Panning strategies for two sets of double tracked guitars

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alligatorlizard
KVRist
106 posts since 14 Mar, 2012

Post Mon May 25, 2020 10:38 am

Say I've got a rhythm and a lead guitar part, and I've doubled each, here's how I've usually handled this in the mix:

1) bus the two rhythm takes to a stereo group track and pan them equal amounts left and right - not necessarily 100%L/100%R (maybe 82%L/82%R, or whatever gives the right sense of "width" for the track), but always equal amounts either way.

2) same with the two lead takes (but to a different stereo group track)

3) then pan each stereo bus to where I want it focused in the stereo field - e.g. rhythm bus 24L, lead bus 22R - or whatever sounds right - but the point being that I treat each stereo bus as a "stereo" part to be panned.

With the understanding that "there's no such thing as one right way to do things", and "whatever sounds good is good" etc., I'm wondering if this is how others handle this sort of mix situation?

Or is it more usual to pan all the different takes "individually" - e.g. Rhythm L80 & L20, Lead R90 & R10 - or Rhythm L90 & R50, Lead R100 & L40 - or whatever works.

I far prefer the methodology of the first strategy, as once you've bused & stereo-panned each pair of takes, it's relatively simple to then pan the resulting stereo group tracks. The second strategy, you're moving 4 parts around in the stereo fields all at once, and the combinations are endless...

Anyway, just curious to hear which of these two broad strategies people prefer when dealing with 2 (or more) sets of doubled guitar tracks.

GuitarPlayerinNYC
KVRist
157 posts since 23 Dec, 2019

Post Mon May 25, 2020 2:30 pm

Personally, I pan rhythm and lead slightly off center. If I double the guitars (which I rarely do) I might add a slight effect to one only, then treat them as one, to add depth or thickness. Or, I might add, say a delay to one lead guitar, bring the level down, and pan it off to its own space, beneath a rhythm guitar.

I tend to keep the rhythm and leads in their own "zones" so to speak- the separation just sounds better to me.

I think the original Layla recording was mixed with both guitars dead center. On the remastered CD, the guitars were separated, and I just thought, WHOA! So that's stuck in my head.

Lately, I've been getting more serious about mixing/mastering, and think more in terms of frequency ranges. I like the different ranges to occupy their own spaces. But, like you said, there's no hard and fast rules. But I've learned mixing and mastering are different skill sets. I've gotten better plugins, like stuff from Izotope, where you can get a visual for things like thresholds. This can really help, especially when ear fatigue sets in.

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an-electric-heart
KVRAF
2156 posts since 13 Jun, 2008 from Napier,New Zealand

Post Mon May 25, 2020 2:56 pm

I normally pan double-tracked rhythm guitars pretty wide, 70 or 80%, but I send them to a buss together and use an effect from P.A called Shredspread, and tweak from there. I don't normally double lead, I use reverb and delay to bring some stereo-ness, and normally pan lead sightly off center by about 10% (if it's going at the same time as vocals) on the opposite side to the hats normally.

I think I got this for about $10 during one of their many sales, and I'm really liking it.
https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/prod ... pread.html
Last edited by an-electric-heart on Mon May 25, 2020 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

GuitarPlayerinNYC
KVRist
157 posts since 23 Dec, 2019

Post Mon May 25, 2020 3:27 pm

Brainworx make some great plugins.

I found this to be a great tool, to add depth or "stereonesss" and it's free right now. https://www.izotope.com/en/products/ozone-imager.html

I mostly use my Helix for guitar effects. I've never been happy with virtual guitar effects.

No_Use
KVRAF
2450 posts since 13 Mar, 2004

Post Mon May 25, 2020 3:30 pm

Just listen to some of your favourite tracks how it's done there? :)
E.g. to me instantly Metallica comes to mind where doubled rhythm + doubled (or tripled etc.) lead guitars are heard frequently.

https://youtu.be/peENJe_ORdI?t=308
edit: Seems linking to a specific time doesn't work here, I linked to the part at ~5:08
Last edited by No_Use on Mon May 25, 2020 3:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Forgotten
KVRAF
11461 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Post Mon May 25, 2020 3:31 pm

Definitely agree with everyone who says not to pan 100% - that's like a throwback to the 1960s. Pan should be enough to hear the widening then maybe dial it back very slightly.

I would even consider not making them symmetrical so that the rhythm parts are very slightly left or right (but barely noticeable) and the lead is very slightly in the opposite direction.

Varying the amount of reverb on each is a good way to make the sound thicker too - it gives variation in a dimension other than just L/R.

GuitarPlayerinNYC
KVRist
157 posts since 23 Dec, 2019

Post Mon May 25, 2020 4:08 pm

Forgotten wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 3:31 pm


I would even consider not making them symmetrical so that the rhythm parts are very slightly left or right (but barely noticeable) and the lead is very slightly in the opposite directions
Yeah, that's what I was driving at- occupying different sonic spaces.

I've been watching tons of YouTube music production vids. Mostly by trap/trance/ hip hop producers. Not normally my thing, but I've gained a lot of respect for these guys. This is how I became more aware of not mixing the same frequency ranges in the same space; broadly speaking.

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Forgotten
KVRAF
11461 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Post Mon May 25, 2020 4:21 pm

GuitarPlayerinNYC wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 4:08 pm
Forgotten wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 3:31 pm


I would even consider not making them symmetrical so that the rhythm parts are very slightly left or right (but barely noticeable) and the lead is very slightly in the opposite directions
Yeah, that's what I was driving at- occupying different sonic spaces.

