Some really great tips in here, really interesting an insightful. Now I’m struggling to think of my own tip, but I want to add something as it’s the nature of this post, hmmm
Possibly a bit of an obvious one, but for amateur/rubbish piano players (like myself) who record piano in their compositions and simply quantize or just draw the notes in, try instead to slow the tempo LOADS and play the parts in, then speed it back up and they will sound more realistic. After this you can then add notes in on top of the simple chords that you couldn’t play, such as those past the octave mark, to make it sound like you can play complex beautiful chords. You can also stretch the notes out if there’s big gaps between each chord.
Hope that’s of help to someone
This one is pretty standard and should be apparent to everyone but always make sure you tweak your latency setting when tracking vs mixing. You obviously want to set your latency as low as you can stand when tracking and fairly high when mixing. Otherwise, your audio can get out-of-sync ever so slightly; you might not even notice it when it happens but someone will!
If you have a guitar part and you need to give it a really nice vintage and warm sound, all you need is compressor and a good parametric EQ that is capable of creating really deep and sharp peaks and dips. All of those fancy and expensive amp simulators do is exactly that, they compress and equalize the sound.
First set the compressor curve so it acts as a expander in the mid levels and as compressor in the very high levels. Use spline curves only. No analog guitar amp has harsh, angular compression curve. Set the attack time so it does not kill the picking transients completely and set the release time so there isn’t any level pumping going on.
Next in the chain comes the parametric EQ. Reduce everything below 70 Hz and everything above 5 KHz for a really vintage, bluesy sound or everything above 7 KHz for a more modern “metal” type of guitar sounds. Play with the mid range by putting peaks and dips of various sharpness ( “Q”) and frequency until you have the sound you want.