Old 04-24-2017, 06:25 AM   #1
Flaneurette
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Default Recording Bass Guitar

Hello everyone,

I finally managed to get back to playing bass, after a 25 year hiatus and illness.

When I record bass beneath an electronic distorted guitar, it sounds very detached? Are there any tricks to make it sound good and cohesive? I thought it would be easy, but apparently it is not so. The genre I play is metal, metal bass in this instance.

There is so much information out there, that I don't know what to trust. Are there proven strategies in recording metal bass, and then make it sound good with guitar?

Would love to hear some tips or pointers.
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:33 AM   #2
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Are the strings 25 years old, too?

Would need to hear a sample to tell you what needs changing.
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:36 AM   #3
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No, just a few years.

I play direct in, so no amps... for got to mention it.
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Old 04-24-2017, 07:40 AM   #4
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I've upload a part of the recording I am doing. The first bit has the guitars + bass. The second part has only the bass.

https://soundcloud.com/user-415445589/bass-record-test

The bass has no effects.

I play both guitars and bass. These are all down stroke power chords.
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:06 AM   #5
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"Good and cohesive" can mean a lot of things. Do you have a reference track that you could say "sounds like this?"

Typically with bass, I start with a pretty wide band pass filter to knock off the extreme highs (pick noise, usually) and lows (mud) and then EQ from there.
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerome_oneil View Post
"Good and cohesive" can mean a lot of things. Do you have a reference track that you could say "sounds like this?"

Typically with bass, I start with a pretty wide band pass filter to knock off the extreme highs (pick noise, usually) and lows (mud) and then EQ from there.
Yes, and a compressor I guess to clamp down on the rumbling.

I have yet to add a cabinet to the bass, and maybe add some slight distortion. That's all I can think off right now.

I want it to sound somewhat glued together. Currently it sounds like two recordings playing at the same time, instead of something that is whole.

So I'm not sure yet.. are there any other tricks.
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:12 AM   #7
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Here is what works for me:

* Bass Professor II (VST): http://sonic.supermaailma.net/plugins This VST can get the low end really low and help you deal with mids too (mids are important so people can hear the bass in cheap speakers...)

* Compressors are good, but also figure out what notes don't sound so loud. Most bass guitars have some notes (sometimes strings) that sound a bit duller. You can use a dynamic EQ or regular EQ to deal with some specific notes. This helps a lot to make each note sound/cut equally in the mix.

* Some saturation, before the compression, can help, especially if you're dealing with rock/metal songs.

* Reverb (this depends on the rest of the song); you'll want to place the bass sound in the right depth level in the soundscape.

But... all the above does not replace how you play the bass!!! Tone is in the fingers or pick, attack and release of the strings, and how new/old the strings are (even different brands).

Ohhh... I record DI; if you are mic'ing an amp there is more to figure out.
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RDBOIS View Post
Here is what works for me:

* Bass Professor II (VST): http://sonic.supermaailma.net/plugins This VST can get the low end really low and help you deal with mids too (mids are important so people can hear the bass in cheap speakers...)
That's a nice plugin! been looking for something like this for a while. Thanks!
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:48 AM   #9
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The "typical" bass setup for heavy music these days tends to involve splitting it into multiple tracks for specific things:

Bass folder
--Clank
--Grit
--Low
--Bass DI (parent send disabled, sending to each of the other three tracks)

Optional: Compression on the DI track to get the performance fairly level, or use automation or item gain to do the same thing.

Low:
  • LPF all the way down to 150Hz or so
  • Compress pretty hard so the low end is as consistent as possible

Grit:
  • HPF at 300-500Hz, LPF at 3kHz-5kHz
  • Throw a bit of distortion on it, anything from an overdrive to a bass amp to a Rectifier. This will serve as the "glue" with the guitars.
  • Cabinet optional
  • HPF and LPF again, since the distortion probably added content in the ranges you filtered
  • Play with some EQ to see what sounds best. I often find that a narrow cut around 1kHz can keep the grit track from sounding a little too obnoxious

Clank:
  • This one's a matter of taste. Some use it just for high-end pick attack, but I like a little clean midrange to help the bass stay audible in between the guitars.
  • HPF and LPF similar to the Grit track.
  • Play with an EQ in the mids if there's too much "honk". Lately I've been boosting a little right around the HPF's cutoff, boosting a little in the 1-2kHz range, and cutting in between them.
  • Compression and some saturation can be useful here.

Bass folder:
  • Use some more EQ here with the full mix playing to help the bass cut through, but without being really obnoxious (mids particularly)
  • Compress/limit a little to get the bass at as consistent a level as possible.
  • Consider a sidechain compressor triggered by the kick, just the bring the bass down a few dB on each hit. This keeps the mix's low end from getting too huge. Alternatively, a multiband compressor or dynamic EQ with sidechain capability will let you duck ONLY the bass's low end - TDR Nova is awesome for this.

