Sparse, dry mix - depth and space?

Im working on a mix that is just guitar on vocals.
The guitar has been tracked via a mic and a piezo pickup.

I want to avoid the ‘standard’ trick of doubling the guitar and panning L & R for space. I keep listening to sparse tracks by Iron and Wine, Sufjan Stevens and The Tallest Man on Earth.
Loads of their tracks dont have any guitar doubling/L-R panning and I’m wondering how do they get the space and depth they seem to have, while still remaining pretty dry sounding (at least in the case of iron and wine)?

Any suggestions? I can seem to ‘push’ the guitar back without making it sound naff or overly swamped in reverb. Sparse mixes seem trickier than dense ones right now!

never heard of those bands. name some tracks in particular

Im interested to since ive NEVER done anything remotely sparse lol…all of mine become extremely dense

Sounds pretty dry and straight down the middle to me:

This next one could be a stereo guitar but it seems to come in and out? Or have some kind of movement between speakers:

This one is fairly reverby, but not washy:

These ones sound pretty dry to me:

I think this one might be recorded in stereo/doubled?:

I have doubled guitar tracks and then delayed one of the tracks to create a widening effect. It can be tricky to dial in so it sounds good in different listening environments.

I & W “Naked as We Came”:

I think I’m hearing a stereo mic technique - very subtle right to left movement. Maybe the left mic picking up more of the low strings and the right mic picking up the highs? Could be XY in a vertical rather than horizontal plane? They are panned pretty narrow, but it’s enough to give some left to right movement as the arpeggios are played from low to high strings.

Sounds like a very tight, dry room sound on the guitar.

The depth we’re hearing is probably a combination of 2 things. The guitar mic scheme has been compressed and picked up the room ambience, pushing it further back, and the vocals have a lot of “air” - high frequency emphasis and and good amount of lows too - to bring them right forward in the mix.

TTMOE "A Lion’s Heart"
I’m betting the guitar was recorded with a single close mic, but also has distant stereo room mics on it, because when the guitarist hits the strings harder, the room mic “opens up” across the stereo spectrum - that’s the movement I hear, anyway. The vocal sounds like it has a stereo plate on it, with a good amount of pre-delay - around 100ms to keep the vocal right up front, but give some space around it.

Sufjan Stevens “Drawn from the Blood”

The guitar has a tight room verb that has no pre-delay and pretty much all early reflections, panned to the opposite side of the source guitar to give some width. The vocals probably have the same early reflections, just lower in the mix and double tracked in stereo.

SS - “No Shadow…”

This acoustic guitar sounds double-tracked to me, rather than artificially doubled. If you listen closely, at the beginning of the song, you can hear that only the left channel guitar has the fret squeaks/ neck movement artifacts left in. It sounds like they have been edited out of the guitar on the right. Later on, you hear some fret squeaks from the right guitar, but not at the same time as the left, which you would expect to hear with a doubled part.

This seems like a very clever tactic to keep an organic sensibility and a sense of realism while not allowing those artifacts to be overbearing or distracting.

Vocals are obviously doubled - tight early reflection room sounds on both to bind the mix together (or possibly jus the sound of a tight room emphasised by compression).


Cool thanks for your analysis…lots to chew over