#1
Ok so I have been recording my acoustic guitar for over a year now and it just keeps sounding like shit...

I have watched countless tutorials online but no one seems to explain it well enough.

My main issue is the mixing of the guitar.

Let's start with an example:
http://soundcloud.com/ortix/i-feel-like-dancing-acoustic

I recorded this a while back. I just simply aimed my MXL 2006 mic at the point where the neck meets the body. It was about half a foot away. That went straight into my Fast Track 2 which sent the signal to sonar xl. I recorded two passes and panned each one roughly 80% to each side.

This is what I did in sonar:
Record onto guitar track, send the track to a bus. Compress the bus and boost the high's a bit. Did this for both guitar tracks and sent them to the same bus. In the master bus I use Vintage Channel 64 to shape the overall sound and then a soft limiter to get rid of them nasty peaks.

Now my problem is that the levels on each side are not.. well.. level. When I listen to acoustic songs i can hear that there are two guitars playing but they just sound really good and level. In my recordings you can obviously hear that sometimes the left is louder than the right side and vice versa and it just sounds like shit.

Any advice?
#2
When you say you record 2 passes, I assume this means you play the same thing twice? That's probably the cause of your inconsistent mixing of the left & right channels, you're very unlikely to play something identically on both passes, so the differences in volume is going to be cause by differences in the way you play it.

Try using 2 different mics and position them differently. Use one mic for the left channel, one for the right. That way both channels will feature the same variations in volume, but if you get good mic positioning (& possibly different EQ & effect levels on each side) they should sound different enough to create the width you're looking for.
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#3
I can't listen to the track because I'm on a college computer atm, but I don't understand why you can't simply use the faders to set them at the right level? Don't just use your ears, use the VU meters for each track too, as of course, they should be relatively similar levels.

Is it simply the volume balance which is bothering you or are you not happy with the quality/eq also? You mentioned you tend to boost the highs a bit, which is cool. But I would also reccommend cutting everything from atleast 100hz, if not maybe 200hz with a high pass filter. Pull the HPF across until you find its starting to get a bit tinny, then bring it back a little bit. Acoustic guitars often have a lot of low end that is unnessecary and doesn't help a mix.

As well as this, I tend to boost the frequencies following where I have just cut, for example if I cut to 200hz, I would then bump up a couple db at 200 hz with a very tight bandwidth, just to focus the low end a little.
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#4
Well in some recordings i can also clearly hear that the guitar parts are somewhat different. Perhaps it's the compression they use? But yeah, recording with two mics is not gonna happen for a while until I get another mic and another interface.

And pussypunk, the volume difference is not that big, it's just really tiny variations but they are audible. I use the VU meters but i can't change the volume every half second now can i? I tried compressing it as well as i could without losing all the dynamics. But the tips are really appreciated guys!
#5
That being the case, try just recording once, then copying that onto two tracks and panning them far left & far right, using the EQ & effects to create a variation in sound between them.

Like I said in the first post, you'll never manage to get exactly the same volumes playing the same thing twice on an acoustic, so you'll always have that slight inconsistency in the balance between left & right if that's how you're recording.
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#6
Quote by Ortix
Well in some recordings i can also clearly hear that the guitar parts are somewhat different. Perhaps it's the compression they use? But yeah, recording with two mics is not gonna happen for a while until I get another mic and another interface.

And pussypunk, the volume difference is not that big, it's just really tiny variations but they are audible. I use the VU meters but i can't change the volume every half second now can i? I tried compressing it as well as i could without losing all the dynamics. But the tips are really appreciated guys!


If you are looking for the sound to be exactly the same, double tracking is not the technique you want to use. Generally when double tracking, the little variances in volume/tuning is what gives the layered, thick sound. If you want it to be exactly the same, then do what the other guy said and duplicate the track recorded, pan them, phase invert one of them.
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Quote by alans056
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#7
Don't double and then phase invert them that won't do anything. Well it will but it won't sound real good.