You might have noticed that my HPF/LPF suggestions left a big gap in the low mids - this gives the guitars their own space, and hopefully you're cutting the guitars a bit in the <200Hz range so the kick and bass aren't fighting with them. You can also use a sidechained dynamic EQ for this as well, placing it on the guitar bus and triggering it from the kick and bass - this will let you leave more low end in the guitars for when they're playing alone, but it will be ducked out when the big kids come in.

Useful reading material: http://www.systematicproductions.com/mixing-guide.htm
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:35 AM   #10
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Thank you Lokasenna! as always, you deliver.

That is interesting... back in the old days (oh God..I feel old) we just recorded straight to cassette. It's a whole lot easier right now, but at the same time more complex.
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:21 PM   #11
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Further to Lokasenna's suggestions, which are great.....
get BOD preamp vst! It's free and awesome.
Keep adding a bit of drive until it's just distorting a bit and it will often sit really nicely with distorted guitar.
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Old 06-05-2017, 03:09 PM   #12
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You sure the timing is locking together? When I play bass (I'm a guitarist) I really need to make an effort to get the bass and guitar to lock together, and also do some time stretching to make it right. It's surprising how even a tiny change makes a huge difference.

All the tips about sound above are good. I always EQ and process bass in the context of the track, with everything up, not in solo. It's really important, I find.

For tracking I use an MXR Bass DI into a valve pre.
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Old 06-06-2017, 08:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
The "typical" bass setup for heavy music these days tends to involve splitting it into multiple tracks for specific things:

Bass folder
--Clank
--Grit
--Low
--Bass DI (parent send disabled, sending to each of the other three tracks)

Optional: Compression on the DI track to get the performance fairly level, or use automation or item gain to do the same thing.

Low:
  • LPF all the way down to 150Hz or so
  • Compress pretty hard so the low end is as consistent as possible

Grit:
  • HPF at 300-500Hz, LPF at 3kHz-5kHz
  • Throw a bit of distortion on it, anything from an overdrive to a bass amp to a Rectifier. This will serve as the "glue" with the guitars.
  • Cabinet optional
  • HPF and LPF again, since the distortion probably added content in the ranges you filtered
  • Play with some EQ to see what sounds best. I often find that a narrow cut around 1kHz can keep the grit track from sounding a little too obnoxious

Clank:
  • This one's a matter of taste. Some use it just for high-end pick attack, but I like a little clean midrange to help the bass stay audible in between the guitars.
  • HPF and LPF similar to the Grit track.
  • Play with an EQ in the mids if there's too much "honk". Lately I've been boosting a little right around the HPF's cutoff, boosting a little in the 1-2kHz range, and cutting in between them.
  • Compression and some saturation can be useful here.

Bass folder:
  • Use some more EQ here with the full mix playing to help the bass cut through, but without being really obnoxious (mids particularly)
  • Compress/limit a little to get the bass at as consistent a level as possible.
  • Consider a sidechain compressor triggered by the kick, just the bring the bass down a few dB on each hit. This keeps the mix's low end from getting too huge. Alternatively, a multiband compressor or dynamic EQ with sidechain capability will let you duck ONLY the bass's low end - TDR Nova is awesome for this.

You might have noticed that my HPF/LPF suggestions left a big gap in the low mids - this gives the guitars their own space, and hopefully you're cutting the guitars a bit in the <200Hz range so the kick and bass aren't fighting with them. You can also use a sidechained dynamic EQ for this as well, placing it on the guitar bus and triggering it from the kick and bass - this will let you leave more low end in the guitars for when they're playing alone, but it will be ducked out when the big kids come in.

Useful reading material: http://www.systematicproductions.com/mixing-guide.htm
Holy crap !!!! I am so far behind the times, thanks for all this info dude
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Old 06-06-2017, 01:10 PM   #14
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I experimented with splitting between clean and distorted (with Rat stompox sim) once. Definitely adds a bit of definition while keeping the bottom end alive (which distortion totally eats, at least in POD farm). Scratching my head why I'm not using this trick more. Maybe because more growl would interfere with the sample/synth soup that I usually put above the basslines.

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Old 06-06-2017, 01:31 PM   #15
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Faneurette I got myself a really good valve preamp to use and put my Bass through that.
I am finding Fab Filter Saturn great as a character vst after the track is laid.

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Old 06-06-2017, 06:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneurette View Post
I've upload a part of the recording I am doing. The first bit has the guitars + bass. The second part has only the bass.

https://soundcloud.com/user-415445589/bass-record-test

The bass has no effects.

