Sometimes, a single guitar tone just won't cut it. It sounds weak and out of place; no matter how we EQ and process it, something is still missing. What's the answer to this? Well, it's more guitars.
Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!
Maybe you love the bottom end of one amp or pedal but also crave the mid-range of another. Well, guess what? You can have both by combining guitar tones.
This topic is broad and there are countless approaches to combining guitar tones and doubling guitar tracks. It's easy to become overwhelmed and throw everything at it, but this can lead to a "more is less" result. Fear not, Benedikt and Malcom discuss their go-to methods in detail so that you can record with intention.
The subtle differences between a double and a copied performance may seem insignificant, but they are crucial in shaping the overall sound.
A double is a second performance of the same thing, not a copy and paste of the original performance. This distinction, while seemingly minute, will drastically affect the final tone.
What you'll learn from this episode:
- How subtle changes in the guitar's EQ can give you big results.
- Genre-based decision making. Is the 'Wall of Sound' approach appropriate for your recording?
- When is doubling guitar tracks necessary?
- What hardware to switch out and adjust when recording duplicate parts? Guitars, pickups, amps or pedals?
- Why adding layers on top of a guitar take doesn't necessarily have to be another guitar.
In conclusion, creating a unique guitar sound is a blend of understanding your tools, practicing different techniques, and experimenting with various combinations.
Doubling doesn't mean copy and pasting the exact same performance. It doesn't do anything. At least it doesn't do what you want from a double. But a real double is an actual second performance of the exact same thing. This is the Self Recording Band Podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own, wherever you are, diy style, let's go. Hello and welcome to the Self Recording Band Podcast. I am your host, benedikt Hein. To our returning listeners, welcome back, so glad to have you. If you're new to the show, welcome Stoked to have you as well. If you're not aware, this is available on YouTube as well as all kinds of podcast apps. So wherever you're discovering us, if you want to watch it, go to YouTube. If you want to just listen to it, go to Apple Podcasts or Spotify or wherever you enjoy podcasts. Also, know that the things we tell you on the show are how we do things when we record and mix and produce music. We tell you what we do and how we do things, but it's very subjective and it might not be directly applicable to your music, because everything's different, every song's different, every project's different. If you want to know how to implement it to your own project, to your next record. We offer a coaching program and it all starts with a free first call so you can go to theselfrecordingbandcom and we can chat about your project, talk about your music and how to implement all the things, how to apply all the things we talk about on the show to your actual music. All right, today the topic is guitar tone. Once again, these are always one of our or these are some of our most popular episodes. Guitar and vocal episodes, for whatever reason, tend to do really well for us, and so we're going to do another guitar episode today, and it's about combining guitar tones, multiple amps, doubling different takes. We'll talk about different ways to do that. So, basically, the topic is when and how do you combine different guitar tones to create the sound you're going for, instead of just going with one take into one amp and that's it. All right, and, as always, I'm doing this with Malcolm Owen Fluck, my wonderful friend and co-host from Canada. Hello, malcolm, how are you?Malcom:
Hey, benny, I'm good man. It's great to see you. Our listeners won't be aware, but we went like two weeks without doing an episode together and that's like one of the longest breaks we've had and it always feels weird. So happy to be back. Great to see you, totally. I have one small music related banter topic here. I went up and saw my friends and broke villains to do some stuff with them and Andrew is one of your coaching students with the self recording band coaching that Benny does and offers and I got to say his setup is looking so good. I'm sure you had a part in getting his space set up into the studio. It is now, but it's pretty wicked.Benedikt:
It is. It is. Yeah. He's done a great job there, for sure, yeah.Malcom:
It's nice going into. Like generally, when you go to a band's space you expect it to be a lot worse than your own space, but he's done a good job dialing it in.Benedikt:
Cool, awesome, so good to hear. I don't know if there's any difference from since the last time I was there, but I was pretty impressed when I saw it. Yeah, do I have any music related banter? I don't think so. I don't. Oh yeah, it's a kind of shameless self promotion thing, but a different thing. My band releases their first record this coming Friday, so by the time this episode comes out it's actually going to be this week, so recording this, and it's going to be released this week. So this Friday, ferrell Signs Dead Body Language is going to be out. It's our first record, the first one that I've done in a long, long time, the first vinyl that I have made with a band of mine since 10 years. Actually, 2013 was our last record with another band, and so I'm really, really excited about that. Pre-orders already went out to the people who ordered it and can't wait for that release.Malcom:
Yeah, that's very cool. I just got a vinyl in the mail actually from now, whom I did with an artist called Solar Lunar, and it like yeah, just showed up and I was like this is so cool. Yeah, holding that. I'm super happy about it, very rad.Benedikt:
Awesome, cool, so cool to hear yeah, it's a. I don't know. I personally don't have to admit that I don't listen to listen to a lot of vinyl anymore these days. I still have a few of my favorite records, but it's not that I use them for like daily listening. I just use convenient digital ways of listening to music. But I still love getting a vinyl in the mail, opening and looking at the liner notes, looking at the artwork, the whole piece of art that it is. I just love that still. So it's been a great feeling to hold your own vinyl in your hands again after 10 years.Malcom:
I bet yeah, I don't even own a record player, so they're purely art for me.Benedikt:
Yeah, that's fine, that's fair enough, all right. So let's dive into the episode. I'd say, all right, when and how do you combine different guitar tones to create the sound you're going for? I mean, I think in some cases it is totally fine to just have an amp and a guitar and the take that you play and that's it. But sometimes a single guitar tone just doesn't cut it. So we're talking about combining different tones for the most part on this episode. So sometimes, no matter how we cue or otherwise process it, sometimes something still feels like it's missing and sometimes at least that's the case for me we like a certain characteristic from one amp or one signal chain or one pedal and a different thing from another chain or a different amp, and we kind of want both in the production. So we try to combine and mix and match those to get the desired tone. At least I did that a lot when I was still producing and I still do it when I mix, actually when I re-amp stuff for people. I just like to combine different flavors in that way. I don't know if you're the same, but those are the main reasons that I did for why I do this. So either the one tone that I have just doesn't cut it. Or I'm going in with the mindset of like I want to have this from this amp and this from this amp.Malcom:
