Any Bass players Here?

tips for bass efx in n-tack

I play in a band that does a mix of DMB and Jack Johnson and i’m looking for a clean sound for recording my bass ie…getting my GK head to sound more like an Ampeg. i’ve messed around a little with the n-track efx and also the calkwalk efx…and i’m just wondering if anyone has found some good combonations of efx i might try… :)

Hi jeliot:
Bottom End… as it’s called is mabey, the most ellusive part of the audio spectrum to Capture… In my opinion, that is… The Bass and the Lower end of the Drum Kit … when IT’s right carries everything else that’s going -on… in the song…

The “Glory Track, Players” wouldn’t aggree with that statment but “What do they (with their tracks) play to” ? If the BEDS are right, the "Glory Tracks come together… and work RIGHT. Anything can be played, in the Glory Tracks… :O Well… to some degree… and within limits…

Looking for that Bass Sound is mabey the Trickest part of tracking, when recording a project.

I have a suspicission that the Bass Sound you are looking for comes from more than one, if not several Bass Tracks… Layer’d together… :O ???

Bill…

This is going to come by trial and error. I’ll tell you this much for sure though: If you try and get too much ‘bottom’ in your bass sound when you record, you’ll end up with subterranean mud that will do nothing for your mix, when you’re done mixing…

I once heard a demo record, one of those floppy vinyl things that used to come in instructional books, that outlined a recording session for a band called “Player”. They had a hit in the 70’s called “Baby Come Back”- if you’re an older guy you might have seen 'em on Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert some Saturday night. Anyway, they got to the bass track on the little demo record I mentioned, and played it solo, as it went down raw to tape. Sounded like a plastic picnic plate smacking against a picnic table in the breeze! Plak-plak-a tink-smack… not what you’d think of as nice punchy bass- but after it got a bit of lo-EQ, some comp, and was inserted into the mix, it was fine.

Avoid lots of bottom when tracking. Get a sound that sounds like an SVT with too much treble!* It’s easier to add bottom than to take it away when it becomes overwhelming. The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts: Taking anything out of context makes it awkward- most things don’t stand up so well by themselves when they’re meant to be a part of something. Try not to judge your bass track until you hear it in the mix.

*You might want to look into a SansAmp DI box. I’d wager it’s just what you need. You’ll have it 'till the day you leave this old world. This could have been the short answer, I guess! Heh… :p

Good advice, Sloom.
I’d say the two most important “effects” you need for recording bass are EQ and compression – I’ve been happy with N-Track’s built in versions, but the Kjaerhuis “Classic” compressor is also really nice (and free). It has a “bass guitar” preset that’s a nice place to start.

Also, to back up Sloom – to cut through the mix and retain some definition, don’t neglect the higher frequencies. It may sound noisy on “solo” but within the mix, it might give you the definition you’re lacking.

I also read somewhere (looking for the link – will post if I can find it) a great tip for bass EQ: Use a low shelving pass at 50 Hz to remove the low-end “boom” and reduce the “mud” but boost the frequencies around 300 Hz to restore the “energy” of the bass by accentuating the natural fundamentals and harmonics of the instrument.

The only other effect I like to use on my bass tracks is a little chorus effect when I’m playing a fretless. Adds a little of that “Jaco Pastorius” magic – now if only I could play like him, I’d have it made… :O

Rock on!
PR

Aha… nice EQ tip, I’ll give that a try next time I’m into a mix.

I have an issue with mixing bass, speaking of: I’m using a pair of Fostex PM 0.5’s as monitors, and they have a pretty nice, well-detailed sound- as best as I can tell! But they seem to lack bottom-end response, or something. It’s very easy to overload the bass track volume.

I’m thinking of ways to improve my bass response when mixing… without splashing out for a sub-woofer. One thought is to just add a small stereo to the monitoring set-up, routing it through the Tascam M-30 mixer, and use it to A/B with the Fostex. Another is to build a little folded-horn cab with a 12" speaker in it.

Any thoughts on this?

Hi Sloom:
I’ve replied to maria’s topic regarding the speakers she bought today… I’m looking to your comments regarding this post…

What do you think? regarding the reply to the thread on speakers? As IT applies to this thread… ???

Bill…

Quote (woxnerw @ April 17 2006,15:48)
Hi Sloom:
I've replied to maria's topic regarding the speakers she bought today.. I'm looking to your comments regarding this post..

What do you think? regarding the reply to the thread on speakers? As IT applies to this thread.. ???

Bill..

I'm off to an appointment- and- I don't remember the post! But I'll catch up and try to say something coherent when I get back. :D I'm thinking...

jeliot - I have a GK head too, and have recorded some decent bass tracks out of it. But I agree with Sloom about the sansAmp. When I record bass these days, i just go direct out of the sansamp. I also put the sansamp in front of the GK head for live - you will be amazed what it does for your bass sound live and recorded. You won’t be wanting one of those boring old ampeg amps anymore.

