Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

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losthighway
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Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by losthighway » Sat May 18, 2019 4:53 pm

Hey gang! Over the years I've gotten all too good at creating a wall of stereo distorted guitars. Doubling stuff with single guitarists, big sounds with two, doing two amps (and sometimes delaying one of them).

What I haven't done much of is the root of rock and roll: Just one guitar. I've tried to simplify some sections of my own band's stuff down to just one, and more importantly I have a gig coming up for a rock band that's looking to capture their live sound- no frills, minimal overdubs. Dude plays a tele, often clean, sometimes mildly overdriven. Not a "wall of guitars" type of scene.

What are some strategies you like for making a single guitar work well in a mix (panning, eq, reverb, compression) etc?
What are some examples you love of great songs/mixes with just a single guitar (and not a million other things taking up space either)?

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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Sat May 18, 2019 5:16 pm

Power trio type arrangements are tricky unless you start breaking some tried and true mix conventions. The easiest thing to do is a mono or wide mono mix. Instruments panned centre but maybe with stereo room and drums.
The other approach is to start thinking about panning drums and Bass away from the centre. Maybe not 60’s pop style with drums and bass hard panned but more of the approach that was taken with lots of 60s jazz records. In this the feature player is often (but not always) centre and the drums and Bass are panned slightly to the side with a fair bit of natural room sound panned opposite. It’s more in keeping with imagining the band on a stage or in a room.

You have to get your head around the idea of left and right being equally balanced as just present an image of the band in a space. No one said the drums and Bass have to be in the middle.

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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Sat May 18, 2019 6:26 pm

In my mind it would depend super heavily on what the arrangement was like.
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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by vvv » Sat May 18, 2019 7:40 pm

i just released these in trio format:

https://vlayman.bandcamp.com/track/demorepub

https://vlayman.bandcamp.com/track/30-c ... strumental

The first is stereo drums, center bass, center voc, single guitar at 2:00, global compression/reverb.

The fecund is stereo drums, bass at 9:30, guitar at 2:30, global compression/reverb.

Zep, ZZ Top, Rory Gallagher, Johnny Winter, Richard Thompson, Stray Cats, James McMurtry, VH, Hellborg/Lane, Shellac, DinoJr, ex Hex, Courtney Barnett, Metheny and James Blood Ulmer trios all come to mind as examples ...
Last edited by vvv on Sat May 18, 2019 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by losthighway » Sat May 18, 2019 7:54 pm

vvv wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 7:40 pm
Richard Thompson,
The dude in the trio I'm recording is the only guy in town who's ever brought Thompson to mind in his playing. I need to listen to I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight again.

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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by vvv » Sat May 18, 2019 7:56 pm

Amazing player and writer. His ACL performance on DVD is stunning.

Another cool trio with, eh, different instruments and mixes was Morphine ...
Last edited by vvv on Sat May 18, 2019 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by losthighway » Sat May 18, 2019 7:57 pm

vvv wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 7:40 pm
i just released these in trio format:

https://vlayman.bandcamp.com/track/demorepub

https://vlayman.bandcamp.com/track/30-c ... strumental
I like the sense of space on these. Not sure if it's real or synthesized but you've got that thing happening where you feel like you're hearing an actual room and not a reverb "effect".

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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by vvv » Sat May 18, 2019 8:03 pm

Thanx!

The first is a jizzmaster-type guitar into effect pedals with a single mic onna ProJr amp. The fecund is a The Paul guitar into a Tech 21 Cali pedal and a EBS reverb pedal, DI'd.

Both songs are mixed thru a global compressor and reverb patch.

There are kinda abbreviated notes in the "lyrics" dropdown to each choon.
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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by Nick Sevilla » Sun May 19, 2019 6:21 am

Just remember, if this is Rock N' Roll, then the guitar

MUST BE LOUD.

Everything else is negotiable. But not this one point.
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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by drumsound » Sun May 19, 2019 11:04 am

When I know I'm doing a single guitar, no other chordal instrument, minimal thing, I put 2 mics on the guitar amp. I generally use mics that sound somewhat different, but haven't don't 2 different amps in forever. Panning will vary, but this is one of the times I don't mind hard panning, thought I'm generally a 3-6 type guy for guitars. It still feels like one guitar, one part, but (to me) more pleasing to listen to with the left and right guitars not "created" by an effect.

YMMV.

