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Careful With That Ax, Eugene: An Approach To Optimizing Guitars In The Mix

Presenting those electric guitar tones accurately, with some degree of isolation from the other onstage noise makers.

By Chris Mitchell February 8, 2019

Both of Jake Cinninger’s amps are captured with an Earthworks SR25 condenser mic, with the parallel speaker out routed to a Hughes & Kettner RedBox Pro.

Beautiful Symmetry

For the Schroeder DB9, I pan the mic to 9:30 and the DI to 1:00 (as referenced to a clock face). For the Oldfield JC-110, I pan the mic to 1:00 and the DI to 9:30 (opposite the Schroeder).

Those settings cause the combined signal to sit around 11:00-ish in the stereo field. But since the mic and DI are slightly different, the image floats around a bit, adding depth of field without altering the signal or mangling it with plugins.

Brendan’s signals are panned to 11:00 and 2:30, resulting in an image around 1:00-ish. With Jake’s guitars floating around 11 and Brendan’s around 1, they maintain beautiful symmetry, slightly spread with depth and texture.

Because I like the signals coming from the Earthworks SR25s and the post-amp DIs, I use no parametric EQ or inline compression. The high-pass filters are set between 80 Hz and 100 Hz, depending on the amp. Parallel bus compression is applied for each amp, with four stereo subgroup buses for that use, one for each amp.

Cinninger’s guitar input settings on the console.

The eight channels of guitars are routed to the main Stereo mix bus and to its own compression bus, which is also routed to the main Stereo mix bus. As with my drum channels, the dynamic uncompressed signal is combined with the heavily compressed subgroup signal.

The main benefit of this approach is that it adds RMS energy to the guitar signals without the dulling effect that can come from inline compression. The sound is beefier with – rather than without – the parallel compression, with all the attacking transients intact.

Finally, I like to keep the eight guitar channel faders set at -6 dB and to control their level with the assigned DCA fader for each player. The resulting tones are amazing, full of detail and complexity – captured, amplified and ready to be mixed with the rest of the band.


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About Chris

Chris Mitchell
Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell serves as FOH engineer for Umphrey’s McGee, a very popular rock band noted for experimenting with a wide range of musical styles. His hobbies include rebuilding vintage motorcycles and mixing consoles. Read more by Chris at flyingeyepro.wordpress.com.
https://flyingeyepro.wordpress.com/

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