How to mix new guitar parts to already mastered recording?

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cyrusjulian
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How to mix new guitar parts to already mastered recording?

Post by cyrusjulian » Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:35 pm

Happy Early 4th of July everybody! Been awhile since I last posted.

I've got an old mastered recording of a band I played in years ago and have written new guitar parts that I'd like to mix in for a new demo for reference purposes. Sadly I cannot find the original tracks as I would just easily remix the whole album with the new parts.

Does anybody have any suggestions on how to best mix the new demo album to help the new guitar parts cut through while still maintaining the overall balance of the original songs?

The only things I can think of are panning one guitar part left and other guitar part right. I know EQ could possibly help but don't know how to go about it. I also don't know much about spectral analyzers but there are a few free software ones online so I could always try to learn those.

Thanks in advance!

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Waltz Mastering
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Post by Waltz Mastering » Sat Jul 02, 2011 2:36 pm

Sounds like it's going to be tricky any way you would go about it.

I would pull the level down on the original track a few dB before starting to give you some head room to work with..maybe run that track through an M/S matrix and lower the sides another dB or 2 in reference to the mid channel. On some recordings the guitars are on the sides, so this might give you a little room to add the new ones. The vocal bass kick and snare usually live in the mid channel, so hopefully that would remain intact... good luck.

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Post by jhharvest » Sat Jul 02, 2011 3:42 pm

If the original has a clean guitar sound then the Photoshop method might be of use. Would take ages though.

Alternatively I'd pose the question why bother trying to fix up old songs? Make some new ones. :wink:

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Post by vvv » Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:04 pm

For demo purposes, I'd limit the hell outta the new guitars after EQin' 'em to fit (probably use a high-pass filter to make em cut), probably hard pan them.

That isn't necessarily gonna sound great, but will serve to reference.
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Post by kslight » Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:28 pm

I have done similar before...really did not turn out as bad as you might guess. I added verse vocals, guitar, and keys to a song that already was more or less a complete song with chorus vocals, no verses. I'd just lower the overall level of your 2 track, mix to taste, and then do some new mastering on it. No one will know the difference.

cyrusjulian
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Post by cyrusjulian » Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:42 pm

Hey thanks guys for all the helpful feedback...

@kslight - Thanks! Good to hear your project was successful. Will try your advice on lowering the levels on the 2 track. This jives with what Waltz Mastering had also mentioned.

@vvv - Thanks for the idea on the high pass filter and hard limiting. Just curious, why would you recommend limiting vs compression? Also, why hard panning vs slight panning. Your feedback feels right to me but can't quite explain why so hoping you might be able to.

@jhharvest - Thanks for that photoshop idea. I'll have to check it out and respond. As to why I'm working on old songs, no reason really. Good question though and you make a good point. Better to look forward and backward but just following inspiration really. Sometimes new ideas can come from being in a creative mood and recently, listening to these old songs made me feeling like jamming and just wanted to have a reference for how they might sound if I did take the time to rerecord em or play em live.

@Waltz Mastering - Thanks for the ideas on the db levels for both the master track and new tracks. Do you also agree with the idea of hard panning the guitars? You had mentioned that on some tracks the guitars are on the sides and that would give a little room to add the new ones. Could you provide more feedback on panning?

Okay guys, I'll try all your ideas and let ya know what I find. No matter what happens, i'm sure it'll turn out better thanks to all of you.

Have a good weekend and happy recording!

cyrusjulian
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Post by cyrusjulian » Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:48 pm

Wow jhharvest, thanks for that photoshop link!

That's crazy. I've never seen anything like that. Looks like it would take tons of time to use that method but good to know it's there if these other methods don't do the trick.

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Post by jhharvest » Sun Jul 03, 2011 1:51 am

cyrusjulian wrote:Wow jhharvest, thanks for that photoshop link!

That's crazy. I've never seen anything like that. Looks like it would take tons of time to use that method but good to know it's there if these other methods don't do the trick.
Essentially it's the same as Melodyne's DNA (as far as I know) but gives you more manual control over the process. I linked to the Photosounder software earlier videos. I think it's been developed a lot since then to allow quicker editing but that video demonstrated the principle quite well. There's also other alternatives to that program to do the same.

Good luck, mate.

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Post by vvv » Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:35 pm

cyrusjulian wrote: @vvv - Thanks for the idea on the high pass filter and hard limiting. Just curious, why would you recommend limiting vs compression? Also, why hard panning vs slight panning. Your feedback feels right to me but can't quite explain why so hoping you might be able to.
Limiting because it's quicker and more transparent, mebbe clearer - you need match only the inital sound and playing vs. the production.

Hard panning if there are two guitars - you did say "new guitar parts", - but also to make it easy for the listener to lower or raise that instrument's volume with panning on playback, keeping in mind you also said, "demo for reference purposes".
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cyrusjulian
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Post by cyrusjulian » Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:29 am

@vvv - Yes, you are absolutely correct in interpreting my posts. I will typically have two guitar parts and will wanting to be referencing this mix on diff systems for myself and others. Thanks for clarifying and for the advice.

@jhharvest - I'll definitely check out those photosounder vids. I'm not accustomed to working on music visually but am always open to looking at things from a different perspective to find inspiration. Thanks for introducing me to it.

Happy mixing everybody and Happy 4th!

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Post by cyrusjulian » Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:56 am

I've also been checking around other sources online for feedback on how to approach this situation. If somebody else is in the same boat as me, thought you might be interested in this message from another member. It jives with what many have already said:

"I'm increasingly being asked to undertake this type of work - must be a sign if the times! Sometimes it's to help out old/live recordings, but often it's due to poor/non-existent backup strategies that have seen project files disappear into the digital ether (worryingly, this isn't limited to home/amateur users)!

This type of activity can often result in new parts that sound 'glued on' to the mix.

If I've managed to achieve anything usable it's been by reducing the bandwidth (using high and low-pass filters) of the new parts to a point where they become 'small' enough to work into the new mix. Saturation can help too. It might also help the illusion to side-chain some compression (or even expansion) from the original mix to the new parts. You also need to be sensitive to the ambience of the mix and choose reverbs/delays that help to push the new sounds back into the mix - this calls for subtelty and further bandwidth reduction. "

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