Recording guitars is a minefield. There's many options out there, each capable of feeding our creative spirits as musicians. Once you've found your perfect guitar, pickup, and amp combination, there's one final step in nailing the tone you are looking for.
Creative uses for studio tools allow you to change your sound post recording.
Here are a few processing ideas to try out on your next song using plugins!
Use a limiter for consistent & aggressive tones
The standard use for a limiter is on an entire mix to achieve a boost in average volume. This effect - loudness - is attractive to producers as it makes songs sound 'radio ready'. Another use for limiters is an easy way to keep the volume consistent across different parts of a take.
Palm muted parts of songs are usually louder than the rest of track - but it is common to want a uniform volume in a take. Limiters also smooth out picking attack, making you sound professional, consistent and tighter.
For more extreme sounds, a limiter can also help your guitars stay up-front in a mix - achieved by pushing the limiter harder.
Warm up your sounds with Analog Emulations!
If your signal chain is digital - DI in to a plugin amp like Guitar Rig, BIAS or Amplitube, sometimes your tone can sound quite sterile and digital. To remedy that, you want to make your sound a little softer. There's many ways to do that - but one of my favourites is using analog modelling, which can softer your sound and fill in the lower harmonic spectrum.
Tape emulations like the Waves J37 and the SoundToys Decapitator are both great picks for making your sound a more filled with character.
The key with these is making sure you don't apply too much, which will change the EQ of your sound. Whilst this can be a nice effect, too much saturation will be a negative to your sound, not a positive.
Tape saturation and valve saturation work well with cleaner tones - Any low-gain tone you want to emphasise will enjoy the harmonic distortion added.
Use multiband compression to tame unruly transients
Palm muted notes tend to be loud compared to non-muted notes. Whilst you could solve this with limiting - in a recorded enviroment by using volume automation you can avoid the tonal coloration. Another transparent option when you are playing live is to use multiband compression. This way - you only compress the lower end energy, taming the transients and removing a lot of mud from your sound.
My go to settings will be something like this:
Once you've got the frequency bands set up - you'll hear that by removing the overwhelming low frequencies, it tightens your tone quite nicely!
If you are looking for more help with mixing guitars and tracks - please get in touch with me here- I'll be able to find that help you find your perfect tone!