#1
Im talking to any of you guys out there who are familiar with home recording. Im having a serious problem getting my lead and rhythm guitar to cut into each other without too much mud or overpowering. I have been following the 4 guitar track method panning hard left 100, 75 left, hard right 100, 75 right. With that alone I won't get a better sounding guitar and im satisfied with it.

Recording the lead is where I start to experience problems. So... another 4 on the lead thats 8 guitar tracks total and they are causing too much distortion through the entire mix.

I should also point out that I have a duplicated compressed version of my drums to make them sound bigger without clipping. I don't know what to do and if I need to play around with the eq on my leads or what but once I get those lead tracks into my multitrack they overpower the rhythm and drums. I tried to work it out through the mix by turning down the levels and once I do that the mud will go away... but then I have the issue of my leads silencing the rhythm.

Should I be recording a single lead track in stereo instead of the other way to leave some more room in the mix? Because that is what I do for my bassline. I cut the bass on a single track in stereo and that seems to work out well for me.
#2
I used to line up a lot of tracks of rhythm and you get quite a bit of phasing and other nastiness where it turns into diminishing returns.
Nowadays I record usually 2 tracks, hard left and hard right, the occasional 3rd one down the middle. Keep the reverberation/natural room "air" to a minimum, you'l try to add that later with reverb algorithms. Lead, I record usually one track.
This is my latest so you can get an idea:
http://soundcloud.com/egregoreband

Try to use different guitar or amps if you can, or mic them differently.

Maybe read some advice from the masters:
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov09/articles/metal.htm
#3
Do 2 rhythm tracks and 2 leads, or 2 rhythms and 1 lead, because the more tracks you add, especially when it comes to metal guitar, you can easily oversaturate the mix with nasty gain fizz and bass/low-mid mud. Less can really be more, and your main goal should be for each track to be as tight and clean as it can, or it won't play nice in the mix. The people multi-tracking the hell out of everything are working with ideal conditions, and you have to keep that in mind.
#4
I often track 4 rhythm tracks. That in mind you have to play very precisely in order to avoid messiness. Also you have to remember to turn the two inside tracks down (about -6dB, depending on the mix) and use EQ to cut down unnecessary low end mud. I record straight to the DI which gives me freedom to control lots of parameters including "air" and such. Also when multi tracking, I find that it's important to cut down the distortion of your guitar tone to the minimum. It helps to clarify the overall guitar sound in the mix.

Lead guitars I usually double track or just single track. I don't usually double track fast, busy leads because the slightest differences are easily heard.

I probably multi track more than most people because I approach metal in an orchestral, "Devin Townsend-ish" way. That sets some challenges in mixing but I'm on my way and learning.

Good luck!
#5
Thanks for the tips. I tried Diabolical's method and unfortunately just taking away 1 guitar track kills the life of the sound. His final mix that I listened to sounds pretty good but it isn't something I can achieve with the amp that im using.

Something else I tried was turning down the compressed drum clone track. That does make room for the lead to cut in the mix but once I turn it down the bass drum and snare gets silenced.

If I was to mix down the session right now as it is without lead guitar I would get a nice mix. Turning down one thing to make room for something else still creates this problem of all the instruments fighting for space.

I thought maybe my panning is messing everything up. The best I could come up with was a single lead panned 33 to the right. That makes it loud enough to hang with the other instruments... but once I add the lead this other problem comes back of the entire mix being way too muddy.

Just a thought but what if I mixed down all the drum and guitar parts to single tracks? Would that make things any better or worse?
#6
Just double track, no need for quad tracking everything. Also remember to low pass and high pass everything and to use different amp settings for the lead and rhythm guitars, this will help them not get in each other's way.
#7
Do you have access to DI recordings/are you able to do reamps? The choice between quad and doubletracking should not be based upon 'more is better' at all times, but sometimes this is very much the case. But you should keep in mind that quadtracking will require significantly less gain than doubletracking, especially with heavy tones like Metal. Cutting back your gain a third on your rhythm tracks will often do wonders for cutting through the mix by themselves as well as letting other instruments take their own rightful place within the whole spectrum of the mix.

Since the whole spectrum seems to be the trouble here (certain instruments are blocking others out) it may be smart to take a step back and look at the stuff you have at hand in the first place. If you DON'T have DI recordings at your disposal then the matter of what amps and what settings on those amps were used to record becomes a pressing matter. Did they simply use the same amp with the exact same EQ settings and microphone setups and simply record their tracks twice each? If so, just use the best possible take (maybe edit some stuff down to use the best takes from either tracks, you have both at hand anyway, might as well I guess).

If two different amps or radically different EQ settings were used, or if the microphone setup is radically different, then phasing will be less of an issue and the two tones could even complement each other. Listen to all the tracks and see which one has most low end, midrange and highs. Emphasize those frequencies on those tracks, while notching those ranges on the complementary track, and vice versa. Just play around with this combined with the panning settings.

If you DO have DI's available and are able to reamp stuff (even if through VST's) then try to lower the gain, adjust EQ's, try different amp combinations and settings, try different cabinet setups, different microphone positions, et cetera. Don't be afraid to pan the four guitar tracks hard left and right (so both left and right tracks at 100% of their respective 'side'), this will often give more room (as in: physical space) for lead guitars to cut through the (spatial) middle.

