How to Mix Acoustic Guitar Music

How to Mix Acoustic Guitars

People use the acoustic guitar in almost every style of the contemporary music. There are very few instruments whose use is as ubiquitous. In every track, from heavy rock to folk, acoustic guitar has its place. While there are improvements in sample-based acoustic guitar in recent times, the recording should be a good sonic fit to the song as a whole. It means different sounds and tools used when processing. Whether the guitar is being used as a featured solo instrument or as a rhythmic element, the choices depend. Here are some tips I use when I mix acoustic guitar music.

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Know the role of the acoustic guitar

One important thing that you need to know is the role of the acoustic. You need to know if the guitar is a rhythmic supplement to the band. If so, cut through and be “strummy” but avoid being too full in the mid-range.  If the song is held together by the acoustic guitar, you should consider implementing different EQ moves to make the song sound full.

Knowing the role the acoustic guitar plays help you understand the approach to take when it comes to compression, panning, and EQ. Before you consider mixing rules, you should have a clear vision for the instrument. Failure to do that will give the worst results.

High pass filter

A high pass filter is your best friend when it comes to acoustic guitar.  This simple EQ helps in moving tools gently off the low end and lets your high frequencies pass through. The process does three things which include:

  • Removes the noise in your song, including low-frequency room or hum noise captures when mixing the guitar.
  • Frees up low-frequency spectrum for instruments such as the kick drum and the bass guitar in your song.
  • Frees up headroom in the final mix

Slow attack compression

Acoustic guitars are transient instruments. This is what makes them useful. The acoustic has a chordal tone usually found in electric guitar, but with a drum kit percussive nature. Using a slow attack allows for the transient to come through. You can squeeze the acoustic a little bit all with squashing the transient, which is the vital part.

Here are some different ideas on how I mix acoustic guitars.

There are a couple of things I do that may help you at home when you are mixing your guitars. For example, I use a simple acoustic guitar recorded with the neck and the body on two different mics and panned one hard left and one hard right. Then I put them stereo, to EQ them together. What I did was just EQ a little bit on the lower one and put a low-cut and then take a low cut on the neck.

When it comes to the actual mixing, I put a couple of different options: first I take out a little more mud, but I don’t get in the way of drums or the bass. Then I use the Studer to warms things up a bit. Lastly, I put the guitar to take a few transients to tame things down. After that, I use the Fab-filter pro-MB to compress things like string noise. Finally, I use a Wavs to give the mix a nice boost.

When mixing acoustic guitar, you need to be careful with the stereo acoustics.  Spend some time making sure everything is in phase, keep it natural, do tone shaping, and make sure everything is on the level. Contact us if you have additional questions or would to know more on how to mix acoustic guitar.