By Dave Williams
Have you ever put together a song but during mix-down you realized it just doesn’t have any thickness to it? A number of things could be the problem, for example: Instruments could be equalized similarly to others making them clash. In such a case it could be the bass and the kick drum. The answer here is to use a parametric equalizer and surgically remove some of the bass or midrange bass from the kick drum until the two no longer complete with each other. Adding some “click” in the kick drum will also help define it in the mix. And listen to other instrument groups as well to hear if there is any muddiness from similar equalized parts. Cutting frequencies is always better than boosting, remember that!
Using Guitar Pedal Effects:
Guitar pedals come in many sound shapes and sizes, or tones I should say! Used properly they will certainly add thickness to your sound. Let’s now look at an explanation of some types of effects you might use:
Boost and Overdrive:
These must-have effects are used to boost volume for leads as well as tone shaping rhythm crunch that will over-saturate your amp into tone nirvana! Some of these will even add clarity and sparkle at low settings, so I always have one clicked on in my pedal chain!
Chorus and Flanger:
Great pedals for making your guitar sound super lush and wide sounding. A chorus pedal can simulate the sound of a 12 string instrument.
A delay effect adds depth, excitement, and can will definitely widen your guitar sound and thicken up lead solo parts!
Tremolo, rotary simulators, and reverb also provide a lush and unique sound for your guitar rig which will have a thickening effect!
Now let us talk about doubling! Guitar tracks no matter how well performed can often times seem thin in the mix, even when using good guitar pedal effects. A natural instinct of many musicians will be to add EQ, either more bass, midrange, or treble. This can sometimes fix the problem. However more often times the best fix is to double up the guitar tracks! So then how do we go about this?
My preferred method is to record the rhythm track twice, panning one track full left, the other full right. Of course it will also take a bit of practice to play the rhythm parts in sync with each other. One good tip is not to always play the same rhythm part. Change it up a bit. For instance, in parts where you hit low notes, try hitting the same notes in a higher key or even a key that blends with it and not playing chords in all parts of the rhythm track. Mix it, record it, and see how it sounds to you!
The Acoustic Guitar:
And let’s not forget about adding a doubled up acoustic track! When doing this you may want to remove most of the bass and midrange from it to help it blend without competing with the other instruments. It will really give an edge and definition to your electric guitar tracks. When thickening up your tracks, this is really what it is all about and what it all comes down to. Lots of listening, making sure that one instrument is not overwhelming another instrument in the mix. Each one has their place, and each one may need to be adjusted by EQ until they all blend together well without competing with each other. Like I always say: “experimentation is your friend!”
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