Right, right, yeah Now. Are you talking about combining, like, two different amps into the same performance, or are you talking about combining two different tones into two different performances, so, like I left and the right guitar have slightly different tones?Benedikt:
Both could be the case, but I'm like what I just described was like talking about one performance and the tone for that, Like the one rig of a player, basically if that consists of more than just one amp or one chain. That is what that was talking about.Malcom:
I am usually not that Okay. Usually I am very basic. It's like as little in the chain as possible and if we can just get it right out of one amp like just like guitar into amp, no pedals I'm usually happiest with that result generally. Is that always the case? No, there's definitely been a stack of amp heads right beside me and like two cabinets in the vocal booth and three mics running or whatever, and getting them all lined up and yeah, like it's gone way off the deep end for sure.Benedikt:
Yeah, I just saw meme today by the way, that was pretty funny where the grandpa Simpson, you know, was sitting there in front of the kids and he was like, guitars used to have only six strings and we used to plug them directly into the amp.Malcom:
So that's kind of my sound right now. Yeah, exactly no, but like yeah, I do that.Benedikt:
I do that most of the time also, but sometimes there's the. There's just a project where I just like to combine tones and and I don't know, it's fun, it's it comes with problems. So sometimes you introduce more problems than you solve by doing that, but sometimes it's also exactly what you need, at least for me. So, yeah, I'm talking about combining it into one performance. However, of course, you can also do doubles with different rigs or different pickups, guitars, amps, pedals, whatever. So let's just quickly tell people what we're going to talk about. So the first scenario is same take through multiple amps or multiple chains. You can do that with a splitter, you know, plug one guitar into the splitter and then go out into different amps or rigs. You can do it with reamping. You record one di and then reamp it multiple times through different rigs. Or you could do the other scenario would be you do doubles with different you can use, instead of using the same exact thing on both sides. For example, you can do a double with a different guitar or a different pickup or different entire chain. And then there's creative sort of thinking outside the box, things that I want to talk about, so adding layers on top of a guitar take that are that don't even have to be a guitar, for example, but they kind of blend with the guitar tone and add whatever is missing. I've got a couple of ideas in mind. There are a couple of things I like to do.Malcom:
That is definitely fun, yeah and just to clarify that Benny doesn't mean like adding a tambourine track, he means adding something that's kind of the illusion of another guitar tone. Exactly totally.Benedikt:
Yeah, cool, so let's start by same. Take through multiple amps. Do you ever do that, or is that never?Malcom:
happening. No, it sometimes happens for sure. Yeah, as mentioned, I've had the big stack of amps come in and gone on, like we used to call it the tone quest, and just gone hunting, and yeah, I'll admit, though, like most of the time that's more time spent than it was worth. Yeah, in result, just because we're adding more and we're trying to do more doesn't mean better result at all. Right, you know it can be magical, for sure, but yeah, it's not like a sure thing. More is definitely not more in a lot of cases. And I guess when we're talking about using multiple amps or multiple chains, we're talking about parallel processing your signal. So I just want to throw that word in there, because that would be a technical. This is a parallel guitar tone is what we're really doing. So it's the same guitar being sent through parallel sources and captured at the same time. On one hand, you could say that I'm doing that all the time, because if I'm recording through an amp, I'm also grabbing a DI. That is a parallel capture, but we're not listening to the DI at the same time. So it's not a parallel tone, it's just a parallel capture. But when you have two amps, like you know, a Fender clean and then something else distorted. That would be a parallel capture that doesn't generally work for me. The other one that's really popular is like bass players want to go through an amp, a guitar amp, at the same time, right, so they've got that royal blood kind of distorted guitar bass thing going on. That's a parallel capture. So do I do it? Yeah, it happens, but if I can get it out of one amp, I'm usually happier, if I'm honest.Benedikt:
Fair enough. So the way you do it is if you do it at the source and while you're recording, you would plug into a splitter of some sort. So it would split up the guitar signal into two pass and then you can plug one into one amp and the other one into another amp or entire chain or rig. So that's one way of doing it. There are ways of combining amp heads without having to do it, so you could go from the line out of one amp into sort of an effects, return on another amp and fancy stuff like that. I've got to be very careful with instructions like that because if you get it wrong and you accidentally plug the speaker out of an amp into a different amp or whatever, you could completely destroy your gear. So I'm very careful with going too far there now. But there's ways to combine different amps, but the standard way of doing it is to split up the guitar signal and just go into two rigs at the same time and then you just capture each with a microphone or some load box or an R-loader these days or whatever. But you just capture them as two rigs and then combine them in the DAW. So that's the approach there. What I do more often is I get. I mean, I'm mixing these days exclusively. So what happens for me a lot is that I get a DI track in addition to, maybe, the amp that they sent, and then I can either enhance what they have, so I keep their recording, but I take the DI, re-amp it and blend it with what they gave me, so that way I can sort of keep their original character and what they've listened to and loved and decided on for whatever reason, but I can add something that is missing that I can't otherwise get with EQ or whatever. So that is one common thing that I do. Or I can be like yeah, I got what you wanted there, but I think I can do a better job of creating that, and then I just entirely replace their guitar recording, re-amp the DI, and I might use just one amp, or I might use two or a combination or whatever, because with the DI you can re-amp as many times as you want or you can just duplicate. If you're using ampsims, you can just duplicate the track and put on as many different ampsims as you want. The problem with all of these approaches is that you got to make sure that things are in phase, because multiple amps with multiple mics means the same, like a very similar thing that's coming out of these camps, but there's going to be a time delay, there's going to be slightly different response of the cab and stuff, and also with ampsims they're not all created equally or the IRs might have a different delay or whatever. So you have to be very careful to line those up properly and I would highly recommend printing those ampsims at some point so you actually see the result in the waveform and can really line them up correctly. So there's a couple of pitfalls that are even beyond what happens when you capture a single rig with two mics, for example. That alone can be a problem, but if you have multiple rigs with multiple mics or multiple ampsims, it just gets worse. Just be very careful. It's very cool, but just learn the basic phase sort of concept and learn how to align things, because otherwise you'll make things worse.Malcom:
