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2 Guitar mixing issues

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by awilkie84, Mar 21, 2013.


  1. I posted this, as part of a longer discussion, in the Spector Club thread, but wanted to ask the rest of you, too.

    Our guitarists don't understand anything about tonal range, balance, or finding your own sonic space. They play the same lines over top of each other (or try to copy me), so I really have to be sure that I'm sitting in an unoccupied pocket and cutting through their washed out mix.

    Anyone have any suggestions on how to get 2 musically illiterate (they can't read sheet, don't understand scale progressions or anything beyond how to finger chords or read tab) guitar players to balance better? I mean, I love these guys, but they reach for their capos any time there's a key change to a song, instead of adjusting their chord usage or using a bar chord.
     
  2. bearfoot

    bearfoot

    Jan 27, 2005
    schenectady, ny
    Well. A capo isn't cheating when properly used. If you change the song to Eb, and the song features open chords, then the capo is what you do. But this doesn't sound like covering Paul Simon, these guys are beginners.
    Baby steps I guess. Encourage them to have different tones. Point out that one guitar capoed , the other not, makes a much fuller sound.
     
  3. if those are electric guitars then make one play bridge pickup all tthe way and other one neck pickup. in case possible make one slightly more distorted than the other and tweak eq accordingly.
    this will improve the sound a little.
    but you know, most of it is the players so don't expect any miracles except when you just mute one of them but that probably isn't an option.
     
  4. Duckwater

    Duckwater

    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    Lay it to them straight. There is a problem and you can help them fix it. I have heard this before at a concert I saw, both guitar players were playing Les Pauls through the same Orange stacks and you couldn't make out a note either of them played, their bass player managed to push his sound forward enough to hear a little bit of the song progression at least.
     
  5. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Alexandria,VA
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Give them specific parts to play that are not identical.

    For example, one can pick out arpeggiated notes of a chord, while the other plays power chords behind it. One plays the top stings, while another plays the low strings. One plays a fat bridge humbucker, and another plays a neck single coil. One plays percussive chords while the other lets them ring out.

    Play around with it until you get something you like.
     
  6. Biggbass

    Biggbass

    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    A music teacher once taught me this valuable lesson, which I've put to use over and over and over with success. It was to always play in a different register than the other player you share instrumentation with. If the other guy is playing down low, in open chord positions, then you play up the neck and vice versa. Capo'd works very well for using that strategy.
     
  7. 6jase5

    6jase5 Mammogram is down but I'm working manually

    Dec 17, 2007
    San Diego/LA
    Or you can go the other route if banging your head on the wall doesn't bust through. I usually doubletrack my guitar parts and pan one hard left and one nearly hard right. Makes a nice thick sound, but they have to be the same parts, not the same tone and different progressions.

    All the ideas mentioned are good, different tones (guitars, amps, effects), different neck positions, trading off single notes for power chords, etc.

    In the end, you can eq some of those changes in the mix, but you can't polish a turd....or two turds.
     
  8. Have them listen to old AC/DC tunes VERY CLOSELY. Neither Angus nor Malcom could tell a scale from a whale, but they complement each other very nicely. Both use basic/simple chord forms and patterns, but not identical. They also use tone settings that are complementary but not identical. If they give the discs a good listen, it will tell them more than you or I ever could. Good luck:)
     
  9. IMO two of the best lead/rhythm players are Slash and Izzy in Guns N' Roses. Nothing crazy difficult, but the way that Izzy plays in the weave of Slash is an art. Check out some old Guns for ideas. They did have differing gear too, Slash had his LP into a Marshall JCM800, and Izzy usually had a Tele into a Mesa. Two different sounds that came together wonderfully.

    The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
     
  10. Winfred

    Winfred

    Oct 21, 2011
    Finding better guitarists would solve your problems, but I'm guessing you've thought of that, or it's just not possible.

    The second answer is to get rid of one of them, and have 1 guitarist. You probably can't do that either.

    So now you're stuck trying to teach guitar players how to be good musicians.

