Sunday, November 18, 2012

HOW TO MIX A GUITAR SOLO (a guide for dummies)

Hello and welcome to this week's article! Today we're goint to talk abot How to Mix a Guitar solo!
Let's start off assuming that we have already recorded our solo, by Microphoning our amplifier, or using a Guitar Amp Simulator plugins, or even a Hardware Processor.
Once that our track is ready for mixing, we must keep in mind that our Lead Guitar track will share the same mid-range frequencies used by our rhythm guitars, so we must find a way to make the solo cut through while remaining "in the mix" at a volume comparable to the other intruments.
Usually the idea is to push the lead guitar part a little bit more on the mid-range than its rhythmic counterpart, just enough to make it cut through: we can treat it on a way similiar to how we mix Vocals, since usually a Solo takes the place of the voice in a song, therefore we can usually Pan it to the centre of the soundstage, unless we're after some particulare effect.

On the Equalization side we can usually use a wide Hi Pass filter, taking out everything from 160hz down, then (after the Compression) we can do a gentle boost on the "vocal area", somewhere between 3khz and 5khz.
It's a good idea also to cut some db on the rhythm guitars, in the same area we're boosting our solo: this will help us to cut through the mix even better (another Interesting way to cut through it's also to use a different guitar or amplifier than the one we have used for the Rhythm guitar Tracks).

On the Compression side we can use very fast attack and release times (even 10ms or less) and a low ratio, from 2:1 to 10:1 according to the amount of dynamic we want to keep, bearing in mind that the dynamic response it's a very important part of a good guitar solo, so we must not over-squash it: let's use less Compression than the amount we have used on the rhythmic side!

On the Effects chapter, it's important to say that a guitar sound is probably the one that accepts effect processing better, so we can use if we want some very subtle Reverb or some Chorus/doubler to give some thickness, but the most commonly used effect on guitar solos nowadays it's the Delay, which helps the sustain and gives to the sound a pleasant "bounce-back" feel. Some Tube Saturation or Harmonic Excitement can help the sound to cut through the mix even more.

Click here for a dedicated article about how to use an fx track for our solos.

Finally, if after all this processing we feel that our solo isn't emerging from the mix yet, our last resort is to Automate the rhythm guitar tracks to lower their volume a bit (half db or a db will usually be more than enough) in order to clear some headroom, to make our solo soar over them.

So Here's our Chain: Signal -> Subtractive Eq -> Compression -> Boosting Eq -> (Tube Saturation / Harmonic Exciter) -> Delay -> (Reverb)

Click Here if you want to learn how to Mix a Hi Gain Guitar!!

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