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Recording bass guitar.

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Skub

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« on: February 16, 2019, 01:00:02 PM »
I know the bass is a very dynamic instrument and can be difficult to record well because of the different volume levels on each string. The bottom strings may sit just nice in the mix,but I find sometimes certain notes,or runs audibly disappear. This doesn't happen all the time,but often enough to have a desire for a fix.

I always try to use EQ to allow space for the bass,but even so,the uneven level crops up occasionally.

I use a compressor to help with this,but thought I'd ask what others do. Do you record with the compressor or do you add compression after the recording? 
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cowparsleyman

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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2019, 02:37:51 PM »
Whato @Skub - your right bass is a right pig to get right, very often it’s the thing that takes the most effort.

For what it’s worth my approach depends rather of what you want the bass to be....a feature, or a foundation, slap bass or plugging away thumping...

I Always apply plugins post recording.

Pickup choice and playing style makes a huge difference picking and fingering sound very different, get this right at tracking phase and you’ll save yourself a shed load of work. I often take 2 or 3 takes on different pickups.

Do you have a choice of basses?

My favourite plugins for bass are
Isol8 simple but very effective for cutting top freqs
Not too much compression
Waves renaissance bass is the last oneni use once the rone is right, this just make the bass heard on any speaker

If it’s a slap bass then a bit of soundtoys microshift
Yesterday I bought the ampeg svx amplitude plugin and that is simply brilliant and does alot of the tricky bits for you, its on offer at the moment skub.

My only tip would be don’t settle for anything other than the sound you’re after, most of it is before you press record.

Hope this helps

Rich



PaulAds

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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2019, 03:07:19 PM »
Hi Davy... I must be lucky because I never spend any time on bass tracks...i always just whack a garageband preset on once I've recorded it and that's that. I think I have a tendency to play everything at the same level...which helps loads when it comes to mixing...the downside for me is probably that I've developed such a habit of doing that, that I don't use much in the way of dynamics...but I think for bass...it's ideal.

Sorry...probably worthless opinion I typed whilst waiting for my wife to come out of the shops  :)

pompeyjazz

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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2019, 03:26:51 PM »
I generally apply a guitar rig clean bass preset after recording and then apply my favourite named Reaper compression preset - Spanky Bass  :)

Skub

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« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2019, 04:47:04 PM »
@cowparsleyman

Great insight into how you work Rich,that's what I was hoping for.  :)

I'm fortunate that I have about 8 bass guitars to choose from and I didn't have to buy any of them!  :D One of my sons plays,but he's in Oz and his stuff is here,so it would be rude not to. I have a liking for a big bottom B,which I sometimes up to a C,so I use a 6 six string Yamaha John Patitucci thingy quite a lot and sometimes a Fender Jazz.

I'm not a bass player,but I enjoy playing and I do commit the cardinal sin of using a pick,because my nails are longer on my right hand,so fingers sound like a pick anyway!

I shall check out those plugins,thanks for the heads up on those. 

@pompeyjazz

I got your PM about the spanky bass in Fake or Fortune,thanks John. I shall be experimenting with layering tracks with different EQ. Ta man.

@PaulAds

Ha! I get away with that approach a lot of the time too Paul (at least I think I do!) Sometimes we give ourselves bother by overthinking stuff! The production game is a rabbit hole of mega winding proportions!  :D
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cowparsleyman

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« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2019, 05:34:20 PM »
@skub - To continue...ISOL8 is a freebie, so that's cool. The Yamaha John Patitucci That's one hell of a bass to have your hands on...good that you boy allows your to fondle it.

It is definitely no sin to pick a bass, it really depends on the song, I'd ALWAYS use a pick where it sounds better, than fingered, once you've got the ear for how it sounds, it's an easy decision, heavy rock bassists tend to use it a lot, also things like 'The Forest' by the Cure, somethings cannot be played with a pick (most Japan,  Level42 etc.), Bernard Edwards from Chic sounded like he used a pick but he used his forefinger nail.

A common production technique for a bass gtr is to copy the track, add more bass to one track and more Highs to the other, changing the amount of compression on each, a bit like a vertical Mid/Side. Personally I don't bother with it, as it's difficult enough to get it right without that faff.

I know you know about sidchaining compression, and that can work well to retain the bass centre stage, as it were, if that is the primary feature of the song, shoving the rest of the stuff out of the way.

I use the free SCAN plugin occasionally to  I know where the clashing frequencies are, quite revealing sometimes.

As you know skub, from normal song production, the bass will sound very different on different listening devices, and many will criticise it for being too bassy and not bassy enough, but once your'e happy with it on a couple then stick with it.

Bet you miss the jams with him...as I do with my daughter.

Regards

Rich






Skub

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« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2019, 06:06:53 PM »
Yeah,I miss him for sure. We played a in working band for a number of years. Those were good times and cool memories.

The odd time,when he has time,he'll do a track for me,since he has Logic on his lap top,but mostly he's too busy,so it's down to me.

