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BravadoWaffler

Mixing Guitars Into Orchestra Tracks

9 posts in this topic

Hi Folks,

I'm wondering if some of the experienced orchestral composers on here can help me with something. I still consider myself fairly novice when it comes to orchestral music. I'm using EWQL Symphonic Silver and Hollywood Strings Gold in this track, but I also wanted to mix in a guitar part a freind of mine recorded. No matter what I do, the guitar does not feel like part of the same "space" as the rest of the EQ instruments. I've tried adding reverb, adding or lowering volume level. It either feels lost in the mix or too powerful and like its standing out. 

 

I humbly request the feedback of anyone who has a spare moment. If you notice anything else glaringly wrong with my attached sample, of course I'd love to know about that too. I come from a more electronic/chiptune background but I've been  working hard on orchestral stuff for a while now. Thanks in advance!

 

Jesse

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The East West strings are recorded in a large hall, and your guitar was not. As you guessed, reverb is the answer here. You just have to find a reverb that fits with the rest of the instruments. I'd start with a Medium Hall setting (or something similar) and adjust from there.

 

The other thing to do with anything that gets lost in a mix is to compress it a bit. Put a compressor on it with a few milliseconds of attack (so you don't lose the initial pluck) and ensure that you're getting several dB of gain reduction while it's being played. Then the levels should be more even and you can turn it up a bit.

 

Also, that source recording sounds weird - clickiness from the left side, the notes from the right. Was it a stereo recording? I'd just remove the left channel entirely and work with the right, panned centre. (At least until you're happy with the mix - then you can pan it wherever you like.) If you really want to keep both sides in a stereo effect then you need to use a stereo tool to pull the two sides much closer to the centre, otherwise it sounds like the guitarist is stood directly in front of the listener, which is obviously incongruous with having an orchestra spread around the hall.

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Thank you so much for your feedback! Yeah, there are two guitar parts, one strummed and then the more lead part. Which I had tried panning slightly, which is probably adding to the 'weirdness'. I will try some of your suggestions. Thanks again.

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Ok, if that left part is a strummed guitar part then it needs some serious work as all I'm hearing is the click of the plectrum on the strings and no actual notes in there. Try attenuating the clickiness with an EQ (eg. low pass at 2KHz) and compress the track as well.

 

Both tracks will need to be brought in towards the middle - they don't sound 'slightly' panned, they sound almost hard panned. Start with maybe 10% left, 10% right. Send them to the same stereo reverb to anchor them in the same virtual space.

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Ok, if that left part is a strummed guitar part then it needs some serious work as all I'm hearing is the click of the plectrum on the strings and no actual notes in there. Try attenuating the clickiness with an EQ (eg. low pass at 2KHz) and compress the track as well.

 

Both tracks will need to be brought in towards the middle - they don't sound 'slightly' panned, they sound almost hard panned. Start with maybe 10% left, 10% right. Send them to the same stereo reverb to anchor them in the same virtual space.

 

I actually just muted that strummed bit and tried the other things you suggested, it sounds 100x better already. I think he had panned them slightly in recording which I compounded by panning them myself. I think it was too long listening to the same thing and I could no longer trust my ears. huge thanks again!

Edited by BravadoWaffler
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BravadoWaffler, it would be great to hear the new version! Sounds like an excellent example to show some of my students.

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Massive improvement! From an arrangement point of view, I would send the strings and flutes into a lower octave, or get rid of them, when the guitar part comes in, then bring them back later. That way the listener has time to process the guitar as a feature instrument, and you can give it a more prominent role and developed melody.

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Hey! The reverb did wonders! 

One piece of advice I may add (it could be a personal preference), but perhaps pan the guitar more so towards the center. I'm only recommending that for when the guitar enters and if it is a primary voice (with the melody). Otherwise, if it is for color (or to help build the foundation of the piece), I'd leave it as is. Since I don't know what else you have in store for this arrangement, I'm not exactly sure what advice to give.

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Hey! The reverb did wonders! 

One piece of advice I may add (it could be a personal preference), but perhaps pan the guitar more so towards the center. I'm only recommending that for when the guitar enters and if it is a primary voice (with the melody). Otherwise, if it is for color (or to help build the foundation of the piece), I'd leave it as is. Since I don't know what else you have in store for this arrangement, I'm not exactly sure what advice to give.

 

It really did. Yeah I think that's a good idea. The guitar isn't really the main melody instrument, the Flute tends to carry the melody through most of it. The guitar gives it that old western "firefly" flavor. :) I think it's a good idea to take the flute and strings a bit out of the way as it comes in though.

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