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Hi everybody! Etherealurtz here, amateur music maker.

I have been making amateur rock tracks via FL Studio for a long time now, with an awesome combination of Shreddage X for Rhythm Guitar, Evolution Electric Guitar Strawberry for Lead Guitar, Scarbee Jay Bass for Bass and Addictive Drums for Drums.

However, up to now I still have one barrier that prevents me from crossing the bridge from amateur to being on the way to professional.

See, I can imagine the sounds well, like for example I listen to a simple rock track with basic muted guitar for the verses along with a bass line.

So I go put these tracks in FL Studio and individually, they sound fine - I begin to picture the whole track coming together nicely.

However, once I do, it comes out horribly! I can either not hear the bass at all or hear it muddled and overwhelmed once rhythm guitars come. And the lead lacks presence!

I've been messing around with EQ but since I don't really know how to effectively use Parametric EQ 2 it just ends up a garbled, mixing nightmare. And I lose the motivation to continue.

I've googled and googled but up to now I haven't been able to find an effective tutorial for mixing rock tracks, specifically via FL Studio.

As such, can anybody help me out? Maybe a step by step tutorial on how I should approach mixing rock tracks? For the record, like I said, I can compose rock tracks well in my mind but do horribly when actually mixing T_T Help!

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I don't know of any mixing tutorials for rock I'm afraid, BUT, I'd say the best thing you could do is post up one of your tracks for people to listen to. If its original, whack it on the originals workshop forum let people listen. The problems that you're experiencing could well be caused things that you hadn't thought were problems.

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Hi everybody! Etherealurtz here, amateur music maker.

I have been making amateur rock tracks via FL Studio for a long time now, with an awesome combination of Shreddage X for Rhythm Guitar, Evolution Electric Guitar Strawberry for Lead Guitar, Scarbee Jay Bass for Bass and Addictive Drums for Drums.

However, up to now I still have one barrier that prevents me from crossing the bridge from amateur to being on the way to professional.

See, I can imagine the sounds well, like for example I listen to a simple rock track with basic muted guitar for the verses along with a bass line.

So I go put these tracks in FL Studio and individually, they sound fine - I begin to picture the whole track coming together nicely.

However, once I do, it comes out horribly! I can either not hear the bass at all or hear it muddled and overwhelmed once rhythm guitars come. And the lead lacks presence!

I've been messing around with EQ but since I don't really know how to effectively use Parametric EQ 2 it just ends up a garbled, mixing nightmare. And I lose the motivation to continue.

I've googled and googled but up to now I haven't been able to find an effective tutorial for mixing rock tracks, specifically via FL Studio.

As such, can anybody help me out? Maybe a step by step tutorial on how I should approach mixing rock tracks? For the record, like I said, I can compose rock tracks well in my mind but do horribly when actually mixing T_T Help!

Well in that case I will post some partially completed work once I'm done. Till then, are there no, well, basic, general starter tips for a rock composition? Particular genre in mind is the general pop rock sound, like Green Day, My Chemical Romance or Simple Plan.

First off, rock and metal kinds of music heavily rely on live performances. In fact, I would say that it is probably the most important element of the genre. You are using VST plugins which will take a considerable amount of effort to make them sound real. They will probably get you 80% of the way there at the absolute best.

I'm far from an expert with mixing, but when your bass guitar is overwhelmed by the rhythm, that's almost always because your rhythm guitars are too loud in the same bass frequencies. I always find this to be a real bitch when the song has low-tuned guitars. Basically, find where the bass guitar and rhythms are peaking, and cut some of the overlapping frequencies in the guitar.

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Yeah ACO has it right about the mixing - you've got tracks in the same frequency range and that's causing problems. Your admission of not using EQ makes this a safe assumption without hearing any of your tracks.

Read up on the basic mixing principles that every genre and style needs. You know you can't use effects as drastically in rock/metal as you could in fully electronic styles, but the most important tool is (aside from your ears) probably the eq, closely followed by the compressor and then the reverb. Learn those three (yes, the compressor is complicated, but immensely useful).

When it comes to EQ, pick two instruments (eg kick and bass) and mix them until they sound good. Then bring in a third instrument (eg snare), mix that in, then a fourth, mix, fifth, mix, etc.. When you need to, decide that a set frequency range belongs primarily to instrument x and reduce that range in all the other instruments' eq.

it also helps to compare your tracks to well-mixed reference tracks. Is your kick louder than theirs? Turn it down. Is theirs more clicky or more bassy than yours? Turn those frequencies up (add a clicky or bassy drum sample to the kick you already have, if necessary). Your bass too bassy? Turn down its lows. Your guitars too center-y? Pan them further. Your X too Y? Adjust accordingly. ;)

I have some more thoughts on mixing in my mixing guide in my sig.

