Ever felt like your acoustic guitar tracks are just shy of professional?

You’ve laid down the perfect take, but something’s missing in the mix. It sounds thin or dull.

Acoustic guitars are some of the most complex instruments to mix, and beyond getting a good sound during the recording process, you need to know how to use tools like EQ, compression, and reverb to get them to sit right in the mix. 

Allow us to help! By the end of this article, you’ll know how to transform your acoustic guitar to get that sparkle and fullness you hear on the radio.

Table Of Contents:

Pre-Mix Preparation

Ensuring a well-recorded acoustic guitar track

Picture this: You’ve got your favorite pick, a cup of joe, and an acoustic guitar that could make angels weep. But if it’s recorded like someone dropped the mic in a fishbowl, you’re off to a rough start. 

The secret sauce? Mic selection and placement

Choose wisely:

  • Condenser Microphones: Great for high-end detail and clarity in professionally-treated spaces
  • Dynamic Microphones: Excellent for warmth and fullness in dynamic performances. 

Then, we have mic placement, which may seem like sorcery, but it’s pretty simple.

If I’m using a single microphone, I like to aim at the 12th fret from about six inches away to capture brightness without inviting harshness or muddiness to the party—unless that’s what you’re going for. 

Mic selection and placement

The right type of microphone is vital, too.

While large-diaphragm condensers might give you clarity and fullness, they will pick up every little sound in your recording room. If you’re working in an untreated space, this means reflections.

I recommend small-diaphragm condensers, such as the SM-81, for busy mixes, as they offer high-end detail without clogging up the lows and low mids. 

Room acoustics considerations

If walls could talk, they’d tell you all about reflections room resonances messing with your perfect take. 

Tame them by setting up shop in a quiet space cushioned with some nifty acoustic panels or DIY blanket forts (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). I promise it’ll make mixing easier.

Importing and organizing tracks in your DAW

Gone are the days of tangled tape reels—we live in the digital realm now. 

Once your acoustic guitar recordings are in your DAW, you’ll want to make sure they’re tidy, labeled, and organized. This will save you tons of time when mixing down the line.

Key Takeaway: 

Before mixing, nail your acoustic guitar recording by choosing the right mic and finding that sweet spot for placement—think clarity without harshness. Tackle room echoes with some DIY soundproofing magic. Once you’re set, import those golden tracks into your DAW and keep them as organized as a Marie Kondo closet.

Setting Levels and Panning

Adjusting Track Volume Levels

Mixing acoustic guitar is like making the perfect cup of coffee – you’ve got to get the balance just right. 

You start by setting your track levels because even a stellar performance can be overshadowed if it’s too loud or soft in the mix. Listen carefully to each portion of the mix until the track sounds balanced with all of the other instruments. 

Remember, mixing isn’t about setting volumes once and forgetting them; it’s an ongoing conversation between all elements in your track. So keep those ears perked up as other instruments join the party.

Panning for Stereo Width and Depth

Stereo panning gives life to your mix by assigning space in the stereo field for each sound, much like guests at a dinner table. Place that acoustic guitar just right – maybe slightly off-center – so it complements rather than competes with other sounds.

The goal is to create depth without losing focus. By fine-tuning your panning, you’ll ensure every note from that guitar carries its weight without stepping on any toes.

Equalization (EQ)

Understanding the frequency content of the acoustic guitar

Depending on your track, you might want your acoustic guitar to stand out or blend in. 

The way you EQ acoustic guitar has a lot to do with how it’ll sit. 

All acoustic guitars will require different EQ settings, though here are some basic things to look out for:

  • Listen Attentively: Begin with a flat or neutral EQ setting and listen carefully to the guitar track
  • Sweep for Problem Frequencies: Use a parametric EQ to sweep through the frequency spectrum and identify any problematic areas.
  • Cut Low-End: Reduce low-end frequencies (typically below 100Hz) to minimize muddiness or rumble.
  • Boost Mid-Range: Enhance the mid-range frequencies (around 500Hz to 1kHz) to bring out the guitar’s presence and warmth.
  • Add High-Frequency Brilliance: Apply a subtle boost in the high frequencies (around 5kHz to 10kHz) to add clarity and sparkle.
  • Maintain Natural Character: Avoid excessive EQ adjustments to preserve the acoustic guitar’s natural tone and character.
  • Consider Mix Context: Keep in mind how the guitar fits within the overall mix, ensuring it complements other instruments and vocals.
  • Trust Your Ears: Ultimately, rely on your ears to make informed EQ decisions, and remember that practice and experimentation are key to mastering acoustic guitar EQ.
Key Takeaway: 

