June 4


Getting A Bigger Guitar Sound

By Keith Livingston

June 4, 2016

reaper, recording guitar

If you’re looking for a bigger guitar sound, here are some pointers. Bigness in guitar sounds often comes from laying multiple guitar tracks down.

Recording Multiple Guitar Tracks

Different guitar/amp/pickup combinations have different tones. So, when you record the same part twice, with different tones, it adds to the tonal richness of the sound. It sounds bigger. There will also be slight differences in the timing of the parts, which adds richness. Plus, you can pan the tracks differently, and that sounds bigger too.

Here’s a video I shot of the way I do this in Reaper.

Here are some ways to get a bigger guitar sound . . .

  1. Record the same part with different guitars
  2. Record the same part with different pickup settings
  3. Record the same part with different amps (or different amp simulators, if you’re using plugins for your guitar sounds)
  4. Use different chord voicings for the same chords (e.g., when you play an F chord, play it on the 1st fret, on one track, and on the 2nd track, play the F on the 8th fret).

Mic Techniques

You can also create a lot of space in a guitar sound, by using 2 mics — one far away from an amp, and one closer. Then, you can pan the near mic a bit left, and the far mic, a bit right. Then do another take, with a different sound, and pan the opposite ways. Typically the close mics would be louder in the mix, and the “room” mics less prominent.

That’s it for this tip.

See you soon,

Watch Getting Bigger Guitar Sounds on YouTube.

Keith Livingston

About the author

Keith Livingston started recording his own music in the late '70s, on a 4-track. He worked his way into live sound and studio work as an engineer -- mixing in arenas, working on projects in many major studios as a producer/engineer, and working in conjunction with an independent label.

He taught audio engineering at the Art Institute of Seattle, from 1990-1993, and in '96, contributing to authoring several college-level courses there.

He was General Manager of Радио один (Radio 1) in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Now he spends his time recording his own songs wherever he roams, and teaching others to do the same.

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