Mixing Classical Guitar

Mixing is that magical process by which a sound engineer takes a raw recording and turns it into a beautifully polished work of sonic art. That process has always been a mystery to me. Sure, techniques like mechanically manipulating sound files using cut and paste, applying basic effects like fade in and fade out, and importing and exporting files to different formats are simple enough, but with a seemingly infinite number variables to tweak and tune in even the most basic recording software packages, the prospect of creating an adequate final product becomes a daunting task.

In my search for a method to edit recordings, I came across this simple tutorial for mixing classical guitar that uses Audacity. This easy, four-step method is perfect for beginners and walks you through each step in about five minutes. While I don’t understand everything about the effects used in the tutorial, it’s a great place to start. Since this method uses only a handful of them, it makes experimenting with the various parameters quite manageable if you choose to make additional adjustments.

Here’s an example of an application of this method with some before and after samples. After some basic editing and trimming, applying the 4-step process presented in the video took only a few minutes. I’m pretty happy with the results, especially considering that the original recording was made on a laptop from a Zoom session with one of my students.

(Sheet music: Romanze by J. K. Mertz; with tablature.)

Romanze by J. K. Mertz, mm.1-4
Romanze by J. K. Mertz (unedited)
Romanze by J. K. Mertz (mixed)

What methods do you use for mixing? Any tips for more advanced techniques to explore in the mixing process? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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