Getting a great acoustic guitar sound

Posted: 26th April 2012 by Mezzanine Floor Studios in Mixing Techniques

There are a lot of tricks I use to get a DI recorded acoustic guitar to sound ok- this usually involves a pretty brutal EQ curve to start with. What’s interesting is that there are 3 things I almost always process an acoustic guitar through- whether recorded well in a studio or recorded with a crappy DI on stage.

What are these magnificent 3?

  • UAD Studer A800
  • UAD Pultec Pro
  • UAD Fairchild 670

I know I sound like a shill for Universal Audio, but it’s really true. Aside from the fact their plugins sound fantastic, I love them because I don’t need presets. With most of their plugins I can tweak a few knobs and buttons and dial it in. So it is great when working with other folks that have UAD but don’t have my presets.

Of course, I’ve also utilized the FX chains in Sonar X1D Expanded, so my default settings for this are available at the touch of a hand.
Here are my favorite settings for acoustic guitar.

UAD Studer A800

Choose the tape you like best and set the Calibration to match. Open up the lid and turn off the noise.

Set the IPS to 30 for a lot of high end sparkle, 15 IPS if you want a more balanced sound.

If you really want more sparkle, you can open up the Studer and turn up the HF knob, just don’t overdo it.

If running 15 IPS, set the EQ to CCIR if you have a boomy guitar, NAB if you want more low end. Set the input so you get just the right amount of saturation without overing. Set the output so you’re getting the right levels out in your DAW.

UAD Pultec Pro

Insert the Pultec Pro. Close the Pultec Pro. Yes, really. It adds a nice sheen without tweaking a knob. If needed, the presets for Acoustic Guitar can actually be a very good start, but I usually don’t touch them either.

UAD Fairchild 670

From the default, set the input volume so it’s not being blown away, set the threshold so it hits lightly, set the output so the output volume sounds balanced with your other instruments.

Now for the KILLER tweak- turn the DC Bias all the way down. This tends to warm the sound and mellow the highs. Once you get used to the difference between default and all the way down, find a place in the middle that feels good. (Sometimes having the BIAS all the way down will cause a little graininess or distortion so be careful to listen closely if leaving it all the way down sounds best otherwise.)



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