Acoustic instruments with distorted electric guitar

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dgrieser
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Acoustic instruments with distorted electric guitar

Post by dgrieser » Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:08 pm

So a band I'm in has been self-recording a mostly acoustic album. 2 guitars, mando, electric bass, drums. Some bluegrass influenced songs, some blues, lots or originals that have an Americana feel. Mostly recorded live all in the same room.

Now one guitarist added some distorted electric guitar to some songs. I'm the one mixing, and I'm having trouble making it fit. It sounds out of place, it masks the acoustic instruments even with some radical eq but maybe I'm cutting the wrong freqs. The acoustic guitar and mando play the leads. So you have this distorted electric that's low in the mix and those acoustic instruments are louder than the electric that would obviously be louder in person. That bugs me. Would it bug you listening to it?

What do I do to make it work? Or am I between a rock(er) and a hard place?

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Post by kslight » Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:21 pm

I think it could work, if the "tone" was right?both what was coming off the amp and how it was recorded, mic placement wise. I would perhaps linger towards the roomier side of things, maybe spring reverb/echo, perhaps a "duller" warm neck pickup tone as opposed to something cutting..if that makes sense, or maybe you do want a thin jangly tone?depends on the arrangement.. Its hard to know what tone you have to work with without listening...


Or here's an opposite approach, and maybe you need to make the acoustic instruments rock more, with perhaps multiband compression, aggressive (cutting) EQ, some distortion (maybe in the form of reamping?)?


Maybe study the mixes of some pop-country-ish tunes that would have a similar arrnagement and see how they place everything?

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Post by drumsound » Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:13 pm

First let me say I like the esthetic of something that everyone knows was loud in the recording space being mixed softly, especially electric guitars.

If I were trying to make it fit to a group recorded in a space, I'd reamp in that space. I've don a lot of ensemble recording using spot mics and room mics. If something is overdubbed, I track it with the same room mics to help it to sound like part of the ensemble.

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Post by vvv » Tue Jul 28, 2015 4:21 am

I do this sometimes, find that taking a lot of the top off and moving the guitar back with lots of room, or verb or delays, etc., works well.

I often think of the bands, Mazzy Star and Cowboy Junkies for that kind of instrumentation.
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dgrieser
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Post by dgrieser » Tue Jul 28, 2015 5:30 am

Good stuff here guys! Thanks for the ideas to try.

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JWL
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Post by JWL » Tue Jul 28, 2015 9:11 pm

Good stuff here. Figure out what frequencies the acoustic instruments are dominant at, and do some cuts on the electric tracks at those frequencies. Most likely they will be in the midrange, 700ish up to maybe 3-4k.

And yeah, take the top off, LPF.

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Post by farview » Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:30 pm

It kind of depends how distorted the guitar is and what it's function in the song is.

If it is just rhythm guitar and it's reasonably distorted, you can probably just take a big scoop out of the middle and put it in the back of the mix, much like a string pad.

If it's a rhythm part and it is doubled, you can pan them hard, leaving room in the middle for the lead instruments.

You might need to compress the acoustic instruments harder than you would normally, in order to get them to compete with the distorted guitar.

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DrummerMan
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Post by DrummerMan » Wed Jul 29, 2015 8:30 pm

I can't think of anything specific right now, but I feel like t bone Burnett dies a great job of doing roomy sounding distance micd electric guitars in an acoustic mix environment. Really like that stuff...
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Post by ott0bot » Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:39 pm

DrummerMan wrote:I can't think of anything specific right now, but I feel like t bone Burnett dies a great job of doing roomy sounding distance micd electric guitars in an acoustic mix environment. Really like that stuff...
Yes exactly. Room mic on the distorted electric to get some distance.

Hard panning too.

Also one trick I've used is to push the guitar a bit out of phase. If you have a variable phase mic pre or a something like a little labs unit they work great. Plug ins work too. I've also done this: double the track so you cancel completely and nudge the track by samples until you get the right amount of signal. The effect is like putting a blanket over the amp and the more out of phase the thicker the blanket. too much and it gets muddy, but the can eq in the highs with something that does make things to brittle.

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