Mr. Saaran wrote me and asked what I think about having too much reverb or delay.
Like in life, it’s all about the balance. How much effects, reverb or delay you want depends what you’re after. You want that in your face punchy sound or wish to go out of this world and all over the space with your guitar? Too much delay or reverb can be just the thing you need at times. But maybe not all the time!
And how do you get that guitar god like echo delay without getting too messy?
The right amount of delay or reverb is just a matter of your taste. But even more matter of the music and what’s happening there. When it comes to overall mix of music I really like to have in your face kind of mix where Guitar, Bass Drums really sit in the front. But for the contrast I’ll happily go overboard with reverb and delay when the right moment comes.
Try to see delay and reverb as musical instruments. These should blend with the music. What kind of tone and rhythm, length settings will work best? Delay pedals with tap tempo can help you make your delay settings match the music. If you have the tempo set to go along the song tempo, it’s most likely going to fit in there more musically.
Delay and reverb should elevate the music. What kind of visua… I mean aural scenery are you tryint to build?
When we were mixing In Motion album with my old friend Mauro, he started calling me a reverbphobic (as well as treble phobic) as most of the time the rhythm guitars and even lead guitars have only just a little bit of short ambience reverb to give the tone little air and space.
In general I’ve been using longer reverbs with clean guitars and delays with lead guitars. It usually work like this, atleas for me, but of course there are always exceptions.
On the other side, I might want to go crazy with delay or echo. If you listen closely to the mix of Epic (The Way of the Exploding Guitar). It’s generally quite punchy and dry, but there’s an incredible amount of delays and echoes with the lead guitar . Especially in the end. If you only heard the lead guitar + delays isolated you would hear it all. It blends nicely in the overall mix and turns everything more…epic.
When I was mixing the track I actually took Nova Delay and recorded a delay track while tweaking tone and feedback knobs with my fingers. Sort of treating delay like an instrument. When the time comes I can have tons of feedback and go back to more subtle when there’s no need for it. I then even hand adjusted the velocity volume curve for the delay. In my live G-System set up I have an expression pedal to adjust the feedback and mix of delay in my lead guitar preset. I can play busy leads with little echo behind there, but when I want that guitar god moment with long sustained note I can just rock the pedal and smoothly mix in more of that delay!
With mixing music, finding the right balance of dry and effect can be very tricky. It’s good to have some reference recording and to listen to your mixes with well rested ears too.
REVERB AND DELAY TIPS
Reverb and Delay are usually called as effects. For a reason. You might want to treat them as effects. What does this mean? If you have the same effect on all the time, it might become the standard for the ears and it will loose it’s effect. Usually effects are best when they are only used in right spots, giving the right song and or song part the wanted … effect! . For example Listen Zing Zing (The Way of the Exploding Guitar) part at 3:00. The suddenly chords with long reverb and echo gives the overall punchy song a needed change. The musical moment takes you to somewhere else for a while before turns back for hard rock attack! It’s like having ginger while eating sushi. Refreshing your ears!
Try playing with your guitar for a minute or five minutes with tons of delay and/or reverb. Then suddenly cut it out and continue playing totally dry. What a great dramatic shock effect! How can you use this effect in a song?
In general slower tempo music has more space and room for you to fill in with effects. Fast tracks will easily go messy with effects as they are already filled with actually played notes.
When mixing recordings, ambience reverbs are very good for giving the mix more air. But you might not need them live as the room you play probably has a natural ambience or reverb to begin with.
Also if you play in a venue that already has a lot of messy echo and space, you might want to skip the reverbs as they will only add extra mess to your tone.
Plate reverb simulations can sound very musical in many places. In old times before digital reverbs, the Plate was the only way to get reverbs. Many classic albums and recordings has plate reverbs. They can sound great and musical!
Listen closely to to some well mixed albums, how reverb / delay has been used with the guitar and other instuments. Try headphones!
Check and listen how your favourite guitarists are using these effects live.
Some guitarists to check out: Eric Johnson, Thomas Blug.