If you’re having trouble getting your high-end under control and your guitars sitting nicely in your mix without dulling them by pulling off air. A De-esser might be the tool you want! This goes for clean as well as distorted (high-gain) guitars.
I am not saying that this works all the time but most of the time the upper mids and the higher parts of the frequency spectrum are where the ”tone” of the guitar is. You want it but dialing the EQ might kill your ears. When I get that problem when mixing I tend to use a de-esser on the guitars.
What is a De-esser?
Well. A De-Esser is basically a compressor, mainly designed to use on vocals to get rid of the sharp esses and other high-frequency noises. Even though it was designed to be used on vocals, that is not the only ”instrument” in a mix were getting you high-end under control in your mix is important. What a De-Esser does, is to remove, or side-chain compress a particular EQ band. Personally I like to use a split-band De-Esser. Mainly because it splits the signal upon the band where I want to make the signal ”duck”. A non-split-band De-Esser ducks the whole signal when the given frequencies appear. This can have the effect of a pumping sensation on, especially guitars.
Have a listen below to see one way to utilize a de-esser on clean guitars. This is an excerpt from No Sweater’s song ”Choppy” that I mixed in 2019. If you want to hear the full song you can check them out on Spotify by clicking here.
Below is an image of my De-Esser settings used on these guitar tracks. Not all De-Essers look or work the same so you might have to do some tweaking and use your ears to get the desired result. For you guys who use the Eiosis De-Esser and want my preset file for this track please sign up to my e-mail list using the form below and I will gladly give it to you.
As you can see there are sections where the De-Esser digs in quite a lot. A note on this is that I use the De-Esser post-EQ. The guitars were a bit squeaky as they were before my processing and after I put the EQ and other stuff on there I found that I needed to dial the squeaky bits back a bit.
That’s it on this article for now. Bear in mind that this ”trick” isn’t always going to work the way you want. Sometimes you might have to go about things a bit different to get the result you want. Try stuff out. Go crazy. The worst thing that can happen is that you take it out and try something different. To quote one of my all-time favorite mixers, Chris Lord Alge. ”No one is going to die”.
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