EDIT: Try to compress high-gain guitars as little as possible by the way. The gain itself is a form of compression (by making everything so loud that every note you hit is basically at peak volume: this is literally what your gain stage does - it makes the input so loud that it starts to distort - hence the apt name!), compressing the guitar tracks after the gain stage is pretty redundant and will often destroy your tone.
Last edited by Eryth at Nov 3, 2014,
#8
I noticed a lot of people took an interest in this thread so I will let you guys know what worked for me and what didn't. Maybe a few people out there suffering from the same problem can avoid it. And I won't bug you anymore after this.

I used the advice of just about everyone who left comments here. After several hours of trial and error I think I finally got the perfect mix.

2 rhythm guitar tracks was not cutting it with the amp im using. So what I did was pan all 4 of them hard left and right. Thanks to Eryth because those 75s were what was blocking room for a lead track. The hard panning on all 4 tracks cleaned the middle right up just like you said.

I also made a -6 db cut to 2 of those 4. Thanks to Akkeli as well because this stopped the rhythm from overpowering the single lead track that I cut right down the middle.

While all this helped a lot I found the most crucial thing was working out the difference in lead guitar and rhythm guitar eqs. Since we are only dealing with one lead track I used a different reverb setting which proves what was said earlier to be somewhat true. The tones compliment each other when they are different. I was trying to track both with the exact same settings.

The perfect storm came after I started to mess with eq on both guitars. I was reading up more about this problem and from what I read you should be looking for the sweet spots with a sweep eq on the rhythm guitar. Also cutting out the bad spots on rhythm guitar. Then do the same thing with a sweep eq for the lead guitar only whatever you enhanced on the lead bring down slightly on the rhythm so that it stands out.

This is really challenging because once you bring down something on the rhythm to make room for the lead it takes the life away from the rhythm a little bit. From what I was reading about it the two guitars should go together like a dance. If you listen to one guitar individually and it sounds good that doesn't mean it will still sound good with the other. It took me a long time to work it out so that both were equal to each other but in the end I finally did it.

For you any of guys who are using impulses things might not be this complicated. The whole reason I started the four guitar track method was from watching a tutorial on youtube. The dude had it sounding great with two inside tracks panned to 75. I found his advice about high and low pass filters to be helpful but what works for him didn't work for me.

I like to use the sound of my own amp and I record all my own drums and bass as well. So it's a different situation. Anyways "cool story bro" you only have to fail about 100 times to be successful.
Last edited by NWD2100 at Nov 4, 2014,
#9
Quote by diabolical
I used to line up a lot of tracks of rhythm and you get quite a bit of phasing and other nastiness where it turns into diminishing returns.
Nowadays I record usually 2 tracks, hard left and hard right, the occasional 3rd one down the middle. Keep the reverberation/natural room "air" to a minimum, you'l try to add that later with reverb algorithms. Lead, I record usually one track.
This is my latest so you can get an idea:
http://soundcloud.com/egregoreband

Try to use different guitar or amps if you can, or mic them differently.

Maybe read some advice from the masters:
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov09/articles/metal.htm



What he said........keep your tracks to a minimum.

Do you really need 14 guitar tracks to get your sound/guitar out there?
#10
Ehhhhhh it can depend because when you have good microphone placement and if you have the ability to reamp things with various different microphones or even cabinets the possibilities multiply. all stemming from a possible single DI track for a rhythm and a lead (along with the subsequent harmonies) so I wouldn't want to discourage anybody from exploring the possibilities
#11
What I usually do is route all my rhythm guitars to a dedicated stereo mixing bus. On this bus I add a mild compression to "glue" the guitars together. This will also keep them from overpowering and clipping the mix.

All the previous tricks do work, what I usually do to keep my leads and rhythms working together is bringing the mids in vocal range down a bit on the rhythm guitars, then slightly boosting the same range on the leads, be gentle with this to avoid harshness, but this can really help the leads cut through without needing to use obscene amounts of volume.
A nice bonus to this is once you start mixing with vocals these will also cut through better.

Also give the guitar bus a pretty aggressive Low-Cut below 80-100hz. They're frequencies guitars really don't need so they only take up room in the mix.
Last edited by SquierLolz at Nov 4, 2014,
#12
I used to submix my multimic placements, when on a big desk I'd just mix them live to single track, now I use two mics per track, which then I group in one subgroup, so when I get balance, fx and eq I control with just one fader move.
#13
Quote by NWD2100
Recording the lead is where I start to experience problems. So... another 4 on the lead thats 8 guitar tracks total and they are causing too much distortion through the entire mix.

I would recommend you only have 2 lead tracks playing at the same time. (In fact, I often only have 1 lead track, but I also am not quad-tracking rhythm. ) I assume you're using a bit of delay to liven up the lead? Because that's how you make a lead track cut through without overpowering things.
#14
A lot of the problems here sound like they could be fixed by learning how to EQ things properly...
#16
Quote by Metalmann67
What he said........keep your tracks to a minimum.

Do you really need 14 guitar tracks to get your sound/guitar out there?


This, 14 tracks is just to much for metal, unless its some kind of math metal or some craziness.

Also, run your lead up center with a higher high pass on it than the rhythm guitars and run a tight compressor on it. Getting a good recorded lead tone is about the hardest thing to do, for me at least.