Mix Acoustic Guitar Like the Pros

Mix Vocals Like the Pros by Brent McCollough

After you’ve gotten your recording sounding pretty nice, it’s time to make it sound even better. That’s where mixing comes in handy. All you’ll need is a simple EQ, a compressor, and some reverb.

1) Listen to the track.

  • Listen for what the raw guitar track is lacking and try to get some ideas for what you want to enhance.
  • Are there any sort of unique characteristics that you’d like to bring out about the guitar track? (strumming, bass, warmth, etc.)

2) Add EQ

  • Based on what you decided the guitar track needed, play around with the EQ and sweep until you find the good and bad frequencies.
  • On almost every acoustic guitar track I add about a 3 dB high shelf boost around 4 kHz and a High Pass Filter around 100 Hz. This is a great starting point and you will almost immediately find that the acoustic guitar track sounds much clearer and more professional.

3) Add Compression

  • Add anywhere from 3-10 dB of gain reduction with medium attack, slow release, and anywhere from 2:1 to 10:1 ratio and bring the threshold down until it sounds nice and consistent or until you have anywhere from 2 to 10 dB of gain reduction. Just trust your ears for this.
  • The main objective to bring the sustain of the guitar up by letting the strums come through and then leveling out the tail.

4) Add Reverb

  • Set up an aux bus and send your guitar track to it.
  • Put a nice sounding reverb set to 100% mix so that only the reverb signal is coming through the aux.
  • Set the reverb level to where you’d like it to be in the track.
  • For slower songs, you can try a longer reverb tail (2-3 seconds).
  • For faster songs, you can try a shorter reverb tail (1-2 seconds).
  • Play around with the pre-delay. The pre-delay delays the reverb signal by the amount you set it to. Longer pre-delays make the vocal seem closer to the listener, while shorter pre-delays can make the vocal sit more within the track.
  • It’s good to experiment with all of these settings to find out what you like better for each song.

I used a very similar acoustic guitar chain in my new cover of Clarity by Zedd.

If you’re wondering how I achieved the vocal sound, check out my other free article: Mix Vocals Like the Pros.

Hope this helps! If you’re interested in investing in my Mix Like the Pros program where I show you how I mixed this session from start to finish, along with several other sessions, click here.

If you feel like you aren’t quite ready yet, scroll up to the top of the page to download my free eBook: An Introduction to Professional Home Recording and enjoy more useful tips on achieving a professional sound at home!

Can’t wait to see you on the other side!

-Brent McCollough

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