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Thread: Panning advice?

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    Question Panning advice?

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    So here is a question. I have: One rhythm Guitar, one Lead guitar that only plays solo like fragments here and there, one Rhodes and one Wurlitzer they never play at the same time, one lead vocal and to backgrounds that always sing short fragments just supporting the main vocal line with harmony. How would you go about the panning? I am afraid to pann the rhythm guitar that plays chords during the whole song to either side cause it could cause the mix to be slanted to one side since its the only other element really carrying the rhtyhm besides the drums. How would you approach the panning on this situation?

    Thanks for the advice!

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    I would call these arrangement decisions. It's definitely ok to have a melodic part on one side for a few bars as long as the bass part(or bottom of the keys)and the drums and usually lead/vocal are basically centered then depending on which part is the "focus" part at the time can be pushed somewhat or all the way centered then moved out when it's time for the next instrument to shine.
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    Pan the bgvox opposite each other. That's the easy one.

    I usually double the rhythm guitar and hard pan them opposite each other, but without that I'd put it pretty close to the center.

    Otherwise, I'd probably put everything pretty close to the center and only pan things subtly out if they don't have a counterpoint on the opposite side.

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    Then there is the ever hated Haas effect... Sometimes it can work when used sparingly.

    I strongly suggest that you just lightly pan and actually record a doubled track in theory.

    Post a sample or we are all just making suggestions as to which way the wind will blow...
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    An oldy track that you don't have to like but has similar elements and nice clear panning is "Rock me Gently" by Andy Kim. I'm sure there are numerous other examples because these really come down to artistic decisions. I think what many of us do is to look at the "conventional" panning done in the genre that our recording is in and start from there so as not to shock/put off the intended audience.
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    Iíd do my best to balance the instruments out without doing anything but working with the tracks you have. Sometimes Iíll see if I can pan things like theyíre on stage playing live, doesnít always work though. After that as stated above, first choice would be to record a 2nd take of the rhythm guitar. If thatís not possible, then Iíd run the rhythm guitar track through a doubler, something like waves Abbey Road Reel ADT. Set it up for a fairly wide pan. Then the rhythm guitar is wide stereo. Then you could bring one keyboard element in on each side, but closer to center. Just suggestions though, without hearing it, this could be the worst suggestion ever for that track.
    Last edited by Toastedgoat; 12-09-2018 at 00:36. Reason: Better readibility

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    You know, good a place as any to ask this question...

    Say you were tracking a trio, bass, drums, and guitar, in a scenario where you did NOT, for whatever reason, want to double track the guitar, and wanted a single guitar performance for the song. Power trio sort of thing.

    There's a lot of potential "right" ways you could go about it - off the top of my head, using a stereo delay and panning the guitar slightly one way, the echo the other... bass slightly left, guitar slightly right... or even hard L/R if you thought you could get away with it... Maybe using multiple mics on the guitar and panning THEM L and R, though you would have to be careful with phase... Center the guitar, shift the kit slightly to one side, the bass slightly to the other...

    but, to Gtobuy's comment about respecting genre conventions, what are a couple of albums that come to mind where artists HAVE been recorded this manner? The two obvious ones coming to mind are a lot of SRV, the first Van Halen album, at least some Jimi... It's one of those mixing situations where I've always kind of wondered what I would do there if I had a song that really required a single track of guitar driving the performance, but I've never really sat down and done any critical listening to see how other people have tackled this problem, and I think doing so could be interesting. I'm just wondering what else I should be listening to.
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    I'm all about symmetry, I gotta balance the sonic energy on one side with something on the other. I usually record a separate rhythm guitar part doing something different from the first rhythm guitar part. Like an acoustic on one side, an electric on the other, then the lead electric down the middle.

    Or i might use a keyboard to complement the one rhythm guitar.

    But maybe just put the rhythm guitar on one side, the lead/fill guitar on the other and not pan them too far from center. Then the lead/fill would have to be more busy than an occasional fill.

    Funny, I'm going to be facing the same decision soon with my own band. We are about ready to record a CD of 12 songs. Two guitar players, each does rhythm and lead, whenever and where ever they want. I think in this case, it will be easy because both will be playing most of the time and will balance each other out. My question will be whether to pan the solo's to the center or leave them on their respective side.

    Like I said, I'm all about symmetry.

    Another idea. Sometimes I like to use a ping pong delay on the rhythm guitar. The main signal would be centered but it does a nice delay to each side. I set the delay time to about 160-240ms, depending on tempo, and set the feedback level to one or two repeats. It makes the rhythm guitar fill out in the stereo field without getting the Haas effect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chili View Post
    I'm all about symmetry, I gotta balance the sonic energy on one side with something on the other. I usually record a separate rhythm guitar part doing something different from the first rhythm guitar part. Like an acoustic on one side, an electric on the other, then the lead electric down the middle.

    Or i might use a keyboard to complement the one rhythm guitar.

    But maybe just put the rhythm guitar on one side, the lead/fill guitar on the other and not pan them too far from center. Then the lead/fill would have to be more busy than an occasional fill.

    Funny, I'm going to be facing the same decision soon with my own band. We are about ready to record a CD of 12 songs. Two guitar players, each does rhythm and lead, whenever and where ever they want. I think in this case, it will be easy because both will be playing most of the time and will balance each other out. My question will be whether to pan the solo's to the center or leave them on their respective side.

    Like I said, I'm all about symmetry.

    Another idea. Sometimes I like to use a ping pong delay on the rhythm guitar. The main signal would be centered but it does a nice delay to each side. I set the delay time to about 160-240ms, depending on tempo, and set the feedback level to one or two repeats. It makes the rhythm guitar fill out in the stereo field without getting the Haas effect.
    I'm going to jump in here and say that symmetry can end up being a "thing" so depending on genre it can be totally unnecessary or even unwanted. As for using a single guitar I hear this kind of mix all the time. Often time a guitar is balanced with a keys part or sometimes just the verb, some delay and the hat. Modern music that doesn't have wall of guitars sound will sometimes have a pad and depending on the focus of the arrangement it can be panned opposite the guitar and either drop out or move to the center along with the guitar when the guitar is playing a lead or focus riff. I know a lot of modern tunes seem to have pretty static mixes especially guitar oriented but if you listen carefully you find that movement via panning changes and volume/compression/eq changes thruout the track are all over the map creating movement to retain interest. IOW move stuff. Side to side, front to back, up and down, always remembering what the focus you want listeners to react to and create excitement. Just off the top of my head a lot of Rage against the machine has the guitars on one side for much of the song. Frankly if you keep the drums in the center I tend to find pretty much everything else will just fit around them , or under them if the bass is the bottom.
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    One thing to consider if panning bass guitar or other instruments with low frequency content is that it can be uncomfortable in headphones and earbuds. It's very unnatural to hear low frequencies in just one ear. It helps to high pass the difference (side) channel using a mid-side processor. When working on the Pro Tools system at one studio I use the Brainworx bx_digital V2. At the other studio and at home in Vegas Pro I use a free plugin called Basslane.

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