How do you EQ your guitars? (In a more complex way)

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by AwakenTheSkies, Nov 13, 2018.

  1. AwakenTheSkies

    AwakenTheSkies SS.org Regular

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    Hello boys and girls, I'm a bit stuck with this subject so I finally signed up on this forum to speak about it with some people more focused on metal.

    How do you EQ your guitars, I mean beyond a hi and low cut, scooping some 600hz and some annoying high frequencies? I've been mixing/writing my own stuff for about 3 years and I can get a good tone or mix. I have a Helix and tons of impulses I've bought from different brands over all this time.

    I have the easiest time getting a good mix with "pre-mixed" impulses, like 3SA, but when using others like OH, Celestion or even Fractal Cab Packs, I have a harder time getting a good tone, they either lack low end or hi end or sound smaller in general than the pre-mixed one. I feel like I'm cheating a bit using this or missing out on better tones just because I'm not sure what to do when EQing a guitar beyond the basic stuff I said above. I know some people say to just get a good source tone and not touch it much after that, but that's not gonna work in my case, if I'm using a flat impulse it just clearly falls short to the pre-mixed one so I'm going to have to do some EQing.

    I'm not going to copy your EQ moves since we all have different tones but I'd like you to inspire me by mentioning some examples of what you do when EQing a guitar in a more complex way.

    Thanks! :cheers:
     
  2. BlackFalcon17

    BlackFalcon17 SS.org Regular

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    Seems like you already know what to do. I'm no expert, but I don't believe that getting more complex with your EQ moves will necessarily get you the tone you're looking for. Sometimes, an excessive amount cuts or whatever will actually destroy your tone, and you won't realize it until you take a break and come back to it later. Regarding the impulses, if something works for you, why not stick with it? It's not cheating. You shouldn't feel obligated to use a bunch of different impulses just because they're there. I recently came to this conclusion for myself.

    As always, it's best to get the source as close as possible to what you want, or more importantly what the mix requires. I've found that a huge part of the (rhythm) guitar tone actually comes from the bass guitar. You should try getting a good bass tone that fits your mix and then see how the sound of the guitars "changes." As guitarists, I think we focus too much on our guitar tone when mixing because it's what we know best. Don't neglect the other elements of the song, they're just as important. That's just my opinion anyway, hope that helps!
     
  3. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I don't think there is really a one-size-fits-all eq strategy for something like this. Every time I record the EQ looks entirely different. The very rough pattern is similar, in the sense the I usually shelve out some of the low end as a start to make room for everything else, but outside of that.... sometimes I do very little else other than cut away stuff that sounds unpleasant or to make more room for other things. As much as "get the source sound right" isn't the answer you want, I think it's the right answer most of the time. Whenever I've nailed the source sound, I have to actively try to make it sound bad, as opposed to the other way around.

    The comments about bass and the rest of the mix are also true. IMO you can make a great mix with a bad guitar sound, but you can't do much without good drums, good balance, etc. Mix for the songs, not for the guitars.
     
  4. newamerikangospel

    newamerikangospel Tonight.......you

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    I generally run three eq phases depending on music/project. I do a character EQ (generaly 1073 plugins/hardware) to get the tone set. Then I will do any compression staging (if required). Then I do surgical notches to clean up masking/resonant frequencies. The last is the EQ on the buss(es) to help settle into the mix.

    With this, Sometimes there are several eq moves, but generally very few, with most happening at the surgical stage.
     
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  5. Guitarmiester

    Guitarmiester Awesome-O

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    You may have too much EQ buildup in certain frequency ranges from other instruments. If guitars sound smaller when introducing another instrument then you'll have to carve out some space for the two to peacefully live. More times than not I'll focus on panning and volume levels before touching EQs. As a guitarist it's hard to shy away from letting the guitars be the center of attention. Once you can safely pull guitar levels down to fit with drums, bass, vocals, etc. you might be further ahead of the game before hacking away too much meat/EQ.
     
  6. Synllip

    Synllip Cyan

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    I EQ them really simply, there's a lot of wrong information about on how to EQ guitars as most tips you'll find will tell you to high pass the hell out of the bass of the guitar and that's not the best option IMO since you'd be killing essential low mids which give the glue and power of the tone. I start with an high pass at 150hz (pretty high), then I solo the guitar and lower the high pass gradually while listening for the low mid range and bass. I end up with the filter just enough to remove the bass of the guitar/cab but still keep some of the low mid range which gives the glue to the tone. So basically 104hz of HPF. Low pass filtering is not always necessary since the "fizz" can help making the guitar top end cutting better in the mix but usually just low pass at 8000-1100khz. Guitar tone is already compressed I don't think heavy eq is needed on it besides some filter cleaning up.
     
  7. Masoo2

    Masoo2 SS.org Regular

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    ESPECIALLY when dealing with dull/lifeless/non-premixed IRs (like those you listed), I run them through an ultra-colored preamp/console simulation. My personal favorite is the POD Farm preamps, but I'd love to give the Slate Digital VTC a shot. VCC isn't strong enough.

    This adds much needed highs/lows and saturates the tone to bring out some pleasant harmonics.

    Other than that, I generally just do the usual stuff like you listed. LP, HP, high frequencies, mud removal. Occasionally I'll dip out some mids as I find too mid-heavy of tones to be a bit overbearing in a mix.
     
  8. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    Just using your ears.

    Listen for parts of the tone that don't work in context, and always be checking them in context.

    Also saturation is your biggest friend when it comes to EQ for guitars
     
  9. noise in my mind

    noise in my mind SS.org Regular

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    It's helpful if you have an eq where you can isolate the bands.
     
  10. will_shred

    will_shred Wannabe audio engineer

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    if you need to do anything more than hi pass around 100hz, you should probably re record. If your dialed in tone doesn't cut in a mix, EQ won't save you.
     
  11. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Not sure I agree - maybe if you're tracking a modeler with post-processing already captured, but when you're miking up a real amp, then it's exceedingly rare to find a mix with no EQ on input, and no EQ in the mix, on a guitar sound. I'm a longtime less-is-more guy who's increasingly realizing that while getting heavy-handed with an EQ is a great way to give yourself enough rope when you're just getting started, once you have some idea what you're doing then my old rule of thumb of never EQing more than a couple db in either direction was probably off base. Heck, the irony was it took using a modern Dylan album (Time out of Mind) as a reference mix for an acoustic folk rock project to realize I was being far too conservative.

    I'd say in general what I'm doing is roughly what's described in the OP - low pass, high pass or shelf, slight EQ tuck around +/-700hz - for rhythm guitars (leads are a totally diifferent beast in the midrange), but the exact moves are going to depend on the tone I've recorded and the rest of the mix.

    One suggestion - find yourself an EQ that doesn't give you numeric settings, so you HAVE to use your ears, and just twist knobs until it sounds good. I like this one:

    https://sonimus.com/products/burnley73/

    It's not free, but at $39 it's (IMO) a steal for a great Neve style EQ that also doubles as an excellent saturation plugin. You CAN get it so it shows you the depth of your boosts and cuts in numeric terms, but I leave all that bypassed and just listen.
     
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  12. Lionsden

    Lionsden SS.org Regular

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    Accurately capturing the source has been and always will be your BEST friend. Spending an extra few minutes on mic placement is the best "eq tool" you have...beyond that...let the mix and your ears dictate to you what needs to happen. Some times I'll high pass around 80-120 and then sometimes I just do a 3-6db cut there adjusting the Q so that it blends well with the bass but that's all hinged on whats going on in the mix and what type of music it is. If it's some vast low tuned metal I'll probably just cut to allow the low end more room to breath but if its a more stripped down blues track I might leave more low end in there. Same with the mids, I'll do an eq sweep where I'll do a 10-12 db boost with a slim Q and then sweep back and forth slowly until I find where the nastiest frequencies are which I then cut. On the highs I'll generally cut anything above 8k-12k again depending on the song and the part and the only boosting I'll do is somewhere between 1k-4k IF needed. Again, this is just some round about crap but you might have a track where a single cut at 800hz makes it work fine and if that's true then don't do anything else, just leave it as is, on the flip side of that if you're having to do tons of cuts or boosts across the entire frequency band then it might be better to just capture it better....sorry for the long post but hope it helps.
     
  13. atoragon

    atoragon SS.org Regular

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    after years I've come to the conclusion that the only way to have a really good guitar tone is to nail it before arriving to the eq: find the best amp or simulator you can, the best microphone or impulse, and from there you need to arrive to the mixing phase with at least 80/90% of the final sound. If it's not satisfying since the beginning, change sound. Then with the eq you can make adjustments, like the aforementioned hi-lo pass, frequency cleaning, maybe some small tonal correction, but don't expect to go from a "meh" sound to a good one.
     
  14. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoil Enthusiast

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    I think that any decisions about guitar tone or full mix need to come from a clear of vision of what you expect it all to sound like, before you get started. Especially if the song is already written and arranged prior to you recording it and dialing up the tones. If you just try shit and hope that you'll eventually know what's "good" once you stumble upon it, chances are you'll never get anywhere. Different types of picking, different keys and octaves, different guitars all have an impact on the tone and you have to either make the tone fit the riffs or make the riffs fit the tone. Treating good tone/mixing and songwriting as two separate things doesn't work, in my experience. Mixing also has a funny way of "revealing" flaws in your arrangement. When that happens, it's good to understand that guitars may sound thin, not cutting through or whatever because the drummer is on the crash, when a closed hi-hat would suit the guitar part better. Or maybe the bass needs to play an octave higher to beef up the guitars. Maybe the key of the song is just wrong altogether. I've had songs not really flying in drop A but bump it up to Bb or down to G and suddenly the whole mix just explodes with power and clarity. Pick a guitar with a different scale length though and the new key sounds weak all of a sudden. In short, EQ:ing your guitars won't save a badly arranged track.

    If you ignore these things and rely on EQ to make the guitars "fit the mix" then you're bound to live a life of chronic disappointment. :)

    Learning about EQ is absolutely helpful but for guitar tone I think it's better to learn about cabinets, speaker types, mics and mic placement. That way you can pair the right head with the right IR with more ease. For example, a 4x12 with V30s and an SM57 is an industry standard for metal guitar, but there's a LOT of brightness there so if I were to use a naturally bright amp like a JCM800 for example, I generally don't like V30s nor SM57s. But if the cab is really dull, maybe an SM57 is just right for that cab. If you learn to pair the right head, speaker and mic for different tones then chances are that you won't have to do much EQ:ing at all to get it jumping in a track.
     
  15. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Quoted for emphasis - getting an arrangement that supports the song and supports your intended mix choices is SUCH an important part of getting a good mix.
     
  16. feilong29

    feilong29 SS.org Regular

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    I'm not expert, but have been learning this art myself over the last few years. I find that cutting out the low-end on guitars gives room for the bass frequencies and the guitars just sound so full and settled in with the bass doing it's job. I boost the mids for the guitars usually as well to cut through the mix, but volume control is also important. I think I have a good grip on rhythm mixing, but I'm still working on mixing my lead guitars better. And as for rhythm guitars, again, I cut out some of the high frequencies as well. I use FL Studio, which isn't the most ideal DAW, but it's simple enough for a noob like me to get acquainted with mixing.
     

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