Think of EQ like a painter’s palette for your acoustic guitar, where every tweak adds color to the mix. Warmth lives in the low end, mids bring out character, and treble ensures clarity. Start by cutting frequencies before boosting; tackle muddy lows with high-pass filtering and give life to dull strings with an upper-mid lift.

Acoustic Guitar Compression

The role of compression in controlling dynamics

Compression plays a significant role in controlling the dynamics of an acoustic guitar in a mix. 

Dynamics refer to the variations in volume and intensity within a musical performance, which can be quite pronounced on an acoustic guitar, given its wide dynamic range. 

When mixing, we use compression to level out peaks so that our guitar sits in the mix consistently, increase the sustain to make notes ring out more evenly and smoothly, and emphasize details to bring out subtle nuances and details in the performance. 

Choosing appropriate compression settings for acoustic guitar

Choosing the appropriate compression settings for your acoustic guitar might seem challenging, but the moment you get it right, you’ll lock it in your mix. 

I often like to start by setting the threshold to trigger compression only on the loudest peaks of the acoustic guitar performance. The ratio determines how much compression is applied, and for acoustic guitar, a moderate ratio like 4:1 is often a good starting point. 

Adjust the attack time to let the initial transients of the acoustic guitar notes through, preserving their natural punch, while the release time should match the tempo of the song to ensure smooth and musical gain reduction. 

Finally, use the makeup gain to bring the compressed acoustic guitar signal back to an appropriate level in the mix. The key is to strike a balance between controlling excessive dynamics and maintaining the instrument’s organic sound, allowing the acoustic guitar to shine through in the mix with clarity and expressiveness.

Key Takeaway: 

Compression is like your mix’s superhero, keeping the acoustic guitar leveled and well-behaved. It lets every chord pop without overshadowing others—think teaching a smooth line dance instead of squashing the party vibe.

To nail compressor settings for your acoustic guitar, aim for moderate attack times and release speeds that prevent awkward pumping but keep things spicy—like adding just enough hot sauce to a taco for flavor without scorching it.

Reverb and Delay

Is your acoustic guitar being played in a vast cathedral or a cozy club? Whatever the case, it’s all about dialing in the right reverb or delay.

Adding Depth and Space with Reverb and Delay

Adding depth and space with reverb and delay can transform the acoustic guitar’s presence in a mix. 

Reverb creates a sense of spaciousness, making the acoustic guitar sound like it’s in a room, hall, or other acoustic environment. It can also add warmth and naturalness to the sound. 

Delay, on the other hand, introduces rhythmic echoes or reflections, which can enhance the guitar’s sense of space and provide a unique texture. The key is to use these effects subtly, adjusting parameters like decay time for reverb and feedback for delay to complement the song’s mood and style. 

Tips for Selecting the Right Reverb and Delay Settings

Selecting the right reverb and delay settings for acoustic guitar can greatly enhance your mix. However, as with anything in mixing, it’s all about working with the entire song in mind, not just the individual track.

Firstly, consider the context of the song

A short, subtle reverb might be suitable for an intimate acoustic ballad, while a longer, more spacious reverb could work well for a larger arrangement. 

Similarly, adjust the decay time and pre-delay to control the reverb’s length and how it sits in the mix. 

With delay, set the feedback to determine the number of repeats, and the delay time to sync with the song’s tempo. 

I often like to experiment with different types of reverbs (e.g., hall, plate, spring) and delay styles (e.g., analog, digital) to find the one that complements the acoustic guitar’s timbre and fits the song’s vibe. 

In a country track, I might use a spring reverb with a quick decay for a bright, snappy sound reminiscent of vintage country recordings or a slapback delay with a short delay time and moderate feedback to emphasize the attack of the acoustic guitar.

