Do you have what it takes to pull off huge sounding guitars in your mix? I’m talking about the absolute killer guitar chops that provide a sonic tidal wave over your mix, driving a song forward and tearing up everything in their path. These are the guitars that refuse to be pushed to the background and come right out of the speakers to punch you in the gut.
Beast guitars aren’t determined by any single effort making them stand out above the rest though. They’re the culmination of great technique, strong dynamics, and more than anything – the reinforcement they provide each other. Get these three key elements right and you’ll have guitar tracks capable of conquering any mix.
It’s All In The Wrist
Your guitar tracks need to start with great technique. I don’t just mean clean playing – it needs to be confident and aggressive. If you’re lightly picking out a rhythm, you’re missing the grit and bite that comes from digging in with your pick. Technique means practicing it all over and over again until you could give a concert-worthy performance in your sleep.
Technique also means your recording chops need to be up to snuff. Your equipment needs to be set to the right levels and you need to be sure you’re using the right tools for the job.
If you can master the techniques involved in recording guitars well, you’ve already won most of the battle. Everything in the box should help bring a well-recorded collection of guitar tracks to life.
Achieving Variations in Tone
Tonal variations are what provide different sounds to your guitar mix, even when you’re layering tracks that are recordings of the same exact thing. The fastest way to achieve this in the box is through different Impulse Responses, such as the ones JST VIP members get for free in the Beast Mode IR pack. Check out Nick’s demo of these IRs below:
If you’re looking for some alternative options, we’ve got hundreds of different IRs available in our Conquer All packs as well. If you’re not familiar with impulse responses and how they can improve your guitar recording setup, make sure you read our Quick Start Guide to IRs.
Once you’ve got all of your different sounds dialed in, the last step in the process is tying them all together dynamically. Nothing is going to sound more unnatural than a single rhythm guitar that’s nearly inaudible for most of the song, then pokes out in front of the rest during the bridge. It’s on you to make those sounds flow together seamlessly.
The easiest way to accomplish this is through the use of subgroups and bus compression. By applying compression at a group level, the peak of one guitar will act evenly across them all. Multiply that by half a dozen guitar tracks and you’ll quickly find what a time saver that is vs. trying to manually balance them through volume automation.
Bus compressors like BG-Guitars were built to handle the melding of these multiple sources, and have specific algorithms to be as colorful or transparent as you want them to be. With different settings for different types of compression, you can always find on that best suits your song and apply it with ease.
Once the power of your guitar tone has been unleashed, where do you go next in the mix?
If you don’t have an immediate answer (or your not sure your current guitar tracking technique is as perfected as it could be), come check out the Joey Sturgis Tones VIP section of our site, where members get access to free plugins, how-to guides, and even full eBooks on how they can improve as engineers and producers.