Yeah, I mean, if you've ever recorded drums, you've had to go through figuring out phase. But the thing about drums is sometimes that phase smear sounds good Like your overheads are always going to be a little delayed from your close mics and that can sound totally great. Even though you've flipped them or whatever you needed to do and you've got the polarity correct, there's still some delay. But that can add this illusion of a space and then sound totally fine and great. But with guitars it's rarely the case If you've got like your second mic a little further away or like huge pitfall here you've got two cabs and what you don't know is that the speakers are way further back in that second cab. So you've got the mic shoved up to the grill and you think, okay, well, they got to be the same distance away, but in reality that second cab is hitting way later and there's just no fixing that. Really, okay, well, I mean yeah, yeah, there is that they're fixing that in real time, yeah, and like yeah, there's huge pitfalls all over the place in this parallel processing universe, like you said, multiple ampsims. Well, if they have different latencies, you could run into problems there, right? It's hard to know that you're getting it right. So you really got to listen, you really got to experiment and just make sure that you're actually making it better and not much, much worse.Benedikt:
Yes, exactly, and it's so time consuming.Malcom:
That's my least. Favorite part about all of it is that it's like to do it right, especially if you're doing a huge like three amp kind of thing and you're blending them together whatever. It's so fun, but it takes forever. Yeah, it does. You got to be measuring out all the distances. You got to be constantly checking the phase and polarity between all your different mics. It is very time consuming and if, like you're a self recording band which assumingly you are listening to this, you have the benefit of having time. But we're always pretty cheap. Don't get too stuck on this experimentation thing, because, like done is done is the goal.Benedikt:
Yes, yes, totally I agree with everything you said there. Also, I think you brought up the comparison to drums. Also, I think on drums it's easier to see visually sometimes because you have the clear, pretty clear transient and you can line things up pretty accurately, which is not always the case with guitars, especially distorted guitars. It can sometimes be kind of hard to get, to really get it right visually. The other thing is when you line things up after the fact, and the other thing is you have to practice how to actually hear that, because it's also not always 100% clear when things are better or worse if you're just starting out. So with drums it's relatively easy in some cases to be like okay, now I hear that the body of the drum is completely gone and now it's back. Or I don't have punch or a half punch. You know it's like sometimes it's very obvious with or the low end of the kick drum disappears or something like that. But with guitars, unless it's like really far off, you sometimes flip the phase or you move things left and right a little bit and you're like is that better? Now it's different, but I'm not really sure and you lose a little bit of midrange and then you lose a little bit of low end or whatever and then it sounds kind of hollow. But I remember when I started learning it I was kind of insecure and not really sure what the correct in-phase position would actually be. So you have to learn how to listen like what to listen for, how to hear those phase problems, and it just takes some time. It's just something you have to invest some time into and probably get feedback also and experiment a little bit, because it will happen. You will mess it up, probably when you first try this.Malcom:
Yeah, now, one other little pro tip here is that it's super hard, almost impossible, to know if you've made it better when you're blending, like, say, two different amps if you don't have faders, because as you bring one up it gets louder and, as we know, louder tends to get perceived as better. But, like, until you volume match them, you don't actually know. So invariably you end up trying to slowly fade the second channel in to whatever your first choice was and you think, oh yeah, it did get better. But like you don't actually know, it's frustrating because most people don't have faders. So you don't really have a way around this. You just have to, like, get a blend that you think is good and then put it back into the mix a little bit and compare it that way and yeah, it's tricky.Benedikt:
Yeah, totally All right. We'll get into examples for that at the end of it. Like, I want to tell you some of my go-tos and why I still, despite all the pitfalls and things we just talked about, why I still like to do it sometimes. We're going to get to that. But let's talk about the second approach here and how to do that, and that is recording doubles with different guitars, pickups or chains, and just to. I'll have to say it because I still know. I know that some people still don't really understand what a double is. Doubling doesn't mean copy and pasting the exact same performance. This doesn't do anything, or it's at least not. It doesn't do what you want from a double. But a real double is an actual second performance of the exact same thing. So the classic example is you have a band with one guitar player, but you want wide stereo rhythm guitars, and so instead of just recording that one guitar, I'd put it in the middle of the stereo image or just on one side and nothing on the other side. Instead of doing that, you record the same rhythm guitar performance twice and you put one on the left side and one on the right side. So you got your wide rhythm guitars. Or let's say you have two guitar players and both play rhythm and it's fine. One is left, one is right, but then one switches to the solo and you want the solo up the middle as it kind of replaces the vocals, but then there's nothing on that side where this rhythm guitar was before. So for the duration of the solo you double the other rhythm guitar so that you still have two rhythm guitars in that section. That's another example. And so you can do it purely for arrangement and stereo image reasons. Or you can record doubles for what we're talking about here, to add a certain second flavor to it. So you can have a double that sits on top of the first performance, even on the same side as stereo image, for example, or on the other side, whatever you want to do. But this time it's not really about the stereo image only, it's about adding a second sort of flavor to it by recording it another time, but with a different rig. But yeah, that's what we're talking about. So not copy and pasting, but recording it twice and using different gear to do that.Malcom:
