Guitar production and mixing are two essential phases of all rock, pop, and now EDM music. Understanding which EQ or compressor to grab will make a world of difference. Let’s dive into the wonderful world of API, Neve, Pultec and more!
Guitar production and mixing are arts. Guitars, of all shapes and sizes, occupy a frequency range which is most sensitive to the human ear. For decades Rock n’ Roll music dominated the airwaves, and people loved the way guitars sounded, especially in the mix. In fact, those of us, like myself, who grew up on classic rock music learned to play the guitar at a young age. Now that I am in my 30’s and am a full-time professional mixing engineer, I often ask myself, “Was I drawn to play guitar in bands because the music I listened to put added emphasis on the guitar layers in the mix subconsciously?”
Guitars, in rock music, are often as important as the vocals. The guitars leading energy comes from around 1-3k which is also usually where the vocal sits well in the mix. When mixing guitars in rock, pop, indie, and now EDM genres, it is vital to get the guitars to compliment the vocal, but not overpower the vocal! While this seems like common sense, it is not so easily done because the ear is just as sensitive to the guitars as it is the vocal! Let me give you an example of why this can often be a challenge for music producers and mixing engineers.
Let’s say that you are in Pro Tools and you can clearly see that the fader for the vocals is considerably higher in position than that of the guitar. You can also see that the vocal peaks around -1.5dB while the guitar is coming in at its loudest parts at -4dB but for whatever reason sounds as loud as the vocal!
Here in lies the infamous issue with mixing guitars. Mixing is about translating emotion to the ears. When we mix with our eyes, we often focus our attention on the level of the input/output signal rather than being objective about how our ears are hearing the balance of all the layers in the mix.
When mixing guitars, many people are confused on what the best approach is. While there is not one method that works all the time, it is best to experiment with how the guitar should sound to best fit the emotion and message of the song. This is where EQ and compression choices make a BIG difference!
Classic EQ’s and compressors like the API 550b, Neve 1073, and Urei 1176 and others are tools professionals grab without even thinking. There is a reason for this, and it all has to do with tone, function and desired texture to help the guitars sit well in the mix.
If you want to learn more about API EQ, Neve EQ, 1176 Compression, and more you need to check out this video which showcases an overview of all these classic analog hardware emulations.
This tutorial video breaks down the differences between API and Neve EQs in a way that will make perfect sense. The video also shows graphs and charts for the legendary “All Buttons Mode” on the 1176 regarding harmonic distortion.
All plugin emulations shown are by IK Multimedia. The bundle featured in this video is the T-Racks Max Bundle and offers all the coolest pieces of analog hardware at an amazing price in the digital mixing and mastering plugin realm. Don’t take our word for it, though, check out the video and listen for yourself!
Enjoy the video titled – Guitar Production: Detailed Tutorial!!!