Get super wide funk guitars using the Haas effect
In this post we are going to look at how to make guitars sound wide in a funk track. Wide guitars can be a great tool to make a mix sound bigger.
This is often achieved by doubling the guitar part and panning the copies extreme left and right. However, sometimes we find ourselves with a really specific guitar part that just doesn’t sound right doubled. In this situation, the alternative technique we will look at here is a great substitute.
We are going to use a Psychoacoustical phenomenon called the Haas effect. This allows us to make a single guitar part sound super wide without losing the unique sound of it being a single guitar. This is actually quite easy to achieve.
Step 1 – Mono Guitar Part Problem?
As mentioned above, often the approach to get wide guitars is to double the guitar part. The mixer then pans both takes hard left and right. A Foo Fighters song might have 3 or more doubled power chord parts panned wide across the mix.
However, we need a method when we have a single guitar part we don’t wish to double, but need to be wide. In the following example, I had a Nile Rogers style muted funk chord part I wanted to spread out across the mix (fig 1 below).
Step 2 – Enter the Haas Effect
The Haas effect (also known as the Precedence effect) is a Pyschoacoustical effect. It was described by Helmut Haas in 1949. It is the phenomenon whereby if an identical sound reaches the left and right ear with a short enough time delay (typically 10ms to 40ms) then the brain ‘fuses’ the two sounds and you hear a single sound. However the Haas effect also gives our ears the impression of the fused sound appearing to spread out, despite it being two mono sounds.
In the above example, the delay time is short enough that our brain hears the two identical sounds as one sound, but perceives that sound to be very wide. This is great, as it means we now have a super wide mono guitar sound.
To achieve the result on our guitar part, all we need to do is turn our mono guitar into two mono signals. One is left as it was, and the other delayed by 10ms to 40ms and the pair are then panned left and right.
Step 3 – How to Achieve this in Ableton
In Ableton, this effect is simple to achieve using the stock Delay plugin. I would recommend adding the Delay plugin as the final effect so you aren’t messing with the input into any amp simulators etc. Then enter the following settings (fig 3 below). Feel free to experiment with a Right delay time between 10ms and 40ms:
- Mix on 100%
- Feedback on Zero
- Left Delay 1ms
- Right Delay 12.7 ms
Note that in Ableton you can’t set a time of 0ms for the left channel. If it bothers you that the whole part is delayed 1ms (hard to hear but you might be able to feel), you can adjust the whole channel 1ms forward using the Track Delay setting in Ableton.
Step 4 – How to Achieve this in Logic
In Logic Pro X the same principles apply. However, we use the Sample Delay plugin to achieve the required delay times on the left and right channels (fig 4 below). Note that Logic Pro X Sample Delay actually allows a delay of 0ms for the left channel unlike Ableton’s Delay.
Firstly make sure you set the Sample delay to operate in Stereo when you choose the effect in the Logic Channel Strip (fig 4a left). This allows Logic to split the guitar into two mono signals it can then delay by different amounts.
Next apply the following settings to the Sample Delay plugin and you’ll hear the guitar part spread out into Stereo (fig 4b below)
This is a great tool we can use to help make guitars sound wide when we have a single mono part we want to spread out. We don’t need to stop here. This technique will work on any sound, so you should experiment with applying the technique in your productions. Remember that everything in music works in contrast and relation, so use the technique sparingly. Another example I’ve found which works great is to use the Haas effect on a layered clap sound in a dance track on the 2/4.
For more guitar mixing tips you could also check out this post on how to add consistent high end energy to your guitar parts in modern sounding electronic productions.
Have fun with the technique and let me know any questions or comments below.
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