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Tips for recording bass

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby snipsnip » Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:01 pm

sure fire way to ruin bass? Reverb.


You dont really want any verb on low freq's as it will muddy everything up.
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby Dave_84 » Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:08 pm

I agree, I've never had success with reverb on bass. Chorus maybe, but just a little.
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby Grantsos » Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:50 pm

Evie McCreevie wrote:

A few things come to mind...

1. Check your recording on headphones...

2. Even expensive basses won't be totally uniform, and usually will be louder on the lower notes - though personally I can live with this - it is a BASS guitar after all. The most uniform bass I ever used was a proper graphite 80s Steinberger - fantastic. But they don't make 'em anymore - avoid the copies they're a joke - they're only 'copies' in style and appearance, not materials and sound.

3. As suggested elsewhere, use compression


Agree with most of this, I find most basses change a lot dynamically and tonally as one plays across strings.

Those Steinbergers were quite a machine, weren't they?
I remember pulling a guitar version out of a case that hadn't been touched for months and it was still in tune. I do find the guitar is a bit too thick for my tastes, I don't like the clean sound much.

BUT: I played a Hohner headless bass that had a set of after-market pups on it, and it was pretty darned impressive. Not the same uber-fat deal as the steinberger, but very tight and punchy sounding. I believe they're solid soft maple bodies/necks.
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby The Elf » Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:24 pm

Kempo wrote:why would you not add reverb?!
Adding reverb to bass is like like adding a spear to a nuclear missile - it just doesn't need it! :D

If you want to cloud up a mix and use up all the dynamic low frequencies the best way to do it is to add reverb to bass.

Nope, not a good idea in general, though there are always exceptions...
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby Scouser » Tue Apr 29, 2008 3:26 pm

A good bass sound is down to the player. There's no substitute for practice. If notes are uneven try playing those notes slowly and practice until they sound even


I appreciate the difference between the playing and instruments cheap hardware limitations, although bass is not my first instrument, I can play my friends Fender jazz and get a far more even sound..
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby Scouser » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:18 pm

Thanks again to everyone, lot of things i can try....

as well as a bit more practice ;)
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby MadManDan » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:43 pm

Dave_84 wrote:... Chorus maybe, but just a little.
Make sure if you use chorus that you thin the lows out on the send to the chorus. Otherwise you'll have all these thick bassy waves swirling aroung ruining your bottom end
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby MadManDan » Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:07 pm

Kempo wrote:exactly what i mentioned as a point within my dissertation, stating that an uprise in digital technology could cause a downfall in talent!
music instructors need to stress the importance of practice - maybe even require that the student NOT use anything but the most basic, compressor-free environment when they practice. No DAWs !
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby Grantsos » Tue Apr 29, 2008 8:45 pm

The Elf wrote:If you want to cloud up a mix and use up all the dynamic low frequencies the best way to do it is to add reverb to bass.

Nope, not a good idea in general, though there are always exceptions...

Yes, i.e. orchestral bass is intrinsically "wet" and there's very effective room and bleed in some reggae tracks... Though artificial verb is used less AFAIK, a *dash* of an appropriate room sound can bed-in the bass for some production styles.
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby _.jk._ » Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:52 pm

So, quick thread Hi-jack...

Would you add reverb to elec guitar, Clean or distorted?

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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby The Elf » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:54 am

Kempo wrote:So, quick thread Hi-jack...

Would you add reverb to elec guitar, Clean or distorted?

Yes and yes.

More often than not it will be very short and just enough to add the magic ingredient. Much of the time I use very short delays too.

In complete contrast I'm currently working on a rock track that features a 'Queen-like' big guitar lift in the bridges, consisting of several single notes in harmony; I've added gallons of longer reverb on those to make them into some lush pad-type thing.

Music isn't about rules, it's about using your ears, brain and soul.

The best way to assess any advice about production is to go completely against it to see what happens - then you can make up your own mind. If the advice holds up it may become a self-imposed 'rule' to save you expending fruitless time and effort, but if it doesn't you may just have discovered something new and you can tell people like me to go away and think again! :D
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby archdake mkII » Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:28 am

Regarding the reverb on bass thing: Although usually a no-no, the [side-]effects depend largely on the type of reverb used and the way the send/return to/from the reverb are processed. A hall preset with long decay will sound awful. A carefully chosen (or parameterised] plate or ambiance on the other hand with some eq-ing on the send and return can be useful.
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby Neil C » Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:43 am

The Ampeg Svx bass plug in has a dedicated reverb slider. All the way up that is too much, but a little can give a helpful ambience.
Quite a lot of the 70's dub reggae I listen to has clear 'ambience' on the bass (I presume from mic position in relation to a big cab) - and it doesn't suffer for it.
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby Pubmgr » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:40 pm

I tried a lot of things to even up the sound on my (cheap) Samick bass. First, new pickups. Duncan or some such (standard quality brand, passive). They sounded almost exactly like the old ones!

Then tried moving the pickups lower, farther away from the strings. That seemed to help noticeably.

Then I got cheap DI (Bass V-Amp) That helped a LOT!!!!!

Then I got new strings, the old ones were four years old, and I don't play bass nearly as much as guitar. BIG difference, from the brand, I think. They are DR brand. Probably Hi Beams, but the bass is home, and I'm not! LOL. I went from playing the middle two strings, because the other two didn't sound that good, to playing three of the four (the highest string sounds a little bright/thin compared to the rest).

Compression, of course, and even playing, of course. It all adds up!

Cheers, Tom
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Re: Tips for recording bass

Postby Scouser » Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:46 pm

Im finding i prefer passive, rather than active, although both have there uses..
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