Mixing: Acoustic Guitar - A Clear and Concise Method | Byjoelmichael | Skillshare

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Mixing: Acoustic Guitar - A Clear and Concise Method

teacher avatar Byjoelmichael, Music Creator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (1h 9m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Listen Through and Mark Form

    • 3. Comping

    • 4. Editing

    • 5. EQ

    • 6. Compression

    • 7. Time Based FX

    • 8. Course Project

    • 9. Outro

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About This Class


Oh the wonderful instrument of acoustic guitar!  Though a tricky instrument at times, it’s definitely one of my favorite acoustic instruments to play, record, and mix.  We will focus on the latter for this course, the mix.  The real challenge when mixing an acoustic guitar is to retain it’s natural sound, while most accurately treating it to fit the context of the mix.  And in this course, we will assure that you gain all the skills necessary to do so with ease.

We will cover topics such as:

  • comping the best takes to assure the song has the absolute best performance throughout
  • Editing to assure there’s no unwanted background noise and that the guitar sits well rhythmically in the mix
  • EQ to sculpt the tonality of the instrument just right for the context of the mix
  • Compression to balance out any dynamic peaks and make the guitar level and smooth throughout
  • Time-based fx such as different types of reverbs, delays, and even chorus to assure you provide a sense of space accurately for the mix

For this course, I intentionally use stock plugins that come with Ableton to assure those of you that use Ableton, can follow along step-by-step.  However, since each DAW comes with basic EQ, compression, reverb, delay, and chorus fx, the techniques in this course can be applied to any DAW and any set of plugins you have.

I’ve kept this course quick and concise to assure you are able to retain and apply the techniques on your own mixes in no time.  So with that said, let’s jump right in.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image


Music Creator


Hey all, I'm Joel!

I'm a music creator, producer and guitarist that strives to make music unique and inspiring. 

My musical journey began in St. Louis where I earned my Bachelor's in Music Technology and Master's in Jazz Composition.  I then spent years as the Director of Education at Nelly's music production college in St. Louis.  Throughout those years, and to this day, I have developed many artists and musicians to become the best musical versions of themselves and release music that is creative, unique to them, and of a professional caliber. 

Currently, I am travelling and finding inspiration in life abroad.  As a result, I am creating music that is introspective, instrumental, and painting sonic images of my experiences.