    All of the suggestions in the other posts are good ones, but the guy who said "you can't polish two turds" is right on the money. You've got a tough job ahead of you.
     
  11. f.c.geil

    f.c.geil

    May 12, 2011
    Two of the best options have already been mentioned: having one play higher on the neck than the other; and having them eq'd differently. A third option that works well is to have them play different rhythms. That is, one of them could play a chunky rhythm while the other plays longer chords.
     
  12. I forgot to mention that one plays an acoustic and another is a LP through a VOX 2x12 combo (and he likes to be loud and distorted at all times).

    Our acoustic player is ALWAYS strumming, while the electric is just dirty & loud. I have a jam with them tonight, so I'm going to run some of the suggestions by them. Our acoustic player might jump on board, as he's constantly trying to hear himself through our PA when the song gets heavy. Maybe he can coerce our electric player to turn down a bit & try different lines?

    Thanks for the suggestions, guys! Keep 'em coming!
     
  13. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Lots of good advice here, just wanted to warn that while putting one of them on a neck pickup may spread them around the sonic spectrum it also increases the movement into your space.
     
  14. IPYF

    IPYF

    Mar 31, 2011
    Get your electric guitarist to back off the gain.

    Backing off on the gain stages will fix a lot of your problems. High gain is for kids and your acoustic guitarist will be able to stop fighting to be audible. I think if you eliminate the volume contest you might fix a lot here.
     
  15. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Minneapolis
    Fire one. Short of that, it has already been said. Force the issue. Make them learn some different lines, and DEMAND, I say DEMAND that NEVER are they to play the same thing. All they are doing is screwing up the mix, and making whatever part they double TWICE as loud.

    Teach them to trade off songs rhythm/lead instead of trading off DURING a song.

    Oops. I just read that one of them is acoustic.

    Tell the guy who likes to be loud and distorted at all times that there is no call for that, unless the point of your band is to sound AS AMATEURISH AS POSSIBLE.
     
  16. JohnMCA72

    JohnMCA72

    Feb 4, 2009
    Maybe have the electric player get away from chords & play fills. He can keep his dirty tone & won't step all over everything else if he stays off the chords. The acoustic player can lay down the basic rhythm.
     
  17. bumperbass

    bumperbass Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2012
    Whomever mentioned AC-DC was right on the money! The brothers play the same chords in different positions on the neck! The secret to their success!
    I played in an acoustic trio with 2 acoustic guitars and it irritated the heck out of me when they both played the same chords in the same positions. The only variation was when one of them played a solo. What a waste of resources. We'd have been better off having one of them play percussion. The only good thing about it was that we had decent 3 part harmony vocals and all of us could sing lead and give one another a rest.
     
  18. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This. This. And more this.

    If this doesn't work, get rid of one of them. If they are playing on top of each other, then you don't need both of them to get the job done. At least one of them is useless if not harmful to the sound of the band.
     
  19. Winfred

    Winfred

    Oct 21, 2011
    This guy got it.
     
  20. Eric_71

    Eric_71

    Jul 22, 2011
    MSP
    OP, how did your jam go and how were the suggestions taken?

    The main thing I was going to say is that depending on the music, acoustics turn into rhythm instruments once the drums come in. I still like them in music, but all you really hear is the strumming pattern when things get loud, and that's how it should be (at least if it's basic rock music, which is my impression of your sitch).

    As an example, listen to "More Than a Feeling" by Boston after about 0:40 -- you can only really hear the acoustic in the quieter parts. But that's just basic dynamics. So if I was the acoustic player, I'd just accept that and be happy to contribute to the band as a rhythm instrument and some good texture for the times when I'm the only guy playing.

    The real issue seems to be with the electric player, but getting him to believe the band isn't just about him hearing himself may take a little while. If he ditches the capo and plays something more basic like power chords or some other chord voicing that doesn't involve all 6 strings, you might be getting somewhere. Maybe he can figure out how to add to the song through dynamics even if he is limited in other ways, and then everyone benefits.
     

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