Yeah, we, benny and I, are both rock guys. We generally are dealing with drums and electric guitars. In most cases, and in those styles of music, double guitars are almost just a given. It almost always happens that we've got a pair of guitars left and right and they're doubled and 95% of the time, maybe even more, those are the same guitar, exact same signal chain on both sides. And I want to mention that because that's like a really good rule of thumb is that you've got the same guitar, same chain, doubled left and right and again, like Benny said, different performances, not copy and pasted double tracking. So you have to track it twice and that is a really good rule of thumb. I think you're going to get good results out of that. But this idea of changing the tone on one side, that is an interesting idea because that is where we get this idea of width right. So if we have these two guitars and they're already panned hard left and hard right, how do we make it wider? Because they're already maximum panned right? But this subtle changes in the EQ response and the performance, but that when we're changing tone we're really changing the dynamics and the EQ response of one of the sides. That difference makes our brain think wider. So if you are finding that you've double tracked it and it doesn't sound as wide as you want, maybe making subtle changes to one of the sides is going to give you that extra width that you wanted.Benedikt:
Yeah, totally. So that is one reason for doing it, or one approach. The other one could be that you have your two guitars, or maybe you have two guitar players and you don't even double track, but there's different rigs anyways, one on this side, one on this side. You know, just the classic thing where two different. But in that case you could still record a second pair on top of the first pair you have, with a different flavor, for whatever reason, or just for different parts. You could maybe want the chorus to be a little thicker. So you add a second pair of guitars with a different guitar tone on top of what you already have, and in that case it's not a question of like making left and right different, but you put another layer on top of what you already have, so it could even just be added to the same side, sort of. That's different approaches. But the classic thing is what Malcolm said if you have a double track guitar and you don't want the exact same thing on both sides, you can make subtle changes Either way. Let's talk about ways you could do that. So you could use a different, the same guitar and the same rig and everything, but just a different pickup, for example. Or you could use a pedal on one side and a different on the other one, or just a pedal on one side and none on the other one, or you could use a different amp, you could swap out the cap, you could do whatever you want to create that subtle difference. But what are like the common go-tos that you try first if you run into that situation.Malcom:
Well, I mean, as a mixer that's gonna be done just probably with an EQ. I'm probably gonna slap an EQ on one side and just and affect the mid-range a little bit differently and then again, again, that's gonna give me some some width. Again, rarely happens I'm generally happy with. I like an identical double. Yeah, not identical, not copy-and-paste.Benedikt:
But I don't know, and we're not saying that this can't be wide, like you can get really white guitars with the exact same thing. It's just sometimes that, for whatever reason, we want it differently. But I'm happy yeah, totally exact double to most of the times.Malcom:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, as rule thumb. I really think that should be most people. Starting point is not trying to get more wide because you lose other things, but yeah, so like that's very clear for me. But if I was doing this in the tracking stage, it would probably be the same idea. I'd probably just be grabbing my amp EQ as a starting point. They going off memory the last time I can remember doing this I was cranking the mid-range up on one side and and that was giving me what I wanted. It was just a subtle little change and I do think subtle is a good another good rule of thumb if you're going for this, I would start subtle and I would start as far away from anything intonation related as possible as well, because intonation differences sound worse to me than Than tone differences. You still want your tuning and pitch to be very tight. So if you change guitars, that goes out the window quite a bit. Not that it can't sound great you know of course it can but it's gonna sound a lot more classic rock rather than modern. So if that's what you want, cool, even pick up I. I found that to be usually too dramatic. Yeah no, the I I get a lot of tracks.Benedikt:
who needs a neck pickup anyways?Malcom:
Yeah, yeah, I'm just there for looks guys On rhythm guitars in rock. Like you know, that pickup thing really works well on leads sometimes, you know.Benedikt:
I can be cool if you're double-tracking leads.Malcom:
That can be really, really cool, but but on like rock rhythm guitar, that thing is really flubby. Please, yeah, avoid it if you can. Where it has worked is like a coil tap on the same pickup. I can be cool, oh yeah, but again, it's a more subtle change and you really need to make this subtle cuz like it's gonna stand out no matter what you do. Another option, which I bet is something like just thinking that I'm figuring you out, benny would be like throwing a Subtle pedal into the chain, like a tube screen or clicks on with a mid-boost. Yeah, that could be another cool way of differentiating those two.Benedikt:
Yeah, yeah that. Or if I have two sort of very Classic metal or heavy heavy rock or punk rock or whatever ricks could be some sort of high gain amp, let's say 51, 50 in the tube screamer in front of it. If I have that too on both sides, I might. On one side I might have the output of the tube screamer, you know, cranked a little more compared to the other side, and but I would use less Drive on the tube screamer, for example. So I just tweaks a little bit of the. You know I might get more amp drive on one side and more tube screamer drive on the other side, for example. Just a certain slight Change in distortion characteristic or something like that, but again very subtle because you know I still want the character of the amp. But like, these very subtle differences sometimes do it.Malcom:
Yeah, yeah, no, that that's very cool, the most common way. Now that I'm thinking about this. I actually do this more often than I had thought because, especially in mixing, I will sometimes throw a different speaker on one side. Oh yeah, you know, like using a virtual amp sim speaker, I'll I'll end up with two different speakers on my left and right and and again. That's like everything's the same other than those speakers. Yeah, and that can be. That's just gonna give you a different again EQ impulse response and that's gonna Result in a wider sounding guitar or a different mic balance.Benedikt:
So if I have two mics on the camp and I use the same rig for both sides, I might prioritize one mic more on one side and the other one make more on the other side, for example. It's just a slight difference in balance. You know, if I have a brighter and a darker mic, I might change that a little bit and then again different EQ curve.Malcom:
So yeah, and I'm really beating the dead horse here, but I have a whole video on this on YouTube. But wider isn't better. Always like it is so easy to be like, well, why wouldn't I want wider? And so again night. At least 95% of the time I'm not doing any of this. I'm totally happy with the exact same tone coming out of both sides. I could.Benedikt:
