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How to EQ Distorted Guitars Out of the Way of the Vocal

If your guitar sound is constantly drowning out the vocal sound then try out these few things next time you’re in trouble.

1. Pan them out of the way

Sometimes all you need is to give the vocal its space in the center. Pan the guitar out of the way and let the vocal take charge.

If this creates a lop-sided mix where the guitar makes the mix too heavy on either side use a panned delay to counteract this and create a balance from left to right.

2. Filter the highs of the guitar

If the guitar is too hissy and distorted it can just be taking attention away from the vocal because it sounds like shit.

Use a low-pass filter to cut out all the high frequencies you don’t need in the guitar. You might find it cleans the guitar sound up and helps it sit better with the vocal

3. Cut the guitar where the vocal sits

The simplest EQ trick to make room for the vocal is to cut the guitars in the area from 900 Hz – 4 kHz or so.

That’s where the intelligibility of the vocal sits. If you cut the guitar there it will compete less in those areas that are dominant for the vocal sound.

4. Help the guitar cut through somewhere else

If that makes the guitar sound weaker, then sweep around the frequency spectrum and find a frequency where the guitars cut through without getting in the way of the vocal.

If you’ve done the previous three steps it’s just a matter of sweeping around the frequency spectrum with a boost on the guitar while listening to the vocal. Find a spot where the boosts don’t mask the vocal sound but help the guitar cut through the mix.

Be patient with this step because it’s not the easiest one to do. Once you get the hang of it you’ll have new world of EQ possibilities available to you.

In fact, I talk a lot about advanced EQ’ing like this in my Ultimate EQ Guide.

If you need help with in-depth EQ knowledge in general, like using M/S processing for backup vocals, walking through the low-mids to clean up muddiness or get better translation in your mixes using EQ I’d recommend checking out EQ Strategies – The Ultimate Guide to EQ.

Check it out here:


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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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