Guitar EQ Mixing for rock, country and pop

Amplifier technique for capturing distorted guitars – useful if you are recording overdriven with a guitar amplifier.

EQ Guide for Guitars

Mixing guitar frequencies for rock music, pop and country:

In the following EQ settings, you will be using a parametric equalizer. Personally, I am using Waves Paragraphic EQ (3-bands), such as shown below:

Waves paragraphic EQ

Waves paragraphic EQ

You can use any parametric EQ, but it is recommended you would be using a precise, accurate and industry accepted EQ.

High pass filter or a low shelving filter with cut off frequency at 200 Hz (for all applicable genres)– this will roll off guitar low frequencies (the bass) which can conflict with bass guitar sound.

However this is a one-fit-all solution; some guitars don’t sound good with low shelf cut at 200Hz. So you need to use your ears when doing the adjustment. Sometimes you might want to start cutting starting 150Hz or even 100Hz, it depends.

Cut -9dB at 3Khz, Q = 1.4 (for pop and country) — by cutting 9 dB at 3000Hz, you are making a hole in guitar middle frequencies which vocals can sit in. -9dB is a strong cut off which is recommended for pop and country music.

Some guitars sound fine at -6dB while -9dB cutting is too much for some application, remember to use your ear in judging the sound. Too much cutting will tend to loss most of the guitar sound main character which can be bad for music production.

But rock music is more popular with drowning vocals. So instead, you can cut conservatively at -3dB to -6dB only. You can start with those settings.

Boost 3dB at 400 Hz (Q =1.0) for rock music only. If you are producing rock guitars (with distortion or overdrive); boosting 3dB can make the guitar sound heavier than it seems. This works best when the bass guitar has been cut off at 400Hz also (or not boosted at this frequency range); if not then it may sound less effective.

Cut -6dB at 800Hz at Q=1.4 for all applicable genres. This will make the guitar sound clean and sound more professional. If this is not done, the “cheap” sound of the guitar will appear prominent which can be distracting to the ears. This will remove the annoying mid-frequency content of the guitar common in low-end guitars.

Boost 2dB at 6000Hz at Q=1 for pop and country genres. This is particularly important if you have a lot of acoustic guitar arrangements and it will tend to “shine” prominently with crisp at these frequencies. Also, this can be helpful to add more life and sparkle to guitar solos whether acoustic or overdriven guitars.

These are the only settings I care when I EQ a guitar, the rest of the frequency ranges I leave it as it is.

Implementing those EQ settings above is not enough to get the clarity you need in the mix. You still need to work on other instruments in the mix. For other instruments, it is recommended you will checkout this awesome tutorial.

Content last updated on October 23, 2012