My ... See full profile

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1. Intro: All of the wonderful instrument of acoustic guitar, definitely one of my favorite instruments to play, record and to mix. And this course will focus on the ladder, the mix. So the real challenge of mixing and acoustic guitar is to retain the original tonality of the acoustic instrument while treating it appropriately to fit the mix. In this course, we'll make sure that you gain all the skill sets necessary to do just that. We will cover topics such as copying to assure that we have the best performance throughout the entirety of the song. Editing to assure that we get rid of all the background noise and that the guitar sets rhythmically right in the mix. Eq to sculpt the tonality of the instrument to assure that it sits properly in the mix. Compression to balance out any dynamic peaks and assured that it stays level throughout the entire mix. And also time-based effects from different types of reverbs, delays, uneven chorus to make sure that your guitar sits in the space properly in the mix. For this course, I intentionally use the stock plug-ins that come with Ableton. So those of you that are able to users can just follow along seamlessly. However, every DAW nowadays comes stock with a basic EQ, delay, chorus compressor. Free verbs, you name it. So regardless of what DAW you use, you'll be able to follow along seamlessly with this course. Last, I've kept this course quick and concise and nailed the most important topics I use on every acoustic guitar mix. That way you can follow along quickly and retain and apply these techniques to your own mixes. And no time. With all that said, let's jump right in. 2. Listen Through and Mark Form: Okay, So I've opened up a session here and I've got multiple acoustic guitar tracks. I've actually got seven different takes if the same song. And what we've done here is named one through five for these that are all relatively similar. And then 67, I've just made it out that they're soft because he performed them softer. I've also got them color coded because if this turns into a multi-track session, waters, drums and bass and vocals and such, will want to color-code each group of instruments to help as the mixed gets bigger to identify our different instruments sections. Just good practice. I've also got the tempo mapped out. 101 dot 85. Yes, the decimal point. It's a bit strange, but hey, it works. I think he recorded at 200 three to have the click go faster. And I just went ahead and cut it down to a one to 1.5. So it's more of a common tempo that we're used to dealing with here. Okay, so the first thing I wanna do is, I mean, obviously I've got seven different guitars and I wanted to sort through these and add it in comp to make one solid take. But before I do that, I'm just going to really listen through and get acclimated with the song itself, right? So I want to see if this acoustic guitar is playing the role of rhythm. If it's playing the role of melody, I also want to make note if it is being strummed or if it's being plucked. It's energetic, or if it's soft, it's been recorded with the sound of a room or really close Mike to be dry. So I'm just gonna give a quick pass and let's just get acclimated with what's going on here. All right. Well, listen to the first stake. High and off the bat, we can tell it's a rhythmic role. It's pretty energetic and it's being stroked with energy. I also hear that there is a sound of a room in here. And if you look on the way that the artists titled the track, Acoustic 12th to three feet. So that means it was miked pretty far back to capture a lot at the sound of the room. All right, That may be desired and it may not be desired. It just depends on the vibe of the song and the character of that guitar you want on it. Let's just give a quick listen to this second one and see what we got here. All right, so this is much more sort of in your face and dry, which I think I would tend to go with here because I can add a sense of space, but I can't remove it from this tank, right? Okay, So these are some of the creative decisions you're gonna wanna make right off the bat when you're listening to this, Let's listen down to the soft take and see what we got here. Okay, So what we've got here is the same thing, It's close, but it's just played more intimately and software so that can translate to a warmer guitar sound and maybe a little less energetic feeling. So we'll have some fun choosing between that when we get to copy. But what I wanna do now is I want to take a moment to set some markers in. All right, What I mean by that is I'm an identify the song form. I want to make a note between the different sections on which the intro, the verse, which the chorus. So basically the reason we'll do that is to treat the guitar differently at different sections. If we need to, we might want the course to be louder or more bright or more wide or have more effects on it. And it would help me to identify where those sections are to streamline this mixed process. So basically I'm just gonna go through and set some markers down. You can do that by hitting this set button up here. Alright, so I'm gonna go ahead and turn on the click. Well, listen through this take and I'll start dropping some markers. Okay? And I just went ahead and added all those markers down. And I'm not too worried about the title of them at the moment, since this doesn't have vocals yet, it's going to be hard to identify exactly what's the version of the chorus without the lyrics guiding us. But I do have it sexualized, okay, and I have an idea for the feel of the song and the shape of it and where it's taken us. Okay, so now we've got the form basically identified and let's go ahead and move on to the next step, which is going to be copying. 3. Comping: All right, So since we have seven different takes here, we're going to have to inevitably listen through these income. Okay, So I went and labeled each section via the markers and got more acclimated with this song and how it goes and what the form is. Okay, so what we're gonna do is when copying, you're going to start by listening fully through each take. Okay, so this song is what to 20 about. So that's going to bat times 7 is 15 minutes of time listening through it. Don't skip out on this, okay. If you want a good sounding record, you got to know what you're dealing with, dunk going blind eye, to what you wanna do is try to find the best take. So in an ideal world, there would be a perfect taken here and that does happen. But the reality is most of the time there's not a perfect tick. So what you're gonna do then is take the best sounding one, use it as a starting point. And then what you need to do is edit out the sections that aren't so good and replace them with sections that were in previous takes that are better. If that doesn't work, then you'll want to edit those sections to make them sound the best you possibly can. And the ladder, the second I mentioned will be discussed in more detail in the next section of this course. Alright, so what we'll do for the sake of not spending 15 minutes going through one at a time. I'm gonna go ahead and pause the video and listen through these and get