How to Equalize a Guitar Track

By Greg Johnson

Equalization, or adjusting the frequencies within an audio recording, is essential to professional audio quality. In guitar tracks, particularly, frequency adjustment can mean the difference between a tight, polished recording and a muddy, indistinct blend of instruments.
Acoustic, clean electric and distorted electric guitars all react differently to different changes in equalization, or EQ. However, each have similar characteristics which respond to the same frequency ranges. Use these ranges to EQ your recordings. You should also be familiar with how your EQ unit operates.

Cut off the high end and low end waste with a low-pass and high-pass EQ effect, respectively. For most guitars, this will mean cutting at around 8 kilohertz on the high end and near 70-80 hertz on the low end. These frequencies are not exact--they will change depending on the guitar tone and the nature of the song. Thus, sweep the EQ a bit to hear how each change in setting sounds.

Take a few decibels off of the low midrange area, around 300 hertz.

Remove some of the high end "fuzz" at around 6 kilohertz. This is the glassy part of a clean sound, or the squeaky, fizzy sound in distorted tones.

Adjust the midrange, 350-700 hertz, to taste. This is the part of most sounds that adjusts the character of the tone, and it also controls how well a sound mixes with other instruments in a recording. Be very free with this area; don't be afraid to make constant adjustments. In general, lowering this range will improve the blend of a guitar with a song. Conversely, adding power to the tone will increase clarity and the harmonic response.

Tip

Hertz is a measurement referring to frequency range. Decibels are measurements of volume.

Warning

As in Step 1, the frequency ranges given here are approximate and will vary depending on the needs of your song and the tone of the guitar. Don't be afraid to experiment and let your ear be the judge.

About the Author

Greg Johnson earned his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from The Ohio University. He has been a professional writer since 2008, specializing in outdoors content and instruction. Johnson's poetry has appeared in such publications as "Sphere" and "17 1/2 Magazine."