In this article, I’d like to say a couple of words about how to equalize distorted guitars.
If the guitar tone at the output of the amplifier completely suits you,
consequently, you are lucky and the equalization procedure will be incredibly simple:
- Cut low frequency mumbling with a High Pass filter in the range of 60–120 Hz. These frequencies are of no use. They will only add some muddiness to a mix and going to clutch with bass guitar sound.
- Cut high frequency hissing that inevitably emerges in heavily distorted guitars. Approximately in the region of 8–10 kHz depending on the guitar tone and the type of the used distortion whereby clearing the space for hihats.
- Make a little enhancement with a narrow band (Q = 1.5–3) in upper mids for better guitar audibility in the mix.
As you see in the picture, there isn’t anything complicated!
If your ears say that it’s necessary to go further, there are the following options:
1. Surgical distortion guitar equalization.
This equalization is often the continuation of the previous technique and fairly often used in hard rock music mixing. It is aimed at building a fatter, warm guitar tone due to taming down some resonances. This first and foremost refers to the attenuation of the resonances in upper mids that make the sound of the distorted guitar too edgy.
In this case, it’s necessary to work with an equalizer with extremely narrow bands. On my favorite Pro-Q2 from Fabfilter, the parameter Q is equal to 40. Later you can correct this value.
Define the precise value of the frequency that irritates you by enhancing each band by 10–12 dB and moving it up and down the frequency scale. This technique of electric guitar equalization allows you to easily and fast detect the resonances subjected to cutting out. It’s hard to say how many cuts should be made altogether: everything depends on the initial guitar tone and your vision of the mix.
It’s sometimes necessary to carry out the same procedure with low mid to tame too buzzing resonances.
After you remove the excessive, you can make several boosts in Mids to achieve even much warmer and fatter sound.
2. Equalization with the use of VST emulations of vintage equalizers.
I’d refer this type to the final processing when strictly technical equalization has been carried out, but the guitars lack “something” to ideally blend in with the mix. Probably, a deficit element is saturation and the specific character added by these devices. As a rule, the own plugin saturation already sets the necessary tone, and 1–2 small enhancements of Mids are sufficient to get a final guitar tone.
You can use vintage equalizers in any combination with the techniques described above. All depends on your vision of the mix.
This article can’t definitely give a single answer to the question how to EQ distorted guitars as this reply doesn’t simply exist. Yet I hope the article will be a good start for your experiments with the sound!
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