On the other hand, in a dreamy indie track, I might use a shimmer reverb for an ethereal, dreamy quality with a longer decay time or a tape delay with moderate feedback and a touch of modulation for a textured, otherworldly vibe.

PRO TIP: Don’t forget to use EQ after applying reverb and delay to shape their tone and prevent muddiness. 

Key Takeaway: 

Reverb and delay add depth to your acoustic guitar, turning a simple recording into an immersive experience. Keep reverb subtle with plate or room settings for clarity, and use high-pass filtering to avoid muddiness. Sync delays to tempo for cohesion—unless you’re aiming for chaos.

Additional Processing (if necessary)

Exploring Optional Effects Like Chorus, Flanger, or Saturation

Exploring optional effects like chorus, flanger, or saturation can add intriguing layers of texture and character to your acoustic guitar sound. 

Chorus is great for a lush, doubling effect, perfect for creating rich, wide sonic landscapes, while flangers are great for that swirling, modulated tone.

Saturation is something I typically use in just about any digital recording to get harmonic warmth and subtle distortion, which can be used to enhance the guitar’s presence and make it cut through the mix. 

When considering these effects, moderation is key, as they can quickly become overwhelming (unless a full-on effected acoustic guitar is what you’re going for). Experiment with different settings and listen carefully to how each effect interacts with your acoustic guitar, always aiming to enhance the musicality of the performance and serve the song’s needs.


Automation in mixing serves up that personalized flavor, making each strum feel alive and every melody pop just at the right moments.

Refining Your Mix with Automation

Refining your mix with automation is the final touch that can make your acoustic guitar shine in the context of your song. 

Automation allows you to adjust volume, panning, and even effect parameters dynamically over time. 

For acoustic guitar, you can use automation to emphasize certain phrases or chords, create smooth transitions between sections, and ensure that the guitar complements other instruments and vocals seamlessly. 

Whether it’s a subtle volume boost during a solo, a gradual pan to create movement, or precise adjustments to the reverb or delay levels, automation adds a level of detail and nuance that can elevate your mix to a professional level.

Key Takeaway: 

Automation turns a good acoustic guitar mix into a great one by letting you conduct your track’s dynamics, like riding faders for emphasis or easing them back to blend with the band. Think conductor, but for volume, panning, and effects—fine-tuning every note’s journey.

Final Thoughts

You’ve strummed the strings, tweaked the knobs, and now your acoustic guitar sits perfectly in the mix. It’s been a journey of delicate balance—finding just the right amount of reverb to make it sing without drowning its natural charm or adjusting compression to keep its dynamics lively but controlled.

Although mixing is a technical process, it’s also an art form. Sometimes what looks good on paper doesn’t quite resonate in our ears. So if you’re sitting there second-guessing whether that last EQ move was too bold, remember: rules are more like guidelines in this sonic playground. Trust your ears; they’re wiser than you think.

If all this talk has sparked a deeper curiosity about mastering the craft, consider taking things up a notch with Mix Elite Academy. Start exploring everything from Premium Courses filled with over 320+ lessons waiting to expand your skill set even further, Top-Tier Sample & Preset packs designed for hands-on learning, Student discounts because who doesn’t love saving money on thousands of plugins? And don’t overlook access to an exclusive community where ideas flow freely among fellow students eager to learn and share.

Join today and become one of the many thousands of students working their way to become professionals in their craft! 

FAQs in Relation to How to Mix Acoustic Guitar

How should you mix an acoustic guitar?

Balance the levels, tweak EQ for clarity, compress lightly for even dynamics, and add reverb or delay to taste.

How do you mix a strummed acoustic guitar?

Cut low frequencies to reduce muddiness. Boost presence slightly. Use compression to tame peaks and bring out rhythm.

Can I plug an acoustic guitar into a mixer?

Absolutely. Either mic it up or use a direct input if your guitar has electronics built-in; both work fine.

What effects should you put on acoustic guitar?

Add reverb for depth, chorus for shimmer, and perhaps a touch of delay or saturation — but keep it subtle.