In this video I will demonstrate some of my techniques that I use to drastically clean up a mix and allow room for other instruments to fit within their respective frequency spaces. More specifically, I will be using a technique called "Subtractive EQ'ing" with Hi-pass and Low-pass filters. For this example you can use any DAW and your favorite multiband EQ, or any EQ with a low/hi-pass filter option.
Additionally, I will be referencing this helpful interactive instrument frequency chart to help us quickly cut away unused frequencies. Be sure to use this technique in your next mix.
Interactive Chart (Hover your mouse over the instruments)
What I typically like to do in a mix is remove the frequencies that the instrument is incapable of producing. For instance, an electric guitar often doesn't produce much musical information below 80hz, therefore we can often safely remove it through equalization to help clean up the mix by allowing other instruments to breathe in that frequency range. While this technique is generally something I use in my mixes, it isn't a recording rule of thumb. In fact, as always, you should experiment within your own context of the music you're working with. Do what sounds best to you. Remember to always trust your ears and your environment!
There are a few of these instrument frequency charts floating around on the internet and I've grabbed one of my favorite ones for you to download and reference while you work on your own mixes. Thanks to Sound On Sound for putting this incredible resource together.
As you can see from the chart below, each instrument has their own "space" in the frequency range of what we (humans) are capable of hearing. The trick is to fit these instruments into your mix like a puzzle and allow each instrument to sonically compliment each other.