This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.
Where can I pin-point that annoying tinny sound from my guitar? What guitar frequency is that? that boomy and muddy sound out of your guitar production?
Any of those questions sounds familiar?
Just like with every other instrument, the guitar responds to boosts and cuts in the audio frequency spectrum. There are specific guitar frequency areas that make the guitar sound a specific way. Here are 7 quick and dirty tricks to make your guitar mixing smoother.
1. Yucky Low-End
Usually, a good place to start your guitar mixing is to filter out the low-end. Cut everything below 100 Hz as a general rule. Filter all the way up until your guitar starts sounding thin, then back off a little.
Acoustic guitars might need a little more bass, especially if there’s no bass. A boost at 80 Hz can lighten the low-end clutter while still giving your acoustic some weight.
2. Guitar Thickness
Add thickness to the guitar in the 150 Hz area. Be careful since you can easily pile on the low-mids, but if your guitar sounds thin then it can benefit from the added thickness from 150-200 Hz. I use this guitar frequency a lot if I feel the guitars should have more bass and power.
3. The Fundamental Guitar Frequency
Boosts in the 500 Hz area can compete with the snare drum so make sure that they aren’t clashing with each other.
4. Honk and Presence
If your guitar starts sounding tinny or “honky,” a nice cut in the 1-2 kHz can round out the sound. However, if you feel that your guitar lacks presence, you can pull it to the front of the mix by boosting in the 3 kHz area.
5. High Frequency Hiss
Highly distorted guitars can add a substantial amount of hiss and noise to a mix. Be especially careful when you’re boosting in the high mids since you might introduce more hiss than guitar.
6. Vocal Cut-Through Trick
If you feel like the guitar is getting in the way of the vocal, a simple trick is a wide cut around 3-5 kHz. This can clear up that area in order for the vocal to shine through in a busy mix.
After giving the vocal some space, you might need to compensate for the now dull guitar sound. Add some slight boosts in the 8 kHz area for some brilliance. This works especially well on acoustic guitar and clean electrics. Now the vocal can shine through in its own area as well as giving the guitar some additional grace.
You might need to sweep around the frequency areas to find the exact frequencies where the guitar jumps out and comes alive. Every guitar is different and each one will react differently to a specific guitar frequency.
Use these simple guidelines for a faster EQ workflow. Don’t sweep around the spectrum when you are looking to add some fullness to your guitar. If you already know where you can find it you don’t have to waste time.