How much reverb for an acoustic vocal act?

I have tracked 4 songs for a friend who does a solo acoustic act. I’ve never really messed much with reverb so I’m asking you fine folks. What reverb settings would you use on a vocal track that is accompanied by a single acoustic guitar track? Thanks in advance.

As much or as little as needed.
What genre? Are they covering or doing original work?

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I really can’t think of an answer beyond this. Listen to songs that you think sound good and pay attention to how much reverb they use. If you are running into issues getting the reverb to fit in well, then there is a lot more room for discussion.


Classic rock covers.

I guess I could have worded my original post better. What reverb settings would be a good starting point? Is that better? I don’t mean to sound like a smart ass but I’ve never really messed with reverb enough to know where to begin.

For upbeat stuff like that, I usually start with a shorter (room) reverb or short delay, but still fairly dry. On acoustic sets like that, the vocal can be more intimate(?) than in a full band. On ballad type tunes, I might do something more like a hall, plate, etc. These are just some starting points that I tend to go with.

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maybe put a close sounding room reverb on it subtly to give it a bit of illusion of being sang in a bigger area (although it depends what the take sounds like it might have plenty of natural reverb already)
usually this stops the boxy feel and makes it sit within the track better.

then maybe add a second reverb maybe a plate style and start with it on 0 mix ratio and slowly bring it in till it sounds good with the guitar etc. just an idea and about my limit i`m affraid

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Thanks. I messed around with several of the presets in my version of Cubase and the one called “Modal Room” (with adjustments of course) seems best suited for this type of recording. I have a rough mix to send to my buddy and see what he thinks.

On a side note, some of the reverbs are extreme and really funny in this context.

Two things:

  1. These are some of the thoughts that guide/define what I’ve done on the last two recent acoustic guitar record things I’ve recorded mixed. Use them as you will.
  2. I feel like I’m bad at this stuff. My mixes/productions aren’t in the pro category.

Those things said:

I dig putting a few different reverbs on the track.

One will be short, bright-ish (for reverb - probably low passed around 4k), and wide-ish. That puts my person in a room. Turn it up until you hear it, then turn it down until you don’t obviously hear it but muting it makes the person stand too close to you. The goal is to make the artist live in a room. Vocals get one amount and the instruments probably get a little more. I’ve liked rooms/sanctuaries/cathedral sorts of sounds for this. It almost sounds like a lot of short delays with some reverb mixed in. Use the pre-delay to move the reverb back if it starts to blur the intelligibility of anything.

One will be longer and darker to help fill space. The length will be dependent on the amount of space in the rhythm tracks. I think of it as putting enough water in the sink to make the rubber ducky float. It fills the space and keeps the rubber ducky from touching the porcelain of the sink. I’ve had some success with compressing this (fast attack, medium slow release) so the louder parts of the reverb are pushed down a little to keep the reverb from becoming loud enough to be obvious. Chambers or plates are what I find myself going for on these.

The last reverb I like to use for special effect/serving the emotional content of the song. Some parts of songs have subject matter that can call for a certain sound. For example, I just did a song for a person who wrote a song about feeling abandoned and alone (not “my girl left me” alone but “what’s the purpose for life if the only people I love die” alone) - I used a long, fairly diffused reverb to highlight the loudest parts to make the person sound like they’re yelling at the top of their lungs in an empty parking garage. Or, if it’s a person who is saying some psychedelic things, maybe it’s a wide delay (or a really wide, short, early-reflection-ridden delay). Or if a person is going for vintage it’s a slapback delay (mixed a little too loud). Just a little ambience to serve the emotional content.

…and then I’ll probably have a delay or two to add some extra, non-mud-inducing ambience - probably one single repeat at 1/8th, dotted 1/8th, or 1/4 note timings.

Remember: I suck! I also don’t sleep a lot so I’ve thought and experimented a bit and found things I like. You’ve been warned!

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my question is do you want it to have a room sound, like they are in a room performing when you listen to the track, or do you want a studio sounding recording. That will kind of push you to how much reverb should be applied. but my advice is just try to make the vocal and guitar sound like its in the same space.

I know you have the xair so ill give you me favorite for that. When I’m at FOH I use 4 FX:
Rich Plate Reverb
Ambience Reverb
Room Reverb
Stereo Tap Delay

If I’m running the whole show from one console my go to FX are the
Ambience Reverb
Stereo Tap Delay

I EQ/Filter all about the same - Low filter around 200, high filter around 6-8K, and pull out a few dB around 1K.

The Ambience verb has a great thing if you don’t over do it and I guess its supposed to be a lexicon preset but I haven’t found one that really sounds like that. When I’m limited I use that on snare, toms, vocals, guitars, and other instruments. The rich plate is a dark plate that works well on vocals and when I have more slots I combine this with the Ambience verb. Then if the mix is still dry I send everything to the Room Verb. And of course I use the delay as needed on vocals, but any clean delay will work I would just keep to maybe only 1-2 repeats.

But those are the kind of reverbs I would be looking at for this kind of project.



On an acoustic performance, I would go with a global reverb instead of a vocal only. In a sense, to create a vibe. So I would use an aux track for it andd send everything in.

I’ll definitely play with presets…one will normally work better.

Then play one paramater at a time to see the influence…sometime, I even don’t bother (that probably means you should).

Then turn the aux level until you hear it too much…not excssively too much, just a tad…then remove between 6 and 10dBs (in real life, remove whatever you like).

Maybe it helps, maybe not.


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Thanks for all the ideas and advice. My buddy was happy with the sound that the “Modal Room” reverb preset created so I finished up his 4 tracks today and gave him a CD to give to bar owners to book his gigs. Technically, this was my first “real” studio job.


That brings back some memories… I used to have a mobile 4 track “studio” back when you needed to have a demo tape in order to get a bar gig… :slight_smile:
One thing that I might add to this convo:
If the main goal is to make tapes to get gigs, sometimes a little “overdone” verb and delay may make the difference. Although we might disagree as “engineers”, it seems that non-engineers might take the “more verb” recording as sounding more “polished”. Just a thought… :slight_smile:
have fun

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congrats AJ! may many more happen too.

i never figured out reverb, i just leave it dry and never finish anything usually but the reverb is a tricky tool…usually I cant even hear it except on single tracks of bootlegs etc…
sometimes when its just tsunami’d onto stuff its great…like surf rock guitar or demarco murray stuff…