help recording bass!

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Goku13, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. Goku13

    Goku13 Member

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    I have been kinda having this problem recording bass where I can get a great "heavy" tone for the lower notes, but then when the bassist goes up high to do some little fill, the higher notes are quieter and totally get lost in the mix compared to the booming powerful low notes. I have tried compression and stuff, but it doesn't help a lot. The only way I have found is to eq the bass so that the low notes aren't as bassy, so therefore they are the same volume as the higher notes, but that kinda kills the point of having the bass sound like I want it. Is this just one of those things where you have to pick either a big low sound where you can't hear the high notes or a more mid-rangy sound with less bass but a more visible high end?? Help??

    I have been using the sans amp bass driver. FYI.
     
  2. EVT

    EVT Member

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    What bass are you using?

    evt
     
  3. Mickey Shane

    Mickey Shane Silver Supporting Member

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    If you have multi-tracking, copy the bass track. Eq one for the deep thump and the other to bring out the higher passages. Then mix them together.
     
  4. EVT

    EVT Member

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    I do this, and I also add compression on the copied track and blend it in for added punch. With 2 tracks there's more you can do to even things out.

    evt
     
  5. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Perhaps right hand technique is the issue?
     
  6. nickdahl

    nickdahl Member

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    If you've got automation capabilities, why not "ride" the bass fader and bring it up for the weaker parts, then drop it for your heavy low-end bass?

    Nick
     
  7. lowendgenerator

    lowendgenerator Member

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    I've found that over-EQing a bass can bring about this situation. Put some lower midrange on it, back off the bass a bit. It won't do as much as running a side chain or doubling the track, but it will be more even.
     
  8. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    If you have it rigged for "heavy" tone with a huge amount of low end and little or no presence, and your settings – gain, compression, etc. – are all based on a preponderance of low Hz., then once you're out of that narrow range you might not have much there to work with. If that's the case, more compression is probably not going be helpful. And you'll probably find that no matter what you do the bass will be overpowering the mix with mud, but if you pull it down to where the "mud" is gone it will be inaudible.

    You need to have some presence in the bass, like around 1kHz, and not crank the low end as much. Try to do as much of this as possible with the instrument and the SansAmp up front. It should sound good all the way up the neck, but I've found I still have to do volume automation rides sometimes when the player goes up high.
     
  9. elambo

    elambo Member

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    If the rest is fine, turn up the low notes in the mix.
     
  10. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    What kind of monitors are you using to judge your great heavy LF tone? I know, people always talk about monitors but IMO, this is one place where it really makes a difference. Many budget monitors and headphones will force you to make an educated guess at best when it comes to EQ'ing bass.
     
  11. elambo

    elambo Member

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    That's a good point - it could be part of the problem.

    I guess you'd have to listen to commercially-released CDs as a reference to make sure your monitors aren't too out of whack.
     
  12. Goku13

    Goku13 Member

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    Oh yeah i am definitely using commercial cd's as references for all my stuff...i am very very happy with the bass tone overall, but i just lose the sound when he goes up high. I think it is probably a little from column A, a little from column B, as far as technique and set up goes. He probably needs to play more articulately and with more authority when sliding up to those high notes for them to stand out. I didn't even think about making a copy of the track and eq'ing it differently to bring out the high notes...ill hafta check that out. I was just hoping there was a way to get "pro" results with only one bass track. Thanks for the advice guys. Also FYI he is using a musicman bass.
     
  13. EVT

    EVT Member

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    Another thing I've found helps a lot is lowering the bass eq on other instruments, like guitar, keys, even vocals. This way there aren't other instruments in the same frequency as the bass. Just a little bit, makes a big difference. It's called subtractive eq'ng.

    This also helps when you have a lot of vocals singing at the same time, to drop the eq on the backing vocals makes the lead sound fuller and more prominent in the mix.
    evt
     
  14. elambo

    elambo Member

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    I have a 4 string Stingray and it tends to get thinner high up the neck. The best fix is to raise the volume during those high notes. Compression helps only a little and too much alters the rest of the tone. Not good. Goose the high notes.

