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2 guitars going direct to PA


loydall
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Hi - we're trying to set up having both guitars in our band go straight to the PA system (well, via helix amp/cab modelling of course) but our first attempt wasn't great - the guitars sounded ok on their own but in a full song with vocals also going through the pa and bass and drums doing their thing as well, the mix just sounded muddy and sort of boxy. I'd always thought that giving the guitars a little push in the mid-range was good thing to help them cut through the mix but I think the PA we use (which has high, mid and low controls per channel) has quite a high frequency mid-range which didn't sound pleasant at all so I actually dialled it back slightly and that did improve the boxy-ness of the sound a touch.

 

But - it still didn't sound great - it was like the guitars weren't defined from each other enough - they blended into one muddy mess of a sound.

 

Any tips for running 2 or more guitars through modelled amps/cabs and on into the PA without it getting muddy?

 

Cheers.

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I think you will need to tweak the EQ using Helix, not just the PA. You could try the Helix Global EQ for this during sound check (it could be a different Global EQ setting for different venues) or you could use EQ and Cab/IR blocks in the guitar channels during rehearsals. The important thing is to do this with all band members present (or recorded as backing tracks) and contributing their parts to the overall sound. You can't do it with the guitars on their own.

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The part of the process you can't account for in doing it the way you're describing is that both guitars are going into the mixing board on a single channel.  That means both guitars will have to be gain staged on one mixer channel together and managed via a single fader rather than individually as would normally be the case, and it's highly unlikely you'll get each guitar signal correctly gain staged on a single output from the Helix.  I suppose if you separated each guitar onto their own individual signal chain and routed one signal chain to the mixer via XLR and the other via 1/4" you might be able to pull it off.  I've never tried it that way, but theoretically it makes sense.

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4 minutes ago, DunedinDragon said:

The part of the process you can't account for in doing it the way you're describing is that both guitars are going into the mixing board on a single channel.  That means both guitars will have to be gain staged on one mixer channel together and managed via a single fader rather than individually as would normally be the case, and it's highly unlikely you'll get each guitar signal correctly gain staged on a single output from the Helix.  I suppose if you separated each guitar onto their own individual signal chain and routed one signal chain to the mixer via XLR and the other via 1/4" you might be able to pull it off.  I've never tried it that way, but theoretically it makes sense.

 

Sorry - forgot to mention/didn't make it clear - we're both going through our own modelling into separate mixer channels. Our guitars don't share any of each other's signal path.

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Are both guitarists playing similar sounding guitars with lots of OD/Reverb/Delays/Mods?

For instance, 2 overdriven FX drenched LPs both playing power chords through Marshall half stacks (even though virtual) against a heavy handed drummer on a stadium kit makes it difficult to define a frequency range for each instrument. Throw in a bass player who's too loud and doesn't have any definition above 80hz, you've got a perfect recipe for a mud pie.

That's a worst case scenario of course, but things to think about.

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7 hours ago, loydall said:

 

Sorry - forgot to mention/didn't make it clear - we're both going through our own modelling into separate mixer channels. Our guitars don't share any of each other's signal path.

 

Sorry I misunderstood.  But that also makes me curious why it's such an issue as we also have two guitars going direct to the PA from modelers so it's hard to imagine why it's such a problem for you.  As long as you both have decent tones set up the rest comes down to differences in technique, and to some degree some difference in tone. But tone and EQ can't completely fix the problem as it generally requires differences in technique and approach.  In our case the rhythm player is basically doing fundamental strumming with very few open chords, whereas as the lead player  I provide the texture, and variety of techniques to help fill the song.  We may be playing the same basic chords, but I'll tend to use different chord variations along with techniques like palm muting or picking techniques and inter-phrasing fills to help distinguish between what the two guitars are adding to the mix.  The worst thing you can do is have both people trying to play the same thing.  That's when it becomes a garbled mess.

Study closely the way multiple guitar bands tend to do things like the Eagles or Allman Brothers.  If you watch the Eagles documentary Hell Freezes Over, there's even a bit of a reference to it with Joe Walsh and I think it was Bernie Leadon discussing who was going to play high and who was going to play low, referring to fretboard position.  We also tend to use different amp models and cab/ir setups as well as guitars which also helps.

How the two guitars are mixed also comes into the picture.  Generally speaking the rhythm guitar is always a bit lower in the mix than the lead guitar, but not by much.  This allows the lead guitar to help manage the dynamics of the mix by dropping back a bit during the singing and coming up for fills and accents while the rhythm stays very steady behind it.

This is a bit of a more extreme example of different techniques, but it should give you an idea from a live recording we did one day of one of our songs.
 

 

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Just resurrecting this one... Thanks for all your responses. We came to the conclusion that the PA we were playing through was completely rubbish and no amount of EQ-ing was going to fix the boxy-ness of the sound.

 

It's a really old beat-up PA that's used a in a rehearsal room so has probably been hammered by bands rehearsing for years. The mixer console itself is very basic and doesn't feature panning on a per-channel basis so is very basic.

 

I think we'll wait until we get to use a decent PA before we try going direct as, at the moment, I don't think there's much point in trying.

 

Cheers anyway.

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