Thanks for all your input. Points to ponder,as ever.  :)
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jacksimmons

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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2019, 06:30:37 PM »
This is a fascinating thread. I will be recording live bass soon and need all the info I can get. Can I have some more on that SCAN plugin? Sounds amazing but when I google SCAN plugin nothing comes up.

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Bill Saunders

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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2019, 06:32:04 PM »
I know it’s more money, but I picked up the Waves Bass Rider plug-in when it was on sale for about 20 quid - in fact it’s $29 at the mo. It does a great job of automating the bass volume without using compression. I use it when there’s a lot going on in the mix and it really works! Just another option.

https://www.waves.com/plugins/bass-rider

cowparsleyman

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« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2019, 10:10:25 AM »
ISOL8 is here https://www.tb-software.com/TBProAudio/ISOL8.html

@Jack Simmons / @Skub

A big Ooops it's called SPAN and it's by Voxengo, and its here...(funny I do use it from time to time, but I don't pay much attention to what it's called, rather what it does, it's one great feature is that you can save the curve so you can compare it when you are EQ'ing something to match it,

https://www.pluginboutique.com/product/2-Effects/25-Spectral-Analysis/695-Voxengo-SPAN

Blue cat do one as well.

Another approach would be to drag in a section of an mp3 file, say, another one bites the dust, put SPAN on it, look at the curve, and try and emulate that with your bass track, some DAW's have a FFT EQ where you can actually draw the same curve to match the one in SPAN, but I've never found that works very well on my ears, due to the sensitivity of the drawing.

A couple more things about tracking bass...On my little Roland bass combo (bass 100 cube), there are pretty good amp simulations built in, but works best if the direct line level out XLR is used rather than mic'ing it up. However I have had some success with mic'ing up that combo, trying both dymanic and condensor mic's centre and offset, and for me the offset ,small, cheap condenser diaphragm (AKG C1000S) works well.

What this setup struggles with is the deep bass, that's where Waves renaissance bass comes in.

The last thing is the difference bewteen active and passive basses, I usually use the active controls at normal, and do all the EQ'ing elsewhere.

As I said previously, get the sound as close as you can to what you want before you record, otherwise you'll have a hell of a job later on, although The Amplitude SVX can cover a multitude of sins....

Hope this helps, and best of luck.
 
Rich

Boydie

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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2019, 11:18:05 AM »
Just wanted to add that I completely agree with everything posted so far

@Skub - My own personal approach is...

I record via DI using Amplitube Ampeg SVX  - From memory the "Pop Fingered" preset is my usual go to

I never record using any "committed" fx as I like to keep all of the dynamics and tone for shaping later

The next decision is whether the bass is a "feature" or "foundation" within the track (or often it will be a slight mix of the 2 during the track as I am a real sucker for the bass providing a solid foundation but then have some nice little "runs" that I like to catch the ear)

Quote
The bottom strings may sit just nice in the mix,but I find sometimes certain notes,or runs audibly disappear. This doesn't happen all the time,but often enough to have a desire for a fix.

The key to achieving this for me is automation rather than compression - I will use compression to even things out a bit but I do like precise control on when I want the bass to have a more prominent role in the track - e.g. a run of notes

I find the Waves Bass Rider really useful but I do like to manually edit automation envelopes to get exactly what I want

The other key to a great bass sound is the EQ between the kick and bass - getting this right is half the battle IMHO

At its crudest you just need to decide which is more important to the track (kick or bass)

E.g. If bass is the most important then dial in the EQ to get this sounding great

You can then simply copy this EQ to the kick track and reverse all of your cuts and boosts - i.e. Where you have boosted the bass frequencies you cut the exact same kick frequencies

This will make room for both and give your track a solid foundation

It may need much more finessing but this will give you a great starting point
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Skub

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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2019, 09:11:25 PM »
You may have touched on something there Paul.

I used to use a lot of automation when I first began using a DAW,but as my knowledge increased and I revisited those tracks to improve things,dealing with loads of automation was a real ball ache,so I kind of came away from it. Perhaps it's time for another go.

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cowparsleyman

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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2019, 10:28:31 AM »
....example of picked bass - Reward - Teardrop Explodes
fingered bass - Don't give up - Kate Bush

muting also plays a part, the old Fender basses had a piece of foam to mute the strings, Tony Levin (Don't give up) used a nappy on that one (I think)...

It makes a huge difference.

Rich

adamfarr

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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2019, 10:36:15 AM »
Extra 5p worth here - depending on style of course but if the bass is too smooth it won't cut through - nearly always some form of distortion / saturation helps with this. The bass may sound horrible soloed but in the mix the distortion is usually imperceptible (except for helping the bass to cut through).


PaulAds

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« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2019, 10:47:47 AM »
It's always been picks all the way for me. I never found anything that I wanted to play that I couldn't make a decent job of playing with a pick.

Playing with my fingers always feels like trying to swim through quicksand  :)

I'm probably just too lazy, ham-fisted and/or opinionated...but there you have it!