a sense of what is going to be a keeper and what's not going to be a keeper. Okay. So I went through and listen through all seven takes and I've made notepad here. I highly recommend that if you use independent paper or her or if you're using a Google Sheets like I am here, it's going to help you actually save time. You might not have as many takes we have here, we have seven total. You might only have a few, but taking the notes will help you get through this quicker. So what I've done is I've made a note of each take and sort of what the strengths are. So take one I've said I'm not using it because you're just too much room and the recording. So I'm gonna flip over and we'll give you a sample of what I'm talking about here. So it's very room sounding. And for this particular song, I don't want to use that. So take two, I said the intro is really good, overall good. And then I made a note that verse 4 and hook for are a bit rushed. Okay, so I've highlighted them in green, obviously meeting those sections, you're good to go. So let's hear a chunk of that. Okay, you hear there's a lot less room in it and it sounds pretty nice, right? Okay. Take three, I said overall that rushed. I mean, it sounds like there's some chokes thereafter. Take four had an answer that's pretty good. Moving on. Take five had a few good chunks, right? So we've got the first two, that was good. So in case take two, I find that v2 needed, you know, maybe a couple of beats or off. I can maybe pull them from the v2, from take five, so on and so forth. So for the outro, that was good on take five, maybe the outro here I said was a bit our hook for was a bit rushed. So maybe hook for here, I might pull in from this tape. Okay. Take six and takes seven. Sounds as though he's trying to play soft. And that's cool. But for this song, it seems like IT related tours from the energy and my opinion. So those two takes I've opted out of using, I'll give you an example. So they sound cool and all, and it just, it feels more like a ballad. And this song clearly has some energy to it. And I liked the more vibrant section or the more vibrant performance, if you will. Okay, so basically what I'm doing now is I'm going to comp, I'm going to basically keep take two, I'm going to keep take five and I'll get the other ones out of the way. So over and session, I've saved this as you're going to do File, Save Live set as and you'll want to name it com. Alright? You, that way you can go back to this if you for some reason don't like some of the changes you've made. Okay, So what I'm gonna do here is I'm going to just minimize. What was it is take two and take five that we like someone to minimize these and just get him sort of out of the way. And move take 25 next to each other. Okay? Next thing I'm gonna do is I'm going to open up a new track and I'm going to name it. Acoustic guitar com. All right, easy enough. We can make it whatever color you desire. Okay? All right, so then what I'm gonna do is I'm going to pull the intro. Okay, So I got that ensure down here, the COX it on the notepad over all good. So I'm going to go ahead and pull on it section by section. I did note that hook V2 and hope to you in the next tick was overall good as well. Okay. Basically the problem area, it seems like first for unhook, for a bit rushed. So what I'm gonna do is I'll just pull first foreign hook for from take five here. And we'll pull those down. Okay? And then the rest should be pretty easy. Make sure you don't mess up, copy them, right. Definitely have it on grid mode when you do this. The ultra of this was actually good, so I'll just pull that over. All right, So it may be as easy as that just to compensate based on my notes here. Okay. I'm gonna do a quick listen through and see if there's any problem points. Okay, so I've just listen through and everything is good. So my role right to this section or verse for starters, you can add a sweep cut into a different take. Here. You sort of listen to this transition. At transitions fine. If, if it weren't fine, I get pulled back. Take it off grid mode, pull this back, just get rid of whatever click was there, right? See if that. Okay, Cool. I get silence there. And then coming out of it. Actually we played that out to the end. There was a part that I want to see if I have a better version of in a previous step. This part sounds a bit choked right here. All right, so let's go in here if this take okay, let's just see how that works. I'll snap to grid back on. We're gonna do is I'm gonna throw this one down. See how it works. Okay. The beauty of recorded to a metronome. Yeah, I think it's fixed. So now I've got myself a one good uptake, right? So what I can do is minimize these. And then I can save this session is say two or comp final. And then I can delete these other ones and I'll be left with my clean acoustic take from seven different takes. I, so I hope that helped and I hope that you're copying is seamless and fun. And we'll continue on from here. 4. Editing: All right, so let's edit this acoustic guitar here. So we've got a nice comped take from several takes and we like it and it's good sounding. Let's do ourselves a favor and make this bigger so it's more visually pleasing. Let's go ahead and save this as a different version and call it edit. All right, so that way we can always go back to that. Oh, okay. Now that we've got it all Copt, let's take a look here at first and foremost, any background noise we want to get rid of, which I think we already got that taken care of. All right. But if you haven't make sure you do that, so there's a long tail there and some noise right here. We want to make sure we pull that back. Let's listen to this phase and click off. Yeah, let's draw a little fade there. All right, Cool. Now we're going to look at the points where we may have cut when we were copying. And this just makes sure we don't need any cross fades or if we need to do any surgery at that point. So it's listening. We're going to take the grid off for sure so we can get nice n and we went to edit the wave form, not the grid. Okay, that's cool there. The next spot we cut right about here. Let's give a listen. Spec it up. Yes, spots could too. Let's go on to the next. That's pretty good. Let's see. What if I pull this over K, You can see round it for this one, the SUV and pull this back. Let's see how this goes in there. That's pretty good. But if it was like since this is a little ahead to be, this might be a little behind the beat and the other was probably better. But let's just make sure we're not having any weird noises. So nice and seamless. Alright, let's look at this one. Are good. The slide is a natural. Let's look at this. All right, pretty good there, but we've got a little transients start and let's see what this one's a bit earliest. We might not want this one or you might see. Okay, cool. I'll save it. We're going to go on that bit. Okay, so now the next step of editing we want to do is to go ahead and just listen for any sections that may have some rhythm issues, right? And enabled SAN, we can fix that pretty easy with warp mode. And I know if you've watched my vocal editing course, I've kind of, yeah, I'll not talk the best about work mode for vocals