The Very “Secrets” of Equalizing a Recorded Guitar

05 May The Very “Secrets” of Equalizing a Recorded Guitar

After months and months of time spent with my Sonnox Oxford Equalizer, I just bumped into this terrific, super short write up done by Scott Smith at Legendary Tones.

I’m reposting here just the very core of it, worth studying by memory.

This means, practically, that everyone one of you, every single one of you recording their guitars – no matter with what and how – should at least read it 10 times and maybe, print it out and stick it on your monitor. I have 😀

Guitar EQ

The goal of EQ’ing the guitar is to bring out the best frequencies, and cutting the frequencies that will likely clash with the other instruments on the recording. Make sure you have a strong idea of what kind of sound you want to end up with, so you can better tailor that sound around the other instruments. Note that this is totally subjective based upon what type of music you are playing, and the overall sound you wish to achieve. My best advice is to experiment until you find a good solid tone that doesn’t cancel everyone else out.

Close Microphone EQ Ranges

The frequency ranges of EQ for guitar are consistent no matter if you desire a distorted sound or a clean sound. You will find the bottom end, or ‘growl,’ of the guitar in the space around 100Hz. This frequency when boosted conservatively (2 – 3 decibels (dB)), will give the guitar the warmth, however, it is VERY important to be careful when tinkering around this frequency because at 200Hz you will find a frequency that in too large of an amount will destroy all clarity in a recording and ‘muddy’ it up. The ‘body’ frequencies can be found between 500 and 600Hz, and can be boosted slightly. By slightly, I mean 2 to 5 dB. The frequencies that bring out the psycho acoustics and give the guitar sound its ‘edge’ lie between 3 and 4KHz. Boosted slightly, they can provide a solid, cutting sound, however, used too heavily, they can be piercing and cause headaches. The 5 – 8KHz frequencies bring out the sibilants. A small boost (1-2dB) in this range will give the sound a little bit of ‘sparkle,’ and will bring out the sound of the pick on the strings. Finally, to give the sound some high-frequency clarity, you can boost the 10KHz range (Try 5 – 7dB). This will set the guitar apart from other instruments that may be playing in its register, such as piano.

Broken Down:

100Hz Slight boost (2 –3 dB)

200Hz Slight cut (1dB)

5 – 600Hz Slight boost (2 – 5dB)

3 – 4KHz Slight boost (1 – 3dB)

5 – 8KHz Small Boost (1 – 2dB)

10KHz Boost (5 – 7dB)

Distant Microphone EQ Ranges

This mike is much easier to work with, as it depends on the sounds of the room which frequencies will be boosted. The only definites I would recommend are boosting the ‘clarity’ frequencies at 10KHz and up. Try boosting in increments of 3dB up to a maximum of 10dB for best effect, and generally try to keep the 10KHz frequency at about 2/3s that of the 15KHz frequency. The other important frequencies to pay attention to are the 100Hz, which you can slightly boost by about 1.5 – 3 dB, and 200Hz, which I would cut by about 2dB. That will maintain signal clarity while eliminating the ‘muddy’ sound.

After that, I would recommend that you experiment with the frequencies we used on the close microphone. Depending on your particular room, you will have to adjust them accordingly, and results will vary.

This concludes the first installment of THE HOME RECORDING CHRONICLES. Tune in next time for tips on how to record drums effectively without having to worry about microphone phase cancellation. For now, I bid you adieu and happy recording


Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

  • avatar
    Posted at 00:09h, 08 March

    Good Read
    Thanks! 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 07:51h, 05 May

    That is COOL. I’m soon planning on buying either a Neumann TLM102 or an Audio-Technica AT4047.

    Any pro’s con’s between the 2????



    All input in helping me decide between them would be great!! 😛

    • avatar
      Posted at 08:02h, 05 May

      Don’t know both but I’m also thinking about buying a good condenser mic here. But a lot of Fils recordings are done with an AT4047, before he got his old Neumann repaired.

      • avatar
        Posted at 08:09h, 05 May

        Yah. I only have the $ cause I sold the muscle car you saw in my “Shirt” pic.

        I e-mailed Fil as well for his opinion. (I was pretty sure he had the 4047)

        I’ve also read alot of excellent reviews on the Neumann 102.

        Hard decision concidering what seem to be 2 great options in a very close price range. 😛

        • avatar
          Posted at 08:34h, 05 May

          I see, hope it didn’t hurt too much selling it. Yeah, that’s a hard decision because you can’t just try them out. Will also look into that topic because I thought about buying the AT4047.

          • avatar
            Posted at 09:24h, 05 May

            Franz, Jon,
            the only one I recommend (because I know of it) is the AT4047sv (the ones I have). It’s the SAME model that AC/DC used live recently (probably, the new live show incoming was recorded with AT4047sv – I think so actually) so… at that price range, you can’t go wrong since it’s the SAME microphone AC/DC used too. It’s a clone of a Neumann U47 FET, which is a tubeless version of the Neumann U47 I have (older).

            • avatar
              Posted at 10:11h, 05 May

              Alright, will keep that in mind, thanks. Fil, other question: today The Vega from Rebecca came in. Did you get yours too and can you telle me from the manual what’s the “Acc” input for? Looks like a external power connector to me.

              • avatar
                Posted at 10:25h, 05 May

                Didn’t get mine yet bro’. The ACC input is for an external battery pack OR power supply. However, it must comply to the internal capabilities of the unit, meaning that, it hardly will be “stronger” than the output provided by the batteries alone, unless this has been designed into the unit.
                Did you get the older diversity system yet? Impressions?

                • avatar
                  Posted at 10:40h, 05 May

                  Yes, got all the Vegas I had buy now. All 3 are working, but as you assumed, it lacks the +20db boost. Sound is like “Yeah, thats the right basis” but you won’t get further from there. The older one has the same tone like the one from Rebecca. To sum it up: the battery driven Vega devices won’t make it.

                  • avatar
                    Posted at 10:43h, 05 May

                    Scheisser comes to mind.

                    • avatar
                      Posted at 11:10h, 05 May

                      Yes, thats what thought too this morning after trying Rebeccas Vega: “Scheisse!” 🙂
                      Well, aside from not having “the” tone, they are working and in good condition. Probably I’ll sell 2 and keep one for myself. Or I’ll keep them all and watch out for your model with a frequency that matches one of my transmitters.

                    • avatar
                      Posted at 05:42h, 06 May

                      Where are you guys getting a secret stash of Vegas??? I’m so anxious to get one but all I can find are the receivers. 🙁

                    • avatar
                      Posted at 08:33h, 06 May

                      Via Google, I found mine on several “old stuff for sales” pages from production companies.

                      However, I only got battery driven Vegas, these are missing the very important “+20 db” boost switch. They have a nice tone and I like them, but you can’t do the things Fil does with his Vega, so you won’t get that BiB tone with them.

    • avatar
      Andrea Sg
      Posted at 08:19h, 05 May

      both of them are good quality mic.. the price is the same 550 600 usd new or maybe more but used around 400 usd you can find one.. here get a look to the info

      Neumann TLM102
      Acoustical operating principle Pressure gradient transducer
      Directional pattern Cardioid
      Frequency range 20 Hz … 20 kHz
      Sensitivity at 1 kHz into 1 kohm 11 mV/Pa
      Rated impedance 50 ohms
      Rated load impedance 1 kohms
      Equivalent noise level, CCIR1) 21 dB
      Equivalent noise level, A-weighted1) 12 dB-A
      Signal-to-noise ratio, CCIR1) (rel. 94 dB SPL) 73 dB
      Signal-to-noise ratio, A-weighted1) (rel. 94 dB SPL) 82 dB
      Maximum SPL for THD 0.5%2) 144 dB
      Maximum output voltage 13 dBu
      Supply voltage (P48, IEC 61938) 48 V ± 4 V
      Current consumption (P48, IEC 61938) 3.5 mA
      Matching connector XLR3F
      Weight approx. 260 g
      Diameter 52 mm
      Length 116 mm

