Magazine article Guitar Player

5 Mix-Saving EQ Tips

Magazine article Guitar Player

5 Mix-Saving EQ Tips

Article excerpt


EQ IS ONE OF THE MOST OVERUSED--and likely "misused"--elements of the recording and mixing processes. Trust me, going all cowabunga with tone tweaks can tank your mix and befoul your song. Here are five suggestions for holding back on the EQ, and delivering stellar mixes.

Know Your Neighborhood

Having some idea about which frequencies deliver the benefits you are seeking is critical to success. Frequency-range charts are available all over the web, but here are a few tonal benchmarks:

Fundamental Guitar Frequencies 100Hz-2kHz, Guitar Harmonics 2kHz-10kHz, Boom 100Hz-200Hz, Warmth 150Hz-250Hz, Honk 500Hz- 1kHz, Whack 1kHz-2kHz, Crunch 2kHz-4kHz, Edge 4kHz-6kHz, Sibilance 4kHz-10kHz, Shimmer 10kHz-12kHz.

Cut First

Guitarists love to crank things up, but it's not always beneficial to boost frequencies. EQ boosts not only affect selected frequencies, they also increase signal levels. Go too crazy, and you risk clipping, distortion, and other unpleasant artifacts. Before you dime the EQ knobs, consider if an EQ cut will serve to clarify a part, or help it sit in the mix better. For example, if an acoustic guitar part is getting lost in the roar of the band, cut some low- or low-mid frequencies (100Hz-500Hz) to diminish muddiness. The result should be a much more musical timbre than what you'd get with an aggressive frequency boost.

Look Downstream

Now that we've learned belligerent EQ boosts can pump up signal levels, you should also be aware of the cleanliness of your entire signal chain. Many mixes tend to fail due to muddy, indistinct, and/or brittle sonic spectrums. …

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