all the time. It works, but not always that great without it sounding, without it being audible. With acoustic guitar. Sometimes it works even better. And just the algorithm since to work well. Okay, so what I've done is that verse 3 seems to have, tend to have a need for some, some rhythm editing. So I'm putting the grid mode back on. I'm going to go ahead and actually duplicate this because I don't want to edit this wave form and if I jack it up, I want to be able to go back easily. So just duplicate that track. Okay, And then I'm gonna go ahead and just focused on well, I'll tell you about this, just do this to make a new track and then I'll actually just take this bit. I'm just going to copy it down. That way. The clip is nice and just that one section. Okay, anyways, so now I'm going to listen with the click. So right there it's getting a little bit ahead of the B and then it seems like it falls back on is what I've noticed. So what I'm gonna do is I'm going to double-click this and get this clip view nice and large. So what you need to do, hit the warp button bone, okay, and then changes your selection back and reselect the waveform. Okay, cool. We're gonna do complex, right? That tends to work pretty good with strumming acoustic guitars. Okay, so then what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna go ahead and select this clip down here, hit Control or Command a to select all. And I'm, I hit control or command I. And what it does is it places these marker points in here. I'm then going to put my grid on 16th notes because didn't did it it did it, it did edit it. It, it, it, he's strumming 16th notes in this song. So we want to snap to that. The song you're doing LA as eighth notes, then just send it to eighth notes, okay? If you don't, it defaults to like 64th notes or something where you probably don't need that small of a subdivision and it just end up confusing you. Where it does me anyways. All right, so so you can visually see where it starts to get a little bit ahead. So let's make sure that shifts this track is sounding okay. So right around here, right? And we'll start by snap and then on the grid, right? But it might not be the best sounding way always. But I think for this is going to do is pretty good. It is close to the grid. You can just snap it on integrative, it's not close to the grid. You might want to try it where you're getting closer to the grid right? And making the average groove a little more on the tempo. So that was good. This felt a little bit ahead and we can see that, right. It's kinda straighten these. If you go too far, you're going to start to hear it, right? Luckily, this one is a solid performance from the get-go, but I'm being nitpicky. Okay. I think we're getting pretty good there. We don't need to go overboard here. This would be a voice. There'll be some other instruments I'm sure. We only get to on the grid, but this is good. Prior felt a bit weird. This is the point of saying where it might not always need to be right on the grid. That's pretty good there. Hecate bit, little bit. Okay. All right. And you don't need to just do it all by looking if you if you just look at it and say, Hey, that was done on the grid, I better snap it on there. You're not going to get national sign-in results all the time, right? So use your year. And there was just one little segment that stuck out to me and I think we've already fixed it. Okay. And then right here's this, here's some others. Early here. Well, that says to her early. Okay, That's cool. It cool. I'll take it. And that's how you rhythmically align an acoustic guitar in Ableton. Okay, so now you want to save it. And in which you can do is you can pull it right up. But I'm gonna go ahead and duplicate. I'm going to take this section, cut it out and I'll pull it in, right? And then I can call this acoustic guitar. I'll rename it acoustic guitar. Edited. All right, just like my sessions named. And then there we go. We've got ourselves a nice clean edited take now. And we'll go on from here. 5. EQ: Let's talk about how to EQ and acoustic guitar now. So there are a couple of problem areas and almost every single acoustic guitar that I want to pinpoint. And this section, just to make sure that, you know, we kind of have a universal understanding of where these problem areas might be. However, keep in mind for whatever the creative goal is for a song, it might be different than what I'm showing here. Also, the genre might be different to require something to sound more vintage or more Lo-Fi or more filtered for say, a dance track or something in which we might go work stream on these techniques or perhaps do something and the opposite. But generally, when we record an acoustic guitar in a studio, there's gonna be a couple of problem areas that we should focus on. Okay, so what we're gonna do is we're just going to open up a stock EQ Eight on this track here. Here's what I'm gonna do is open up the analyzer so that way we can see the frequencies that are occurring when the guitar is playing. Okay, so some obvious areas of focus. First and foremost is this low range down here. There's definitely something happening there, right? But let's see if we can actually hear it. So what we'll do in Ableton, you can hit this little headphone button and we can take this shifted to a bell shape, right? So if you didn't know here, we have high-pass filters, low-pass filters, high shelf, low shelf. And we have a bell shape and a cut. So what we're going to use is just a bell-shaped for this. So I've got the headphone on and then I can just push this button. And that is the only frequency range we're going to hear. So I can sweep. As soon as I let go. You hear the full range, okay, I'm going to make the Q, which is the steepness or narrowness of that bell-shaped. I'm gonna make it pretty steep so we can really hone in on a particular frequency range. The key here is, let's see at what point we actually start here into low frequencies. So you need to get some headphones on or have some full range speakers for this to actually take effect. Don't hear much here. I can see energy, right? Starting to hear some turn to hear a little bit Sounds like a bass drum. Okay. So right here we can take a look. It's 81, about 80 hertz. So right at about 80 hertz, we started to have some energy. So I'm going to change this from a bell to a high-pass filter. And then I'm going to narrow out the key. You can double-click it and it'll take it to its default setting. Let's go ahead and make this a very steep High-pass, right? And then right at 80 hertz. Let's bring it down just a bit. I can bypass it. Okay, So what it's doing is it's basically giving us a little bit more headroom. So even though we don't really hear that sound, the energy is there and it's existing in our signal. They went to clean that up. So first and foremost, let's just cut out anything we don't need. Now we don't wanna go too high at this point where we're basically, you know, altering the tonality of the guitar just yet. For example, if we went all the way up to say, 200 hertz right there, we're losing some of that fundamental guts of the acoustic guitar. Now, stylistically speaking, if this were just acoustic guitar and voice, I