I’ve been busy recording guitar tracks with a Romanian metal band called Aquila today. (Check them out here) The day was full of mean, ballsy riffs and exploding (MIDI) drum tracks, reminding me of why I fell in love with heavy metal when I was a lot younger. Listening to the guys rock out, I realised I missed riffing and headbanging enough to thoroughly enjoy the remaining recording sessions I have with the guys over the next few weeks.
While recording those guitar tracks, I used one of the first mixing techniques I ever learned: layering guitars.
I play piano since I was 8 years old, but it was the guitar that got me out there and performing at the age of 13. Before I could cut, paste or record inside any DAW, I went into a studio, where the first thing that hit me was that one guitar track wasn’t good enough, so I had to do another take.
Any single guitar track you record, it always sounds thin (I’m talking about heavy metal rhythm tracks here, not Muse) so, way back, when the 8-track was a novelty, sound engineers thought that two guitars would sound fatter than one. They layered them and there we go. The technique got more and more refined over the years, so now it’s basically in the book to record two layers for any single guitar track and mix them in differently. It just fills up more sonic space and makes the whole song sound a lot less dry. (the same thing usually goes for acoustic guitars and vocals. Layering also helps hide mistakes in interpretation. Studios didn’t have vocal correction back in the 80′s, so they used to layer lots of takes to make people who couldn’t actually sing sound decent. Think Bananarama.)
After my first studio session, the first thing I did was to go home, stick my guitar processor cable directly into the Line In jack on my sound card and use Nero Wave Editor to layer two takes of the same riff. It sounded dreadful but I was so proud of myself I fell in love with recording and sound engineering that very moment.
Tomorrow we’re recording more guitar tracks and, frankly, I can’t wait. The guys got me on a roll.