away and over process things. Sometimes snare is too slammed by compressor, or the life is taking away by improper EQ, which I am one of those guilty dudes. I spend too much time getting everything perfect, that in the end, it sounds worse than it did in the beginning. My ears somehow hear bad things in every mix I have ever heard, where something just doesn't sit right. yeah I know Joey, Adam D, Cameron and Andy etc..... are all great at what they do, but every album they put out (sounding much better sonically than my mixes) I can pick out things that I can hear that are bad. Not that I have extraordinary abilities, it's probably the same with everyone else. Would it be improper to mix drums by themselves to get them to sound full and thick, and then move to the next instrument? I know that workflows are different for everyone, like you said (Tim) that you track everything and then sit down to mix. I know that I would have to change everything in the end anyways to get it right when it sits with all the instruments including vocals.
     
  9. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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    Take off all EQ, listen to the raw tracks. If it does have punch there, you are using the wrong tools or using the tools wrong.
     
  10. GearMan2point0

    GearMan2point0 Musician/Engineer

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    I now know how to use Gclip and limiters. I just used it on one of my mixes until I heard a change and then I learned what changed. sweet.
     
  11. Paule

    Paule Member

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    +1

    I always try to get the best sound without EQ (expect LPHP).
     
  12. kool98769

    kool98769 Member

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    One thing I tried the last time I mixed a song was using a compressor to limit my guitar tracks.
    You know, like turn the ratio on it to 10+ instead of using the typical L1 limited. I pretty much completely stopped using L1 on everything because it slaughters punch.
     
  13. chrisrivalry

    chrisrivalry Member

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    I never thought of using transient designer on overheads! haha is that something a lot of people do?
     
  14. GearMan2point0

    GearMan2point0 Musician/Engineer

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    Yes quit often, Sustain that sh*t up broskie!
     
  15. MetalSir

    MetalSir Member

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    transient designer on OH? anyone can explain this to me? tnx :kickass:
     

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