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Chris Lord-Alge on Mixing Guitar Tracks from Different Producers

November 8, 2012
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“THERE IS NO SINGLE ‘RIGHT’ WAY to record great guitar sounds, but there are three basic schools of thought when it comes to tracking guitars,” says producer Chris Lord-Alge, who is currently mixing projects for Green Day, Aero- smith, Muse, Matchbox Twenty, and Three Days Grace. “Here are three different producers I work with that rep- resent each school.”

HOWARD BENSON
Selected Credits: Candlebox, Nickelback, Staind, Smashing Pumpkins, Rise Against “Howard works with a Neve console, usually Shure SM57 dynamic and Royer R-121 ribbon microphones, and great mic placement—with virtually no EQ or compression. That’s a great way to get pure guitar sounds, and it leaves me a lot of room to move when I mix. When I dig in to add top or midrange or whatever, the sounds remain clear. Also, Howard has the best heads and cabs, and an arsenal of vintage Les Pauls, Strats, and other guitars. A player may have ‘their’ rig and their sound—and they might start with that—but, most of the time, they eventually wind up using Howard’s stuff. You could say, ‘Doesn’t that make it generic if he’s doing that with everybody?’ But each player is using a unique combination of gear, and that makes all the records sound different.”

ROB CAVALLO
Selected Credits: Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Shinedown, Halestorm “Rob’s mentality is, ‘Get the band, get their rig, and then craft the tone to the song.’ That’s a great production style. So when the band’s playing, he gets the guitar sound bright enough, clear enough, and ready to go. I may add a few more dB of air on top just to make the guitar tracks work with the drum sound I’ve created, but the guitar tones you hear are what you get. I just bring the faders up. The only downside is that when the tones are that bright, it’s hard to make them thicker again. You have to be careful about how far you go.”

DON GILMORE
Selected Credits: Linkin Park, Bullet For My Valentine, Three Days Grace “This is another example of just moving the faders up. In his case, however, the entire rig is documented with all the sounds, EQ, and compression. It’s like The Edge—all pedals in, here we go! Don makes the guitarist get the best out of his rig, and his recording technique is a complete personality catcher. This works well, because, as the guitar tracks are represented with all the player’s sounds locked in, the band knows what it’s going to get when the project is mixed.”

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