I was taught these EQ “rules of thumb” when I first started out as a trainee, to help learn the art of mixing – each EQ band influences different qualities of a mix or instrument, and I thought you might find it useful if I shared them.
Later in the post I’ve also embedded another great video by Joe Gilder. Like the one in my using compression post recently, it gives an excellent introduction to the different EQ settings and parameters, plus some great real-world examples of using EQ in Pro Tools, although the ideas are applicable to any DAW.
Before we get to the tweaks, I want to stress that these are just ideas, guidelines and starting points. Always remember the golden rule of EQ:
Balance is everything
You can’t just add a load of 100Hz and expect your bass to sound rich – the key is to get each area balanced with every other, so that all the instruments complement each other, and don’t fight. This may even mean cutting out some frequencies to stop them clashing with other instruments – you can probably lose everything below 1kHz on a hi-hat mic, for example.
Balancing the mids – roughly 200 Hz to 2 kHz – is particularly important, since the 2K area is the most sensitive region of the ear, and getting the mid-range right is essential for things to sound warm, natural and real.