Do you want to know how to edit and mix guitar in Audacity? Will recording your guitar playing help you in the long run as a guitar player? Let’s find out.
Although guitar recording is a product of technological advancements through the years, it was believed that one of the earliest guitar tracks recorded in history was from 1861, when it was still before Mr. Edison invented the phonograph. After the phonograph was invented, a guitar recording was made using phonograph cylinders as a recording medium.
Nowadays, software programs already allow you to edit and mix your guitar track. You can add any effects like delay and reverb to the guitar track. There are also guitar amplifier simulators available online to give you an almost realistic amplified sound even if you are not using any guitar amplifier.
To be able to record, edit and mix a guitar track, the most basic setup is to have an acoustic or electric guitar, an audio interface, and a digital audio workstation or also known as DAW, but other equipment will also be needed depending on the situation.
One of the most frequently downloaded and used digital audio workstations that are available online is Audacity. Audacity is a free and open-source digital audio editor and recording application software that is available to almost all operating systems available in the market.
How To Setup My Recording Equipment For Mixing Guitar?
The first step in setting up your recording equipment is if you have not downloaded the Audacity application, you need to go to their website and download it first. After downloading, then install it. After installing, you connect your audio interface to your PC or laptop and wait for the Audacity to recognize it. After its recognition, change the microphone settings of the Audacity and set the audio interface as its primary microphone.
After setting it up, you can now plug your electric or acoustic guitar into your audio interface and start recording using Audacity.
How To Edit And Mix My Acoustic Guitar in Audacity
Suppose you are using an acoustic guitar without a built-in pickup. In that case, you will need to have an external microphone, preferably a condenser microphone, to be plugged into the audio interface so that you can record the sound produced by your guitar using Audacity.
If you are using a condenser microphone to record your acoustic guitar, you should also treat your room with sound dampening equipment to achieve the best possible guitar recording, as it will significantly reduce echo and other sounds released by the environment of the room.
If your acoustic guitar has a built-in pickup, you can directly connect it to your audio interface, but it would also be highly recommended to use an acoustic guitar amplifier before connecting it to the audio interface, as it will produce a better acoustic sound than having a direct setup to the audio interface.
As you start to record your acoustic guitar, you need to watch out for the recording level signal not to reach ‘0’ as there is a very high chance of clipping, resulting in a distorted audio recording.
You have three options to adjust the volume while you are recording, on your acoustic guitar, audio interface, or in the Audacity. You can tone down the volume in your acoustic guitar if it has a built-in pickup, while most audio interfaces come with built-in volume controls, and you can also adjust the recording volume of the Audacity, which is found below the recording level monitor.
The guitar track’s volume level is crucial for mixing as too much of it could lead to clipping and distortion, which is very annoying to listen to. Too much clipping can also damage the audio interface’s inputs.
After finishing the recording, Audacity allows you to tweak the guitar track’s frequency by its Filter Curve EQ or Graphic EQ features. The Filter Curve EQ is more detailed when it comes to the frequencies you can tweak, while the Graphic EQ uses a 31-band frequency option to tweak.
The 200 Hz frequency is usually reduced for acoustic guitars to eliminate the muddiness, while the 300Hz – 400Hz frequency range is boosted to add fullness to the instrument. The 500Hz – 700Hz frequency is usually boosted to add more warmth, while the 1kHz is also boosted to bring more fullness.
A little boost is also given to the frequency range of 1.5kHz – 2.5kHz to give more definition to the sound, while 5kHz is boosted if you need a more attacking sound. You can boost around 7kHz to add additional sparkle to the acoustic sound, but you can boost the 10kHz – 12kHz frequency range if you feel it is still lacking.
To eliminate the floor noises, low-frequency hums, and explosive low-end notes, you use the high-pass filter feature of the Audacity and set it to 80Hz.
You can also add guitar effects to your recorded guitar track like reverb and delay from the Audacity. It also has a compressor feature to reduce the audio level of the guitar track when you think that it is just too loud.
How To Edit And Mix My Electric Guitar in Audacity
If you are using an electric guitar for your recording, you will only need an audio interface and a digital audio workstation like Audacity. You can also use a guitar amplifier and pedals before connecting it to the audio interface to give a realistic electric guitar sound, as Audacity does not have any guitar amplifier simulator like other DAWs.
Just like the acoustic guitar, you also need to watch for the volume level of your guitar track when using your electric guitar to avoid clipping and distortion.
To remove the muddiness and boomy noise, use the Audacity’s high-pass filter feature and set it to 120Hz. All frequencies from this to zero are usually useless, that is why it is better to cut it rather than let it go with the mix.
For electric guitars, the 150Hz – 300Hz frequency is usually boosted to expose the beefy sound of the electric guitar. To reveal the true character of your electric guitar, you need to tweak the 300Hz – 1000Hz frequency range carefully, as all guitars do not have the same response in this area, so it is up to you whether you are going to boost or cut it.
You should cut within the 1kHz – 2kHz frequency range to eliminate the harsh and honky characteristics of the guitar tone. In 3kHz, it is usually recommended to boost the frequency to extra attack on guitar solos, but you should cut it when it is used for the riff guitar parts.
You should boost the 10kHz – 13kHz frequency range if you are looking for brightness.
Just like in the acoustic guitar recorded track, you can add effects for the recorded electric guitar track like reverb or delay if you are not using any pedals or built-in guitar amplifier effects. You can also use the compressor feature of Audacity.
What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using Audacity For Guitar Mixes?
One of the advantages of using Audacity is that it is very user-friendly. It is also equipped with EQ and effects that can help improve in recording guitar sound quality. You can also download and use it for free.
One of its disadvantages, especially on using it as a DAW for guitar tracks, is that it does not support any guitar amplifier simulators. If you are not using any guitar amplifier in recording with your audio interface, it is highly recommended to use a guitar amplifier simulator to produce a realistic guitar sound, which the Audacity does not support.
Overall, knowing the basics of how to edit and mix guitar in Audacity is very essential for those who want to record guitar tracks on a budget with all the needed tools to produce a high-quality guitar recording audio.