WBL: Tricks for mixing wide guitar

In most conventional guitar band music you may notice that the guitars are wide and huge and cover most of the stereo field. This is because in most traditional senses the guitar is the musical driving force of the song from mid to high range and therefore requires a lot of attention from the listener. To achieve prominent guitar I have found a few techniques that work really well.

Double tracking.

First and foremost in this list we have double tracking. Recording a double track of a guitar does exactly what it sound like it would, it puts two guitars in the mix. The interest hear comes when we pan the guitars to opposite sides of the stereo field. If the guitars are playing the same lines in time with one another when we pan the guitars either way we exploit the phantom stereo field by giving our ears twos sounds that are indistinguishable, but still very slightly different and this creates an image that our brain can only decode as one huge, wide sound source. Double tracking a guitar however does remove some presence of the sound because the regardless of how good the guitarist is their will always be slight differences in the recording of a sound and double tracking this removes our ability to define the sound source precisely. This should be taken in to account in the approach of to your track.

Double tracking for soft excitement

When a guitar calls for a less in your face approach, this technique can add a beautiful glisten to the sounds of your guitar. This technique works well for picked guitar acoustic or electric, but usually cleaner sounds. The same process is undergone as before, the tracks have double takes and are panned across the stereo image, but then we zoom right in and drag one of the guitars very slightly out of time with the other. I’m talking milliseconds here, just enough so that the sounds attack at different times but not enough so that we can hear the difference as a slapback. This stacks the phase properties of each guitar against each other and creates a shimmery, chorus like effect.

Pan The Reverb

For ultra-wide guitars we can pan the reverb track to the other side of the mix, creating the idea of a huge space. When this is used in conjunction with a natural mix, we perceive the guitar as larger than life. To achieve this bus the signal into an aux, stick a reverb on the channel and then start panning, listening out for those desirable artefacts. I find around 50 percent on the opposite direction of the original signal works well.





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