Recording guitars can be an endeavor, especially because of how much gear is out there, feeding our creativity and experimental spirit as guitarists.

However, while we may have found the perfect guitar, pickup, and amp combination, there’s still additional creative exploration to be done “in-the-box.”

Here are a few processing ideas to try out on your next song using plugins!

Limit for Consistency and “In Your Face” Tones

While limiters are typically used on an entire mix to achieve a “radio ready” volume for your track, they also serve a great purpose on individual tracks.

A limiter can act as an easy way to keep the volume consistent across different parts. Whether you’re jumping around from chords to leads or simply want to stop your palm mutes from being so much louder than the rest of your riffing, a touch of limiting can provide just that.

For more extreme modern metal sounds, a limiter can also help your guitars stay up-front in a mix. Fit For An Autopsy guitarist and famed producer Will Putney has made this an essential tool in his arsenal.

Analog Modeling for Warmer Tone

If you want to shave off the harsh edges of your tone (and maybe add some deeper, warmer low end while you’re at it) using a tube or tape emulation plugin fits the bill fantastically.

A simple tape saturation plugin can help even out the EQ curve without drastically changing the overall sonic characteristics of the tone you’ve worked so hard to craft.

Got a clean or low-gain tone you want to add some flavor to? Try really cranking up the effect so it starts to add some nice distortion to the tone. It can help a lead stick out from the rhythm guitars without much work!

Multiband Compression to Tame Palm Mutes

As mentioned earlier, palm mutes tend to be much louder than their open-note counterparts. You could take the time to hand-automate all the volume jumps, or you could save time and use compression.

Rather than compressing the whole signal, you could just compress the frequency range where the palm mutes occur. The low mid area (roughly 100-300Hz) is typically where you’ll see these volume spikes occur.

Compressing this range not only takes care of the volume jump, but it can also make for an overall thicker and fatter tone thanks to the new consistency it provides to your low end.

Get Creative, There Are No Rules!

None of these popular techniques came to be without someone trying something new. Don’t be afraid to break the rules and find your own interesting processing tricks!