And, what the other guys said about EQ and Comp, after the track is laid down.

And, re: monitors - you are gonna be mixing blind until you get mons that can reproduce lows like you wanna hear em. Play a CD with a mix/balance you like (for me, Chili Peppers is the reference). If your studio mons dont give you the bass you like to hear, then your mixes will suck. You will waste a whole lot of time ‘guessing’ what the bass sounds like in the mix - a lot of trips to the car with a 1-song CD. It gets old. Maybe you need the sub. Getting the bass and kick to work together nicely is almost impossible without actual lows in the mons. I got a cheap one about a year ago, and mixing became a lot easier, but of course now I want a better sub :wink:

Well. I would really suggest that you record your bass on tape if possible because you can saturate the signal very nicely. Id also use an analog EQ if possible, to be honest with you, digital eq doesnt cut it for me.
try miking your bass amp differently, rather than DIing it.

Wow…

Thanks Guys…I’m gone for a few days…come back and now I have some work ahead of me. All great tips…I think I’m off to buy
a sansamp and go from there. I’m also thinking of splinting my bass signal (active pickups) and going direct to the board for the bottom
on one track and mic’ing my 4X10 cab (for clarity) on a second track you guys have any thoghts on that

Quote (Sloom @ April 15 2006,15:29)
Avoid lots of bottom when tracking. Get a sound that sounds like an SVT with too much treble!* It's easier to add bottom than to take it away when it becomes overwhelming.

Hmm... not to p!ss on anybody's parade but this sounds a little backwards to me.
The way I see it is completely the opposite; it's way easier to remove unneeded frequencies than trying to add something that was not there in the first place, after the fact.

yep - the GK head + 4x10 will work great for recording, but if your rig is like mine, you’ll need to crank it up to get the edgy GK tone. Thats a ‘neighbour’ issue.

If you’re recording it in a small room, with hard parallel surfaces (like my recording space) then the mic’d tone will possibly suffer from standing waves etc. You can minimize this with speaker and mic placement. You may be lucky, sometimes it records fine without a problem. A dynamic mic will get less of the boomy room sound, and more of the direct tone from the cone. Angle of the mic in relation to the speaker has an effect on the tone. Watch out putting a good LD mic close to the cone if you’re really cranking it out, the sound pressure may damage the mic.

Since you’re gonna rely on direct signal for lows, you can probly use a 57 for your mic, if you have nothing else. It will not get the fat low sound, but your direct signal will cover that. If you’ve got a better mic for recording bass then go for it of course :wink: A 57 will reproduce the GK midrange tone well enough. The sansamp has 2 outs, so your signal split can occur right there.

The preamps you’re recording into will have a big impact on your bass tone, no matter which way you go. Cheapie pre’s will suck the life out of your bass signal. Your post-processing (eq and comp) is then a matter of trying to regain what you lost through the pre’s, rather than adding to the overall bass tone. So use the best pre’s you can. Sometimes you can make a cheap pre work better for bass by driving the signal into it pretty hard, i.e. so it’s ‘nearly’ clipping.

Don’t use a cheap comp (eg behringer, alesis) inline. It will really make the bass attack suck. You’ll get more transparent comp out of almost any plugin. I have tried many cheap comps for this purpose - they all suck. Also, use your best/newest cables - it can really make a noticeable difference in the bass dept.

Good luck !

Quote (teryeah @ April 17 2006,17:38)
Quote (Sloom @ April 15 2006,15:29)
Avoid lots of bottom when tracking. Get a sound that sounds like an SVT with too much treble!* It’s easier to add bottom than to take it away when it becomes overwhelming.

Hmm… not to p!ss on anybody’s parade but this sounds a little backwards to me.
The way I see it is completely the opposite; it’s way easier to remove unneeded frequencies than trying to add something that was not there in the first place, after the fact.

You might want to revisit this idea, teryea. You’ll find that if you pay good attention to the higher freq’s when tracking, and ignoring the tone knob as far as “bass” per se, you actually end up with more signal to work with when your bass gets laid into by all the successive/accompanying signal.

There will also be more harmonics present, which I think are what give you a lot of the sound you end up with. Now, when mixing down your tracks, you pump up the bass track’s lo-EQ, and the sound stands up and pushes aside all the sounds that would have covered it. It does sound backwards, but it’s tried and true.

Oi, Bill! Concerning the reference to Maria’s post (I pulled it together! Yay for Sloom!):

Your point is well-taken about getting used to what you work with. I do think that the flatter (less ‘peaky’) the monitors’ response is, the better (obviously); we need convention to keep us honest! And to give us a standard by which to measure this and that.

