How can I mix my own backing tracks for guitar? - Beginner mixing techniques.
Almost six to seven years ago, I asked this question to Google. But that time, there was not much rich content. So, I had to depend on some long-length videos on YouTube. Online instructors taught -how to mix guitar tracks, drum tracks, and other instruments. Take a bow, dear sir, I am blessed to have you. As a part of my gratification, I decided to share some basic knowledge of guitar track mixing. You can call it a session to share my experience. Here I will explain how to mix your guitar backing tracks with some techniques. These guidelines may help a beginner to mix their backing track at home studio. Since the pandemic of COVID19 is increasing and the people are in quarantine. It's an excellent time to gather some skills; for beginners, this will be a blessing -I am sure. Why? Well, musicians are throwing challenges. They encourage to publish own solos in social media as -#quarantinechallenge. Have you got the challenge yet? I am sure you have. And still regretting not participating in improper mixing knowledge, right? Don't worry! I am here to help you out. Let me start my technique sharing skills with a fundamental question.
Why is it essential to mix a backing track?
It is said that; backing guitar tracks play a vital role in reflecting a guitar solo. If a guitarist cannot mix this, there is a high chance of seeing the thumb down on his/her Youtube or social media page. Trust me! I am giving you the legit information because I was the victim. Let me share with you my experience in short then. Back in 2013, I composed my first guitar solo. The solo was made from D major scale. Plus, I structured the verse, pre-chorus, and chorus with a mix of Sus, Dominant, and Augmented chords.
Everything sounds perfect until the recording. After the record, it was looking like - oh my god! What is going on! Yes, that was my reaction. Why? The unwanted noise, some less heard notes, and a lack of proper sound balance ruined my creatives. That day I learned; it's not about making a great composition. It's all about giving the best effort. A perfect effort starts from scratch. And it begins by selecting the right guitar. As you know this is a mixing guide, I won't write about guitar selection. So, you can visit Musical Instru to know Electric Guitar under 300
Now let's come back to the point. Here are the steps I followed with my first guitar backing track. I did this by using my favorite daw Reaper.
I removed the low end first:
The first thing I did was to filter the low end by using a high pass filter. Now, why did I apply this? Well, when you record your single instrument, it sounds good until it's aggregated. But it starts to clash with other instruments, after collaboration. For example, my riffs were clashing with my open string bass notes. There was no clarity. It burned up after merging together. Cutting the low end helped me to clear my guitar riff. And that was my first threshold.
Then, I applied some modulation effects
Next, I used some modulation effects on my guitar. The reason for integrating these effects was to nourish my guitar sound. So, what the heck is a modulation effect? It includes the following things, chorus, phaser, flanger, vibrato, tremolo, auto-pan, and LF. Utilizing the mentioned effects did not fuel up my mix; in fact, it represented my solo better. I will not show you the exact way, but you have to bring it on your own explore. For instance, I put a slight flanger effect before the drum track starts. It pushed my riff better than usual. I even headbanged for this mighty layer.
Stereo delay at the third step
A widening guitar sound feels like a blessing for my mix. It covers a significant part of a guitar solo. How? Let me start with my theory. The aim of mixing a guitar track is to bloom each note as a guitarist feels.
So, based on that theory, I used a 100ms stereo delay in my chorus part. This sort of touch brought a cinematic feel in my fingerpicking part. I could feel the transition of every note. For example, some self-made chords from a pentatonic scale had blown my monitors. Wow!
Reverb and panning
That was the first 101 lesson for me. I learned how to apply a reverb for creating extra space in the instrument. This effect was also integrated with a mono output. To make the output sound right, I used the pan bar. Turning the switches into clockwise helped me to understand what was best. This is how I learned. I fixed the character frequency next:
Right after my reverb and panning session, I tried to adjust the character frequency. It means making the string frequency better. You can do it by using the parameter EQ. in this tool, you will see a switch that enhances or decreases the dB. All you need to do is to boost it up. I did this with my backing track. And this is how I brought my backing track from the coma. It was not a smooth journey, and the trip taught me three more exciting things. Here are those exciting things.
Lesson 1:Never ever use too much distortion, it will ruin your other instruments
Lesson 2: Don't stick with the low-end filtering. Use a high-end filter where it demands.
Lesson 3: Keep up the mids on the right side. If your backing track loses its most mid-frequency, your guitar solo is dead. Count this.
So, I have shared the ways of mixing guitar backing tracks. This is the process I follow. It's not like that; I follow the sequence I mentioned. Sometimes it changes based on the perspective. But I stick with this for my personal practice or youtube videos. Now, you might have some better techniques, right? Share with me so that I can test.
Guest post by Ben Laughlin
Guitar Specialist of Musical Instru