I can imagine like 18 year old me now when I started out listening to this and making a list of like I need to do this and this and this and this, and then my next recording I would do all of the things we were just talking about, only to end up with like a total mess of a guitar. Yeah, be very intentional about it, and I always am, and we're gonna talk about that when, when I, when I talk about like, combining different Rigs and the same with the same performance, it's not that I just do it because I think I always want to have to do it. I do it very intentionally and I know going in, I know exactly why I want to do it and what I'm trying to achieve, and if it doesn't work, I'm the first to just kill the idea and go with one amp.Malcom:
But can I ask you what the most common yeah, what the most common thing you get sent is Like I know what I'm most commonly get sent when it isn't an identical tone on both sides? What, like what, do people seem to default to when they're sending tracks to you?Benedikt:
most of the time, actually, I get One rig for one guitar player and a different rig for the other guitar player, and they so, in the genres that I work in, they Rarely actually double track, unless it's like just the three-piece band or four-piece band with one guitar player. But if they have two guitarists, oftentimes they have a main rhythm guitar on the left side, a main rhythm guitar on the other side, which are mostly two different rigs, and then they double the occasional part. If they want that for that part, well, whatever, whatever reason, but so I typically get two different things for the two sides. I get two rhythm guitars, but they're mostly different. Yeah, you.Malcom:
Now, okay, I'm going down a rabbit hole here, because that actually fascinates me, because it's just so different than what happens with me, do you? Is that how you like it, or do you wish that they both double-tracked and then you kind of had those more similar performances to work with left and right?Benedikt:
I always like to Like them to be intentional. So if that's exactly what they want and they want the ACDC kind of thing where, like, one guitar plays here, the other ones there, then I'm totally fine with that. It always depends if it matches what they actually, if it matches their expectations and what they're going for, basically. So if I love I really love it when I get a session that Immediately looks like it's been made intentionally, meaning there's some parts where there's just one player here, one player there, but then there's another part where they double-tracked it and there's a clear reason for it, because maybe there's a leap part on top of it or whatever, or maybe they wanted a smaller verse in the bigger chorus, or like when I see things like that, it tells me they put thought into it and they created the arrangement, knowing what they're doing, and I love that, and in that case I'm totally happy if they didn't double-track everything. If I get a session, however, where I feel like this is, I don't know I there's no big and no small parts, all everything's the same, there is Something's missing, then in those cases I wish they would have just double-tracked everything so I could create that in the mix Basically, but I prefer them to do it because to me, that is where you got to wear your producer hat and make decisions and Record what you want to have in the song, and I assume that what you sent me is what you want to have. But sometimes I can unfortunately clearly tell that this isn't what they are, what they are actually going for. They just didn't know that they should have double-tracked it.Malcom:
So yeah, okay, now follow-up question to that how many of those you know just one guitarist on the left, one guitar, the other guitarist on the right, how many of those like a percentage estimate? How many of those projects are our intentional or just they didn't think to double-track?Benedikt:
80% intentional. I'd say great, that's a great ratio.Malcom:
This podcast is working.Benedikt:
And I think it's. It's a genre thing, because I do a lot of like punk rock and indie rock and like Organic sort of modern, but still like organic, and the people want to sound like a band. They want to sound like they are sound on stage basically, and and so, yeah, it is mostly intentional I'd say Awesome, awesome. And also they want the. I don't know, maybe that's different from you too. They also want to be able to hear the different things that they play on you. They want to be able to identify the guitar player on one side. Yeah, so I rarely get the thing. Metal bands do that more often, but so the heavier it gets, the more doubles it typically get, which is, yeah, fine, but so so they, they Do not want the. You know, I'd say this yeah, sometimes bands send that they have two guitar players and it's not that one is here and one is there, but both of them double-track their parts and they're both left and right. Basically, right, you have the rhythm guitar that is double-tracked, and then another wall of top of that, also double-tracked, and so it's this wall of guitars, but it's not that you can identify the one player here and the other one there, and a lot of the bands that I work with they don't want that. They want the clear separation between the two, and so that's why, they don't double-track most of the time because they're like we have two rhythm parts, why would we double-track that and and so yeah, I'm curious how like? How does it work for you most of the time? If you get double-tracked guitars often, is it just because they have only one lead, like rhythm guitar player, and they have to double-track it for that reason?Malcom:
or is it? No?Benedikt:
I think it's wall of sound and they do, they do all of stars left and right anyway.Malcom:
Yeah, I do a lot of both guitars left and right and, and then I do alter that sometimes, despite even assuming that they wanted the wall of sound the whole time. I like I there's. You know, if you have both performances you can mute it for a verse and nobody's gonna notice because it'll keep hacking in the course. But yeah, wall of sound typically is what comes to me which works for me. I like wall of sound.Benedikt:
The cool thing is when you can switch back and forth between those. So, for example, I love mixing pop punk. That's this one of them, genres that are so fun to mix for me. And and with a lot of pop punk records you have a more sort of sparse, little, smaller like verse thing, where sometimes maybe one guitarist does some some picking or there's some details you want to hear, and that is on one side and the other one just has like some open chords or whatever on the other side. So in that case I don't use the doubles, even if they have some sometimes. I just make it smaller and I want to be able to pick out those details and have like the more open, minimalistic sort of verse. But then when he come, when when the big chorus kicks in, I have like the four guitar tracks and both guitars left and right, full on again and I like to play with those dynamics. And in pop punk is a genre where I do that a lot. I don't like to use all the doubles all the time. If I get them I try to create those dynamics and there are parts where I certainly want to hear the difference between the two guitar parts, you know.Malcom:
Yeah, yeah, totally yeah. This is a good little chat. The just to close up this, this thought the what mostly gets sent to me when it is not identical doubles is the pickup flip. So it's the same guitar and same amp and everything, but they've just gone from neck on one side to bridge on the other side and yeah, again I want to drive home that that's usually way too dramatic of a change and you end up with one good guitar tone and one really flubby guitar tone and If you think about it, just comparing how bright and how dark those two pickup choices are, you're your mix is super lopsided as a result, if those are your only pair of guitars, especially because it's like having no symbol on one side of your drum kit. You know, like if it's just gonna be really bright on one side and really dark on the other side, and like if you pant all of your overheads to one side, like it would be like a mess, right.Benedikt:
