E23 - Lead Guitars 


This week we move onto lead guitars. To me this is anything that plays a melody, as opposed to a chord structure.


Again I keep things fairly simple on lead guitars. They have been so heavily effected before they reach the mix that adding unnecessary processing can over complicate things.


The most processed lead guitar is also the first one you hear. The intro has quite a bit done to it. Its super distorted and has quite lot of pick attack. I’ve tried to dial that back with some compression. Then there is some gentle EQ to tame some nasty and honky sounds. Next up it hits a 1/4 note delay to help it get some counter rhythm. This is then smashed into a limiter where the main note and first repeat is crushed. Now generally having delay and reverb on a channel is a bad idea, but I kinda wanted to treat this more like an amp and pedal board, and knew nothing else would get this sort of treatment, so kept it to some channel based processing.


Finally it hits some reverb to give it some ambience. The EQ after that was a decision made in the mix as it wasn’t quite cutting through the way I liked.


The chorus ascending leads have a similar flavour to them as the intro lead as it serves a similar purpose. The only real difference is I take out a high pitch whistle, and change the reverb type to keep them mono and pan them hard left and right. This was just a preset from Fabfilter’s Pro R that sounded good and did the job I was after!


The lead bridge guitar is again a similar story, but even more vibey and atmospheric. The eq was just to shape the sound slightly, then it gets shot into a big reverb and delay to really sink it back into the picture. Without the processing it actually sounds pretty crap!


Lead A is again more simplistic, a halfway point between a rhythm guitar and a clean. Small amounts of compression to level out the dynamics, and an EQ to cut hum and mud, along with some whistling frequencies. When the gain is this high, it can really get pretty fizzy, so trying to find these whistles is quite important. Some are still in there, but not the super annoying ones.


Lead B simply supports the chorus ascending lead with less gain, more definition, and less stereo spread. It exists to fill the other lead out. Amp settings are almost identical to Lead A, so the processing is nearly identical as well. 


Lead C is lower gain so I have elected to not process the EQ side of things as heavily, but as you can probably hear there are some ugly whistles in there. I wish I had gotten rid of them but they never bothered me in the final mix, but they sure as shit bother me right now. Compression was again gentle.


Lead D is almost clean, and again goes with that atmospheric feel to help fill the second verse out. EQ is in broad strokes to help cut mud and boost clarity. Leading into a 1/4 note dotted delay to provide more counter melody.


All lead guitars have fed into the reverb and delay inside of the channel in some degree. I feel with lead guitars you have more ability to space them out a bit with effects. The more ‘classically lead’ the part is, the more I will lean on the reverb and delay. The more modern and arrangement focused they are, the less atmosphere I will use.


In general my processing may seem simple, and thats because it is. But if you are happy with your source sounds, then masses of processing shouldn’t be necessary. This highlights the importance of well set up instruments, clean recording, new strings and good editing!

The bus again features console emulation and tape emulation.