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How important is it to track drums and bass together?

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How important is it to track drums and bass together?

Postby OD23 » Thu Feb 27, 2020 6:54 pm

Question for those of you with experience of recording arrangements around singer-songwriters and other non-band projects: is it essential for the feel of a track to at least have drums and bass guitar recorded together simultaneously? I'm currently trying to put together a large project of my own and the easiest way to do it would be to track everyone separately, but I'm not experienced enough to know how that might impact on the final result. In the past I've used samples or played the core instruments myself but I want to use real musicians this time.
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Re: How important is it to track drums and bass together?

Postby Wonks » Thu Feb 27, 2020 7:13 pm

There are no rules.

Some of the albums with the best 'feel' have been with a whole band recorded together, with maybe just the vocals and solos re-recorded.

Then again, you can record the drums playing live, and everyone else playing along and laying down guide tracks at the same time, and then going back and individually re-recording all the other parts.

Or everything being recorded totally separately.

Whatever works best for the band/artist. If the drummer and bass player work really well together, then certainly capture that energy and vibe. But if the timing's noticeably out and you need to move things around in mixing, then if there's a lot of bleed of the bass into the drum mics, it's a lot harder to do.
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Re: How important is it to track drums and bass together?

Postby desmond » Thu Feb 27, 2020 7:15 pm

As ever, this depends on the project, the style, and the musicians.

If it's something that's locked to a grid, quantised and so on, then it might not matter too much. If you're going for a more natural feel, with tempo changes and no grid etc, then the foundation you get from good players locking together is worthwhile.

Plus, when musicans play together, while rehearsing they can add in little touches, both musical and arrangement wise, that you might not have thought of, so the bouncing of ideas between musicians playing together is often *really* worthwhile.

If the musicians aren't very good, it might be quicker to record separately, especially if you need to do a lot of takes etc. You just need to evaluate the best course of action beforehand, and be willing to course correct if it's not working out on the day...
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Re: How important is it to track drums and bass together?

Postby BJG145 » Thu Feb 27, 2020 7:18 pm

^^^

If recording them separately, my instinct would be to record drums first. I always feel a bit uncomfortable getting drums down after other instruments, but maybe it's fine.
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Re: How important is it to track drums and bass together?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Feb 27, 2020 7:21 pm

Our drummer doesn't like playing to a click so i always try and get the bass and drums down together for band work. But for my solo stuff it's separate, for obvious reasons.
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Re: How important is it to track drums and bass together?

Postby The Elf » Thu Feb 27, 2020 7:41 pm

It's only important if the players feel it's important. IMO a great drum take is more important when you're tracking drums and bass together, so this often ends up with the bassist having to re-do his part anyway.
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Re: How important is it to track drums and bass together?

Postby CS70 » Thu Feb 27, 2020 9:03 pm

Not at all. What is important is good monitoring with no latency. And of course, a great bass player.

Goes without saying, always drums first.
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Re: How important is it to track drums and bass together?

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Feb 28, 2020 1:44 am

Drums rule.

Do whatever it takes to get a good drum performance.

Than add the rest later on top of that, or use the comps you have from the drum takes.


You can add tracks to a good drum take, but you can't add a good drum take to tracks.

I am assuming you are working off-grid. If you work on-grid then you can do whatever. But it sounds lame.
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Re: How important is it to track drums and bass together?

Postby Jack Ruston » Fri Feb 28, 2020 8:46 am

It depends...as mentioned already, genre etc. The main factor for me is whether they really play well, and play well together. If not, track them separately. If they do, it's always better to track them together. However I will always track the bass in isolation (if there's an amp) so that I can redo it if needs be.
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Re: How important is it to track drums and bass together?

Postby OD23 » Tue Mar 03, 2020 8:14 pm

Thanks all for the input, I think since these songs are going to be recorded to a click anyway I'm going to take the advice that tracking separately is probably fine. If I had a gifted and super-tight band to play with it would of course be a different story, but I don't!
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Re: How important is it to track drums and bass together?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Mar 03, 2020 9:01 pm

FWIW I find playing to a click much harder than playing with live band, or even just me and a drummer.
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Re: How important is it to track drums and bass together?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Mar 03, 2020 9:39 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:FWIW I find playing to a click much harder than playing with live band, or even just me and a drummer.

Playing to a click is a weird head-screwer for me.

On the one hand, I can play pretty much anything to a click, but on the other hand I am only happy with certain results if they are not played to a click. The OCD in me wants my tracks to fit neatly into a DAW timeline, but the player in me doesn't care. Then again, the critical listener in me sometimes listens to the player and wishes it was done with a bit more respect for the tempo...

... and so it goes on :-)

I haven't found the answer yet. I usually start with a click, but trying to inject feel/push/pull around it. If I fail to get a good take after a few tries, I abandon the click.

Playing live with other people sans-metronome is far easier than playing to a recorded version of myself playing without a click.

As I said, it's all a bit of a head-screw ;)

In the past I have done commerical studio sessions where the drummer couldn't play to a click, so I laid the keyboard part down first (to a click) and then they played along to that, after which I re-did the keyboard part 'with feel' to the recorded drum track in order to make the whole sound like we'd done it right in the first place :crazy:

You may enquire where the bass player was while this was going on. "In the van doing recreational pharmaceuticals", would be the answer to that. Gosh, it seems a long time ago!
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