    Out of curiousity, what bass preamp/amp are you using?
     
  15. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    Is the bass player using a pick? That helps make upper register notes pop. Of course, there's the risk of insulting the bass player by suggesting he use a pick. :D Obviously, it might not be song appropriate either.
     
  16. Goku13

    Goku13 Member

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    I am just using a sansamp bass driver preamp into my soundcard. I love the tone, but as i said, i lose the high notes. His bass might not be set up great either, as the volume on the G and D strings seems lower than the others, though i notice the same thing on my guitars too....kinda why it sucks being the only guitar in a rock band with a heavy tone and trying to play solos and hear the beef of the song dissapear. Same problem I guess. And, no he isn't using a pick, but that might help...he was talking about trying to use a pick, too.

    I have been running high pass filters on the guitar and vocal tracks so there is plenty of room for the bass...no mud at all. I am very happy with the sound of the recording with the exception of this one problem.
     
  17. lowendgenerator

    lowendgenerator Member

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    I'm not familiar with the output or impedance of a Sansamp, but I buffer everything into my computer with a tube preamp. Try recording straight in and effecting the track with plugins, see if that makes a difference.

    What kind of bass are we talking about? Heavier strings and/or higher action could help. I do 90% of my recording with a Gibson Explorer bass strung high with huge strings. Sounds way better than my Jazz bass.
     
  18. dumeril7

    dumeril7 Member

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    Obviously its a dynamics issue. The usual fixes for that are adjusting the instrument, adjusting the player, compression, EQ ,or manually riding the faders (or these days, using computer automation).

    Given everything that's been tried, I'm going to bet its the instrument or the player. Bass can be an extremely dynamic instrument because the amp usually isn't providing any natural compression, as is the case with a cranked guitar amp. It takes a very consistent touch. Now, heavy compression should be able to fix this problem, but it seems like you're going to need so much compression that its going to cause other artifacts that you may not like. You could try using automation to adjust the notes you want to sit in the mix better.

    But first, I take that bass, put on new strings, and DI it into a console with a meter. Then play each open string with a very consistent attack, watching the meters to see the signal level of each string. They should match assuming you are consistent with your plucking attack. If not, then adjust the pickups.

    It also occurs to me that the notes in question might be the result of a dead spot on the bass. Go thru the routine above to get the pickups right, then play the phrase in question on the instrument, paying close attention to the consistency of your attack. If the notes disappear again, then compare those notes against other notes on the fretboard. If they're consistently gone, then its probably a dead spot. The fixes for that are fairly involved so at that point, I'd switch instruments.

    It could also be an EQ issue. EQ can't create something out of nothing -- for example, if you crank a 10K treble knob on a kick drum channel you won't hear any difference except more noise because the kick has no sound energy up that high for the EQ to boost. Conversely, if you have the low-end really cranked on that bass track, the high strings may not have enough low-end content to get boosted and it will sounded attenuated by comparison. If you're married to that EQ arrangement, you may consider changing the bass line. Or riding the faders manually or thru automation to get the notes to pop.

    D7
     
  19. elambo

    elambo Member

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    You shouldn't have to cut too much butt from the guitar tracks just to make this bass part work. The low E on a guitar is just above 80Hz, so if you're playing that note and cutting frequencies above it, they're getting lost. Fix the bass, which is the real problem, NOT the guitars.

    I'll mention it again in case it got lost - if the bass tone overall is great, as you say it is, the best overall fix for this problem is to increase the volume of the bass track during parts where the high notes aren't cutting through. Have you tried this yet?
     
  20. scottlr

    scottlr Member

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    I have the opposite problem with my bass player. His high notes jump out like crazy sometimes. I know what the problem here is, though. The player LOL When he does those high things, his excitement level gets the best of him. For me, if compression doesn't even things out, then I'll ad automation to get things right.
    Now, if I can only get him to practice with a metronome LOL I am constantly having to nudge his notes. He sounds fine with a real drummer, but put him with a click track or a drum loop that is 100% constant, and he cannot stay on time. I think he might be a little intimidated by all of these "new fangled computer recording thingies". ;)
     

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