So, you are happy with your guitar part, the recording went great, the mic placement was just correct, or you got the sound of the amplifier that fits best the song you are creating. Very good!
Here is a neat little trick that you may have been overlooking. The great thing about it is that it doesn’t require a complicated combination of plugin chains to be achieved. In fact, pretty much any DAW will be able to provide you with sufficient resources for it. Let’s get to it!
1. Step – Setting Everything Up
Let’s assume that we have recorded the guitar part, and that the take is in mono. (We will cover Recording guitar strategies in some other article on Producer Spot).
Obviously, it’s now panned dead center, and what we do is place it within the stereo spectrum at the exact place we want it. It will probably look something like this, with the panning information given besides.
2. Step – Re-Recording the Take
Now, for this very tutorial I will be using Steinberg Cubase 5, but again, most of the DAWs out there will be able to perform this technique and bring you the same results, if not better.
Create a new mono track, grab your guitar and record exactly the same part once again.
We will need it in our mission to make the guitar sound WIDER in the mix, and this more often than not means they will sound Huger, and ultimately have the more impact on the listener.
Make sure that your guitar is in tune, that you are happy with the levels, and that you got 90% same tone as you used to have when recording the previous take. Needless to mention that you need to keep the exact tempo; once again – we are recording the SAME guitar part. We can call it ‘Guitar Take b’. Done? Good! Let’s get to the next step, and that is:
3. Step – Creating the magic
Now that we have the guitar part recorded again, we are getting to the core of this technique. Pan the First guitar track according to where you want to hear it in the mix. Let the second take rest muted for a moment. Say, you want the guitar to be placed in the stereo spectrum from an audience perspective (panning according to where the guitarist is standing on the stage, observed by the audience), and let’s say you want to pan it hard Left.
Now, let’s introduce the second guitar. Unmute it, and pan it hard right, the opposite of where you placed your first guitar take. You can already hear how the sound of the guitar got ‘bigger’. However, it might feel like it has lost the focus. Say, it’s drowning all of the other mix elements. But, hold on there! We haven’t finished yet.
What we are now about to do, is to engage a very small amount of Delay (pretty much every DAW has one of a kind built-in) on the dubbed take. The key parameter here is the Milliseconds – we are looking at values in the range from about 15ms to just below 30ms. Once again, we are applying it on the take that we re-recorded and have already panned opposite.
Play the guitars simultaneously, and enjoy their vast wideness! It always depends on the material, but for me, the values of 22ms tend to work the best.
Now, what you may want to do might include a variety of options. You may want to change the level of the second take, and thus diminish the sense of stereo spread, induced by this technique. You may also be tempted (and should be, really) to adjust the frequency balance of the re-recorded track with an EQ.
Feel free to experiment! This neat little technique has done wonders for my tracks, and I truly hope they will come in handy for you as well.
Good luck, and Keep on Rocking!
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