How to Give Your Guitars and Vocals Their Own Space in the Mix
Here’s a big shoutout to Filippo Medas who’s a regular Home Studio Musician’s group contributor.
He shared a great trick for creating separation in the guitars and vocals that you might like to try next time:
I think I just “discovered” a way to get both guitars and voice to have their own space when they risk masking each other. Sidechaining the guitars with a multiband compressor to the vocals at around 800-5000hz. Every time the singer is there, it steals that frequency range to the guitars, and when there is no singer, the guitars take it back.
This is a great technique for subtly adding some motion between the singer and the guitarist. Instead of automating the guitars out of the way every time the vocalist sings, the multi-band compressor pushes down the frequency range that clashes most with the vocal.
A simpler way to create separation like this with EQ is to carve out a broad cut between 800 Hz – 3 kHz in the guitars, essentially giving the vocals dominance in that frequency range.
However, what’s better about the side-chained multi-band compressor is that you don’t have to “neuter” the guitar in those frequencies. The range between 800 and 5 kHz can add edge, bite and presence to the guitar. Scooping it out with EQ takes it away for the duration of the song. Taming it with multi-band compression means that whenever the singer isn’t singing, you’ll have the full frequency range of the guitar in your mix.
Try it On Various Elements in Your Mix
This trick isn’t exclusive to guitars and vocals either.
Try it on:
- Kick drum and bass guitar (classic!)
- Piano and vocals
- Vocals and big delay effects
And any other two elements that are slightly clashing in a particular frequency range that you don’t want to remove from either instrument.
If you’re interested in that last trick with the vocals and delay, I actually show you exactly how to do it in the Top 10 Vocal Effects Tricks video bonus you get when you join my Mixing With 5 Plug-ins course.