In a previous thread titled "Recording Tips from Steve Vai Himself....Read On."
Steve's recording technique of slightly detuning a doubling guitar to create a chorusing effect is discussed...
Vai insists that double tracking is one of the best ways to make a guitar sound good. Of course, you have to make sure the two overdubbed tracks are tight. However, there will always be slight differences, and this is where the magic happens. Those slight differences add considerable dimensionality to the tone. You can even detune the second guitar slightly to produce a chorused effect, or slow down/speed up the tape for the second guitar if your using analog. Both work just fine.
Just make sure things don't get sloppy!"
If anyone is familiar with this recording technique could you please answer a few questions:
1. Does Steve use this technique for leads and melodies, rhythm guitars, clean guitars, all or some of the above?
2. Is this technique used among multiple tracks of guitar or usually only as a double?
3. How would one pan this detuned guitar? Close to center, separated widely?
Well, using a detuner is somewhat rare on doubled guitars, and is usually done as a "special effect" more than as a main sound. I'd get more comfortable with doubling in general before you play around with that.
1.) Almost everyone double tracks (or quad-tracks) rhythm guitars, especially
distorted rhythm guitars. Clean is a little iffier - you can do it, but if you're not 100% perfect in your doubling you tend to get a pronounced "chorused" sound, much more than you do with distorted rhythm guitars. I'm more likely to record complimentary clean guitars and pan those L and R (left and right) than to exactly double a performance, because I prefer how it sounds. Solos? This is done much more rarely, though some guys (Randy Rhoads) do multitrack their leads.
2.) Depends. Again, focusing mostly on distorted rhythm guitars... Either two tracks, one hard left and one hard right, or four tracks, one pair hard L and R and another maybe 80% L and R, are the most common, though some guys will do a doubled set L and R with a third track panned down the center and mixed back quite a bit. I've done this occasionally using my "lead" guitar tone for riffing sections where there's no lead guitar to keep those sections from sounding like something's missing sometimes.
3.) Don't worry about detuning for now. This really isn't done that frequently, and it's not really a "signature" sound of Vai's.