New Bass Pups or New Bass?

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by barkndog, Jan 3, 2008.

  1. barkndog

    barkndog Member

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    I'm a guitar player just getting into home recording. I bought an abused Ibanez Soundgear 200 4 string bass which has been set up and now plays very well. It's a fairly old model and it doesn't have the active electronics and phat boost that the newer GSR200 models have. However, when I use it for recording it doesn't sound good to my ears. It's low and deep, but there is no clarity or definition to the individual notes. I'm recording with Adobe Audition and going direct into my notebook or through a Toneport UX2. Both options sound equally bad for bass but good for guitars. I'm wondering whether changing the bass pups would help or whether I should start again with a higher quality bass around the $300-400 price point. Or am I missing something else? Recommendations on pups or basses would be most welcome. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. mcknigs

    mcknigs Supporting Member

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    How much recording experience do you have? Have you recorded basses that work better for you? I ask because a good bass sound is one of the harder things to achieve in recording. Your complaints sound like complaints I've heard from many others who are unhappy with their recorded bass sounds. I'd hate to see anyone spend time and money experimenting with buying basses or pickups when the solution might be a different approach to EQing, compressing, whatever.

    -Scott
     
  3. barkndog

    barkndog Member

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    Thanks for replying. I've never tried recording bass until now. I have run what I have recorded thru the graphic equalizer in Audition and that helps but it still doesn't sound very good to my ears. I am surprised that the bass sounds so poor when I can get some very acceptable tones with my guitars going direct via some stomp boxes or using the preset sounds in the Toneport. That's why I was wonderin' if new bass pups would give the biggest bang for the buck?
     
  4. mcknigs

    mcknigs Supporting Member

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    I would search around the net for advice on EQing and compressing bass.

    Generally, basses tend to put out more very low frequencies than sounds good in most mixes. I find myself rolling off the lowest frequencies some and giving it a light boost somewhere in the mids to give it a little more presence.

    Most people compress bass but you have to be careful. Too little compression and the bass tend to get drowned out by the other instruments. By the time it's loud enough to be heard its too loud in spots. OTOH, too much compression takes away the definition, so it's all mud and no bass "line."

    You might want to post on a question about this to the recording section of this site (TGP).

    -Scott
     
  5. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    What sounds like a good bass sound on it's own gets lost in the mix.

    Usually it's more than "a light boost in the mids." For that reason I don't like being around when mixing. I have trouble separating what I hear in my head and what should be in the mix to make my parts audible.
     
  6. mcknigs

    mcknigs Supporting Member

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    Same philosophy but opposite implementation: The happiest I've ever been with my recorded bass sound was back in the days when I would record drums and guitars to a 4 track R2R, then add bass while I was mixing to 2 tracks on another 4 track R2R. I would go straight from my bass head into the mixer and play along. In that case I had no way to hear the bass, *except* to hear it they way it sounded in the band mix. Consequently there were no ugly surprises regarding subsequent mixes and how tha bass sounded in them.

    -Scott
     
  7. Funky Chicken

    Funky Chicken Member

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    Try a sansamp bass driver DI before investing in anything else. It should help just about any bass sit better in a mix.
     
  8. barkndog

    barkndog Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion. I'll check that out . . . but will it really make that much of a difference? I'm using a Toneport interface and that gives me a range of cabinets, amps and FX to choose from via the Gearbox software and it still doesn't sound very good, which is why I'm thinking I need new pups or a new bass.
     
  9. jdier

    jdier Member

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    Your recording gear is fine. It is tough to answer on the bass as it could be the electronics, or it could be the bridge, or the wood... tough to tell. Personally, I would start with the bridge. I have an Ibanez Roadstar from the 80's that has a killer bridge, but I have seen some pretty crappy ones too. If the bridge looks like a cheapy I would replace with a Leo Quan bridge (if one will fit without any alterations.) After that I would look into putting some Seymour Duncan pickups in it.

    Either of those upgrades can be purchased used and re sold if they do not do the trick for you.

    I recently did a part of a project with an SX p-bass from Rondo. I just put a baddass and some bart pickups in it and it sounded mint.

    Good luck.
     
  10. barkndog

    barkndog Member

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    I think I will get new pups. I hadn't though about the hardware, but that's a good suggestion also.
     
  11. Wymore Guitars

    Wymore Guitars Member

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    Pickups and strings will make the biggest difference in your tone for a given instrument. Other components affect tone as well but not as much as the first two.

    Just a silly question, but when was the last time the strings were changed on your bass??

    My cousin had an Ibanez P+J 4-String and upgraded it with Duncan pickups (Quarter Pound P-Bass and Hot Stack Bridge). It made a big improvement in tone IMHO.
     
  12. RockStarNick

    RockStarNick Supporting Member

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    +1 on the sansamp bass driver.

    Barber tone press before it, even better.

    Depending on the song, try using JUST the bass's bridge pickup. Probably sounds like sh*t on it's own, but in the mix, might just sit really well and have great definition.
     
  13. Keren Lee

    Keren Lee Member

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    I wouldn't waste money on buying pickups for this or practically any other Ibanez bass except for maybe a 700 series. Take a look at the P pickup arrangement on the 200--it's backwards from Leo Fender's original design, which hurts the sound of the Ibanez substantially. I've heard these basses on other recordings and, well, you would be better off with a Standard Series (Mexican) Precision or Jazz bass from Fender. Upgrade either of these with Hinesley pickups and then you'll have someting studio-worthy; don't forget to get a good setup and new set of strings from a good luthier while you're at it.

    I have a Fender Precision/Jazz Bass with a Hinesley Hybrid pickup set and no active electronics. It has punch, clarity, and depth in addition to recording with good bottom and articulation. I plug my bass right into the recording console for the best results. I get compliments on my tone from other musicians (I play with many different ones) regularly.

    Hope that helps and good luck with your recording endeavors.

    Cheers,
    Keren
     
  14. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Get any standard P-Bass, no matter where it's made. Then a SansAmp Bass Driver DI and a compressor. You'll save weeks, if not months, of trying to make something else sound right.
     
  15. barkndog

    barkndog Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions guys. All good stuff.
     

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