So, in addition to the strike on one chest, on one side or something, yeah, yeah, totally, it's just balance.Malcom:
Balance composition is also more than just parts. It is a sonic balance.Benedikt:
Totally, totally up. Actually, there's another thing that happens sometimes that is sort of a yeah, that is a pet peeve, and that is Something that I I don't know why people I mean I know why they do it so and but I wish people would stop doing it Is sometimes people sent me two or three tracks of the same performance, like recorded with the reempt or yeah, through different amps or amps, and then they label them left and right or left right.Malcom:
But it's the same performance.Benedikt:
So they want they recorded one guitar take, but they expect me to Put it left, right and center because they think that is doubling. And then I have to unfortunately tell them that this doesn't work. I mean, there's always workarounds and tricks you can use, but it's never gonna be exactly the same, it's never gonna quite work. And so reamping doesn't give you Enough of a difference to make stereo guitars work. So it is a tonal difference, but it's still gonna be a mono guitar and it's still not gonna. It's still gonna work. You would have to reamp and delay and maybe modulate or whatever, but that causes other problems. So If you just have one guitar player, just reamping it multiple times doesn't solve that stereo problem. You'd have to record it again. But that's actually something I get sent sometimes and then I have to get back to the band and be like hey, there's three tracks, they're labeled left, center, right, but it's the same performance. What, what you want?Malcom:
me to do yeah.Benedikt:
Now I have to derail our podcast even more, because there is a time when that's intentional, when it is a stereo amp capture rather than us, but that is a different thing. Trying to think of a good example Tennessee whiskey, chris Stapleton Hopefully people are familiar with that huge down down. I'm pretty sure that is. Uh, yeah it's, it's one guitar lead, but it is a very stereo sound kind of thing. Right, they didn't double track that lead and have it on left and right, they just have like this kind of vibrato stereo guitar sound and that is really really perfect for that song. But, uh, but would really suck if that was your rhythm guitar on a hard rock song.Benedikt:
Yeah, exactly yeah totally, and so that means you would have to record a stereo pair of microphones or two, two caps slightly delayed or something, or there's different ways of doing it, um or yeah. Yeah, but exactly it's a stereo capture, yeah.Malcom:
Yeah, um, but yeah, it's confusing, I think, for people when they're getting started because, like well, I recorded in stereo, I don't need to double track. Yeah but it's just like it could be different things. Yeah, they're not really related to the same conversation.Benedikt:
Exactly, all right, cool, now, um, let's talk. Before we get to the creative stuff, let's talk about some things we like to combine. So we said pickups may be too drastic. We said, um, paddle could be good or amp eq is what you said. Um, when, when you do the same take through multiple amps thing, what would you do then? Like, is it still like subtle things like that? Or would you combine two completely different amps to get two different characteristics or colors, or so when, when we're now talking about adding different performances Through different amps, right, I mean? whatever you want to talk about, I just want to give people some actual like examples of things we like to do. Yeah, could be the, the performance, like we talked about the two different scenarios, like same performance through multiple amps or different performances and what, how to create a difference. And now I want to talk about some actual go-tos or Uh, things we like to do and we haven't really talked about the same take through multiple amps thing yet, like what would like, how we would apply that, or like what we, what we would do there.Malcom:
One common situation that I could describe and I like it's. It's helpful for our listeners, I think, to know what Benny and I are commonly doing in our mixing, because it means that you could actually solve it In your tracking and then I wouldn't have to do this. Yeah, but on more guitars than people or, sorry, on more songs than people know. I've actually played guitar on those songs because I've thought, okay, this course just doesn't hit hard enough. It's like a scoop guitar tone which works everywhere else, but the course needs to actually punch and have some bite. So I'll just re-record, not re-record, I'll add an additional recording of a guitar part to the course of the song, but with a very mid-range heavy guitar tone kind of thing. So I don't have the option of Just re-apping their guitar tone or whatever. Because whatever the situation is and I actually don't even want that in this case Usually I want another pair of guitars to just kick in, blend really in with those guitars, not trying to make it sound like a new guitarist to center the song, but it's just going to be super mid-range heavy at that point and then snuck in there. So we're just Beefing up that guitar tone. Essentially, we're just trying to fill the mid-range hole that is often sent to the guitar.Benedikt:
Yeah, that that is great, or I don't know if you ever do that Filling the hole in the center of the stereo image. Sometimes a single beefier, darker Third guitar that it's like just slightly in there on top of the bass or something in the middle, can do the trick. That's something I like sometimes when you have brighter guitars on the outsides and then just one thick guitar in the center.Malcom:
Yeah, I call that like the foo fighters. Yeah, yeah, approach. Yeah, there's three guitars hitting you all at once. It can be perfect. Yeah and again, listeners, more isn't always more, more is usually less, so don't assume that three guitars is like the secret to a huge mix. This is like rarely happening.Benedikt:
Yeah, totally. I mean more extreme examples of like adding that additional layer of thickness could be in metal. You could have a Six let's. Let's say you have a fairly normal tuning on a six string guitar but then you could add a seven string or something, or even low like, or something really crazy low tuned, and you could do just an octave below single string notes or so below the chords, like something really thick, you know, like really low Can't sound super heavy, it's like multiple. You know things like that you could do.Malcom:
I've even gone as far as taking, like a DI track pitch, shifting it down an octave and Running it through an amp sim, and now we've got a low octave guitar to mix in there. Again, one of those things that 99% of the time sounds terrible but in the right situation sounds amazing. Yeah, just Figuring out a way to fill the sonic hole is kind of the approach that Benny and I are taking as mixers, right, yeah, so again, if you think of your arrangement and composition while you're producing your own song, you can take care of that on the way, because what I would have rather done have done in that that example of pitch shifting a DI down is Is had a different performance. Track that part right, throw a pedal in the yellow octave pedal or something, and have a different performance altogether. Do that part Probably is what I would have preferred, but in mixing I didn't have that option, so I had to just pitch shift the DI down and it's a. It's a little different, but it's gonna do the job. So Any of these tips that we can describe that we're doing a mixing, if you can solve them while tracking, is probably gonna be better.Benedikt:
