I need some advice when it comes to recording (and to a lesser degree mixing) guitars. My main problem is having them sound too weak, and not 'in your face' enough. I recorded a Blink 182 cover the other day and while I'm willing to blame my so-so playing I could really use some tips when it comes to tracking guitars. How much reverb to use, optimal compressor settings, doubling up parts, etc.

I have the recorded file in my profile.

EDIT: I recorded these using my POD GX and the backing track is exported from Guitar Pro as a wave file so I can't do much besides EQ it when it comes to mixing.
Last edited by Kenny77 at Sep 12, 2009,
record those parts twice and pan one hard left and the other hard right. that'll fatten them up quite a bit.

not much verb, and be careful with the compression. you dont want to squish the life out of it.

verb and comp is really up to you though. whatever your ears say is right, is right.
can you eq the backing and the guitars separately? it sounds like it, but your last sentence threw me off a bit.

if so, what you need to do is use a good eq for your mixing needs. im not talking about a 3 band eq, it doesnt have the range to really tweak your sound and get it to fit in the mix. you will want a mid boost of sorts with your eq, and then you play with the treble and bass a bit. it really depends on what the other instruments are doing as to where you set the whole thing, but bass usually takes up the low register and drums are kinda in the low (kick/toms) and high registers (cymbals). you need to make the guitar fit in the middle where it is supposed to be. if youve got vocals, you also have to make sure the guitar and vocals arent cutting into each other too much. i have a low voice, so i usually have more treble than bass in my guitar tone.

also, when adding effects sometimes less is more. one thing that is easy and works wonders for adding some thickness is a manual delay. take your guitar track, copy it, and then paste it in a new track. shift it very slightly so it is a delay. but you dont want to hear the delay as two separate notes, if you do shift it backwards. you want to hear something, but have it still sound as one-ish note. you can do the same thing by setting a delay to have a single repeat and messing with the delay time. if done right, it can make your guitar sound thicker.

then you can always use reverb and chorus and the like. i prefer to use just a touch of reverb. it adds depth without being overpowering. some people like a subtle chorus for the same thing. then for compression, i usually do it on the track as a whole. sort of just as an overall final touch to even things out as a whole.

but the number one tip i can give you, start with a good, strong recording. effects, EQ and mixing can cover things up to some degree, but they cannot provide what wasnt there. make sure your amp's (or in your case amp model's) eq isnt scooped (or at least not too much) and pay attention to what is coming out of the guitar.
I think your time would be better spent practicing so that you play in time but I'm sure you know that already based on your comments above. General rules:

  • No reverb when tracking. Some people advice that you should make decisions at the recording stage but reverb easily becomes too much and you can never take reverb off. You can always add but if it's there and if it's too much it will muddy up your parts.
  • No compression when tracking. Overdriven/distorted sounds are compressed as it is and if you need more beef/body to the sound later adding some simple bus compression is the easiest way.
  • Double track with varying sounds. Not 3 takes with the same guitar using the same sound, that is the recipe for Mudville. Careful layering of guitars will create a huge sound that will be in your face.
  • You must love the sound. Unless you have a sound you love playing with you won't get the best takes and for a massive sound you need good takes. Uninspired playing will be an uninspiring listen.
  • Your amp sims EQ will never, and I do mean never, sound as good as a dedicated plugin simulation. Period. An API or SSL EQ plugin will be a much better choice for molding your tone to perfection than the lousy EQ sims in your amp sim. See previous point.
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Thanks everyone. With only a starter guitar and some terrible PC speakers there is not really a whole lot I can do when it comes to fixing up my tone. I always find that I like it when I go to record but when I end up recording it sounds awful. Besides that I always play worse when I'm recording because I feel more pressured, but punching in and out has made it a lot easier.