Tutorial: Double-Tracking Rhythm Guitars



Have you ever wondered how the professionals manage to produce such impressive rhythm guitar recordings? In this tutorial I will teach you how to record these rich, full, and professional-sounding rhythm guitars by "Double-Tracking" and creating an auditory illusion ("Haas Effect") that we, as sound engineers, can use to trick the human brain into experiencing that sought-after width and thickness.


STEP 1:


Record your riff into an audio track.
As you can see, I record in Ableton, but this can be done in any recording program.


STEP 2:


Duplicate this track. Doing so allows you to copy over any EQ or other settings you may have already applied to your rhythm guitar.

STEP 3:
 
Delete the audio on the duplicated track. Why?
Because you should never double-track and/or apply the Haas Effect with an exact copy & pasted clone of your audio.
It will sound very strange, robotic, and metallic.

STEP 4: 


Record the riff again, this time on the duplicated track.
Get it as close to the original as you possibly can.

STEP 5:


Using the pan controls, pan one track all the way to the left and the other all the way to the right, like so:



As you can now see, track 1 is panned 50L and track 2 is panned 50R (making up the whole stereo spectrum of 100):




STEP 6:
 

Apply a track delay to one of the tracks. I chose the second track, although it doesn't matter which one you choose.
I typically set a track delay of -7.00ms.
I have found that this is the sweet spot for me.
If you set it much closer to zero there will be too little delay. Conversely, set it too high and the tracks will be too much out of sync.

STEP 7:

Listen to that sound! So thick and full; so much presence.
Well done, you have successfully double-tracked and applied the Haas Effect to your rhythm guitar recording.

The effect explained:

So, how does this all work?

We have two (near) identical riff takes.
One is playing through the left ear/channel.
The other through the right ear/channel.

But... one of the tracks is delayed by a miniscule -7.00ms.

This is where the auditory illusion and brain manipulation takes place!
Because one ear hears the riff a fraction of a second after the other ear, the brain interprets it as echoing off a distant surface,
meaning that the sound must be very wide and vast. Our brain has evolved to make assumptions like this, and so this is how we hack it.
It's through this auditory illusion that we create full, professional rhythm guitars. 

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Tapping Arpeggios Lesson

I proudly present an in-depth technical guide to basic multi-string two-hand tapping arpeggios. Learn how to tap, how to cross strings and how to perform a basic 2-string, string skipped diminished arpeggio on the g and e strings. From there you are free to branch out to bigger shapes and more exciting opportunities on your own and with the help of my lick videos.

However before we proceed, make sure that you've seen my video below on string muting. Keeping your playing free of unwanted string noise is essential! 

Single String Tapping Recap


Now that your muting has been addressed, let's apply it to some single string tapping before moving on to multi-string tapping. See the tab below. We're going to do some simple back and forth legato and tapping. With your index finger on the 10th fret of the G string, make sure that the underside of the finger rests flat across the b and high e strings - muting them. Use your palm mute to keep the D, A & E strings quiet. Zero in on that G string and make it the only one ringing out. Tap with the middle finger of your picking hand to the 16th fret, tapped pull-off to the pinkie on the 13th fret, pull-off to the index finger on the 10th fret, hammer-on back to the pinkie, and then tap the 16th fret again to loop.


String Crossing Exercise: "Seesaw"


Tapping is rather straightforward on a single string. But things get tricky as soon as you attempt to cross strings i.e multi-string tapping. But never fear, I have created a basic 2 note exercise to tackle these challenging string transitions. Introducing the "Seesaw" exercise:


Start by tapping the 16th fret of the G string as before. Let it ring for a moment and then when you're ready, hammer-on to the 10th fret of the high e string with your index finger. The moment you do, unfret the tapped note on the G string. That doesn't mean pull-off. It means raise up the tapping finger so that the string separates from the fret and is silenced by the tapping finger. Your tapped finger is now safe to leave the string.

To return, simply do it in reverse. Tap back onto the 16th fret of the G string. And as soon as you do, unfret the high e string. Go back and forth between these two notes very slowly. Focus on perfect note separation. As soon as one note ends, the next one starts. And with that let's move onto multi string tapping.

2-String Diminished Tapped Arpeggio

The reason I chose this arpeggio is that the shape is nice and symmetrical and easy to remember. The fret numbers and fingers are the same so we can focus more on the technique than on the actual arpeggio shape.

Start out the same as the single string example: tap, pull-off x2, hammer-on, tap. And then execute the string cross maneuver to get you to the 10th fret on the high e string. Now at this point you will need to move up your picking hand mute/palm mute a bit so that every string except the high e is silenced by your picking hand. From here, pinkie hammer-on to the 13th fret and then tap onto the 16th fret. You may use the same tapping finger or do what I do, which is to utilise the ring finger. Now just pull-off to the 13th fret and again to the 10th.

Do the string cross maneuver once again to return to the G string. Careful of string noise here: Keep your fretting hand low and vigilant as it ducks back to the G string to end the tapped arpeggio by doing a tapped pull-off to the pinkie on the 13th fret and then pull-off to the 10th fret.

I hope this helps!
Check out my video walkthrough below:

 

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