probably leave a lot more of this low-end in here. If it is going to be a full band mix, I would be much more liberal and how I caught the low end out of it because I don't want it to interfere with the bass guitar or anything like that. Right now we're going to assume this is primarily just going to be voice in acoustic. Okay, so let's be conservative on this. All right, so we've got that cut. Now the next range to look at. Actually, before we go into that, let me just mentioned that this is called subtractive EQ, right? The idea here is that we're not boosting a bunch of stuff that we think sounds good. Okay, because we're going to lose even more headroom that way. And what we're trying to do is get rid of what does not sound good. Okay, and then from there we can sculpt it and do an additive method later. Okay, so we got rid of any low rumble we don't need. Now let's get into that boxy or sort of boomy and boxy range of the acoustic guitar. That's usually somewhere around 100 to 250 hertz depending on the actual guitar itself. Okay, so we've got number two, right? Frequency band number two, and I have it set to a bell-shaped. Let's make the Q rel narrow here as well. And I'm going to go ahead and boost it up. And then let's sweep through. We've got some Gemini and it's about there. That's probably a bit too extreme. Have a queue, it's making it a little warm wide. There's a lot of stuff that happened right around 161. And there's a lot happening right around a 100. So why don't we start at right around a 100. And let's go ahead and take that and cut it down a bit. Okay, we can make it a little bit more narrow to focus in on that band is three. And let's see if we can isolate the other part that was sticking out to us. And there we go. Let's make it a bit more narrow. Narrow here. Let's pull that down. Okay. So the overall shape is it looks like somewhere from like a 100 hertz and little bolo up to say 200 hertz, like I was saying that so sort of boxy low range that we just need to control. Okay, and then we turn it off on. So not a lot of drastic changes. You know, the thing is just guitar sounds good already that we don't need to do a lot. Yeah, you'll get some guitars that sound really boomy, really muddy and need more drastic cuts and this range. But I think we're pretty good with here. We're getting a pretty good balance sound already. Okay, now, let's go into this sort of mid-range and see what we find. So it's used as frequency band for that. Again, it's put into a bell. And then let's boost. And let's make the queue more narrow. Okay, that's good to sweep it around. Typically around 12k, you might hear something that kind of rings. Alright, let's listen. Get in there. Okay, So around that range you start to hear something ring, right? Let's isolate it. Okay. So around 2.2 k, Let's go ahead and bring that down a bit. Not too extreme. Remember this guitar sounds good. We don't wanna start make it as sound bad, okay, just subtle with it. Without it sounding pretty balanced. Now, let's go into our upper, mid-range or high frequencies. Must add in this fifth band. Again, bell shape is what we're looking for here. We can boost it up. Now the queue. And I want to find the good, right? So we're gonna do some additive EQ at this point, be bringing in some of the shimmer of the guitar. So right around here, it's still a bit ringy. Once we pass into four K, There's some shimmer there. Alright? Once we go above five K, it's a six k's a little unnecessary. Why don't we, how an n on our own five K, and let's make it the queue a bit wide. Let's not be too exaggerated here. Let's see what this does. Okay, that's pretty good. It's kinda sweep down a bit extreme so we can really hear what we're doing right around there. Okay, and now we've got a nice sort of stock acoustic EQ that we can utilize for most acoustics, you know, give or take what we did here. So we started with cutting the lows out, identified where the rumble was. With this particular guitar. We didn't move to the lower mids to get rid of that box penis and the Bulinus, usually somewhere between a 100 and 300. Then we found some of the harshness up and the mid-range toward the upper mid-range and reduce some of that, that might have some weird ring to it. And then we just brought some shimmer in, right? Let's listen one more time without it. And then with it. Alright, so that's a good starting point for how to EQ and acoustic guitar. 6. Compression: Okay, so let's talk about compression on an acoustic guitar. So I'm going to go into my audio effects and open up just the stock compressor here on a button. And let's point out just a few of the common parameters you're going to see on every compressor. So first and foremost is this threshold, right? So the threshold, if I lower it down, basically that's when compressions going to happen. Because when the audio signal from the guitar and this example crosses that threshold, the compressor then comes on. Okay, so as I lower it down, you can see this gain reduction line start to glow orange, which indicates how much gain is being reduced. So to define a compressor, it's basically an automatic gain reducer. But can also be an automatic gain increase or if it's an expander. But let's not get into that just yet. But basically, if it doesn't cross the threshold, compression won't happen. All right? Now, the next thing is the ratio. So the ratio talks about how much compression is going to happen when the compression does happen, if that makes sense. So basically if we have a two to one ratio, if there's two decibels of sound coming in, one decibel basically comes out. We increase this ratio is going to be more of an intense compression, if you will, there's more compression. So if we do all the way up to infinity 1, that means it is going to 100% not let anything above that threshold that you set, right? So we don't want to go that extreme on the instances of a acoustic guitar. We don't want to be limiting it in which infinity to one is basically a limiter. So somewhere between 36 might be a good starting point. But just remember that there are no rules. These are just guidelines to get you started in your ears are going to tell you what whatever song you're mixing needs. I'm going to set it to afford a one, right? Because that's not too liberal, nice, not too conservative. We're probably going to be able to hear it and it's probably going to sound pretty natural right there. Let's go ahead and listen. Okay, So we're definitely here in the compression there, right? I can change the view on this Ableton compressor. And this yellow dot basically shows where the thresholds at, at anytime Audio crosses it. And then this view shows us in a real-time fashion sort of the waveform analysis and when compressions happening. And at this point we've got way too much compression happening. You can see that it's pretty much always happening there. And if our goal is just to reduce the peaks and control the overall loudness and balance it out. We've gone way too far here. This ring that the threshold up. All right, We see it's only kicking in at these very particular peaks and the wave form. And that's cool, That's what we're going for. And right here it's pretty much