EQ is the bane of all mixes but often it takes a lot of time to understand it and execute it. The best way to look at Equalization or EQ is to think of it as decluttering. You have 40 items and you need to strategically fit them all in one drawer in a way that all the useful things are easy to reach and the less useful things are still accessible.
Now I am not going to tell you exactly what frequency to boost or to shelf on specific instruments because the actual fun lies in skimming through the frequencies and finding the sweet spot. However, I will give you some idea as to how you can play around with EQ creatively.
1. Make space for everything: In a mix every instrument and every sound should have their own space. If your guitar and keyboard are both boosted around the same frequency, it will make your mix sound muddy. Try to boost and reduce frequencies in such a way that all the instruments are spread across various frequencies.
2. Cut out the lows: Shelving the low frequencies on most of the treble instruments should be number one on the list. You wouldn't usually need anything below 200 Kh on a female pop vocal. playing around the low end and figuring out how much your can reduce without making any significant difference to the sound will help you figure out how much you can cut on each instrument.
3. Take down the highs: The high end contains white noise and other airy sounds, if you feel your track is full of noises and you can't do much with it then cutting out the high until you have significantly reduced or absolutely got rid of noises should be your goal. After you have got rid of the lows and the highs, boost around the useful frequencies that you feel sound good.
4. No no to solo: Go through each track one by one in your mix and make sure you are not EQ-ing a track on "Solo". There isn't much point in mixing a track which is isolated. You wouldn't mix all the ingredients for a cake separately and then cook them separately would you?
5. Pan it: Once you have cleaned up your tracks with EQ and found the sweet spot enhance it with panning. Panning makes clearer boundaries for all instruments. Get creative with EQ and panning, double an instrument, pan it to either side and EQ both the takes differently.
6. Add FX: Add effects like reverb and delay. This is when you really get to add colour to your mix. Try to imagine the sound you are going for and make it your mission to find it.
I hope this blog was useful, don't forget to subscribe to my website for news on my music, new blog entries and more exciting news. Do ask questions and leave comments below.. happy mixing!