Panning for a minimalistic song

I am recording a band currently that has very few tracks in each song. So lets take for example 1. a song with 2 vocals, cello and guitar, and 2. 1 vocal, 1 guitar, and a piano. I struggle with knowing where to place each element in the stereo field. How would you pan them?

  1. If the vocals are simultaneous, pan them left and right at about 25%. If they take turns, put them up the middle. If they do both, automate them to pan when they are together. Cello - middle. Guitar - double track, pan hard left and right.

  2. Vocal and guitar in the middle. Or double track the guitar and hard pan. Piano panned across the stereo image - left hand on the left, right hand on the right.

Add stereo processing for the elements in the middle too.

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I guess it depends on the arrangement and how sparse each instrument is. If the vocals are going at the same time, I’d probably pan them very very slightly, just to give a little separation when they are singing at the same time.

cello and guitar I’d probably pan slightly more, but still nothing crazy.

I would definitely listen to mixes you like that are similar and see how they do it. I’m sure you’ll find all sorts of ways, and none of them are wrong.

When it comes to sparse mixes, having a super wide stereo spread becomes way less important.


Well there are two things that i can try.

The only issue is that she plays fairly complex guitar parts but does not practice enough so it takes a while just to get one clean take.

OK try using the parts from one take. Steal the second verse and chorus and add them to the first verse and chorus, and vice versa etc.

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I like this idea. I’ll file it with the other tips and tricks I’ll probably never get around to doing. lol

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good idea thanks