I have these Fostex PM 0.5’s, and they tend to be ‘light’ on the bottom. I just have to get used to them, I guess… I am, too, I think (light on the bottom :laugh: ). They were the first monitors I’ve ever bought. Things just take time. Learning about how you hear, as you make mention of in a roundabout way, comes into alignment with a more objective ear (‘the truth’) eventually.

Practice, rest. Repeat!

Far as the need for a sub, I’m out on that one still. Although it might be expedient, I’m not sure I can’t live without it. A second monitoring idea would be helpful, sure- like a cheap stereo, or even a boom-box. But I’m pretty sure that you can learn to hear a lot of subtleties with practice, and I don’t think there’s any real good “Easy Way” to do this.

So in short, you’re right!

Great discussion here. Lots to think about and experiment with!
In the meantime, here’s the link to the chart of key EQ frequencies I mentioned above:

http://www.recordingwebsite.com/rwtip/archive/rw15r.html

It’s organized by frequency, rather than by instrument, but it’s easy to find the important bass frequencies:

50 Hz: Boost for fullness, cut to reduce "boominess"
100 Hz: Increase to add a harder bass sound to lowest frequency instruments.
400 Hz: Increase to add clarity to bass lines especially when speakers are at low volume.
800 Hz: Increase for clarity and “punch” of bass.
1.5 kHz: Increase for “clarity” and “pluck” of bass.
3 kHz: Increase for more “pluck” of bass.
5 kHz: Increase for more “finger sound” on bass
7 kHz: Increase for more “finger sound” on acoustic bass.

It’s a great chart to print out and keep on the wall by your workstation for reference…

I’ve got a handwritten version where I rearranged this to group the key frequencies by instrument. I’ll try to find time to type it up and share it here.

Also, I took those frequencies and set up flat EQ presets in N-Track for each instrument. When you call them up, they are flat, but with EQ points for each of the important frequencies. Obviously, you have to tweak every new track differently, but it’s a good place to start…

Rock on!
PR

Boring old ampegs! :O

:)

I was going to say: buy an ampeg…

For a good cheap compressor, you might want to pick up a used DBX MC-6, which goes for about 40 bucks on Ebay. It was designed for guitar and bass in part.

For bass guitar (an old Vantage Avenger strung with Rotosound standard gauge strings), I use a Boss LMB-3 bass limiter/enhancer followed by a Behringer BDI21 DI-box. I am not a great bass player by any stretch, but this setup gives me a crisp, warm and even tone, which is very easily modified to suit different types of music. However, YMMV…

regards, Nils

This is GREAT…I didn’t think my post would turn into a full blown discussion… I think my head is going to explode…

I have an alesis 3630 Compressor Limiter with Gate that i use with my GK…is it a good Idea to use that recording on my mic’d singnal or should I depend on n-tracks plugins…
also I have never really got my settings on the Compressor were i like them can anyone direct me to somewhere i can find some tips on each module in the compressor and what its purpose is…ie…Ratio Attack
Sorry Newbie question!!!

If you like messing with your equipment, you might try this modification for your 3630:

http://www.recording.org/e-mag/article_81.shtml

or here for a kit or to have someone else do it:

http://www.blacklionaudio.com/alesis_3630_mod.html

I personally like to use outboard stuff when I can, even cheap stuff, rather than puglins, dunno why but it usually sounds “better” in some unspecified way…

As to settings, it depends on the sound you want. Best thing to do is to learn about the controls and then try everything, including the things you are not supposed to try. :D


the thing is, everyone gets down on th4e 3630, but what if home recording folks like most of us had something like that at that sort of price 25 years ago?

Hi Guys:
As I go down the replies there are lots of different approaches that everyone uses as references to achieve their “End Product”…

One thing I do before setting up for a "Mix Session is… I will adjust my hearing by listening to some CD’s that I would like this project to emulate… I listen at some lower sound pressure level… Not At the Sound Pressure Level that I’ll use to Mix… With…

IT’s sortta like the Bottom Time of what a diver can tollerate… As I age I can only be in the MIX ZONE for smaller times… Beyond the MIX ZONE time I find that no more productivity can be HAD… At one time I thought I could tollerate 4-5 hours… Well… now it’s not much more than an hour, if at all… And any break in the concentration “Screws that All Up”…

Sloom…

Comming back to “Bottom End Subs”… I’m comming to the realization that they sound nice when your in the “Listening Mode” but I don’t think they have any place to the “Mixing Session”

In my opinion… of course…

They distort your relitive listening points… and make your hearing lazy and a number of other attributes that don’t help your Mix’s “End Product”…

It’s like if you need to get somewhere and you are fatigued, and don’t concentrate on your driving, you might not end up where you want to go… Well…

If you’re a bass player and you go on the stage while drinking too much… Don’t expect to help the stage out with your Abilities and Ego… and All…

Bill…