Guitars sound terrible.
Not always, but often enough that I felt compelled to write a blog post about it. If you record rock or metal music and can’t get those big sounding and tight guitars you’re hearing in your head, this is a the place to start!
WAY too much gain!
Tuning (you’re more out of tune than you think).
Let’s start with gain:
Yep, you heard me - WAY TO MUCH GAIN. Big heavy guitars ARE NOT that distorted. Obviously this will vary from genre and song, but trust me: if your guitars are overly distorted you tone will end up being thin, fizzy, and lacking definition. Find some isolated stems of the albums you love and listen to the guitars - they are surprisingly clean. This is because the more clean your guitars are the more ‘note’ gets through - resulting in a full and rich tone. Don’t get me wrong, you need gain for a rock or metal tone, but I’m advocating for less than you’d think.
Pro tip: The gain will come as a result of the sum of performances. So if you double track your guitars (which you will surely do) your gain will seem to be double that of just one track - because you will hear both performances together!
Gain takes up a lot of space in a mix - in a bad way. Clean it up and reap the benefits!
And now tuning:
Alright you’ve been making one fatal mistake: tuning either way too much, or way too little.
The hard truth of the matter is that guitar’s don’t stay in tune long enough to play a song.
The trick is to perform small sections, twice, while only tuning once for these two performances. What I mean is that if you play a section, and then tune before recording the double track of it, you will be entering a chorus-like hell of tuning. Yes, your guitar is in tune on both takes - BUT - They aren’t in tune ‘together’. Tune once, play twice = tight and in tune!