I play both guitars and bass. These are all down stroke power chords.
Link says file's been removed. Can you post a new one?
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Old 07-12-2017, 03:29 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RDBOIS View Post
Here is what works for me:

* Bass Professor II (VST): http://sonic.supermaailma.net/plugins This VST can get the low end really low and help you deal with mids too (mids are important so people can hear the bass in cheap speakers...)
Those plugins are awesome, thank you so much for the heads up. Never heard of them until I randomly read this post. Getting the bass sound I had in my head always was an ordeal for me, stacking absurd amounts of processing, dividing the signal across multiple tracks and what not. With those plugins I nailed it in seconds, it was unbelievable.
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Old 07-16-2017, 03:33 AM   #18
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In addition to whatLokasenna posted, in the Bass Bus or Folder (terminology of same thing) add a narrow EQ spike at 800Hz. This seems to be a bass guitar's frequency where the bite/spank comes out. Not too much just til you can hear it within the full mix of the instrument. Also always listen to your bass tracks while drum tracks are playing which helps figure out where those two instruments will play well together. Add guitars afterward. Even in metal.

I use similar technique to Lokasenna, but split mine up for clean, emphasis of transients, warmth, and distortion.

Clean track: I run mine through TSE BOD until is sounds nice and not too exciting, then hit it fairly hard with Modern Deathcore (their spin on a Distressor). I will HPF around 36Hz and LPF around 7K and use the BOD and guitar to get the eq I like.

Transient Emphasis track: will be set up to over emphasize the attack of each note played the best I can. I will use whatever I have to do this via transient shapers, compression, as well as eq. This track usually sounds pretty horrid on its own.

Warmth Track: I will Duplicate the Clean Track and it's effects chain, but run a bass amp sim like the one from Ignite, or Kuassa Cerberus and bring out the warmth of the bass. Think Geezer Butler's tone from first two Sabbath albums.

Distortion track: Take another duplicated clean track and only use Boogex on this and crank the gain, eq is a frown to emphasize the mids and kill the built in impulse response file. This one here is going for massive disotrtion and ugly ugly ugly..

These tracks are then bussed together with faders down and I will start to blend the clean and warmth tracks together until they start happening and grooving with the drums. The transient track comes up next just to where you hear the bass note attacks but not every time a note is played.

Finally the Distortion track comes up and only enough to get the track to growl every so often. You really do not want to hear the distortion or be able to pick that track out. It is more a feel thing. This track is what makes the bass sound like its being played through an amp.

Now once you get this far, balance the Bus EQ with the low end of the drums and keep them from stomping all over each other. You can also do some heavy scooping between 250Hz and 550/600Hz as this is where guitars will sit with the low mids. Find the resonant peak of the bass somewhere around 100-150Hz and bump it up a little make sure the Q of the bump is fairly small. Make a similar sized scoop from 190-215 as guitar cabinets have a low resonant peak here.

Now bring up the guitar tracks and see how it sounds. Adjust the scoops and EQ peaks so the bass, while still maintaining its own personality, is providing the clean low end to guitar white noise. Bass in metal actually provides the emphasis and articulation to guitar riffs. Metal guitar and especially extreme metal guitars essentially sound like 3 -5 minutes of someone trying to hawk a loogey, even if played well. The bass adds the musical tones to them to create a full package bad ass rhythm.

If your bass keeps getting buried, don not forget to make that small 800Hz peak to punch through the wall of noise and add its bite. Do not be afraid to add in 3-4 instances of your EQ plugin to the bass bus with each tailored to a specific eq spectrum you are trying to accomplish. Just keep gain structure integrity.

Also find 4Front Piano plugin and use that on a separate track to follow along with note changes that the guitars and bass are doing. Dont use this to make 16th note runs, but whole, half, and quarter note runs following the bass and guitars. blend this track into the overall mix until your hear it, then bring the fader down until the piano track just goes away and you can no longer audibly discern it is there. Then mute and then unmute the piano track to see what it adds. This is a neat trick I learned from Mixbus TV that actually works fairly well on songs with busy riffs where a lot of speed picked rhythms are being played. Play the piano one octave lower than the bass.

Watch some videos from ChernobylStudios, I learned quite a bit off that guy as he uses a more visual approach. Mixbus TV has good videos as well, but the music he does isnt really what I would consider metal, but the techniques carry over. Spend $25 and pick up The Systemic Guide to Mixing Metal by Ermin Hamidovic. Above all others, this book helps me anytime I start piecing more than one instrument together and run into a roadblock.

Last edited by Bjorn218; 07-16-2017 at 03:49 AM.
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Old 07-16-2017, 03:43 AM   #19
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You may find this video interesting...
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Old 07-19-2017, 06:35 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RDBOIS View Post
Here is what works for me:

* Bass Professor II (VST): http://sonic.supermaailma.net/plugins This VST can get the low end really low and help you deal with mids too (mids are important so people can hear the bass in cheap speakers...)

.
No need to download this vst as its already in Reaper under JS plugins
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Old 07-21-2017, 01:01 AM   #21
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No need to download this vst as its already in Reaper under JS plugins
Yeah, and it's amazing!
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