21 - Rhythm Guitars
Next on the series we take a look at mixing rhythm guitars. I used to hate mixing guitars, until I realised I was just making life too complicated for myself. Now my approach is far more simple and I’m happy with it!
As you can see I only have one instance of Fabfilter’s Pro Q 3 on each guitar track. The bus has a console emulation, and a tape emulation. Thats it!
The process I use to eq each guitar is very very similar. Essentially I’m looking for things I don’t like, or don’t need. These are rumbles, fizzes, resonances and whistles. I’m looking to smooth out the guitar tone, without it becoming dull. None of the processing is too aggressive, but take it away and you’re left with a very different picture.
When I take all of the EQ out I feel like I’m just listening to the wind. It’s a mess of whiles and ugly sounds. But when I put it back on, its like the guitar is just getting to your ears with nothing in the way.
Sometimes I will compress rhythm guitars, but if they are heavily distorted, I really don’t feel its necessary. They naturally have compression built in to them through their distortion. Single note riffs are a slightly different story, but chords are pretty solid looking. The one thing I will do with distorted guitars is use multi band compression on palm muted sections as this can put a lot of low end through and amp that can sound fluffy and get in the way of the tone.
I tend to have a small amount of reverb on a rhythm guitar, but just enough to stop it sounding completely sterile and dead. So little you could take it away and hardly notice.
One thing I spotted with Pro Q 3 in particular in this mix is a handy feature that keeps the output level the same regardless of what boosts and cuts you are using. When using broad strokes this is a great feature, but when I used it on whistle and resonance cuts it actually made things sound far worse and gave them a fair degree of phasing issues with other parts. Just something to watch out for!