compressing the entire time. We don't want that. All right, so this besotted with it. We found a nice medium ground which happens to be about minus 12 dB, the threshold four to one ratio. Let's see what happens when we kick the ratio up even more. It's more strict. Okay, let's go see what happens when we kick the ratio down to just a one-to-one. We're really getting any compression. So as y star is somewhere around four to 15 to 16 to what is a good starting point? Let's just again start at four. Okay, next, let's look at the attack and release settings. So it's basically pretty simple to understand that the attack time is the time it takes for the compression to start happening once it crosses the threshold. Okay, so remember epi doesn't cross the threshold. No compression is happening. So the attack time, quick here, slow here. 1 second is slow as this one goes, and 0.01 at milliseconds as fast as this one goes. So this acoustic guitar being strummed, it's pretty fast tempo. It's a lively performance and it's played sort of percussive, right? So we definitely want a faster attack time to control the peaks and a percussive waveform. So let's kinda get it set a bit extreme. So we're here into compression, right? I'm gonna kick that threshold down a bit and we'll go ahead and kick the ratio up quite a bit too. Now I'm going to play with the attack time. Let's go very slow. Attack verse, really fast. Okay, Which one is you hear more compression happening? Well, that your answer should be the faster one, right? If we go too fast, you're going to start to get some distortion and we don't want that. So let's do it somewhere around at zero-point 10 milliseconds. Yeah. Okay. Let's look at their release. The release is the time that it takes for compression to let off once it has happened. Okay? So slow release for a fast tempo song is not ideal because it'll be compressing still by the time the next peak happens, right? That's what's difficult with fast songs. And then you hear what's called pumping. And we don't want that to happen. Let me show you what that is. I'll show you, I'll go to the end of the song where he holds a cored out. Let's go super extreme on all levels. And let's see what a you now to second release sounds like. You can see the gain reduction letting off and it's just such a slow release you hear pumping, right? We don't want or at least that slow, faster Renee's. You get that compression while we got way too much compression happening is that's what gave us the distortion. Okay, Let's go back to our, say 5, 2, 1 Setting. Got our zero-point one milliseconds attack. And as two separate like 15 millisecond release. Keep it kinda quick. Let's go back to that vibrant part of the song. Thresholds a bit too low, say get back to about 12. All right, we've got some decent compression happening. Again, there's no hard and fast rules about this, but you play with these parameters and so you get it sounding exactly how you want. Let's take a look at another compressor that is included in Ableton and it's called the glue compressor, right? So this one is a lot different. It behaves a lot differently and you'll hear. So again, we see the threshold control, we see a ratio control, and we see an attack and release. We also see a makeup control, right? This plugin had a makeup right here that was already said in what the makeup is. Basically compression is reducing the loudness, right? So it's turning down the peaks. In order to compensate for that reduction, there needs to be a makeup gain where we control the loudness after compression. Okay, Let's try move the threshold down. Okay, and so we see compression happening. Let's go ahead and take a look at our ratios for two ones, keep it there, are released time is relatively middle ground us make it quicker. Let's make the attack as quick as it can go and see what happens here. Okay, It's fine to make up up a bit. So we see here that this is great because it compressions really only happening at those peaks. And that's all we want right now. As quite a bit more balanced. Okay? This controls the dry wet here, which is giving us the effect of what's called parallel compression, where we have all dry signal when it's done is 0 and all wet when it's up to 100. So if we want to use dry wet, maybe we could go more intense on lowering the threshold and the compression. So what this does is it allows the natural dynamic range of that guitar to still appear through, while sort of blending and the compressed signal with it. So for something like this, I might be more lenient to do, to do that, since it's already a pretty balanced performance, it has a lot of energy and it's fast pace and percussive. This might just help thinking it out and balance it out just how I need. Okay, cool. Let's take a look at a nonstop compression plug-in just to give you an idea of how, you know, different these can sound. So I'm using what's called H count by waves. And this is kind of like an 1176, which is a real classic compressor, but it has more settings, more control. So can you identify where the threshold is? Yes, Right here. Okay. Can you identify the ratio? Boom, right here. Attack, release, we didn't have a mix knob which is the same as the dry wet was down here. We also have analog, which is a different algorithm that allows us to sort of get dial and different tones. And the way that it reacts with the compression is happening. And we have another knob that's called punch. So they get creative nowadays on these things, right? So let's listen to what we can do here. I'm going to just set the threshold just to catch the peaks like we've been doing. But I'm going to make the ratio a bit more extreme, 8-to-1. Let's make a quick attack. Let's make a quick release. Let's keep the punch down. Let's keep them wet all the way up. Let's see what we get. Distortion. So way too much is happening. I'm going to kick the threshold to where it requires a louder signal to cross. To me. That sounds pretty nice and it's really controlling those peaks well. Okay, let's try a different analog. Okay? I like to where it was at. And I like the subtlety. What I'm gonna do is I'm going to go ahead and use this as my first compressor. I'm going to get rid of the OG, able to compressor there. So my first compression is going to control the peaks and then I'm going to use this other one, distorted thicken at all. Hey, omega. Okay, then after compressing it, you might add another EQN. And the reason is, is because these things, these compressors add color, right? And sometimes you hear some more energy in the mid-range and the low mids when you start adding these. So let's and I'm not getting too finely detailed on I just use my ears, it kinda guide me. And then there we got a little bit more of a balanced guitar sound. So take these ideas of using different compressors that you may have from the stock plug-ins that come with your DAW to any fancy Wednesday may have bought and compare them, see what's one, see which ones work for whatever instrument you are mixing. And sort of just take note of what each control does and how it alters the sound. And as you do it more and more and more, you're going to start to refine how you compress your sounds to get better and better sounds to fit your creative desires. But I hope this basically demonstrated some of the basic uses of any comma compressor that you can then apply to acoustic guitar and therefore, any other instrument that you desire. 