You can either two thing.

Play it better.

or use a combination of individual channel compression and volume automation (it's a time consuming process but not that hard.)

It sound pretty good now. a few spots it's kind of ugly but you can just spot pass the bits you need fix and comp them in.
#8
Quote by PussyPunk182
Don't just use your ears, use the VU meters for each track too, as of course, they should be relatively similar levels.


Mixing with your eyes instead of your ears is never a good idea. How many listeners are looking at your meters? All they get is what it sounds like. Make it sound right no matter how "bad" it may look.

The issue's I'm hearing in that recording are mostly due to the too takes not being played consistently enough. Double tracking takes a lot of time and very very consistent playing to get it to sound right unless you're going for more of a two guitar live sound. There's some EQing that could be done, but that's really up to you and the sound you're looking for.

One thing you could try is record one take and experiment with different delays and reverbs to give it space. It may not work for that particular piece, but it might be worth a try.
#9
I think the sound you've got there is nice, perhaps a little lacking in body.

Anyway, don't be scared of an asymmetrical mix! In some ways it's often nicer to have slightly different things going on at either side of the stereo field - that's more like you'd hear in real life.
One of my favourite acoustic albums is John Frusciante's 'Curtains' - mixed on analog gear and with simple production, with the acoustic guitar panned left and the vocals slightly right of centre: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx1-UEe7Iv8


I recommend using the free plugin Basslane on the master bus to keep the lower frequencies in the centre of the stereo spread - that might make it sound tighter.
#10
Quote by Ortix
And pussypunk, the volume difference is not that big, it's just really tiny variations but they are audible. I use the VU meters but i can't change the volume every half second now can i?

actually, you can. what you want is volume automation. it allows you to have things change during playback. so you can have the volume moving up and down on a single track during different parts. im not familar with sonar, but look up automation in the manual and it should give you some info on how to do it. then you just work with the volume envelopes to get a consistent volume across both tracks in the parts where it is noticable.
#11
.... or instead of micro-managing volume automations, some careful and judicious setting of a limiter could (should) work a trick.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#12
Quote by kyle62
I think the sound you've got there is nice, perhaps a little lacking in body.

Anyway, don't be scared of an asymmetrical mix! In some ways it's often nicer to have slightly different things going on at either side of the stereo field - that's more like you'd hear in real life.
One of my favourite acoustic albums is John Frusciante's 'Curtains' - mixed on analog gear and with simple production, with the acoustic guitar panned left and the vocals slightly right of centre: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx1-UEe7Iv8


I recommend using the free plugin Basslane on the master bus to keep the lower frequencies in the centre of the stereo spread - that might make it sound tighter.



You know, I've been beating myself up cause I've got a large diaphragm condenser, an 8 track and that's about it, but I love the production on that Frusciante song.


Sorry to threadjack but I've got to ask, is that just one mic on the guitar?


EDIT: plus the main vocal is single tracked with a slight reverb, correct? I'm a complete noob at mixing so I'm testing my ears here.
Last edited by rocknrollstar at Nov 23, 2011,
#13
Quote by rocknrollstar
You know, I've been beating myself up cause I've got a large diaphragm condenser, an 8 track and that's about it, but I love the production on that Frusciante song.


Sorry to threadjack but I've got to ask, is that just one mic on the guitar?


EDIT: plus the main vocal is single tracked with a slight reverb, correct? I'm a complete noob at mixing so I'm testing my ears here.
Yeah, that sounds pretty much spot on to me.

One thing I've noticed with Frusciante is that the reverb is often panned to somewhere opposite the source (if the vocal is on the left, the verb for it is on the right). It's an interesting way to fill out a mix without it sounding too cluttered or unbalanced.
#14
You said you sent both tracks to the same bus?

I'm no expert, but I reckon that'll affect both tracks a little different seeing as they were different to start with. Apply EQ/Compression/reverb Individually? See if that makes a difference?

