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Recording Guitarist: An EQ Case Study

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Photo 6

I dialed in a similar setting for the Les Paul part, but with a slightly wider treble Q and a deeper low-mid cut (Photo 6 and Clip 6).

Don’t touch that button! Note that these clips don’t feature soloed guitars. Yeah, soloing tracks is essential when diagnosing problems, but it can be counterproductive when mixing—all that matters is how tones work in context. We probably need the solo button less often than we think we do.

Also beware of making EQ adjustments by sweeping a filter’s frequency. When we hear a shift in frequency during a long listening session, our ear is drawn to it because it sounds fresh. It’s easy to adjust and adjust, only to realize later that your track sounds better with no EQ. Instead, try to imagine the sound you want and go straight to the target frequency. It’s a learnable skill.


Photo 7

Double double. Next I revisited my doubled tracks. I liked a Fender Bass VI part that doubled the Strat’s B section melody an octave below. But while it sounds cool in isolation (Clip 7), it’s a mess in context. So I applied extreme EQ (Photo 7), amputating lows and adding a midrange peak (Clip 8).

The result is edgy and thin, but I like how it suggests some weird folk instrument with droning strings. I also added a touch of the Les Paul double, panned apart from the original, just for added dimension.

In Clip 9 I’ve added compression and delay and played with panning, all while making more EQ adjustments, because all those things change our perception of EQ. We’ll cover those techniques in future columns—but for now, let’s give our poor ears a rest!

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