bass eq


I was wondering if someone could explain how to keep the upper register of a bass guitar in it’s own space so to speak, where it does not interfere with other instruments. I’ve noticed on pro recordings how the bass has it’s own space. Is this done with the shelving part of the eq? I’m using version 3.0 with the 3 band eq and shelving. I kind of understand what shelving is, but don’t quite know how to actually set up a shelf. Can someone clarify this and give me some general eq settings for bass guitar for an average easy listening song or a ballad?

A shelf is simply an EQ set so that all frequencies above or below a certain point are boosted/lowered the same. SO say you set up a low shelf at 250 hz. If you were to set that low shelf to +3db, all frequencies below 250hz woul dbe raised 3db.

So now we come to bass guitar. What gives bass guitar its precence in a mix is not the low end. The low end gives it body and mud, but never presence. This is done with the upper level harmonics. Don’t boost 80 or 100 hz expecting the bass guitar to sit better in the mix. All that does is create boom and mud as the kick drum and bass drum fight for space. Use your shelf (usually a low shelf) at maybe 150 hz to start with and start to lower it. This will cut off some of the the low end, but it will give the appearance of more high end. Then maybe cut some of the low mids and possibly boost a bit in the high end around 750-1200hz for more string attack. These are just starting points, but use your ears and when it sounds good it is good even if the EQ doesn’t look like you think it should. We don’t care how the EQ looks. We care how the mix sounds.

forget about shelving for just a minute. when i “process bass to keep it in it’s own #### space”, there are two things you should look at… eq AND compression. it may be that compression is all your track needs, but that is a discussion for another topic :O back to eq… generally, there are two things i want to hear from the bass in a mix… that low bottom end, and a bit of pluck from the strings. what does this leave out? the mids! as an experiment, try dipping a few db’s out of the mid frequencies (try about 500 hz), but that is just a starting point… listen and see what YOUR bass needs.

now back to shelving… i find that to get that bright string pluck, i need to boost the high frequencies on my bass track a bit. shelving is ONE way you could achieve this… try a high shelve around 3000 hz and see what that does. (note: i pulled the 3000 number out of my a**… experiment on your own bass track)

let us know how it goes.

I listen to the instrument I want to become clearer while eqing whatever instrument is masking it, but I don’t listen to the track I’m making changes to.

So, if I want to make the kick clearer or give it more thud, I’ll sweep eq the bass with a narrow deep cut, and while listening to the kick - not the bass.

When I find the freq I want to cut, I’ll decrease the cut until the masking is coming back in, and then increase it just a touch.

Keep in mind that the upper reg of the bass guitar can mask the guitar in certain parts too.


Thanks all 3 of you guys! I will try using eq first, just to see, hear & learn. How do you actually set up shelf at a certain fequency on the 3 band?

It’s one of those non-intuitive things that makes this so much fun - less low end can make bass sound better! :)

One other thing - re: masking - remember that there might be other instruments competing for space, e.g., kick and bass, so you can help one by using EQ on the other to make room for it. :)