Layering Rhythm Guitar Parts...

In response to a question left within the comments of my latest GuitarBlog "Improvising in Major Keys." 

I did a video /lesson covering Layering Parts back in July of 2011.

When it comes to layering, using different guitars can be a nice touch at times, but it may not work for every song /session. Plus, dialing in the levels will be time consuming when switching guitars, (especially electric to acoustic). Try keeping things simple by just switching to different pick-up configurations when layering tracks. Whatever you do, don't record the exact same guitar set-up as another multi-track /layer because it will unfortunately act to cancel out the overall signal, instead of enhance it.

Loops obviously play a huge role in the home recording set-up. But, whatever drum loop packages you use, be sure to watch the impact of their volume levels at all times. It's not uncommon to turn down the volume levels of your drum loops by as much as -10db to allow the other tracks room to breathe. Always check into the levels of your drum loops so they don't over-ride the levels of all of the other instruments within your session.

Effects are great, but too many can make for slushy recordings. Most engineers keep effects to a minimum. Record your guitar as dry as possible, and try working with two primary reverbs. One thick, and one very subtle. On thinner guitar takes, (such as a guitar recorded using the single-coil pick-up), try the thicker reverb. On a meaty track, (like a humbucker pick-up), try out the thinner reverb. When layered, I think you'll enjoy the results.

Delay's, Chorus and Compression all have their places. Most times I'll personally use them very sparingly. I treat them as "special effects" and apply them to specific sections of a song only. Compression in particular is a special effect in where I use it to control the peaks and boost very exact frequencies within individual tracks, as well as, later during mastering. Compression, (and EQ), also play a big role when recording overdriven guitar tones.

The main thing to keep in mind in our modern world of hundreds of guitars, amps, effects and recording possibilities is that - in the long term, recording will become a very personalized thing that you'll establish for your own sound. And, you'll also reach a very personal comfort zone over time with your equipment and with your software.

They'll also be stages over the years where software and equipment will breakdown, or become obsolete. Those periods will often be tough times. Even upgrading to a new computer can drive you crazy sometimes. Through any up-grade, you'll need to begin the process by making an often frustrating study of entirely new learning stages with your gear. And, for those of you who've been there /done that... as you well know, it can really suck!

Anyway, I hope this short blog helps you! Recording is (of course) time consuming, but it's also tons of fun and really satisfying when you nail a track during a session!

- Andrew


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