Yeah, totally, totally so. So let's go to what I mentioned in the beginning, and it seems like I do it more often than you do the same take through multiple amps or just combining different flavors into one performance. Basically, the main reason why I do this not always, as I said, but like sometimes, or actually pretty often is that I Don't I really have an amp that right. Yeah, I mean, sometimes there is an amp that can, that is perfect for the job, but I like certain characteristics of certain amps and I like other things more on other amps. So there is not the one ideal amp that does it all in some situations for me, and that might just be me, but, like I, I love certain things about certain amps, but I really love all of it, and so what I'm, what I'm saying here is, for example, if I have a 5150, I have a beautiful like original block letter sitting next to me here, which is amazing for heavy rhythm guitars. That is perfect. It has a nice you know, beefy but not too too overwhelming sort of boomy low end. It has a nice defined top end. It also has a mid-range. It's not super scooped compared to like a Mesa or something, but it's still like this rather scooped heavy Metal tone that I get out of this and I love how that sounds. But sometimes I wish I could have a more British sounding Marshall crunch or something in the mid-range, on some parts maybe, or maybe with the block letter. That's one of the exceptions where it actually almost does everything I want.Malcom:
But if I get a for example, a rectifier.Benedikt:
A rectifier sounds massive. That's the perfect example. Actually. A rectifier Mesa sounds Right, sounds massive, has a big low end, has a very defined top end. But to me the mid-range can sometimes almost disappear with these amps in a way and and sometimes just having that as a foundation but then filling in what's missing in the mid-range with a little bit of a more forward, mid-rangey, british type of distortion Sometimes does the trick. For me it can't even go as far as like Blending in a small, almost lo-fi sounding practice amp in just for the mid-range it's what I sometimes do or a very small combo amp or something where I really just focus on the mid-range Characteristic and the bite there and I get the size and the massive sound from the big high gain amp and I just like to combine these things and it's usually two extremes that I combine there. Or sometimes it's Everything's perfect but just a little bit of low end or thickness missing, and I know that this one amp does exactly that and so I just blend a little bit of that in, or I'm very intentional with that. It's not that I go in thinking, hmm, what could I combine today? And then experiment. I know that this is the amp that I'm my main amp that I'm gonna use. And then I Listen to it and I'm like, mmm, I need something else in the mid-range there, or that something's lacking in the low end. And then I know, because I know my tool so well and I I've experimented so much with them, that I know this amp will do the trick. And then I grab the stamp, blend it in and more often than not it works. And if it, for whatever reason, doesn't work, I'm just gonna, yeah, stick with what I had and it's fine. But usually I know my tools well enough to know what to reach for in those situations. So that's what I what I do when I combine amps. This is just yeah. Certain amps have certain transient responses. For example, you have to bring up another one. That is maybe a little uncommon, but I love how an amp pack v4, which is a bass amp for most people, but it's you can use it as a wonderful guitar amp as well. I love how that amp pack amp on guitars Sounds in the mid-range and what the and what the transient response of that thing sounds like. It's very different to any guitar Amp that I know of. And if you just crank the mid-range Completely on that thing and crank the gain completely. It has a distortion characteristic and a Transient response that I can't get out of any other amp and just blending that in with a more modern amp is sometimes a thing that I can't get any other way and it's like the Queens of the Stone Age guitar sound like Eric Valentine is the cranked amp pack v4 thing Sounds fantastic on its own. A little too much for me most of the time, but blend it perfect. That's an example, but again, very intentional and also very subjective. But it's about getting the most out of the tools that I have and blending those Different things together so that they work, and you got to be super careful doing that, as we said in the beginning, with phase and all of that, of course.Malcom:
Yeah, this is actually a fun chat for for Benny and I, because, like, I hear that and I'm like, yeah, I do the same thing, but my, my instinct is, again, more wall of soundy. So, like, if I'm missing that mid-range, I'm probably going to end up setting up a totally different amp and and having a different performance get added to the arrangement kind of thing to fill that hole, which is, you know, just a different way of Going after it, a very different way. It's gonna sound totally different in fact and yes, so it's different ways of Trying to make the sound that you want, like the. If we can all decide that there's a hole in the mid-range, it's a matter of how do we solve it.Benedikt:
Exactly. And if I want the, if I wanted to be more massive and wider and bigger, I will add the additional performance probably. But if I wanted to sound like just the two guitars and I Don't want anything extra, but I want those two rigs to sound just perfect for me Then I blend as much as I need to get that one performance on as good as I can. It's like a different approach. I do the the additional performance thing as well, but for different reasons actually. Yeah, absolutely, that's great. Yeah, and other than that, I mean that's we could. This is a conversation that we could go on for days and days, probably Because there's so many great tools to combine and so many things to discover. At the end of the day, I still want to Repeat what you said, malcolm. I would start as simple as possible and only add what you absolutely need to, and add one thing at a time also. That's also important. I wouldn't go from one amp, one performance to Immediately recording it six times through a tower of amps, because then it makes it very hard to find the problem and to troubleshoot. So I would add one thing at a time. Check if it's actually worth it. If it doesn't work, figure out why. If it, once you get it working, try adding a new thing, but like one at a time. And and when in doubt, just remove one. Or or let you mix a, ask you mix a, what, what they think, get feedback or you know, I I don't like not making decisions. I like people to to sort of Be the producer and commit. But in this case it might be good to just record a double in case and then ask your mixer for what to do with the doubles or with the additional tracks it's, I don't know kind of in between there. I like it when people make decisions, but I also like to have options if they don't know what they're doing.Malcom:
So yeah, yeah, confidence is an important thing and we want everybody listening to this to Get to that point of being confident.Benedikt:
