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Recording Guitarist: An EQ Case Study

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Photo 1

Last month we looked at basic EQ techniques and terminology. Now let’s put them to use on some electric guitar parts.

Using a drum performance swiped from Dawn Richardson (Clip 1), I threw together a two-guitar arrangement played on a ’60s Strat and an ’80s Les Paul, both through a Marshall 18-watt miked with a Royer R-121 ribbon mic (Clip 2).

I also doubled the parts. I had no idea whether I’d use doubles, but I like slapping a few down while I have the part in my head and the feel in my fingers.

Studio fatigue syndrome. When your ears get tired, you literally stop hearing correctly, especially in the highs. It’s easy to jack up the treble in search of excitement, or dull things down too much because the highs have become tiresome. That’s why tracking and mixing in separate sessions is nice if you have the luxury.

Listening back the next day, the guitars sounded dark and woolly. No surprise: Adding treble “slice” and removing/clarifying low mids are probably the two most common electric guitar EQ chores. Focusing on the Strat part, I added a hefty +6 dB treble boost with a shelving filter at 2.5 kHz (Photo 1). I set the Q (bandwidth) wide for general brightening (Clip 3).


Photo 2

Low-end theory. I wasn’t sure yet whether the track would have bass, so I wanted powerful lows. But simply boosting the bass like I did the highs (Photo 2) worsens the low-mid clutter. The Strat part in Clip 4 sounds fat but unfocused.

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