And yes, fake guitars will probably sound fakey no matter what, even if they're technically good. It's all about the performance, or the illusion of performance.

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Do you use compressor? That tool is one of the most helpful plug-ins existing. I almost always use compressor in some way, and I almost never go without having EQ on every track. I mean, I have learned how to EQ my stuff fairly well, though hardly do I ever mix rock stuff. The closest I have to a song I recorded and mixed that is rock is this original: http://soundcloud.com/gwilliamson/dreamer

But Rozovian and ACO are correct on the EQ assumption. You can't have too many tracks with the same frequency range. Too many of tracks having the same frequency ranges in the EQ will just keep anything from popping out. I mean, how easy is it going to be to find a leaf on a tree you're looking for when they all look the same? Dumb example, but you get what I mean.

Edited by Garrett Williamson
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The thing I always recommend and I always do first is to start with volume and panning. These are your primary tools in starting a mix, and they help you get the entire image of your mix down in your head before you start polishing your sounds.

Another very important thing I go on about and do in my mixes is making sure that the mix going into the master bus is never peaking. If your mix is breaking 0dB at the master fader then you're losing very valuable headroom that would usually go to your bass frequencies that really let the kick and bass guitar play well together.

Here are some samples of what I mean. (you may have to turn up your volume to hear the first two samples well, turn back down for the third since it's loud)

Sample 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/32558357/t2_ocrver_UNMIXED.mp3

This first sample is the clip completely unmixed. everything is centered with no volume control.

Sample 2:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/32558357/t2_ocrver_VOLUME_PAN_ONLY.mp3

This second sample is the same clip but mixed using only volume and panning. No EQ, compression, reverb or any other effects added.

Notice how everything already fits together at least a little bit. And also notice how it is not clipping. I made sure to leave headroom on the master bus so it doesn't clip and I don't need a limiter on it (and no need to move the master fader, either, it always stays at 0dB).

Sample 3:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/32558357/t2_ocrver_MIXED.mp3

This third sample is the same clip but mixed further with EQ, compression, delays, phasers etc etc. At this point any EQ I use is to bring up or hide certain characteristics of the sounds, not so much to "slot" them together, that's what the volume and panning stage was for. Compression is used to add more energy to the drums and even out some of the peaks in the bass (actually I compress my bass so much that it's practically a square wave). This song is not done, I have a lot more layering to add to it as you can hear, but I think it's enough to show you what I mean.

Also keep in mind that knowing how to get the proper guitar tone, choosing the right drum sounds, playing your bass correctly, and choosing the right keyboard patches are all critical to getting a song that sounds together. So before you start mixing make sure that the song is there, then you can bring all the elements even closer together by bringing out the best of each individually.

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What he said. xD By the way, SnappleMan, that song sounds very Sonic-y. ^-^

He is very correct, though. I always start with volume and panning. Since stereo obviously is a thing and we're not in 1942 where the new stereo thing was "Hi-Fi" or whatever (stereo probably didn't even exist then... I'm getting off-topic), putting specific things in one ear and other things in the other ear (sometimes not even completely; sometimes I put it +32 or -18 in one ear rather than +64 or whatever). Volume also helps. Not enough kick? Turn it up (that's a little logical lol).

But obviously, as we've all said so far, volume and panning isn't going to do it. It's a great starting point and should be the base of the mix, but that isn't going to always help the kick (for example) pop out, obviously. Which is when EQ and Compressor always come in handy for me. Compressor always helps stuff pop out and it'll bring out sounds that aren't easily heard when the track is raw. EQ is the same way, as it brings out frequencies that probably need to be heard to bring out sounds in the certain track.

Does FL Studio, by chance, have preset EQ adjustments? Like, for example, a preset that says "Electric Bass Boost" or "Acoustic Guitar Brighten" or something? In Logic, there are presets, and lots of the time, I use them and then tweak them and change them to sound the way I want it to sound.

Another thing. What I actually do most of the time is also EQ the master track, when I'm done mixing the individual tracks. Sometimes it helps because it will pop out or smooth out the sound of something that I honestly don't think I want to lower that certain frequency of (I worded that horribly haha). I know many people who don't do this because they will take it to a mastering engineer and he'll take care of that. Sometimes they just don't feel it's needed, period. But I don't ever take my stuff to a mastering engineer (mainly because I don't have the money) and I don't master stuff myself, so I just EQ the master track.