The High pass filter Idea is a good one too. Just filter out everything below around 250Hz, take out some of that boom.
#15
Quote by kyle62
Yeah, that sounds pretty much spot on to me.

One thing I've noticed with Frusciante is that the reverb is often panned to somewhere opposite the source (if the vocal is on the left, the verb for it is on the right). It's an interesting way to fill out a mix without it sounding too cluttered or unbalanced.



How do I send the reverb to another direction? I just Ableton so I'll have some reading to do, but if you knew off hand I could try it. I'm just dying to create a mix I can tolerate lol.
#16
Duplicate the track, pan it, add the reverb to the new track and turn up the reverb level to %100. Should do it.
#17
Quote by shmeegle
Duplicate the track, pan it, add the reverb to the new track and turn up the reverb level to %100. Should do it.

Don't do that. It is bad practice.

Use an aux send. Place a reverb on aux (return) channel turn it up to 100 then mix using the aux nob and pan the aux (return) knob.
#19
Yes, but it bad practice. You learn to do it this way.
Then, when you deal with more tracks you do the same thing and end crashing your cpu from using 20 reverb that do the same thing.

You can also send different things to the same reverb. Say an overdub.

There is nothing wrong with doing this but it will save trouble down the line.
#20
Fair point.

But what are the chances of you needing 100% reverb on multiple tracks?
Maybe if you're mixing a My Bloody Valentine album.

Still, the aux send probably is better practice.
#21
^^Thanks to you guys. I've been mucking around on Ableton and figured out what you both mean. It's getting there. Gonna learn more about Ableton/Mixing in general.


EQ
Compression
Reverb


First three I'm going to learn.
#22
Quote by shmeegle
Fair point.

But what are the chances of you needing 100% reverb on multiple tracks?
Maybe if you're mixing a My Bloody Valentine album.

Still, the aux send probably is better practice.

Actually, having 100% reverb on a track is a good way to use the effect.

What you would do is set up a single aux track that is just your reverb, set to 100% wet. then you adjust the level of that track in relation to the other tracks to get the desired ammount of reverb. you can then use the send on each of the tracks to control the level of the send going to the reverb track. this lets you use a single reverb for multiple instruments so they sound like they are all in the same space, which adds cohesion to the track. a 100% wet reverb track is actually very common.
#23
^ In that respect, yes. In fact, that is the most "conventional" way of doing it.

By 100% reverb, just from the context, I was thinking they were talking about using it pre-fader as an insert.

Can be done...

Beautiful Day by U2 is a great example - that one chorus where you hear just the reverb and not really any of the raw track.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#24
Quote by jof1029
Actually, having 100% reverb on a track is a good way to use the effect.

What you would do is set up a single aux track that is just your reverb, set to 100% wet. then you adjust the level of that track in relation to the other tracks to get the desired ammount of reverb. you can then use the send on each of the tracks to control the level of the send going to the reverb track. this lets you use a single reverb for multiple instruments so they sound like they are all in the same space, which adds cohesion to the track. a 100% wet reverb track is actually very common.


Boy, Do I feel stupid now.

Sounds like a decent enough technique actually. I'll have to give it a go.

Thanks!
#25
when i first heard of that technique i was kinda thinking, "that sounds really wierd, it cant work well." now, thats what i do most of the time even if its just reverb for a single track. it can give you a lot more control by using the volume fader instead of the mix knob. isnt the best in every situation, but its an awesome way to use 'verb a lot of the time.
#26
Quote by rocknrollstar
^^Thanks to you guys. I've been mucking around on Ableton and figured out what you both mean. It's getting there. Gonna learn more about Ableton/Mixing in general.


EQ
Compression
Reverb


First three I'm going to learn.


If your using the on board EQ in ableton right click and set it to high quality. It kind of shit other wise.
#27
Quote by Wild Hopkins
If your using the on board EQ in ableton right click and set it to high quality. It kind of shit other wise.



Thanks for that man. Made it sound a bit less treble-y.