Home » Music » Your Ultimate Guide To Quad-Tracking Guitars (Vs. Double Tracking)

Your Ultimate Guide To Quad-Tracking Guitars (Vs. Double Tracking)

Performer Life is supported by its readers. If you buy something with our links, we may earn a commission.

In recording guitars, different approaches are employed by professional players and recording technicians. However, all of these techniques are employed to achieve a better guitar performance, be it on stage or in the studio. 

One of these techniques employed by both recording engineers and guitar players is known as Quad Tracking. This article will discuss in-depth everything you need to know about quad tracking. 

It does not matter if you are a professional player who has been using this technique or a total beginner player who has never heard of it; this article will tell you everything you need to know about quad tracking.

What Is Quad Tracking? 

Quad tracking is a guitar recording technique in which you layer four identical guitar takes (you are playing the exact same thing) in order to increase the wall of sound.

This technique is particularly useful in genres in which the guitar player doesn’t need to do particularly articulated riffs, like nu-metal or metalcore, and in which the impact is the most important aspect.

In genres like nu-metal and metalcore, the intensity of the play is the essential factor of the music. This is why quad-tracking works just fine in styles like this. Also, the guitar player is not required to perform very articulated chords or passages.

This method is not recommended for some styles of play, such as styles with passages that are rather quick and overly embellished. The outcome will obviously not be accurate. This technique might not work well in jazz or blues unless such a guitarist is really, really talented.

In order to achieve the desired effect, you will need to record the guitar parts in four different takes. It is very important to approach it this way. Otherwise, just taking one single take and copying it four times would only result in a mere volume increase. This way, we would lose the layering effect that creates the wall of sound.

When Is Quad Tracking Necessary?

The primary goal of this is to thicken the wall of sound and add more depth, fullness and overall weight to the recorded guitars. This also helps a great deal if you want to give your layered vocals more weight or even a hook riff greater power. 

The more notes you include within a section, the thicker your sound will become in the final mix. The main disadvantage of quad-tracking guitars is that you have to be a very solid and proficient guitar player to do it.

Otherwise, you will have to spend a lot of time editing your guitars. Because, when you record, there will always be a small amount of imperfection, which [in normal circumstances] gives the tracks a human feel. 

But when you add more guitars to the mix, that imperfection becomes more noticeable. If there is a particularly difficult or quick rhythmic passage, these problems tend to pile up and become much more obvious when you keep listening. 

On that note, quad-tracking can either ruin or make your track-depending on how proficient a guitar player you are. But the emotional and sonic effect that quad-tracking gives to a track always makes it worth the try. 

Quad tracking vs. Double Tracking vs. Single Tracking; What are the differences?

Single tracking 

Single tracking is very simple to understand. It is basically recording just once. However, it is important to know that pointing two microphones at one guitar cabinet does not make it double tracking.

That is still very much single tracking. Single tracking is just what it is, which is recording/playing just once. Also, duplicating one guitar take to have two identical takes does not also make it double tracking. 

Double Tracking

Double tracking simply means recording the same guitar part twice. Depending on your mixing approach, you might choose to pan each guitar take to opposite sides. 

The guitarist plays a section of the song perfectly, then repeats it as closely as possible on a second track. This creates a wide stereo spread based on the unique nuances in timing and dynamics of each guitar performance.

Even though the two takes are not exactly the same, those tiny variations between the two recordings will plump up our sound. Second, the sound’s timbre or quality will probably be a little different as well, adding to the depths of the sound. 

Quad tracking 

Although we already discussed quad tracking, let us look at some layering techniques. After recording the four tracks, what comes next will be panning. You can choose to pan two takes hard-left and another two takes hard-right (L 100%, R 100%). 

Two guitar takes at 75% left and right is the most typical configurations for panning quad-recorded guitars. This solves the issue of too many harmonics competing for the same place in the stereo field and gives users a broader audio field. 

Of course, people may also hardpan each track individually. The more sounds people layer, the more likely it is that the transients will be lost, reducing the purity and clarity of the sound. 

When selecting where to quad or even double-track anything, use this guideline as a guide. The sound will be a little bit fuller with quad tracking, although it will be a little bit less clear. Users must choose the acoustic scenario in which they will use each technique.

Quad Tracking In Metal Music

Quad-tracking is often just utilized in metal just for single-note bottom tones. Also, higher versions were employed for added sparkle, etc. 

Quad tracking is typically employed to make everything broader and deeper, but with only two or three recordings, it pulls everything a little bit back. You can modify the sound to make it extremely tight, but often two or three tracks are sufficient.

Is Quad-Tracking The Solution To My Poor Guitar Tone?

If you want your guitars to sound bigger, heavier, thicker, clearer, wider, and all of those things, quad tracking does not have anything to do with it at all. In fact, quad tracking done incorrectly can end up making your guitars sound smaller, less clear, and just worse. 

However, this is not to say that quad tracking has now become bad; there are excellent producers, guitar players, and recording engineers who can use this to achieve amazing results. 

The excellent-sounding metalcore albums that were released in the middle of the 2000s, 15 years ago, are a good example of this, but they also demonstrate that quad tracking would not fix tone problems. 

It takes practice and developing techniques to have a decent tone on the guitar. A badly performed guitar solo will not be improved by quad-tracking. Perhaps it would potentially become worse.

Can You Use Quad Tracking in Other Genres Apart From Metal Music?

Considering how quad-tracking is being done, it might be almost impossible to achieve this effect in some other styles like pop, jazz, blues, etc. But, experimentation is always the key in art. There are no hard-and-fast rules. 

The technique involves taking four separate recordings of the rhythm component, panning left and right, and recording two takes, typically 100% & 80% left and 100% & 80% right on each side. 

The majority of contemporary metal recordings are quad-tracked. The guitarists usually quickly adjust these four components until they fit together tightly enough. 

For quad tracking in metal music, the recording method is absolutely excellent. This recording technique has contributed a great deal to the sound of contemporary metal music. You cannot achieve the same sonic effects with any other method.


Quad tracking is an awesome technique–but it should be approached with great caution. It is not and will never be the solution to poor tone and poor playing technique. However, it will always remain a good way to improve your sound. 

Quad tracking, also, is synonymous with metal. But this doesn’t mean it should end with metal. Experimentation oftentimes births great results. Feel free to experiment with these unique in  other instruments.