One other thing I do to the master track which I believe always should be used (though with my latest original record, I didn't use it because I had no clue it was useful when I was working on that album haha... honestly I'm still learning a little bit of mixing myself) is that I put a Limiter on the master track. It makes the whole track louder without causing the volume to go over-the-top, which would result in distortion and many sounds not being able to be heard (which no one likes hearing). Though, when I started using the Limiter, I had no clue what I was doing, and some of my first stuff didn't sound great. You just have to go into what I call "what-does-this-button-do" mode and start messing with stuff and, after a few failures (which is totally ok), find the sound that you'd been looking for. Limiting tracks is never the same. Sometimes you'll need the nob turned up more on one thing than another. One other important thing. The Limiter should always be the first thing you do when you start mixing. It's hard to work with the Limiter when you've already mixed everything else, because then you'll probably end up having to go back and tweak some stuff because the Limiter made it sound different. Putting the Limiter in first thing will help you because then you can base the rest of the mix off of what the Limiter's doing. You can obviously tweak the Limiter along the way when mixing everything else, but the Limiter should be the first thing done (other than the volume and panning, of course).

But yeah, just work with it. Find out how to use it and what sounds best for your work. I've obviously said to much (me and my A.D.D... lol), so I'll shut up now.

Edited by Garrett Williamson
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The thing I always recommend and I always do first is to start with volume and panning. These are your primary tools in starting a mix, and they help you get the entire image of your mix down in your head before you start polishing your sounds.

Another very important thing I go on about and do in my mixes is making sure that the mix going into the master bus is never peaking. If your mix is breaking 0dB at the master fader then you're losing very valuable headroom that would usually go to your bass frequencies that really let the kick and bass guitar play well together.

Here are some samples of what I mean. (you may have to turn up your volume to hear the first two samples well, turn back down for the third since it's loud)

Sample 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/32558357/t2_ocrver_UNMIXED.mp3

This first sample is the clip completely unmixed. everything is centered with no volume control.

Sample 2:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/32558357/t2_ocrver_VOLUME_PAN_ONLY.mp3

This second sample is the same clip but mixed using only volume and panning. No EQ, compression, reverb or any other effects added.

Notice how everything already fits together at least a little bit. And also notice how it is not clipping. I made sure to leave headroom on the master bus so it doesn't clip and I don't need a limiter on it (and no need to move the master fader, either, it always stays at 0dB).

Sample 3:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/32558357/t2_ocrver_MIXED.mp3

This third sample is the same clip but mixed further with EQ, compression, delays, phasers etc etc. At this point any EQ I use is to bring up or hide certain characteristics of the sounds, not so much to "slot" them together, that's what the volume and panning stage was for. Compression is used to add more energy to the drums and even out some of the peaks in the bass (actually I compress my bass so much that it's practically a square wave). This song is not done, I have a lot more layering to add to it as you can hear, but I think it's enough to show you what I mean.

Also keep in mind that knowing how to get the proper guitar tone, choosing the right drum sounds, playing your bass correctly, and choosing the right keyboard patches are all critical to getting a song that sounds together. So before you start mixing make sure that the song is there, then you can bring all the elements even closer together by bringing out the best of each individually.

I have nothing to really contribute to this thread anymore except to say that song is badass.

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Oh, here's something I was working on for everybody's reference:

An Instrumental Rock Track.

http://www.mediafire.com/?783t20xdaadeid8 - The original track. Everything just slapped together. No volume, panning, EQ or whatever.

http://www.mediafire.com/?0eutr4w41q0ptas - The modified track. Here are some of the modifications. The rhythms are untouched.

Bass:

Modified_Bass_Settings.jpg

Drums:

Modified_Drum_Settings.jpg

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Ok, the mixed one actually didn't sound bad. I'm thinking maybe you should create a more stereo sound for the guitar. I don't know how much you know about doing that, so I'll go ahead and explain what I'm talking about.

With that guitar riff, I definitely would've done some stereo recording. I would've recorded the guitar for the left ear, and then I would've doubled it and recorded it again for the other ear. It gives this really cool stereo sound.

But hey, the bass is actually not bad! I'm actually hearing it. How much compression are you using on the drums/master track. I'm most certainly hearing some compression (or the Limiter). Sounds slightly too high and I think it may be taking over some sounds.

And I'd say a little more kick. A little more compression and EQ to that kick and it should actually sound pretty good.

Maybe add in some other guitar riffs in the song so it isn't so bare?

Again, I'm not one that does a lot of rock-related music, but I have recorded guitar many times before.