I've been watching tons of YouTube music production vids. Mostly by trap/trance/ hip hop producers. Not normally my thing, but I've gained a lot of respect for these guys. This is how I became more aware of not mixing the same frequency ranges in the same space; broadly speaking.
I think there are a lot of producers (real producers) of rock tracks that are great at that too, and it's pretty much become the norm to make broad cuts to frequency and layer more carefully. Rick Rubin is a good example - everything is clinically cut and the sound shaped so that cuts don't make it sound like something is missing.

alligatorlizard
KVRist
106 posts since 14 Mar, 2012

Post Tue May 26, 2020 1:16 am

Thanks for the replies - lots of good advice there, but none of which really address the question I'm asking...

I'm asking specifically about multiple sets of doubled parts - where there seems to be two distinct strategies - to pan all these takes individually, or to bus each pair of doubles to it's own stereo bus, widen to taste, and then treat each of these as a stereo audio track to pan as a whole.

As for referencing Metallica etc, well yes, that's exactly the sort of thing I'm after - but other than being able to hear there are doubled/tripled rhythm and lead parts with wide panning, can you hear exactly how they've been panned to achieve that sound? Again, I know it ultimately comes down to use your ears - but am curious if anyone knows which of the two "strategies" I summarised in the previous paragraph (and described in more detail at the top of this thread) is commonly used in that sort of a mix?

One difference would seem to be if you pan a stereo bus, one side of the stereo double is effectively being reduced in volume - whereas if you pan an original take and it's double individually, both will remain at the same volume (unless you you mix the "double" in at a different level...)

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Hermetech Mastering
KVRian
1296 posts since 30 May, 2003 from Milan, Italy

Post Tue May 26, 2020 3:35 am

I do it individually, but am usually working with very low track count mixes/simple arrangements, where lots of bussing generally isn't needed.

Daimonicon
KVRian
1208 posts since 30 Aug, 2012 from Sweden

Post Tue May 26, 2020 3:44 am

No_Use wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 3:30 pm
Just listen to some of your favourite tracks how it's done there? :)
E.g. to me instantly Metallica comes to mind where doubled rhythm + doubled (or tripled etc.) lead guitars are heard frequently.

https://youtu.be/peENJe_ORdI?t=308
edit: Seems linking to a specific time doesn't work here, I linked to the part at ~5:08
It's quadtracked, i.e two on the left and two on the right and then there's a fith in the middle. And almost no gain at all.

Daimonicon
KVRian
1208 posts since 30 Aug, 2012 from Sweden

Post Tue May 26, 2020 3:46 am

Forgotten wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 3:31 pm
Definitely agree with everyone who says not to pan 100% - that's like a throwback to the 1960s. Pan should be enough to hear the widening then maybe dial it back very slightly.

I would even consider not making them symmetrical so that the rhythm parts are very slightly left or right (but barely noticeable) and the lead is very slightly in the opposite direction.

Varying the amount of reverb on each is a good way to make the sound thicker too - it gives variation in a dimension other than just L/R.
Depends on which genre. In metal it's very common to pan 100% left and right guitars. And if it's quadtrack many times 100% left and 80% left and the same on the right side.

alligatorlizard
KVRist
106 posts since 14 Mar, 2012

Post Tue May 26, 2020 4:06 am

Well after a bit more experimentation I think I'm now favouring the "pan all takes individually" method - the main reason being what I mentioned a few posts back about panning stereo files resulting in one of the doubled takes being reduced in volume, which gives a weaker, less balanced sound overall (A/B-ing two otherwise identical mixes made this clear!)

I think the reason I was avoiding this approach in the past was not being sure what point to start from - e.g. in setting levels, you'll typically get the drums and bass nicely balanced, and this forms a nice "anchor" point to add guitars etc too. So in panning multiple doubled guitars, where to begin... What I'm finding works, is starting off with equal panning either way (for each set of doubles), just to determine what sort of width I want, then if I want that guitar part "angled" left, leave the leftmost take as it is, and move the rightmost one "inwards" to taste - seems to maintain the overall "width" while focusing towards the left channel. Then repeat for the other guitar part but in the opposite direction, until it all gels nicely.

Maybe this was more of a workflow problem! Anyway, thanks again for all the input.

btw, @No-Use, that end section Metallica's Sanitarium ended up being a very good reference, many thanks for that suggestion!

alligatorlizard
KVRist
106 posts since 14 Mar, 2012

Post Tue May 26, 2020 4:16 am

Daimonicon wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 3:46 am
Depends on which genre. In metal it's very common to pan 100% left and right guitars. And if it's quadtrack many times 100% left and 80% left and the same on the right side.
But you're talking about one guitar part, right? And one that's - from what you've described - intended to be "symmetrical" in the mix?

What I'm talking about is a situation where I want the rhythm part more in the left speaker, the lead part more in the right - but I also want to double each part. What I've done previously is pan each part symmetrically, then bus to stereo group, then pan this group channel left/right. However, I'm now finding better results manually moving the doubles on the right more centrally if i want that part to sound overall more in the left - and vice-versa. Hope that's clear, it's complicated to describe this succinctly! If that all makes sense, do you know what the usual strategy in the situation I describe would be?

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