Experimental Recording Techniques: Layer Detuned Acoustic Tracks for a Big Guitar Sound

Our Experimental Recording Series has taken us to a lot of strange and wonderful places over the past year. We've seen acoustic pianos deployed to create dreamy soundscapes and heard what a snare and tom can do when stacked together, and these are just two examples of the unique sounds you can achieve with some studio gear, a little imagination, and a total disregard for practicality and efficiency.

Today, we're back at Rax Trax Recording in Chicago with engineer Noam Wallenberg for a look at how to achieve a massive acoustic guitar sound by combining a set of detuned tracks. The concept is a variation on a technique employed by Alan Parsons with Pink Floyd and others. Parsons would record a track with a slightly lower-than-normal tape speed and then double that with a track at a slightly higher one. The two tracks would then be spread wide in the mix, creating a naturally chorused tone.

For our implementation, we're taking things a bit further with six distinct guitar tracks all playing the same part but with slightly different tunings, each getting a bit further away from the standard A440. When recombined, this array of tracks makes for a splendidly dense sound that you can hear in the video above.

For this project, Noam is using a Bill Bradley U 47 model run into a Neve 1073 and a silverface 1176. Hear it all happen above, and click the links below for more Experimental Recording Techniques.


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