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Oh, here's something I was working on for everybody's reference:

An Instrumental Rock Track.

http://www.mediafire.com/?783t20xdaadeid8 - The original track. Everything just slapped together. No volume, panning, EQ or whatever.

http://www.mediafire.com/?0eutr4w41q0ptas - The modified track. Here are some of the modifications. The rhythms are untouched.

Bass:

Modified_Bass_Settings.jpg

Drums:

Modified_Drum_Settings.jpg

Please don't put soundgoodizer on everything. :???:

It doesn't do what its name says.

Soundgoodizer is a lite version of Maximus, which is an extensive multiband compressor. The only thing I hear accomplished from original to modified is the second one is much more over compressed. :<

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Ok, the mixed one actually didn't sound bad. I'm thinking maybe you should create a more stereo sound for the guitar. I don't know how much you know about doing that, so I'll go ahead and explain what I'm talking about.

With that guitar riff, I definitely would've done some stereo recording. I would've recorded the guitar for the left ear, and then I would've doubled it and recorded it again for the other ear. It gives this really cool stereo sound.

Thanks! But the guitar riff is not recorded live. It happens to be the awesome Shreddage VST in conjunction with Guitar Rig 5. Completely virtual. :) But I will take that suggestion and make it double tracked like you say. ^^ Hope the volume doesn't get too loud though!

But hey, the bass is actually not bad! I'm actually hearing it.

Thanks! I guess the amateur EQing I did served me well.

How much compression are you using on the drums/master track. I'm most certainly hearing some compression (or the Limiter). Sounds slightly too high and I think it may be taking over some sounds.

The only thing I added was the "Soundgoodizer" VST of FL Studio. THat must be it, it's a quick compressor tool. As for any other compression, I'm not sure if Addictive Drums has its built in compressor or if it's the limiter.

And I'd say a little more kick. A little more compression and EQ to that kick and it should actually sound pretty good.

Yeah, sure! I'll see what I can do.

Maybe add in some other guitar riffs in the song so it isn't so bare?

I haven't added the lead yet, because I'm still having trouble making a realistic sounding lead using Evolution Electric Guitar Strawberry.

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Thanks! But the guitar riff is not recorded live. It happens to be the awesome Shreddage VST in conjunction with Guitar Rig 5. Completely virtual. :smile: But I will take that suggestion and make it double tracked like you say. ^^ Hope the volume doesn't get too loud though!

Now, hold on. It isn't as simple as just duplicating a track and putting it in the other ear, if that's what you're saying. The tracks have to have slight differences to them to give a stereo feel. If they both sounded exactly the same, it would just sound like the track was in the center.

A really cheap way to do it is just to move one of the tracks (let's just use the right ear, for example) just a few ticks either to the right or left. This will give it a stereo sound, but most certainly more of a fake stereo sound.

Do you actually play guitar at all?

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Make sure the other ear has a different amp sim preset.

The only thing I added was the "Soundgoodizer" VST of FL Studio. THat must be it, it's a quick compressor tool. As for any other compression, I'm not sure if Addictive Drums has its built in compressor or if it's the limiter.

If you want to learn to mix music better, learning your tools inside out is absolutely essential.

Yes, Addictive Drums has several compressors and they may as well all be on given how compressed your stuff sounds.

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Now, hold on. It isn't as simple as just duplicating a track and putting it in the other ear, if that's what you're saying. The tracks have to have slight differences to them to give a stereo feel. If they both sounded exactly the same, it would just sound like the track was in the center.

A really cheap way to do it is just to move one of the tracks (let's just use the right ear, for example) just a few ticks either to the right or left. This will give it a stereo sound, but most certainly more of a fake stereo sound.

Do you actually play guitar at all?

I do play real guitar with decent skill. Unfortunately, my laptop does not have a line in track, which is necessary for properly recording guitar, and the distortion pedals I use are not mine, so I can only use it from time to time. As such, for lack of a better alternative, and simply because there are some of the riffs I compose that I cannot play properly or with enough skill yet, I resort to using VST's.

And, yeah of course I didn't mean a literal copy pasting of the riff. It would be dull. I still go for that realism factor. Thanks for the tip!

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Do you have a USB cable you can just connect your guitar to your computer with? It's the simplest way to do it. If there are amp plug-ins on FL Studio, then there you go.

Nope. Also, like I said, my guitar skills are not yet sufficient to play some of the riffs in my head. But anyway, I'll deal with that another time, my focus right now is proper mixing - whether real guitar or VST, either method will pass through FL Studio and Guitar Rig 5, and so, while for realism the real guitar method is a no brainer, quality for both methods will depend on how well I mix the track. :)

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