We get questions from young artists and producers who are trying to prepare their mixes for mastering. Sometimes, they want to know what they can do to emulate the effects of high quality mastering without actually having to spend the money. Either way, we like to take time out and help, because we remember what it was like on the other side of the studio.
Recently, a fellow YouTuber sent us a track he’d been working on and asked for some feedback. His primary concern was the guitar sound. He wanted to know what we would do if we were in his shoes and wanted a bigger sound – a more metal sound – out of the guitar. In his case our advice could seem counter-intuitive, but there’s something even more important than the actual processing techniques we use in post-production…
Of all the responses, our head engineer (John) probably had the most beneficial perspective for our guitarist-friend. In fact, we decided to post it here without any editing for several reasons. The first is that the need he was addressing is pretty common with musicians and engineers alike even for other genres – getting a more pronounced sound out of a particular instrument. The second is, it seemed like a good way to give an example and point out to our clients and readers that we are available to help even when we aren’t mastering their recordings.
If you have a new studio project that needs a little more work before mastering can begin, feel free to hit us up any time. When we aren’t mastering audio, we’re usually returning emails, and answering the phones.
Anyway, here’s that email from John…
First of all, the sound is pretty good at first listen. The main
thing is that the sound of your guitar be correctly accompanied in the
mix. The context is everything.
Second of all, it sounds like you’re playing through a Pod, Pod Pro,
or similar device that digitally emulates a guitar distortion grain.
That is fine, and it makes sense on a budget, and it is the easiest
and fastest way to achieve a moderate sound. I did the same for many
Debatably, the head/cab combo that you buy to give you your ultimate
sound will be at least a couple thousand dollars. So when you have
that kind of cash lying around (not many of us do), I recommend…
going to gigs searching for your guitar sound. Pay particular
attention to the guitar gear when you go to shows. Listen for the
sound you like when you’re in the audience; that’s your target. Once
you find a sound you’re fairly sure is “your” sound, take a risk and
buy the gear. But let me get back to my first point, since I
specialize in recording and mixing and mastering, not live gigs.
The context (mix) is everything. You need the drums to have the right
compression/limiting so that they barely peak over your guitar sound.
The vocals have to sit right to create the right soundscape. All
reverbs need to make sense and fit the soundscape. There need to be
no rhythm mistakes.
These things may not seem like they affect the GE (general effect) of
your guitar sound, but they do. When different musical elements are
working well together, the listener’s ears are subconsciously relaxed.
The listener is free to pay attention to whatever he/she wants
(hopefully your guitar, right?). Presentation is huge. Present your
Got recording or mixing questions? Curious about our exclusive multiMASTERING service? Use the comment section below…
Thanks, and good luck!