But if you're not there, don't, don't pretend you are, I guess yeah, and, by the way, with options we don't mean don't track a bunch of takes and then be like hey, can you pick the best take for me? That's not what we're talking about. This is a completely different thing. This is that this has to do with editing and definitely a production decision. But, like, the take you actually want to have in the song should be the one that you send to the mixing engineer. But you can Option as an option, record an additional layer on top of it or reamp an additional layer or whatever, and send that. It be like hey, feel free to use it, but if you feel like you don't want to use it, just mute it or whatever you like. That's a thing you can absolutely do. But don't let the, the mixer decide what the take should be. That's a different story. Yeah, that's too much. Yeah Right, anything else that comes to mind, I'll come.Malcom:
Oh, I'm limited things, but I think we've given some really good core principles. We've given the rule of thumbs that we like. That's my favorite part of this podcast is being like hey, if you just remember this one rule of thumb, you're going to get good results. You know, everything else is bonus. So like driving home that again you know copy and pasting isn't doubling, and prioritize intonation when you're making any changes to your doubles. You're going to have better recordings just by remembering that. So that's all you get from this episode. Success, that's great, Awesome.Benedikt:
Love it. Oh, we forgot one thing actually, Malcolm, just really quick Creative things you could put on top of your guitar tone that are not guitars.Malcom:
Oh, yes, yes, Bonus.Benedikt:
Yeah, bonus, exactly Again. Not something I do all the time, but can be super fun. So question to you, malcolm do you ever do this?Malcom:
Yeah, I mean, my bass guitars exist. Is adding no trees?Benedikt:
I was about to say actually Making guitar sound cool. I was about to say it actually, and it's so true because sometimes part of the guitar sound you hear, or you think you hear, is the bass tone.Malcom:
Yeah, totally, totally. But I mean the bassists could say the same thing about guitars, I guess. Yeah, yeah, in all seriousness, what we're really talking about is creative ways to make a guitar sound cooler with things that aren't guitars, and for me that is usually like a synth line. You know, adding in like a saw wave, like pad can be really cool, or like a sub bass pad can be really cool. It's kind of doing the bass thing again, but keys can really be mixed in with the guitar to make them sound inhuman.Benedikt:
Absolutely so. There's two main things that came to mind. One is what you talked about, the synth, mostly distorted, kind of dirty synth that adds kind of fuzzy sort of hair to the guitar tone sometimes, or some grit or some also some consistency in a way, some like almost superhuman, artificial consistency because of the nature of the synth. So that is great. The other one that comes to mind for me is a trick that, yeah, again, it's thinking about what do I want from the guitar tone, but I'm not able to get out of it. And one thing, one example that comes to mind, is you can add I like to do it at least. I like to record clean piano, just clean piano, low piano notes, because that is like the purest, cleanest, biggest sort of sounding. Almost like what I want from a bass, sometimes with with fresh strings, is like this piano, like clarity in the low end. And so I sometimes when I have this huge chorus with like big guitars, big guitar chords, mainly open chords or just like this doesn't work with like very fast riffs, but like big chords, if I have a part like that and I want that extra depth, extra size, extra clarity, I sometimes record a clean piano, run that through some preamp or simulation or whatever, just sort the hell out of it to get more harmonics and to make it blend better with the guitar, and then just blend those low piano, just single notes on the piano that go along with the chords, and blend that underneath the guitars. This can sound absolutely massive. And so, again, keys. But in this case it's a piano and not a synth, and you can do it with pro, pro grand pianos, of course, but I just find that this you know the characteristic of a low piano. Note how that sounds so rich.Malcom:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's great. You know, that whole idea is actually worth mentioning is reinforcing the root can be just so helpful you can do that with. I think that's actually a case where I'll often overdub another guitar to kind of fill out our main guitar is like a clean, a little bit cleaner than whatever your main rock guitar doubles are. Just playing the root note on each chord, like, can just really solidify the note. That's happening because, depending on how distorted your guitars are, the more distortion kind of eats away the note because it's more white noise. So if you need to reinforce that with something, do it. Yeah, totally.Benedikt:
And the final thing that I can think of right now is that I think is fairly common, or like that people do sometimes, is to blend a clean guitar chords with your distorted ones, just to add a little more percussive percussiveness, a little more transient. So you can, that can be even an acoustic guitar, or it can be just the DI blended slightly in with the distorted guitar, just to get more of the pick attack and the percussive aspects of it. And when I do that I typically this will be a different performance again, usually with an acoustic guitar or something, and I usually don't want it to sound like an acoustic guitar, I just want the percussive, like, yeah, transients of it, not really the sound of the chords, but that just adds. That can add some dynamics that are maybe lost because of the amount of distortion or something and it can turn a rather flat sounding performance into something more dynamic that jumps out of the speakers.Malcom:
Totally. Yeah, there's a song. This is going back quite a while. It's like the birth of like modern rock, but like this band default. Did you ever have default over there in Europe?Benedikt:
They were kind of like with Nickelback. The fact that I don't know them doesn't mean we didn't have them.Malcom:
Yeah, yeah, I mean, they wrote a Vancouver, I know. But yeah, when Nickelback exploded in that whole kind of modern rock era, default was also around. They have a song called Deny which has this really cool kind of intro riff. That is like a subtly distorted electric guitar and an acoustic guitar, incredibly tightly doubled so that you don't really even know that it's two guitarists. Guitar is happening, but it's like a tone that couldn't happen with just one or the other. You needed both Awesome. So if you want an example of the acoustic guitar getting used very effectively in a rock song, check that out.Benedikt:
Cool, I'm going to put that in the show notes, as well as everything else we've been talking about, and, yeah, let's wrap it up then. I think this has been. This is the fun.Malcom:
This is, I don't know fun topic to talk about. Good to be back, man, yeah totally.Benedikt:
Might be part of the reason why these episodes are also the more popular ones. Just so fun talking about guitars.Malcom:
Yeah, we're obsessed with guitars, Totally.Benedikt:
Anyway, you can find the show notes and everything we talked about if you go to the self-recordingbentcom slash 185, always the self-recordingbentcom slash the number of the episode, and that takes you to that show notes page. As always, thank you for listening and we'll talk to you next week.Malcom:
Adios, Thanks everyone.
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