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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by kslight » Sun May 19, 2019 1:05 pm

I kind of like it when some of the Third Man projects use non-conventional panning instead of just doubling guitars or whatever. Depends on how the bass works, I guess, but if the bass is more of a guitar you can pan that...etc...

Sometimes I've seen it where folks have a separate amp as a wet reverb/delay and mic/pan that....

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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by I'm Painting Again » Mon May 20, 2019 8:43 am

losthighway wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 4:53 pm
Hey gang! Over the years I've gotten all too good at creating a wall of stereo distorted guitars. Doubling stuff with single guitarists, big sounds with two, doing two amps (and sometimes delaying one of them).

What I haven't done much of is the root of rock and roll: Just one guitar. I've tried to simplify some sections of my own band's stuff down to just one, and more importantly I have a gig coming up for a rock band that's looking to capture their live sound- no frills, minimal overdubs. Dude plays a tele, often clean, sometimes mildly overdriven. Not a "wall of guitars" type of scene.

What are some strategies you like for making a single guitar work well in a mix (panning, eq, reverb, compression) etc?
What are some examples you love of great songs/mixes with just a single guitar (and not a million other things taking up space either)?
alright here's the thing in regards to the band coming in - make sure you know wtf these people mean - they might want a clone of a Sun or Stax record or they might want a more modern thing that sounds natural when they say "no frills, minimal overdubs" etc.

communication here is key

when it comes to capturing "their live sound" you are at the mercy of your room - period - if they sound bad in your room it'll be bad on the recording.

you're also at the mercy of psychology - again who knows what is percieved as "their live sound" - again, communication

I like to have them provide reference tracks of records they want to emulate and that usually gives me a good starting point

once you know what they want and come to understand them it becomes easier to approach the appropriate way to capture the music - then look at how similar records were made to cop the techniques

I think the difference with doing simpler stuff is that you need to work harder to get it to sound interesting and special - take the extra time to get that one guitar sound perfect - factor in the extra time it'll take to get the perfect take as well

keep it all live in the same room and let it bleed -but- keep the bleed less than 1/3rd the power of the spot mics in the spot mics

this type of thing require really getting it right going in so take your time setting up and conducting tests and I think you'll be rockin'
Last edited by I'm Painting Again on Mon May 20, 2019 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by GeorgeToledo » Mon May 20, 2019 8:45 am

I’ve always had luck panning mono delays/reverbs/or room mics, to different spots...like, if guitar is center, then a mono spring reverb hard right, for example.

Sometimes it “works” to ride that channel (or channels) throughout the song, bringing it up or down to create more energy.

Sometimes though, an entire mix just calls for mono, and it feels like fighting it to do other things. It can be kind of hard to muster up the courage to just go with that if it’s not your own creative thing. Speaking personally. I am certain I recorded many singer songwriters early on that I probably should have just mixed mono, but had to go and screw it up somehow. :wink:

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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

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Re: Mixing a band with a single, mono electric guitar

Post by frans_13 » Tue May 21, 2019 9:04 am

I have often done bands like this, without guitar overdubs and to get more wall of sound out of a single guitar i split it to two or more amps. One is the original amp, it sounds like the band sounds. One has maybe a bit less distortion, to let the attack of notes and chords through better and the third amp is more distorted to add dirt. Usually, the main guitar is panned opposite the snare, which will not be at the center, but a bit to the side. The other two (or more...) amps are a bit less volume in the mix and have automation depending on the arrangement. Sometimes i go completely nuts and run the guitar through five amps. Once, with a band just drums, vocals and bass also five amps with different sounds. This was mixed by Toshi from the Melvins, he didn't complain so maybe he also thought that it made sense.
There a few pieces of gear that split guitar/bass fine, take one with transformer isolated outputs to stay clear of ground loops. Also, depending on how many tube stages an amp has, the output of the amp may be inverted. I dedicate tracks according to the function the track has in the arrangement, so i may break a single track up into a track each for, say, intro, verse, chorus. (after recording, just for mixing and treating each part differently to get some contrast and movement into the mix) Watch your back positioning the mics, so they are in phase. If the player has pedals in use, think about where to split, don't run too much distortion from any one pedal into other amps, it paints you in a corner, overtone-wise. If there's a digital pedal in there, forget about positioning the mics to be all on time, because a digital pedal will have a few milliseconds delay, so you'd have to get the mic 3-4 feet out. Which doesn't work too well if the full band is happening in the room. Some trickery in the DAW (aligning by plugin) will do the job. Or split before any digital stuff. You get the idea.

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