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How to Fix Thin Acoustic Guitars

Dec 25, 2019

Thin acoustic guitars can be difficult to beef up while still keeping them sounding natural. We offer 3 tips for remedying this issue.

How to Fix Thin Acoustic Guitars

Mixing acoustic guitars requires a gentle hand. You can save a poorly recorded electric guitar by creatively mangling it through guitar amp emulations like the ones found in GTR3, but you don’t have the same luxury with acoustic guitar. For the most part, people want their acoustic guitar to sound natural.

We’ll discuss 3 mixing tips you can use right now to thicken and enhance your acoustic guitar recordings.

1. Use Parallel Compression

Applying parallel compression to your acoustic guitar will really beef it up. For dynamically dense arrangements, this may be a very desirable effect. Using parallel compression involves duplicating your guitar signal, heavily compressing the duplicate, and then mixing the compressed signal with the more dynamic original signal.

The CLA-76 Compressor/Limiter has an ultrafast attack, making it perfect for parallel compression; it will immediately snap down on transients. Start with a ratio of anywhere from 4 to 12; the higher the number, the heavier the compression. Use a fast attack time of around 7 and a slightly slower release time of around 5.

Increase the input level and further refine the settings until you have a signal that sounds squished. Mix this signal together with the original, unprocessed signal. Turn the processed signal up in level so that the original signal sounds “full,” but don’t make it so loud that you mask all the transient information found in your original guitar recording.

2. Add Light Tape Saturation

Kramer Master Tape isn’t made just for mastering purposes. In fact, it’s a powerful mixing tool that works miracles on thin acoustic guitars. By driving the record level knob, you’re able to gently distort and compress your acoustic guitars for richer, fuller tones.

If your acoustic guitar is suffering from an overly bright top-end, you can also use Kramer Master Tape to tame resonance and harshness without the use of an EQ or de-esser. Applying saturation is a colorful and creative way of dealing with harshness, so keep Kramer Master Tape an arms-length away when mixing.

3. Sculpt Acoustic Guitars with EQ

When you record acoustic guitar, the frequency content picked up below 40 Hz usually manifests itself in the form of low-end rumble. It’s usually safe to use a parametric EQ like the Q10 Equalizer to cut away frequency content below 40-80 Hz using a gradual slope.

The meaty part of an acoustic guitar lives between 80-200 Hz. If your guitar lacks “fullness,” you can add more “body” by applying a boost to this frequency range using a bell filter. Use slightly more gain than is necessary while sweeping the band throughout 80-200 Hz until you lock onto a position that sounds good to your ears. This can help to identify the right place to set your band.

Applying a boost to the 200-400 Hz range of an acoustic guitar recording can provide it with more “warmth.” Acoustic songs don’t usually have an instrument dedicated to bass, but by EQing your acoustic guitar correctly, you’re able to coax a tremendous amount of rich low mid-range content from it.

If you’ve recorded your acoustic guitar in a lively room, your recording may contain more of the room’s characteristics than you had anticipated. To deal with this issue, try cutting around 800 Hz with a bell filter that uses a moderate bandwidth.

Want more quick mix fixes? Get tips on fixing a muddy electric guitars.

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