7. Time Based FX: So let's talk about some ways to use time-based effects on an acoustic guitar and mix. So a little bit about this guitar take. This was recorded in a room, a small room with one Mike, and it was miked close to eliminate as much of that small room as possible. So we didn't have any ambience mix to create a sense of space. So what we're gonna do is basically utilize some common time-based effects to create a sense of space for this acoustic guitar. So we gotta take into account the style of the music and the tempo of it, and the energy level of it before we start just thrown on these time-based effects. So let's create an objectives. So for this mix, I want to create some width and a little bit of depth, but nothing too extreme. So I'm going to start with is adding a reverb. And we're going to sort of create just a basic room reverb. So when you go to able to in, we're gonna go to Audio Effects. We're going to go down to reverb. Okay, Let's just start by popping it on that track, right? So this is one way you can do it. We have a dry wet mix right here that allows us to control how much reverb there is versus how much dry signal that radius. And that's totally cool because it gives us sort of EQ controls and all that fun stuff. But what we wanna do for this instance to give ourselves a bit more control of the reverb is to open up a new return track and then to throw that reverb on there, we then gave ourselves a little bit more control with if we want to add EQ to the reverb or compression to the reverb, or send the reverb elsewhere. I can treat this reverb like it's an instrument want to have out on its own return track. So I'm going to start by turning the dry wet all the way up. And then I could control the amount of reverb on the guitar based on this send level that I'm sending to it. Okay, so for a basic room reverb, what we're going to create is a short decay times. So you got to think here, if this was a 2 second decay time or 3 second decay time, that's going to take three seconds for that reverb to be sound. Does it go to three silence? That's a big reverb time. A typical live room or a large vocal booth that I'm trying to recreate here is not going to have a decay time that long. Let's do something around the 500 ish milliseconds for starters. All right, now I had a stereo knob. I can be mono or I can be 100% stereo, and it even gives me 120% stereo if I want. We do want some width in here, so let's keep it 100% stereo. Okay, so let's hear what this sounds like. Real dry. Girl that out. Okay, now it sounds like it's in a bit bigger of a space, right? So it sounds more like a small live room or a large vocal booth, which is cool. We take the decay time up a little bit longer and let's take it up to 650 and see if it makes it feel a little bigger. Yeah, it's pretty nice. It's got a longer decay time. Now it's definitely more audible that there is some reverb on it. So we might tame down the amount we have. Understand, or I might just pull it down to a happy medium if 600 milliseconds. See, Yeah, that does. Cool. So we've got some width in there, right? Let's take this course setting off because we'll talk about that later. Without nice dry and interface with a bit more vibrant and wide. Okay. I can also mess with the pre-delay, so that's it, the amount of time it takes for the reverb to actually kick on. So if I set this way here, 250 milliseconds, sounds more like a delay. I definitely don't want that. That does not sound natural to me for what I'm going for. Let's kick it back down here. And so adding that pre-delay to me makes it sound like you as a listener a little bit further back. And it makes it feel like it has a little bit more depth to it. You can also create cool rhythmic effects by this, you can have that pre-delay sort of B on a. Read them like a 32nd note or a 16th note, if you want to get really precise and you can just use your ears for it. Orders, are there reverbs that have those distinct settings you can control? Okay, and let's cut some of the lows out, right? We can do that from right here. But let's go ahead and open up an EQ Eight and drop that in here. And let's just cut out those lows. Let's be extreme with it. So now we just brighten the room up a bit and we're not adding to any of that sort of low mid rumble that might already be existed in the guitar. It just depends on the goal is your goal to make it wider and more rich than you want to keep some of those Load MS in there is your goal to make it a little more bright and wide, then you could just do it or you cut more. There's low mids out. For this sake, since it's just probably acoustic guitar and voice for this song, I'm not too worried about leaving some of those low mids in there since it's not going to conflict with other instruments in the mix. I'll just keep it somewhere around here. I'm going to kick the decay time up to 800 and see what it sounds like. All right, so that gives you an idea on how to create this sense of a room. What if though we wanted to exaggerate this reverb and make it more of either a psychedelic effect or something that has depth to it. Or maybe it's like a vintage Plate Reverb we're trying to recreate that you hear sometimes on those like sixties and seventies recordings. Well, you can simply start by just kicking out the decay time. Okay, so for this song, I feel like the tempo is a bit too fast and it's to sprightly and energetic that I don't want this big delay, I'm sorry, this big reverb. Because if I add a lot of this big reverb with a long decay time, it's basically just going to muddy it up and it's going to make the guitar not sound as vibrant and energetic and it's going to be more washed down and murky. And I don't want that for this song. If it were like a ballad. Yeah, okay, I might try it out. But again, this is an acoustic guitar. I went to retain its natural acoustic sound and I don't want to go overboard with these special spatial effects. And you might play with the pre-delay here. What that'll do is it'll help clear up the guitar and get the reverb out of the way. So let's bring the decay time down just a bit. Let's make it a bit more mono. And now we've created a special effect with a bit more Center as kinda out of the way of the acoustic guitar, which still allows the guitar to be vibrated in the front. Again, not the goal for what I'm going for on this song, but something you might want to use in the future. Okay, So let's move on. Let's say we wanted to add a delay, okay, so the difference between delay and reverb is that reverb is a big scatter of delays that are very, very, very close apart, if you will, that the ear can't distinguish the difference between the echoes, whereas a delay, its distinct repeats that are very audible and separate from each other to where it doesn't create necessarily a wash of sound, but it creates a rhythmic decay. So this definitely to sound more like a special effect. But let's start by doing a slap effect just to sort of widen out the guitar