Bands with two guitarists - mixing the two guitars in a live situation

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CHrisP86CHrisP86 Frets: 249
My band is a two guitarist band.  I cover the rhythm the other guy does most of the lead playing.  We do rock covers.

For quite a while the other guitarist used a Fender combo and reasonable sized pedalboard set up.  I've always gone straight in to Marshall style amp (the amp has changed numerous times but always a higher gain Marshall style amp).

That blended quite well but he has recently changed to a Marshall JVM combo so he can cut down the size of the pedalboard.

Since doing that I think our sound hasn't been so balanced.
 
I guess the question is, any thoughts on how to better blend two quite similar gain tones?  Whilst also having both cut through enough to be heard (as we only really do pub gigs where no backline is mic'd up and the sound is usually pretty bad anyway because you are crammed in a corner somewhere)...

I'm thinking back the gain off a bit generally for both of us as a start to keep things a bit clearer.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 53968
    EQ them differently. If you’re rhythm, scoop the mids more, and get him to boost his.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 6349
    I think in general a bit less gain can make things more distinct and less mushy when 2 guitars have the same kind of sound. Backing off a bit when he takes a solo will make a little more room for him mix wise 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • Modulus_AmpsModulus_Amps Frets: 1815
    tFB Trader
    Less gain for sure, it since you can only really change what you are doing, think about Malcolm Young tone and Izzy tone, both quite bright with not much gain and bass kept tight. actually if you are playing in pub corners watching your bass content is really important.
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  • fretfinderfretfinder Frets: 3374
    You’re playing rhythm with high gain?! Is that the issue right there?
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  • CHrisP86CHrisP86 Frets: 249
    Thanks, guys.

    High gain amps but I always try to use an appropriate level of gain for the song.  From the above, I'm definitely going to try less gain as a general starting point.

    I will have a better listen to Malcolm and Izzy, but can definitely go brighter, roll back the mids and tighter on the bass.

    Although, I think what you are all trying to tell me is that I should buy more amps to try.  I think that's a good plan.  :)
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  • newi123newi123 Frets: 647
    I`ve played in two guitar bands in similar situations, sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. It takes planning and most importantly communication. I would:

    1) make sure it`s not a competition - you have tow be able to set and leave amps. Once one of you starts creeping up mid gig you`re in trouble.
    2) Less gain (as above) gives more definition. 
    3) Solos need a fairly hefty volume boost to be heard, otherwise the pub sees the fingers moving and doesn`t actually hear anything. If you`re not mic`d up and don`t have a sound man to give you a tweak for solos through the PA, the volume jump has to come from the rig. A TS in front of a marshall can be all you need for a solo in a one guitar band, but for two guitars you need to get quite alot louder!
    4) As 3. A high headroom amp is your friend in being able to get a a volume boost. For example, I had a 1958x for a while. Great with one guitar, lost with 2 as it didn`t have the headroom for a jump. I assume a JVM combo will be fine. An EQ / clean boost in the FX loop is prob the way forward for your co guitarist, if he`s not already doing that!
    5) If you listen to recordings of two guitar band live, often the rhythm sound / level under the solo is much quieter than you expect. All points above taken into account!

    Hope this helps.  
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  • ESBlondeESBlonde Frets: 3325
    On the gain issue I agree less is more. When listening to your sound(s) in isolation it seems you need more 'bite' from the distortion, but in the mix the heft of it and where that is across the spectrum is often more important. Experiment together and record it so you can listen to the real results out front rather than whats flapping your jeans on stage. You can define a sound that works together if you aim to do that.

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  • Swell of opinion that you should avoid each others frequencies by adjusting tone controls. Of course. But you could also make sure you're not playing the same notes. If you're chugging, he should try some high triads well away from you, etc. etc. 
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  • EmielEmiel Frets: 89
    edited January 2020
    newi123 said:
    I`ve played in two guitar bands in similar situations, sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. It takes planning and most importantly communication. I would:

    1) make sure it`s not a competition - you have tow be able to set and leave amps. Once one of you starts creeping up mid gig you`re in trouble.
    2) Less gain (as above) gives more definition. 
    3) Solos need a fairly hefty volume boost to be heard, otherwise the pub sees the fingers moving and doesn`t actually hear anything. If you`re not mic`d up and don`t have a sound man to give you a tweak for solos through the PA, the volume jump has to come from the rig. A TS in front of a marshall can be all you need for a solo in a one guitar band, but for two guitars you need to get quite alot louder!
    4) As 3. A high headroom amp is your friend in being able to get a a volume boost. For example, I had a 1958x for a while. Great with one guitar, lost with 2 as it didn`t have the headroom for a jump. I assume a JVM combo will be fine. An EQ / clean boost in the FX loop is prob the way forward for your co guitarist, if he`s not already doing that!
    5) If you listen to recordings of two guitar band live, often the rhythm sound / level under the solo is much quieter than you expect. All points above taken into account!

