How to Mix Acoustic Music — Part 1: Acoustic Guitar

How to Mix Acoustic Music — Part 1: Acoustic Guitar

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The first in a four-part series about mixing acoustic singer-songwriter music. In the first video, we’ll take a look at how to mix an acoustic guitar.

Song is ‘Chosen’ by Jeris Haulbrook

– Avid Pro Tools
– FabFilter Pro-Q
– Waves CLA Guitars
– Blue Cat’s PatchWork
– UAD UA 610 Tube Preamp & EQ Plug-In Collection
– UAD Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder


Hey guys, David Glenn of davidglennrecording.com and theproaudiofiles.com. Today we’re going to kick off a brand new four part series on how to mix an acoustic, singer-songwriter track.

This song as got an acoustic guitar that’s picked, an acoustic guitar that’s strummed and a lead vocal.

The song is called “Chosen”. It’s by one of my best friends, Jaris Cole. We’re in the process of recording his debut EP right now. And I kind of pulled these in from the radio version we’re working on so we can have some acoustics and a vocal.

We’re going to cover the acoustic. Video 2 I’m covering the lead vocal. Video 3, I’m showing you the EQ technique. Mid-side technique for sweetening up the acoustic. And then in the 4th video we’ll go over the stereo bus, and how I’m treating that with multiple plug-ins.

You’ll notice I’ve got the lead vocal just kind of sitting at the forefront. And then I just wanted the acoustics to support the lead vocal. To give some music, and to be foundational.

This acoustic is pulled this from a Pro Tools session for the radio version, but I’ve got multiple acoustic parts. These are all the picked parts, and we did it in sections for a reason, but those are going to an Oxford ACS pick. And that goes to my all music.

All these acoustics parts are routed through here. And the strumming part I handled differently. I treated it with different EQ and compression and that kind of stuff. So, let’s hear the picked acoustic. Let’s actually bypass everything.

We track this with a 414 on an older Martin. I can’t remember the model, but stuck that in the, in the booth and tracked it. Let’s see through the UAD Apollo, and no plug-ins to tape. So, this is dry.

It’s dry. Just the mic. Maybe 5 or 6 inches off the guitar. I like to aim for that sweet spot just above the sound hole where you don’t get so much of the boomyness. If this were an acoustic guitar it would be the section right up in here. Kind of aim the mic right there.

Maybe show you guys a picture of that, but the sound, one more time so we can A/B it.

First step was to remove some of the low mid, some of the mud, and to make sure I didn’t get any of the rumble or anything. You can see right there I’m pulling out a little bit, actually quite a bit. 9 dB at 163, 400. And what I did is I would just sweep through. If you guys aren’t familiar with the FabFilter Pro-Q EQ let me show you what this can do.

I can zone in on the frequencies that I want to remove. I’ve done that with low mids. Then let’s play quickly the Studer, love the UAD stuff. And the Studer is beautiful. We’ve got the acoustic preset. Looks like I just turned off the noise, and dialed in the input.

It’s more of a character thing. And it just feels good to run it through tape. So moving on to the Chris Lord Alge acoustic. The CLA acoustic plug-in.

This is going to be quite a bit of a volume difference here, but this brightens it up and gives it some clarity.

You can already tell it’s much clearer. I lost a little bit of the bottom end in that so I used LA-2 to kind of add some oomph back it. Let’s before and after that.I’m liking the vibe on the picked acoustic guitar. Uh, you’ll see I’ve run that through the UAD EMT plate. Just puts that in a space. Then I put the vocal in the same exact space.

It just gives it a sense of space. That’s the picked acoustic guitar. I’ll show you real quick the strummed acoustic guitar. I wanted to mix that differently.

Nice and clear. And for those of you guys using too many plug-ins let me show you a quick little tip. I’ll sometimes take the aux tracks or the tracks themselves and scoop them up like this. If you click and drag to try and limit my view of all the inserts.

We’ve got the the low mids coming down. The Studer once again with the acoustic guitar. Looks like we did not go with an LA-2.

I used the new Universal Audio 610B. Love the tone of that. In the track with the vocal I liked what that was doing. I actually added that on the back end. And then you can see similarly we’re routing this strummed acoustic to the EMT vocal plate again. Let’s here that without it.

I didn’t want to overdo the room sound on this for demo sake. Just to keep it somewhat dry, but still give it a feel and that’s video one. There’s the acoustic guitar.

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Ok I think a lot of my problems come from the fact that my dry guitar tracks never sound NEARLY as clean as these ones do. Except for mic placement (which I've already looked at) any tips??

Wonderful video! I'm loving Fabfilter. Working on an acoustic track right now… How do you deal with multiple acoustic guitars? Particularly in the stereo field? Like if I pan my lead guitar about 9-to-3 o clock (using a delay like you did), where do i pan my 2nd and 3rd, 4th guitars, etc??

what's the name of the vst at 6:37? :)?

I really liked your video.. I'm glad I came across it. If you have a few minutes, I'd love to get your thoughts on my songs/videos. I'm always trying to improve. I know how busy we all are and truly appreciate it.


Im sorry but its miked terrible. Especially the strum guitar doesnt sound good, you hear way to much bass. I would suggest to put the mic pointing at the 12th fret.?

Great stuff. Would love to see what you can do with some Slap-style acoustic guitar.?

great stuff man; sounds great and well explained too. would you say that the AKG  414 microphone is your go to mic (if you could only have one studio mic)? you probably answer this in your next video in this series. ?

Great vid man, sounds ace. im curious tho…Do you mix in headphones or do you use monitors??

Is it possible to get a great sound like you have achieved with just the 4 Main tools of mixing.. ie: EQ/Compressor/Delay/Reverb ? I'd love to see somebody work with those, no way can I afford all those plugins you used lol. ?

Thanks man!!! You're a GOLD MINE!!!?

Pretty helpful but I don't have any Waves plugins so it takes me about 9 years to do what you can do in one click?

Great video! 

What are your settings for the slap delay you use on the picked acoustic part??