      Audio-Technica AT4047
      ELEMENT Externally-polarized (DC bias) condenser
      POLAR PATTERN Cardioid
      FREQUENCY RESPONSE 20-18,000 Hz
      LOW FREQUENCY ROLL-OFF 80 Hz, 12 dB/octave
      OPEN CIRCUIT SENSITIVITY -35 dB (17.7 mV) dB re 1V at 1 Pa
      IMPEDANCE 250 ohms
      MAXIMUM INPUT SOUND LEVEL 149 dB SPL, 1 kHz at 1% T.H.D.;
      159 dB SPL, with 10 dB pad (nominal)
      NOISE 9 dB SPL
      DYNAMIC RANGE (typical) 140 dB, 1 kHz at Max SPL
      SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO 85 dB, 1 kHz at 1 Pa
      SWITCHES Flat, roll-off;
      10 dB pad (nominal)
      WEIGHT 14.5 oz (410 g)
      DIMENSIONS 6.69″ (170.0 mm) long,
      2.10″ (53.4 mm) maximum body diameter
      OUTPUT CONNECTOR Integral 3-pin XLRM-type
      ACCESSORIES FURNISHED AT8449/SV shock mount for 5/8″-27 threaded stands; microphone dust cover; protective carrying case

      i prefer tha last one 😉

      i’ve got a similar issue, i ‘have to buy a cabinet but what :/
      1960AX , 1960AHW , or 1960A
      are better g12h-30 or g12m greenback or what else

      • avatar
        Posted at 08:36h, 05 May

        That’s a question for George 🙂 I would go for a non-slanted cabinet with G12M. But let’s see what George says 🙂

        • avatar
          Andrea Sg
          Posted at 08:47h, 05 May

          ahah yes it was for George, but other opinions are accepted 😉
          me too ,i’d like to get a non-slanted anyway..
          but i have to decide what the hell i gonna put in it

        • avatar
          Posted at 09:27h, 05 May

          Well, you guys know that I use both. Also AC/DC used both. The difference is in the bass response. Non slanted ones have more bass. But this doesn’t mean that the slanted ones don’t have a huge bass kick! Right now, I am ONLY using the slanted one from 1969 with pre-rolas. I also bought another set of G12Ms from 1969, speakers only. Likely, those will go into the non slanted 1973 checkered non slanted cabinet that right now has G12H30s. So that, I will have pre-rolas in both slanted and non slanted and Basket wave/checkerboard grill cloths. My favorite ones are G12Ms prerolas. In general, I like better G12Ms. So to say that, a slanted one is also a great choice!

          • avatar
            Andrea Sg
            Posted at 11:29h, 05 May

            Cool ,so the difference concern the bass response..
            But pre-rolas what’s mean?

        • avatar
          Posted at 23:48h, 05 May

          1960AX : vintage look, chinese speakers
          1960: OUT of the equation
          1960AHW: British made replica of g12h30 444 cone code.. nice
          OLD 1935 or 1982 models: blackback g12h30 even nicer
          OLD 1960 1974-1980 : blackback g12m25 even nicer
          VERY OLD 1968-1973 models: LOL

          anyway AHW or BHW are good substitutes for the old stuff but I think that foe less money You can find a bargain from web (bay, etc etc.)

          • avatar
            Andrea Sg
            Posted at 10:21h, 06 May

            thank you sgace!
            the 1960ax got the greenback g12m25?
            and chinese speaker sound different then the uk’s?
            very old … sounds like LOL yea

  • avatar
    Posted at 06:57h, 05 May

    Nice guidlines, thanks 🙂

  • avatar
    Andrea Sg
    Posted at 03:23h, 05 May

    wohh in english it’s very hard understand all the words
    damn it!
    maybe i have to read it 30 time 🙂

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