Put guitar volume up without making track/master signal clip

Hi there, another “Mixing Newbie” question I guess.

When I connect my guitar to Ardour (maybe adding some effects using Guitarix first) I get the problem of hearing the guitar signal at a very low volume, while the track meter is already almost in the yellow zone. Of course, if I start turning up the volume, the signal just clips at some point… Making me hear that awful, distort sound I definitely don’t want.
I’ve addressed the issue adding Steve Harrissimple amplifier in my track, just after the “naked” signal. This way I’m able to get volume up avoinding clipping in my instrument signal.
Thing is, I often get clipping in the master. Since - obviously - the signal arrives amplified at the master level…
Also I wonder if this is the correct way to deal with these kind problems. As a real noob of mixing, I feel I’m missing a “simple” and well known way to handle this stuff… Is that right? Maybe it has something to do with monitoring management?

Thank you all in advance

Hello, lowering the gain on the other tracks is not an option?

What audio interface are you using ? How do you det the levela of the guitar input for maximum gain before clipping ?

Is there a mic / line / instrument switch on the input of the audio device ? Or are you using the onboard PC audio ?

Hi there! Actually I’m still experimenting without other tracks, so basically there’s just the guitar track in my session

Hi! this is my M-AUDIO M-TRACK PLUS II Audio interface. It has a LCD meter on the front side. I’m setting the knob as loud as possible, but so that the meter remains in its “green side”, just to avoid having an input signal which is too loud and would get me clip indeed.
There is a line/instrument switch and it’s set to instrument

You should make sure your master out level is correct firstly. If the signal is in the yellow but doesn’t sound loud, your audio output level is almost certainly too low.

This may be as simple as turning up your sound system volume.

How are you listening to the output? What is your setup? Speakers connected to your audio interface?

What OS and audio system are you using? If it’s ALSA, are you sure the device output is fully up in alsamixer?

After that, there’s a bunch of techniques to increase the audibility of something like a guitar sound, depending on context: for instance solo guitar recording versus in a band mix or against a backing track.

Some of these techniques include normalisation, compression and equalisation (EQ).

But which to use and when is not something that can be covered usefully in an answer on a forum like this.

This sort of audio engineering and mixing is the sort of thing you need to study and understand if you are looking at band mixes, for instance. People spend years learning this stuff. There’s no quick fix.

But if you are looking at just recording some solo guitar for your own purposes, you can get away with some basic knowledge.

The main thing is to understand your audio setup, including the inputs, recording levels and “gain staging” plus the audio routing with a DAW like Ardour, and how it connects to your audio interface outputs, how to set the output volume levels, etc.



On my interface, if I select the wrong input in ardour, i get a very low level signal from the input that is being used. There is some kind of crosstalk that happens in the hardware, and it sounds ditorted at low levels.

Is Ardour using the correct input for the track?

Are you using ALSA, Jack, or Pipewire?

I’m using JACK and I think I’m using the correct input as I connected the input in my interface to Ardour’s track using JACK graph in QJackCTL

Ardour can manage its own connections. Therre is no need to manually connect with QJackCTL. They can all be changed within ardour, and the graph will change.

I would suggest trying ALSA and see what happens. Let Ardour manage the connections. Unless you need Jack for interconnections with other software.

I assume you are using a mono channel. The inputs can be changed at the top of the mixer channel for the track. Remeber that the In button should be engaged as well.

So, at some point in your track you do have signal at good level. Especially since you don’t have other tracks that mix into your master, I do not believe Ardour would change anything, your master would be exactly your audio track.

Do you have any other plugins in your processor box? You mentioned guitarix. Many plugins, even equalizers, can also change the gain of the sound. In that case, they may provide input gain (trimming) and output gain as well exactly for this purpose. You can trim the input so that the output can stay at controlled levels.