The Grammy award-winning engineer/producer unlocks the secrets to capturing acoustic and electric guitar sound that sits well in the mix
As a mix engineer, Dylan “3D” Dresdow has a list of credits to match the golden ears he brings to the mixing console. Artists he’s worked with include Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Usher, Black Eyed Peas, Nas, Talib Kweli, Britney Spears, Ice Cube, Redman, The Wu Tang Clan, Christina Aguilera, The Game, Ricky Martin, Rihanna and many more.
Musician’s Friend caught Dylan on camera talking about his approach to capturing acoustic and electric guitar. Helping out on acoustic guitar is George Pajon Jr., who’s worked with the Black Eyed Peas, No Doubt, and Wyclef Jean.
Dresdow dishes on mic placement and EQing the guitar to give the instrument the right “depth of field” in the mix.
The first step, according to Dresdow, is to do some critical listening to the instrument’s output itself as well as how it it interacts with the environment in the live room. To do this, he gets up close and personal with the guitar’s projection, covering one ear to hear the sound coming off the guitar’s top using his other ear. Moving around, he determines the optimal mic placement.
Moving to the control room, Dylan talks about the critical role his A Designs Hammer EQ plays in his approach. He describes how he uses this tube/hybrid 3-band equalizer as an audio magnifying glass that lets him pinpoint the critical frequencies that help him establish audio space for each mix element, whether it’s in the foreground or background. He uses the Hammer extensively in dialing in background vocals and says, “It’s difficult to make it sound bad.”
On electric guitars he rolls off both the top and bottom end. “There’s nothing really below, say 50 hertz, that I want on a guitar personally” he observes.”There isn’t any information in a heavily distorted guitar down there that I need for my tracks. It leaves more space for the bass and the kick drum for you to play around with.”
Dresdow uses the analogy of video depth of field to describe how he approaches creating the right degree of separation in the mix. He likens the EQing process to moving the camera to place each element of the mix in the right position so each registers clearly. in the finished recording.