Mixing a Great Acoustic Guitar Tone

Processing of acoustic guitars (as with any instrument) will depend on its role in a song. Whether you’re after a ‘ticky’ strummed sound, or a natural, open round sound. With the help of some new, innovative plug-ins, I’ll show you how I process a decently recorded acoustic guitar and turn it into a an exquisite tone.

The number one rule of recording is get it right at the source. Micing an acoustic guitar is nearly always better sounding than a DI, but the final tone will of course depend on your mic, position, the guitar itself, room, and the player. I’ve got a decently recorded stereo acoustic guitar track here which I want to make crisp, clear, and sound as if it was recorded in a bigger, natural sounding room.

The key components of this signal chain are:

  • Zynaptiq Unveil – an amazing plug-in which effectively reduces and removes reverberation from a recording so your left with just the source signal.
  • Zynaptiq Unfilter – A tool which linearizes the frequency response of a signal, thus making mic choice and placement less of a factor and giving the signal an equal response.
  • UAD Ocean Way Studios – A fantastic set of room and mic impulse responses from Ocean Way Studios which allows us to place an instrument in this incredible sounding room and alter mic choice, placement, and levels.
  • UAD El Fatso – A versatile and great sounding compressor and tone warmer
  • Steven Slate VCC and VTM – The virtual console collection and virtual tape machines bring a more analog and rounded tone to the source.
Here is the DRY UNPROCESSED acoustic guitar tone I was given:

I start with Zynaptiq Unveil to effectively remove the original room reverb caught in the mic, which was nothing flattering and altered the tone. I then add Zynaptiq Unfilter, to flatten the frequency response of the guitar, take out any boominess and loud resonances, and ensure an even response.

Zynaptiq Unveil and Unfilter

 

This is what the guitar sounds like after the Zynaptiq processing:

 

Now I add the UAD Ocean Way Studio plug-in which brings the guitar into the famous Studio A of Ocean Way studios. I adjust the microphone choice and position, ensure they are in phase with each other, and set their levels. I have the close mic very close in this case to ensure an upfront and featured sound while the other mics give the tone some body and depth.

The guitar sounds like this once processed with Universal Audio Ocean Way Studios:

Mixing with UAD Ocean Way Studios
After this, I place the UAD El Fatso into the chain with compression to even out some of the strums and add a big of transformer tone to make sure the highs don’t get too harsh or clicky. Semi-Fast attack here, and pretty fast release as well to catch those peaks and let go.

The Steven Slate VCC and VTM come last to give a sublte analog tone to the guitar. The tape machine is set to 15ips which softens the highs and gives the tone a more rounded sound.

 

Mixing with Steven Slate VTM, Fatso

In the end, we have corrected any issues from the original recorded and effectively enhanced the acoustic’s tone and feel with some nifty new plug-ins. The new tone works great on its own and fits in the mix perfectly.

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