Mixing an acoustic guitar to sound like a resonator - ideas?

Hey folks. I’m quite new at this mixing game, just learning as I go. I wondered if anyone could suggest any plug ins/mixing tricks (for Cubase Elements 9) that could make a recorded acoustic guitar part sound a bit like a resonator/dobro guitar?

Thanks, Cameron.

They are two different instruments. They are played differently. They have very different acoustical properties.

So the short answer is No.

Indeed, the short answer is no. However, it’s an interesting question. You’re really asking about sound design, which is a challenging field. Doing it well requires serious dedication and serious tools. You can reach for the low-hanging fruit, but there will be compromises – perhaps severe compromises.

The bedrock of sound design is understanding how musical instruments work, because you’re essentially designing a computer model instrument. Something almost like that happens when we process the hell out of a track. We can also warp sound by how we record it. I solved the problem of making an electric guitar sound like an acoustic guitar by combining weird processing and weird recording.

Looking at the dolbro, it seems you could stick an aluminum pie plate on an acoustic guitar and mic what happens. It’ll most likely sound like an acoustic guitar with a pie plate stuck to it instead of a dolbro :astonished:, but maybe that track could be loaded with reverb and mixed with a clean acoustic guitar track to get closer. What if you stick a fake resonator or two to you studio monitor and record what happens when you play back the track you already have. A piezo pickup might work better than a microphone for either of these. (They’re cheap too.)

Another approach would be to use a vocoder. I think there are free vocoder plugins available. (Vocoder has 2 signals: a modulator and a carrier. You hear the carrier, “played” by the modulator. A classic example might be a human voice modulating an organ carrier. Which would sound like a talking organ.) You could use the acoustic guitar track to modulate any number of synth patches that may be at your disposal.

Or you could double the guitar part on synths, and mix them in. Some metallic sounding synths, perhaps.

Any and all of these results could be sent through distortion, morphing filter, multi-delay, reverb, envelope shaper, and so on. When combining multiple layers to create the illusion of one sound, I find it helps to think about what aspect of the sound I’m trying to mimic/accomplish with each layer or layer group.

I suppose all of this comes off as crazy and desperate. HALion6 and retrologue (or their non-Steinberg equivalents) are better equipped for this kind of thing. But you have to know what you’re doing for it to be worthwhile, and that’s a tall order. (Take a look at one of Simon Stockhausen’s videos in the sound design forum, if you don’t know what I mean.) Meanwhile, you have the minimal Cubase, so you’ll have to get creative with it.

If all this experimentation and mutant sound is not your cup of tea, then your best bet is truly to get a real dolbro into the studio. But you knew that before you asked. You wanted something that only sounds “a bit like a dolbro”, so I assumed you were looking for mad science.

If I wanted a resonator and not a real one I would use this.


That isn’t recorded acoustic guitar audio to sound like a resonator. Instead trigger midi from the keyboard.

I have had excellent luck using his AGC and Strum Maker, even over the pre-sampled NI guitars because I find it much more flexible.

Other than that VST instrument that was posted above, I’m not sure if you’re going to be able to get a resonator sound even with a pie plate. The bridge of a resonator guitar actually attaches to the cone. I play resonator among many other instruments and being a long-time engineer, I can’t even fathom a way of recreating it and sounding somewhat authentic with an acoustic guitar

Hey. Thanks to everyone for the answers. Some really interesting ideas and opinions in there. It was just something I was musing about, how far I could push things in terms of getting different sound out of an already recorded acoustic guitar part. Cheers!

Download Plektron" IRCAB " VST implulse loader (free & works great) Then download the Dtar Mama bear Impulse responses.

I load the IR player in an fx channel and send to it from the guitar track. If you can’t download the Dtar IRs PM me.

Download Blues and Tricone. Of course these are national style resos , not Dobros.

Impulses: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/f2qdh9jtcl6s5cv/AABSASVTuV10VIYHQC-fbI4Va/From%20Peter?dl=0

Plektron : http://www.plektronfx.com/ircab.php


Excellent post. I’ve played with weaving strips of paper and other materials, strips of aluminum foil, and even guitar string ends through the strings of a normal steel-string acoustic guitar. That can create some interesting buzzing sounds.

I was also going to suggest the old trick of recording a track, then using a microphone to capture its playback and layering those takes. Do that several times and It builds up phase distortions and room resonances which can be interesting. There’s the plug-in that adds crackle and noise as well. The 30-band Graphic EQ has the old telephone setting. There’s so much one can do to utterly ruin a good steel-string’s sound. :slight_smile:

Obviously this is for a scratchy, muted, buzzing kind of sound, not a soulful, clean dobro sound.