Being a rocker, I like my guitars HUGE and I always hear about panning one track hard left and the other hard right. However, I then got talking to a serious home recording guy at a pub gig and he was saying that that won't make the guitars sound fuller (which was the problem I was having - no matter hos many tracks I laid down). Anyway, I never understood because I though the whole point of multiple tracks of the same instrument is the clapping effect - where one person clapping isn't loud but 50 is very loud. I'm not looking for indepth mixing advice as I am a rank newb but just an explanation and pointing in the right direction so as to improve the guitars in the mix.

Also, if I am recording over an existing backing track (some with vocals) and I don't have the opportunity to mix all the tracks together, where do I place my guitar? Where do I find space? I;m drawn to leave it down the middle but that's usually where the vocals sit.

FYI, I'm just looking at doing some You Tube video covers.
Panning stuff left and right works!
But not always.
If, for example you recorded something once, then you duplicated, you panned one track left and one track right, you'd get a raise in the volume of the original track - 0 to 6db depending on the settings of your DAW, have a look at pan's law if you wanna know more.

If you record the same thing twice and (hard or light, but ideally hard) pan one take left and one take right, the thing WILL sound fuller.
And I'm talking about seriously fuller stuff.

The clap effect you're talking about makes sense too, but only if you refer to 50 different people, or 50 different takes of the same person:
if you record something, duplicate it and pan it left and right you'll get a raise in volume, but if you record stuff that's not exactly the same, you'll get a "bigger" sound.

If you wanna record a guitar part over a backing track, I'd say you could simply double track the rhythm part, pan it hard left and hard right, and keep the solo in the center.

Also mind that most stuff isn't double tracked and the majority of the stuff you hear in a mix stays in the center - the bass drum, the snare drum, the bass guitar (or at least its low end), and it happens a lot of times that the vocals are double tracked.
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Also mind that most stuff isn't double tracked and the majority of the stuff you hear in a mix stays in the center - the bass drum, the snare drum, the bass guitar (or at least its low end), and it happens a lot of times that the vocals are double tracked.

That depends on what you're listening. For rock and metal, guitars are almost always double tracked and panned hard. Getting a huge mix involves giving everything its own space. The kick drum has a peak frequency around 50-60Hz, so you need to cut that from the bass guitar and electric guitars. Bass has fundamentals below 150, so you need to cut below 80-150Hz (depends on the mix) to keep the guitars from overpowering the bass. Small things like that are incredibly important to getting a full mix and not sacrificing clarity and power.
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Maybe look at producers whose sounds you like and try their approach.

For example when recording high end studio projects we usually recorded several mics and blended to taste. On one session I had 3 mics - ribbon, sm57, and AKG 414 all in my guitar booth, the ribbon and dynamic on the grille at the same spot, the AKG pulled back to capture more air, maybe about half a foot into the room. These were all blended in different % for the final sound, which then became guitar left. Guitar right was a completely different rig but similarly miked. In some cases we've captured a 4th mic which was room mic that provided another part of the fullness.
You have to also create impression of size, not just power. You can probably fake it with IR verbs, some people pan say guitar 1 hard left, the verb of guitar 1 hard right with a short early-reflection type verb.
I've worked in another studio where we created the short slapback ourselves by recording the reflections off a wall after the cab was firing down another wall. Think of a 4x12 away about 3 feet from a reflective wall, in this case some kind of wood paneling type. I'll just draw you a diagram as it will probably be easier You just have to trust your ears.

Look at this interview:
Last edited by diabolical at May 1, 2014,
Arguably the largest panning set up is LCR and LCR only.

Gives the track the most space, but then again "hugeness" isn't just a product of your panning.
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You should have a look on youtube for John Frusciantes guitar stems from Blood Sugar Sex Magic

If you listen to the stems from Suck My Kiss and Melowship slinky they're excellent examples of double tracking riffs and rhythm parts with hard panning, even though John is playing the same guitar part on both takes, the minute variations in johns playing add a real thickness and sense of movement in the mix

Melowship slinky:


Suck My Kiss:

For the type of music that I listen to...rock, punk, etc. I would say that you CANNOT lose by double tracking and hard panning left and right. I use it 99% of the time. Then you can throw a lead gtr right in the middle for leads.

As far as getting a bigger sound AFTER panning, try different guitars, different amps, different EQ settings, etc. Even the same guitar thru the same rig, but played a bit differently can add some variation. For example, playing a high E power chord panned to the left, and the low E power chord panned to the right. The average listener most likely won't hear the differences in the context of the mix, but it adds that slight differentiation, that will deceive the ear to hearing something bigger than is actually there.

Also you can try quad tracking the gars, but using different amps settings for the 3rd and 4th tracks.
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It might also be worth reading into cross panning for guitars which can really open up the stereo imaging on guitars.

If you record a guitar amp with 2 mics, lets say as an example you record your cab with an SM57 close up and an AKG414 around a foot or so back from the speaker.

You pan The SM57 Hard Left and the AKG414 hard right. Then record another take and pan them the opposite way round.

I tend to use this for acoustic guitars which yields some pretty rich sounding results, I have a stereo guitar cab too which this has worked well on in the past