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Thursday, April 20, 2023

David Bendeth doubling electric guitars




Doubling guitar parts, particularly rhythm guitars, and spreading them out left and right, is extremely common in rock, country, pop and more. In this excerpt from Inside the Mix/David Bendeth/‘Money’: Part 3, David talks about how he approaches guitar doubling from a producer’s standpoint.

Same but Different

David prefers that guitarists not use the same guitar for both the original track and the double. If they do, he says, it can lead to phase problems (particularly if the mix is listened to in mono), and it doesn’t sound as expansive as it can with different guitars. He also likes to use a different amp for each side.

For the session shown in the video excerpt, a recalled mix of “Money” from The Warning, Bendeth works at The Barbershop Studios in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey. One of the cool features at the studio is an amp switcher, allowing quick changes between various amps, which are already mic’ed. This makes it easy to compare sounds and is especially handy when auditioning different amp combinations for doubles.

“Money” features four doubled guitar parts for a total of eight tracks in the mix. These include the main rhythm guitars, the baritone guitars also playing rhythm, and the octave guitars, which play a line that supports the rhythm in spots.

The last pair is a doubled guitar effect, where the guitarist learned to play a melody line backward, and then it was flipped around so it sounded forward. All the guitar tracks were panned either hard left and right or 10 o’clock and 4 o’clock.

This screenshot from the “Money” mix shows the guitar parts coming in and out in the arrangement.

Side by Side

There are two main variables at play when doubling a guitar part. One is the tone created by the guitars, amps and any effects used on input or in the mix. The other is the performance.

There are seemingly contradictory issues at play. On the one hand, the idea is to create a vast-sounding, cohesive wall of rhythm. But you don’t want both sides to sound identical. As David says in the video, you get a bigger, more dimensional sound if you use different guitars and amps (or amp sims) on each side.

If you only have one guitar available, at least change the pickup setting when you record the double. If you’re going DI and getting amp and cabinet tone with amp sim plug-ins, you can easily dial in different amp and cabinet sounds for each part.

No matter how close the performance of a double is to the original, it will always have enough minute differences rhythmically that it will sound like two guitars playing. An actual double is almost always superior to using the duplicate command, even if you process the copy to sound different—such as delaying or pitch shifting it slightly.

That being said, if you only have one guitar track to work with, the guitarist isn’t around and you want that doubled sound, you can make an electronic double work reasonably well.

Hearing is Believing

In the following examples, we’ll compare various ways to double a rhythm guitar part. We’ll keep the original part the same each time and change the way the double was recorded. The original track, which will be on the left side in all the examples, was recorded DI with an ESP 400-series Strat-style guitar. The amp sim used when mixing it was a Plugin-Alliance ENGL Savage 120 amp-modeling plug-in.

The left-side rhythm guitar uses a Brainworx ENGL Savage 120 amp modeler.

All the rhythm guitar tracks were recorded through a Warm Audio WA-MPX preamp and a Black Lion Audio Bluey 500 compressor. Other guitars used include a stock Fender Telecaster and a Dan Electro Baritone.

The first example features an electronic double of the rhythm guitar part. You’ll hear it on the right side of the mix. A different amp sim, Scuffam S-Gear, was used on the copy to differentiate it from the original. In addition, the duplicated track was slid forward in time by ten ticks and had a slight pitch shift applied to it with Avid Frequency Shifter.

Scuffam S-Gear.

Second to None

For the next example, an actual double was recorded using the same guitar with the same pickup setting and mixed through Engl Savage 120 plug-in. Even though the signal chain was identical for each part, recording the double yielded a pretty big sound.

For the upcoming example, a double was recorded, again using the ESP but with the bridge pickup instead of the neck pickup selected. The amp sim was a UAD Fuchs Overdrive Supreme. You’ll notice that the doubled guitars sound wider than in the previous example.

UAD Fuchs Overdrive Supreme.

One from the Other

This time, the double was recorded with the Tele, set to its neck pickup position, and processed with Neural DSP’s Archetype Rabea amp sim. As David points out in the excerpt, doubling with a different guitar increases the contrast and, thus, the perceived size of the double.

Neural DSP Archetype Rabea.

Many players use drop tunings when recording rhythm parts to get lower notes, which sound heavier, into the track. The next example shows how that can affect the sound. The double uses the ESP, but it was tuned down a whole step before recording and used the Scuffam S-Gear amp sim.

The final example features the Dan Electro Baritone on the right side. It was tuned a fifth below standard tuning. The baritone also uses heavier strings, which helps it sound fat. The amp sim was Muramasa Electrum.

Muramasa Electrum.

As you can see, you have many sonic options when doubling a guitar part, even if you only have one guitar. It’s worthwhile to get creative and experiment until you find the sound that best fits your vision for the song.

Written by Puremix Team