26 Creative Music Production Tips

This comes from Scott Hawksworth at RecordingExcellence.com and AudioSkills.com.


Hopefully it’s alright to paste the list into this thread :flushed:
Just seems like everyone would be more apt to read it. I would be curious to see what other’s thoughts are on this list. I had a couple “I’m not certain I’d advise that” moments, but a number of them raise some good discussion points.

  1. Want a bigger bass sound that really crushes? Try adding a TON of compression to it.
    Do it intentionally and see if you like the results!
  2. Have two instruments competing for the same frequencies? Try using p​ arallel
    equalization​ on them​.
  3. ​When boosting with EQ, don’t be afraid to bring the bandwidth to its maximum width​.
    Smaller boosts that are wide often sound better.
  4. ​Playing MIDI instruments and using quantization? Wild idea: Try to NOT apply
    quantization unless things are really off​. Real musicians don’t play perfectly all the time
    and play with emotion.
  5. When using delays, you can also add very slight reverb to the track​ to give it even more
  6. You can make a lead vocal stand out even more with some easy moves. ​Try
    duplicating a track, filtering out highs and high mids, and blend it back with the original.
  7. Have fun with panning​! If you have backing vocals, try automating them all over the
    place to keep the listener engaged.
  8. Try automating the tempo of your song to go up just a few Beats Per Minute on the
    chorus​, which can add a good bit of excitement and life (much like when musicians play in
    real life and get energized at the chorus).
  9. Some songs have a structure where volume builds until the end… try automating your
    master bus fader to go up slightly​ (say <.5db) through each section culminating with that
    last energetic chorus.
  10. Consider making use of ​Transient Designers​ in your next mix.
  11. Make your vocals warmer with a little distortion.​ Duplicate your vocal, add some
    very subtle distortion, then carefully (read: lightly) blend it back into the dry vocal. Instant
  12. ​Don’t ever substitute compression for automation on vocals. Ride the faders​!
  13. EQ and compression can be used to give you a more airy pop vocal sound​. Try adding
    a high pass filter at 110Hz, boost at ~12kHz (about 5dB), then compress aggressively at
    12db. Apply a good de-esser to deal with any sibilance.
  14. Automation can be used to draw the listener’s attention where you wantitto go.
    Use automation on the master fader to move around a dB to draw attention to specific
    sections (choruses and hooks are best here).
  15. ​Have a bridge that is missing something? Depending on your genre,try HEAVILY
    distorting the vocals on the bridge for a cool “break down” effect​. See “Stressed Out” by
    Twenty One Pilots.
  16. Widen your bass by copying it to a stereo track, add a high pass filter until ~300Hz
    and then distort it slightly.​ Send it to a wide chorus and mix it in lightly with the dry bass.
  17. Mono tracks can be widened easily!​ You can widen mono tracks by duplicating them,
    panning them hard left/right, then boosting frequencies with EQ on one track while
    simultaneously cutting at the same frequencies on the other track. Enjoy the width!
  18. Use equalization to give your track a “vintage” sound.​ Carefully and deliberately
    (read: lightly!) cut lows and highs, while boosting mids can give any track a more “vintage”
  19. Struggling with panning schemes? Go back to the basics with ​LCR panning​.
  20. Drums (especially programmed drums and some samples) can feel almost robotic at
    times - making use of subtle delays throughout the mix can make them more human​ (and
    that’s something you may want)!.
  21. When EQ’ing drums,tackle overheads and room mics NOT solo’d because of how
    much they can change the sound of the drums as a whole​. Also never forget to EQ both
    solo and in context as a general rule.
  22. Want to thicken your reverbed tracks? Try compressing the track after reverb has
    been applied.
  23. Having trouble getting your lead vocals to stand out at the right times? Try splitting
    your lead vocals into three tracks, with one untouched, one compressed, and the other
    brightened.​ Then use automation to move between them in your project to taste.
  24. If you want fatter guitars on your chorus,try sending the guitars to a bus and
    compressing it during the chorus​.
  25. Want a bigger snare? Send the snare to a reverb (such as hall or room), and add a gate
    to it so decay cuts off at about 4ms… then boost the mid frequencies with an EQ and mix
    it in with the dry snare.​ What do you think?
  26. Have you ever tried applying a de-esser before you reverb on something other than
    just vocals?​ Do it and see if it helps things out.

@BigAlRocks, Just know that I’m not picking on you at all for posting this. I like threads like this :wink:

The trouble that I have with lists like this is viewing it from a beginner’s perspective. Beginners want to learn all the “tricks” in a hurry and lists like these can be VERY misleading.

For example…
“want bigger bass?” for sure!
“want to build excitement?” absolutely!
“want agressive, fat guitars?” who doesn’t?
“need more air in your vocals?” duh?
“want to add width?” yes please!
“warmer vocals?” sounds like a good idea!
“add reverb to your delay?” I do it to my guitar, why not my mixes? I’m on it!

It sure doesn’t take long before their mix is complete disaster and they followed the tips to the letter! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#12 - ​Don’t ever substitute compression for automation on vocals. Ride the faders​!

I’m totally lazy/guilty of this. haha!


An old joke goes like this: What’s the maximum of patience? Cleaning rice with boxing gloves.
In Mixing terms let’s substitute cleaning rice with automating.

Here’s a personal trick that i came up on 2015 for thickening the tracks: send all melodic instruments to a bus. Slap a chorus on it. Bandpass cutting the highs and lows. Add a stereo widener. The whole riff/melody aspect of the song will benefit from the thickness. The downturn is that it can cause phase issues if not used correctly so always check phase to be safe.


It never crossed my mind that you might be picking on me. lol

I’m glad you pointed out the beginner’s perspective. Maybe your comment will help someone new to mixing keep from trying every single tip on every single mix and turn their songs into a musical jello salad.

I like this kind of l tips! But they can be also a problem for beginners if the recipe already tells you things like what frequencies to process or the threshold for a compressior… I fell for those kind of things and got really frustrated when it didn’t sound good.

Many of the are really good tricks though!


I always learn something from lists like this! I always disagree with at least a few things on lists like this, too. :wink: Then there is the whole issue of using subjective terms like warmth and vintage and so on, but I won’t open that can of worms. :grin: