Does an effect added to one instrument effect other instruments in a mix if each instrument is on its own track?

For example: We apply/add reverb to an electric guitar on its track, will then the dry piano, bass, vocals and drums sound dry or reverbed?

4 Answers 4


It depends whether the mix keeps each track/instrument separate. If it does, then obviously any effect will affect only the track it's put on. If a sub mix has already happened, then all instruments on that submixed track will be affected by any effect.

If you mean there's other instruments on a track, but the guitar has some reverb prior to being injected into the mix, then only the guitar will sound with reverb.


I am assuming from the way your question is worded ("add" reverb vs. "apply" reverb) that you are asking about adding an effect to one instrument in a recording of multiple instruments during post production mixing or post recording editing.

The simple answer is that whatever instruments or vocals or sounds are recorded on to a particular track in your recording device or software, will be affected by any effects you apply to that track.

So if you record dry guitar and dry keyboard on the same track, you cannot apply reverb to the guitar only.

But if you record the guitar on its own track (as I would recommend), then you can apply any type or amount of reverb or other effect to that guitar without having any affect on the other instruments recorded on separate tracks.

One of the advantages of recording each instrument or voice on a separate track is so you can apply and adjust effects, panning, volume and other attributes to each instrument individually during post production or post recording mixing/editing, to get the exact overall mix and sound you want.

If you need or want to record multiple instruments on the same track (say guitar, keyboard and vocals) - you will need to do some premixing prior to recording and apply any desired effects to the guitar (and adjust the intensity of the effects to your liking) before recording the guitar on the same track with other instruments.

Hope that answers the question you were asking. If asking about something different, please clarify in comments.

  • Hopefully, you got me right! I meant having all the instruments on individual tracks. Its just that a friend of mine says that if you add an effect to one track the whole mix is effected. Feb 17, 2017 at 5:04
  • @SovereignSun I suppose it's possible that with a particular mixer that could be the case but that would be a compromise in the design of the mixer. In most cases with most mixers you can adjust the parameters and effects on each track individually with without affecting the other tracks. Feb 25, 2017 at 18:15

It depends. One could add separate instances of the same effect separately to several tracks, or one could add one instance of one effect to some or all of the tracks.

So you can have a separate reverb for each instrument, or some instruments could have reverb, or all the drums could go through one reverb and everything else could go through another reverb, or the whole mix could go through one reverb, or some guitars could go through a special reverb and then go into the whole mix which goes through another reverb.

There are so many ways to add effects to a mix it's a bit overwhelming.


Adding an effect to one track only works on one instrument only if it is recorded in isolation. This is easy to do with electronic or electric instruments (recorded directly from the signal instead of running through amplifier and microphone) or with multitrack recording with one instrument per take. If you are recording a session with multiple microphones, there will be bleedover from every sounding instrument into every microphoned track.

This bleedover will be subject to the same effects, of course, as the "proper" signal of the track.

That aside, will there be no other cross-effect? Only if all of the subsequent processing is linear, meaning that when mixing tracks into busses and busses into master, neither bus nor master will have any nonlinear effect applied.

Linear effects are equalization (no cross-effect) and most reverbs(!). Non-linear effects are signal compression and limiting and distortion and a number of others. Strictly speaking this includes "normalization" when exporting to a sound file: if one effect makes instrument A produce larger peaks, instrument B will get scaled down along with instrument A in order to fit into the target format.

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