Guitar mixing and fullness

Not quite sure if this belongs here or in recording techniques, but any who. How many tracks does it really take to get a true fullness of the guitar parts? I've been messing around a lot and am finding I need 4 tracks to get the fullness that I'm looking for. Comparing them to most professionally done songs. These are unmastered parts of course, only eq'd with no compression.

Is this the normal amount to get that "Big" hard rock sound or am I overdubbing wayyy to much.

I'm only messing with recording guitar right now, would having four tracks for just say rhythm, conflict any of the other tracks; drums, lead guitar, and bass down the road?

I'm recording the tracks mono, and have two panned 70% left and right respectively and then the other two panned 45% left and right.

Recording these all separate by the way, not just copying and pasting.


Freon Productions
When I tend to record rhythm guitar (Electric through an amp and distorted) I ussually just use two tracks and pan then at about 70%. I find when I use more than two tracks (typically, but it does vary on case by case basis) that I lose alot of the rhythm and musicallity and tend to then only hear the distorted tone. However, this may be the "Crunch" that you are looking for, in which case I would say go for it. It really all does depend on your ear and what you like.

I like to really support the guitars low-end with a strong punchy base. This also helps leave me not needing a large amount of guitar tracks. Alot of it aslo may be the amp, guitar, mic and so on that you are using. Alot of times, the "crunch" tends to be a full bassy feel. If your amps are EQ'd to much in the high range, you will lose that and end up needed to layer a large amount together to get the lower end satisfactory. Moving the axis of the mic will also help negate or improve treble/bass pickup depending on how you move it.

One last technique that I have used is what I said originally with two guitars panned (slightly more extreme pans this time however), but then also having another centered in the mix. Just make sure the centered guitar does not get to far forward in the mix, you will want it behind the panned guitars somewhat.


New member
For heavy rock/metal rhythm guitars I tend to use 4 tracks, 2 layers (using 2 different amps) panned left, 2 layers (using the same combination of amps again for balance) panned right. They won't all be panned to the same percentage though. Generally I don't hard pan anything. One of my amps has a darker sound with more low I tend to find myself not panning it as far out, maybe at about 45-50% or so, and brighter sounding amp tends to get panned at around 70-85%, depending on what work sounds best. Sometimes, on top of these 4 rhythm guitars there might be another 4 tracks (often just 2) of 2 part harmonies. Another track or 2 for lead. I've had tunes with 8 tracks of rhythm guitar. That's not something I would do without a good reason though.

Maybe this is too much detail....

But yeah, basically, using 4 tracks of guitar is a pretty common technique for heavy rock type stuff, so it's definitely not too much, but you need to make sure you're playing is tight enough not to make a mess. And using different amps will help with the mixing. However, it does depend on the music. There are plenty of tunes where I would just use 2 guitar tracks. Some where I'd just have 1.
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Cosmic Cowboy
It really is a song-by-song thing.

What do you mean exactly by "true fullness"?
I've heard a single guitar track sound very full (maybe even fuller than 15 layered guitar tracks)...but then there's times when you have multiple (different) guitar parts (not layered) and that's a different kind of fullness.

I don't ever "layer" (pan) guitars one on top of the other...but I will at times record a couple of electric rhythm guitars and/or also a couple of acoustic guitars...split/pan to taste. I try to use different guitars and different amps/tons...that way if they do stack up against/next to each other, they don't fight as much. Most times I try not to do more than a couple of rhythm guitar tracks, as I like to leave room for other instruments too.
For's always just one guitar.

SouthSIDE Glen
I've been messing around a lot and am finding I need 4 tracks to get the fullness that I'm looking for.
There's no one answer to your question, a large part of the reason being that the single key phrase in your description, far more important than anything else, is "I'm looking for,"

If you're looking for the kind of wall of distortion that four tracks of Pauls and Mesas will give you, than it probably takes four tracks to do it.

Does one necessarily *need* four tracks to a big headbanger's sound? No, it's not always necessary. It depends on so many factors, though that one cannot say that it will always necessarily need this or that.

If it takes you four tracks, it takes you four tracks. If not, it doesn't. Don't worry about it.



Freon Productions
If your using 4 tracks but are having issues keeping them "distinct" or from sounding to cluttered. Another option is to record twice, but double mic your amp. different mics will give you differant tone and "flavor". This would be more of a work-around to help you get a cleaner more full sound.
thanks for the input guys, together as a whole it sound great to me using 4 tracks. I'm just very very new to tracking and mixing and didn't know if this was a very common practice and didn't want to clutter my mix if there was some way around doing 4 tracks and getting the same effect. I'm recording to a metronome so I do have them very tight.

I only have one amp, so I've just been adjusting my tone on my guitar to get a slightly different sound.

Captain Ego

New member
I'm just a young buck at this stuff but I have been gradually improving my sound as I slug my way through making my first CD. It's not metal, but heavy rock I guess. When I started I was just using 1 guitar, then I started splitting the signal through 2 different tones, then 4. I had the problem with lack of clarity in distortion parts too and I found that doubling the distorted part, 1 slightly left, 1 slightly right, gave it thickness, and having a third track of it just pure clean, but very low volume and drop my low shelf EQ, centered, gave it that clarity back. I dunno man, works for me (so far, but next week I might try something else, so far this is the sound I have liked best)


I started splitting the signal through 2 different tones, then 4. I had the problem with lack of clarity in distortion parts too and I found that doubling the distorted part, 1 slightly left, 1 slightly right,)

When you say "splitting the signal" and "doubling", are you talking about playing the part again, or copying???

Captain Ego

New member
I ran the guitar through 4 different lines (2 amps, 2 amp simulators) and blended them. I started getting really creative mixing tones from one source, so creative actually that I was getting carried away and wasting more time goofing around with all the possibilities and less working on the recording, so I cut back a bit and decided to track twice for thickness instead. The third clean track is for clarity, but the two main distorted tracks are just the same part played twice now. Experiment experiment. I miss the naive days of thinking it would just sound great if I miced up the amp as is, but the more I have learned, the more that just doesn't cut it for me any more. This is all over just the last few months since I started reading up on here. (My first thread on this site was 'how do I set up a room with piles of laundry' or something like that and that wasn't so long ago).