bass mixing idea

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by drumist69, Aug 15, 2007.

  1. drumist69

    drumist69 Active Member

    I didn't know where else to put this, so here goes...As Davedog and others may know, I've had issues with getting a decent bass sound on my tracks. Many reasons for this, won't re-hash them here. Anyway! Friend of mine suggests to me, since this bass player is all over the fret-board, low to mid to high and such, why not think of it like a keyboard? Take the bass track, make two copies. You have three identical bass tracks. Pan one toward the left (say 30%) and eq it to favor the low end. Pan another to the right (same percentage) and eq to favor the highs. The third stays centered (or almost centered) and favors the mids. Mix to taste. Has anyone tried this before?

    I thought it sounded like a pretty interesting idea, and I'm working on a test mix of a song using this concept. I'll post some before and after once I have something done, but wanted to see if anyone has thoughts on the general concept. Let me know! Andy
  2. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    My instinct (27 years bass and guitar, some of them semi-pro) tells me that this is not something for more than an experiment. I don't think it is a viable technique for everyday mixes.

    Try it, Andy. We'll stay "tuned."
  3. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Can't hurt to try, but it may be difficult, and could muck things up badly.

    First thing is you'd have to record or eq everything else in that panned space to fit around the bass. When the bass is on the low side, everything there needs to have it's own space, and then when it moves to the center or high side, the bass space will be empty.

    Then the crossover points in moving it from this pan spot to another may give you fits. Unless you do it carefully, it could have dips in the bass and a radical jump from side to mid to side because the frequencies don't end and start smoothly, and there could be a gap in them. OR, it could jump in volume because the frequencies overlap too much between two adjacent pan positions.

    Personally, I think it would be more trouble than it's worth. If you deal with it down the middle, along with the kick, then all you have to do is worry about the lead vocal and maybe a lead guitar or something, which can be dealt with easier, because both generally don't get down into the main meat of the bass.

    It could make the kick harder to deal with, since the kick comes down the middle, usually. It could make things sound kind of "swimmy" in the low end. I don't think I'd try 30% if I were to try it. Maybe something barely left and barely right, if at all.

    Maybe you're giving the bass player too much spectrum, and he/she is trampling all over everyone else? Maybe the bass needs to be reigned in a bit frequency-wise, and perhaps compressed more carefully? Any good musician knows they have to make certain sacrifices for the good of the music as a whole. Of course, if the bass player IS the featured instrumentalist, and everyone is striving to showcase that, then maybe some experimentation won't hurt.

    I know they do that with some recorded pianos, etc., and pianos can get fairly low. But they generally craft the rest of the music to that consideration, and you generally would hear any bass guitar still down the middle. They just know how to get things to politely step around each other, instead of causing a free-for-all frequency brawl.

    If you have a rhythm and lead guitar, perhaps pan those. If you like the lead guitar down the middle, perhaps you can compromise and have the lead guitar not go so low, and the bass stay out of the guitar's way while while he burns? Basically, just be cognizant of where the other guy is, and try to stay out of each other's way. The bass player doesn't HAVE to necessarily hit a 12th fret B-string note while the guitar player hits the same note on the low E. The same notes are all over the fretboards. of course, maybe that ain't the problem at all. It's just something my guitar-player friend does every time he tries to play bass. Give him a couple of beers and any instrument, and he's the virtuoso of any, and all others need to make room for him! :shock:

    Anyway, the main problem I could envision is getting the pans to flow into and out of each other smoothly. May even be better using a brighter direct, and a "bassier" mic'ed speaker to do something like that, and goosing each just a smidge to the other side, while leaving most in the middle?

    I dunno. Interesting question. Just some thoughts.

    Have fun,

  4. KroMag

    KroMag Active Member

    I might be showing my ignorance here, but sonically speaking I've always been under the impression that lows (sub-150 hz or so) should be kept panned straight down the middle in order to take advantage of both speakers reproducing the signal, thus reducing the load on the individual speakers. However, I don't think this should get in the way of an artistic statement as long as the bass is intended to be a lead instrument and not part of the kick groove.
  5. drumist69

    drumist69 Active Member

    Good input from everyone...Thanks! The bass is not the "featured" instrument, more than anything else. This is definitely busy, dynamic music in general. I think Kapt. Krunch hit the nail on the head. The bass is given too much of the spectrum, and needs to be reined in some. I'll be sure to pay more attention to the bass sound next time we record! Thanks! Andy
  6. I agree with KroMag- pan it down the center- always. Bass frequencies are hard to locate in the panorama anyway, so why not, like he said, lighten the load of one speaker. Can't get a good bass sound? If using software, try Ampeg's SVX plug-in- OMG, it's cool, and you can use it after the fact, which I like a lot. You'll definitely like this plug.

    See ya!
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Andy....You know what I think....

    As a bassist for **(&^%$#something years, I have found that the biggest mistake many many bass players make is choosing gear that, while cool, isnt the right gear for the style of bass that the particular player is playing.

    If you're gonna play busy, then you damnsure are going to need a bass with strong pickups that acurrately reproduce every note. Busy doesnt translate well with a bass or bass gear that sits really low on the bottom. A more midrangy and guitar-like response is needed. The notes have to be heard and this requires quick and clear response. A bass part thats simply pedalling the root and maybe working a bit against the drumbeat can get by with a sound that warm and fuzzy... but busy with this sound is gonna get buried or is gonna be doing the burying itself.

    Your material requires the bass to be a counter to the guitar, to have some beef, yet be articulate. Hasnt happened yet from what I have heard though I'm waiting for the day it does. You're gonna move up a whole step in the music world.

    Sometimes, you just gotta get real about the gear choices and realize its time to make the change to make it all better.......Hes a good player...he needs to refine the sound and define the technique.
  8. drumist69

    drumist69 Active Member

    This is all very true, Dave. The 4-string he uses is a Warwick Fortress 1. Not sure what kind of pickups it has in it. He also uses a custom built 6-string on certain songs, and this thing seems to have the clarity and punch missing from the Warwick. If you still have that CD of the first batch of songs, he plays the 6-string on "Systematic Fade".

    All that being said, I've pretty much come to the conclusion that the next time we record, I need to pay A LOT more attention to the bass tone going in. I'm also going to try another DI for him. I feel like the bass is the big thorn in my side, and I'm willing to do just about anything to yank that sucker out! Andy

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