in a different way. Okay, so I'm gonna go to Audio Effects. I'm going to go here to delay. All right, so I have it on the same return tracks. So again, I'm going to send level to it. First. I'm gonna turn to dry wet all the way up since we don't have it on the track itself, we have it on a return track. Okay. I'm going to just turn this up and see what its stock comes with. Okay? What if we made these? Right now It's sync, which made it sync to our tempo. Okay, so what I want to look at is the feedback time for a slap. I don't want a lot of feedback. I'm a go ahead and pull it down to just like, let's say 5%. There are sounds Johnny Cash, right? So still sound like a special effect. And again, it would have to be stylistically fitting to use. But let's do stuff the more we make it a ping pong. And let's see if we can just, why not this guitar? Yeah, So if we haven't just subtle and they're definitely widens out that guitar. We can take this sync off, we can really fine tune the milliseconds. I turn it up to really hear it. Okay, that sounds like an ambience. What do you what do you really bring it to lay really close and it's not really that audible is a delay. It sort of becomes a short reverb. But it does add sort of a cool effect since this is a rhythmic song, I might use something like as real subtle just to create some movement. Of course, you can filter out some of the low frequencies and make it more of a shimmery splash at higher frequencies. Or we can warm it up to bring down the highs and create more of just a warmer, darker delay. And that allows the acoustic guitar to set up front while the delay. So that's a bit more behind. And again, you might go as far as adding an EQ. Let's go back to the CEQA and cutting out those highs. And maybe cutting out those low as the greatest sort of bandpass. Alright? Okay, and that's some ideas in how to widen it out using a delay. But let's, let's take this off. And let's go ahead and go back to being linked in tempo. And let's talk about a tempo delay. Let's bring it back to non ping pong. Let's take this back to where it's not filtering. And the feedback. We're increasing. Definitely not something that one for this song, like I said, but if you wanted that rhythm effects, you get at it. Turned to ping pong on. You can even set them to different tempos where we unlink them and one is playing the leftist plane faster than that, right? Take the feed back down there and you might have, and bring the level down and maybe filter out some of the highs. You just might be honest something, right? So just some fun uses of reverbs and delays. But let's talk about one more thing that we could utilize and that is that of the chorus. So the way a course works, Let's open it up. So of course is basically taking duplicate of this signal here, right? And it is going to alter it in pitch at a varying amount. So it's going to speed it up and slow it down to create sort of another layer or several layers of this pitch duplicated, delayed, and altered in pitch. Sounds really fancy. And it is, and it can really be audible to sound, really affect D, if you will work in sound pretty natural just to widen things out. So again, I have it on a return track. We could put it directly on the track if we wanted to, and something like a chorus, I might be more inclined to do that. But let's just keep it on the return track here. Turned to dry wet up since I can control my dry wet by this level right here. Okay. And it definitely sounds like a course is on it, right? And that can be okay. If this were just a solo guitar and a voice, I might not go as far as adding a chorus if this were a mix with the band, um, I think about I didn't, of course, for a special effect, that would be a little bit less audible in the context of a full band mix, right? But it would help the guitar have some fib, some character in some width to it. Let's mess around a bit to see if we can get it to sound more natural. We're trying to rate down. And you definitely want the feedback at 0 because if I kicked the feedback and you can hear a modulating the duplicated signal like I was talking about. We don't want to hear that has the slow the rate down. And let's bring this send level down is to bring a sparkle of it. I'll start from 0 and I'll bring it up. And let's listen to how it widens it out and sparkles that up a bit. Definitely adds some movement and some width to it. Yeah, sometimes we might use a combination of reverbs and delays in courses that really get, you know, the acoustic to sound that way you want it. But at the end of the day, there's no rules, right? Again, we just want to do what's fitting for this particular song and what fits the creative vision from the artist and the producer, so on and so forth. So just knowing how to utilize these tools gives us more control and helps us get better results. All right, have fun playing around with these time-based effects on the acoustic guitars. 8. Course Project: Of course project. Okay, So for the course project, I want you to first attain acoustic guitar files or one acoustic guitar file if that's what you get. So it can be one solo guitar track or multiple guitars, or an entire multi-track mix with a band. However, assure the focus is on that only of the acoustic guitar for this project. Next, apply the five steps to the guitar files. So comping, editing, EQ, compression, and time-based effects. Last, snag a screenshot of the session and describe which of the five steps was most challenging for this particular mix and share in the project section. If you want, you can attach a link to your final mix and I'll give it a listen and let you know what I think. All right, guys, Have fun. 9. Outro: All right, so that concludes this course on mixing acoustic guitar. So I hope some of these techniques really sunk in and you're able to apply them to your mixes. And no time, the thing is, is the acoustic guitar is deceivingly difficult to mix sometimes if it's miked appropriately and the performance is great and a great room, and it retains all that great energy and is translated on the recording Great. The mixing becomes a breeze. To think is to just to listen for the context, listen for how the acoustic fits in the context of the song. And that's the biggest challenge. Once you do this more and more and more and apply these concepts, your mixes are gonna start sound and amazing. You're gonna take yourself down new avenues with your own recorded performances of you playing guitar. Or if you're recording other artists, they're going to want to come back for more and more and more to, you know, continue getting your stamp on their acoustic guitars. I hope that you follow me on Skillshare. I hope that you connect with me on socials such as Instagram by Joel Michael. Maybe you've heard my music on Spotify and when a scope that up by Joe Michael, I think all the links are on my Skillshare profile page so you can just roll over their head to follow and connect with me. Also, I do like to take requests and get feedback from my students to know what sort of content I should be putting more of out. So definitely do that. I guys anyways, I'll stop rambling and I just want to thank you for learning with me. All right, Cheers.