The most common mixing mistakes for church band instruments occur with the acoustic guitar. It’s a staple instrument of praise bands, and for this reason, it’s an instrument that needs to be correctly mixed.
Let’s look at the eight most common mixing mistakes with the guitar as well as how to avoid them.
1. No EQ. I’m not one to say which is worse of these but in my book, this one is at the top because it’s indicative of the sound tech’s mixing process.
Using an analogy I’ve used before, it’s like making a batch of chili. Each instrument or vocal channel is an ingredient. Let’s take the beans, for example. Do you like kidney beans, chili beans, mild chili beans, or spicy beans in your chili?
The acoustic guitar is the can of beans. You need to make it the right type for your musical chili. All too often, I’ve seen churches use a mixing board as an expensive volume controller. For specific ideas on how to EQ an acoustic guitar, check out this article.
2. Too bright. Acoustic guitars produce a variety of natural tones depending on the wood used in their composition. Ovation guitars use a “plastic” rounded back that gives a unique sound.
Guitar strings can also affect the sound. Some guitars give warm tones while others are bright. Some have a more bassy sound. The mistake of “too bright” comes in two ways:
Giving the guitar an overly bright sound. This might be done so that it stands apart from the other instruments. However, if it’s too bright you are then working in similar frequencies as some of the drum cymbals and the two aren’t easily distinguished.
Giving it a bright sound without regards to the guitar’s natural tone. Mixing the guitar should take into account the guitar’s natural tone and the other instruments on the stage. You can’t make the guitar sound like something it isn’t.
3. Volume too high. The acoustic guitar is front and center to many a worship team, and therefore it’s easy to want to drive it in the mix. However, it has to sit in the mix in the right way depending on the desires of the band and the way it’s used in a song.
A song that is piano-driven needs the piano out in front. The piano is the instrument the congregation will be following. The guitar will have times when it needs to lead but it should also be part of a mix, not something that overpowers all the other instruments.