    Hope this helps.  
    Good post!

    Usually bands with two guitarists have one rhythm and one lead guitarist, with the first having a more or less flat EQ and the latter a more mid heavy EQ.

    I'm in a rockband with a second guitarist. We started with both using Marshall style amps through Greenback type speakers and ended battling each other every single time and complaining about not being able to hear yourself properly (see newi123's first point). Thankfully we were both aware and had discussions about it. What helped was to examine each player's EQ and then try to set each amp so they supplement each other. I eventually moved to a not so mid heavy amp (Hiwatt) and different speakers too.

    Look at the other players as well. If the bass (and keyboard) player have a very bass and mid heavy tone they might screw up the band mix. Having the bass player change from roundwounds to flatwounds helped immensely in our case. Even the drumkit's tuning can make a major difference. In other words, it might be a good thing to look at the whole and simply talk matters through. If everyone can hear himself/herself and each other, the band will not only sound but play better too.

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 53968
    Emiel said:

    Usually bands with two guitarists have one rhythm and one lead guitarist, with the first having a more or less flat EQ and the latter a more mid heavy EQ.

    I'm in a rockband with a second guitarist. We started with both using Marshall style amps through Greenback type speakers and ended battling each other every single time and complaining about not being able to hear yourself properly (see newi123's first point). Thankfully we were both aware and had discussions about it. What helped was to examine each player's EQ and then try to set each amp so they supplement each other. I eventually moved to a not so mid heavy amp (Hiwatt) and different speakers too.

    Look at the other players as well. If the bass (and keyboard) player have a very bass and mid heavy tone they might screw up the band mix. Having the bass player change from roundwounds to flatwounds helped immensely in our case. Even the drumkit's tuning can make a major difference. In other words, it might be a good thing to look at the whole and simply talk matters through. If everyone can hear himself/herself and each other, the band will not only sound but play better too.
    Just to reinforce what both of us have said - this. Mixing by EQ is *far* more useful and effective than mixing by level.

    If you have two sounds with the same basic tone, for the listener the louder one dominates, even if it's only louder by a few dB, and the quieter one becomes buried in the mix. So the temptation is for the quieter guitarist to turn up a bit, until they're the one that's slightly louder and then suddenly it's the other way round. This leads to a volume war.

    But if you've got two sounds with quite different EQ, both sounds are clearly audible even if they're not that closely matched for volume, so you can hear both players and neither feels that their sound is getting lost. This applies to much more than the guitars, too - eg don't use a mid-heavy bass sound with mid-heavy guitars - or for modern downtuned and scooped guitars with a huge amount of bass in the guitar sounds, *deliberately* use a mid-heavy bass sound...

    In a two-guitar band, which has been working really well, if one guitarist changes his sound to be too much like the other one, the whole mix goes to crap unless the other guitarist then changes *his* sound. The worst one - which has happened to me - is when the other guitarist likes your sound better than his so he gets the same gear as you, so you change to something different, and he then follows so you have to change again! Very frustrating.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • PeteCPeteC Frets: 262
    lots of good advice but my 2c would be bit less gain than you think you both need, and for sure make certain that pedals are not squishing the natural tome of your amps - which is such a common problem with pub bands ( me included !  ).  
    Most times I see guitarists using lots of gain from pedalboards and pedals which absolutely ruin the natural sound of the guitar and amp.      
    Other issue is that often each guitar player , being in close proximity to his own amp - sets up the amp so it sounds good on stage to him/her.  Best to angle the speaker cabs inwards somewhat so you both hear each others sound , and make sure you walk out into the audience area when sound checking to hear the real off stage sound - it will be very different to what you hear standing on stage. Set it up so the audience is hearing the best sound - not you !  

    good luck 
    Pete 


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  • JalapenoJalapeno Frets: 5407
    edited January 2020
    Swell of opinion that you should avoid each others frequencies by adjusting tone controls. Of course. But you could also make sure you're not playing the same notes. If you're chugging, he should try some high triads well away from you, etc. etc. 

    WIS'd

    This many times over - reduce the gain, and absolutely play different chords.  If you both play the same distorted full barre chords that frequency range will turn to mush.
    Imagine something sharp and witty here ......

    Feedback
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  • JMP220478JMP220478 Frets: 340
    what guitars are you using ?   If you're both twin humbuckers style then suggest a look at single coils or p90s - to add some space between your sounds .   and as others have said play different voicings and eq . 

    Another option - is clean up sound to point where your  marshall is a half decent pedal platform and will take a pedal with an alternative pronounced character voicing and not a marshall derivative ?  ie a boogie rec style or mk series or diezel ( not sure what their lineage is - is it marshalls? ) 


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  • CHrisP86CHrisP86 Frets: 249
    Some great points here. Thanks.

    He’s pretty much always played strats with single coils, I’ve always been LP style guitars with humbuckers.

    I’ve got a great idea of what to try out now and it gives me an excuse to play around with settings on the amp I wouldn’t normally use! 
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  • AndyJPAndyJP Frets: 180
    Maybe both keep the bass dialed low and watch the gain levels. Would that help? Lead player could use more mids.
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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 491
    I cant hear the other guy in my band, the drummer gets in the way, but when we started out he was using a JCM900 half stack and I was using a Code 50, so I set my tone up with a overdriven plexi sound, and I do most of the lead bits. It works fine but I do struggle to get the solos pop out, I'm still working on that, but then when he changed his amp to a small combo-for convenience, I gave him a Guvnor 2 , which he has on all the time-loud but fizzy, I had to tweak my settings.
    I try to fill out the space between the bass and his sound, so it sounds a bit boomy sometimes, but it kind of works for a OAP punk band.
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  • The last band I was in with two guitarists started off with me playing through a Orange Rockerverb and the other guy using a Marshall Valvestate head. It sounded great, we both had our own space and the sounds (me quite middy & brassy, him quite trebly) complemented each other well.

    After a couple of months he got a Peavey 6505 and although on its own his guitar sound was better than before, we were both occupying very similar sonic space & we never sounded as good again.

    I think what I'm saying is: buy an Orange! :lol: 
    Too much gain... is just about enough \m/

    I'm probably only member of this forum mentioned by name in Whiskey in the Jar

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  • dariusdarius Frets: 272
    We found by luck more than anything that his vintage JMP and my modern 5150 just sound bloody great together. And both our gain settings have been getting lower and lower. If one of us changed it would have to be gig tested first.
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  • Or you could do what Manic Street Preachers did and just turn the amp off on the boy who can't play
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  • timmypixtimmypix Frets: 825
    Or you could do what Manic Street Preachers did and just turn the amp off on the boy who can't play
    Have actually had to do this in a uni band in years past...
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  • ICBM said:
    EQ them differently. If you’re rhythm, scoop the mids more, and get him to boost his.
    This is pretty much what the 2 guitar bands I've been in do. 
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 11338
    timmypix said:
    Or you could do what Manic Street Preachers did and just turn the amp off on the boy who can't play
    Have actually had to do this in a uni band in years past...
    timmypix said:
    Or you could do what Manic Street Preachers did and just turn the amp off on the boy who can't play
    Have actually had to do this in a uni band in years past...
    I thought  I recognised your names from somewhere...hmmm...
    Inhale away Jackson Jeffrey Jackson. 
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 5722
    There's not really any rule for setting up multiple guitar bands.

    Why?

    Because it depends on the arrangements.

    If you're both playing block chords, and you both want to be distinctly heard, yeah you'll need contrasting but complimentary tones.

    What if one of you does the bottom 3 strings and the other does the top 3? Maybe the exact same rig would work for both.

    What if you play different stuff, and not at the same time (ie, one of you is playing synchopated relative to the other)? Again, maybe the same tone works for both, because you can't really be clashing if you're not playing at the same moment.

    Arrangement is king. Do what it dictates.
    Captain Horizon (my old band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • uncledickuncledick Frets: 376
    Apart from the tone discussions above I've found that knowing when to shut up is more important than knowing when to play.   And never - as in NEVER - play the same bits at the same time - it always decends into a mush. I know it's often on recordings but that will be one guitar double tracked.
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  • slackerslacker Frets: 1414
    I'm in a two guitar band and we've used various guitars into virtually the same amp and effect setup without getting in each others way.

    To summarise what a lot of people have posted-less gain and don't get in each others way.
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  • StevepageStevepage Frets: 1607
    Just turn the volume up to the point where you just over power him. Then when he says "you're louder" just say "you sure? We're sounding amazing tonight"
     

    Then just gloss over 

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  • CHrisP86CHrisP86 Frets: 249
    Had a rehearsal this evening.

    Used a lot less gain and much brighter tone.  Definitely heard myself better and think there was more balance to the sound.

    Will also work on avoiding playing the same parts.
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  • timmypixtimmypix Frets: 825
    CHrisP86 said:
    Had a rehearsal this evening.

    Used a lot less gain and much brighter tone.  Definitely heard myself better and think there was more balance to the sound.

    Will also work on avoiding playing the same parts.

    Did the same at practice on Monday with this thread in mind. Two of us playing hard rock so there are lots of simultaneous power chords but also lots of space for different parts. I'm through a Victory Sheriff and he's through a Blackstar HT40, which is big on the low mids and bass. I cut my mids on my rhythm tone, both dialled the gain back - instant improvement!
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  • less bass + gain, mid boosts for solos, get a quieter drummer  ;)
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  • newi123newi123 Frets: 647
    ............ get a quieter drummer  ;)
    Are these readily available?????? 
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