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Getting that deep, pro bass sound

Discussion in 'Bass' started by rp911, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. rp911

    rp911 Guest

    I'm delving into mixing some multitrack live recordings of my rock band. I'm micing a Bergantino 12" cabinet with a Beta 52A, and taking a direct off the bass player's 5-string Modulus bass.

    How do you pros manage to get that deep, solid bass tone that you hear at a live concert, or on a good studio recording? EQ? Compression? It's proving elusive to me.

    I'm not just talking about in the context of the mix; I am getting good results with some careful high pass filtering of the kick drums, organ and other instruments in the low frequencies as far as getting the bass to sit well in the mix. But it's that deep, resonating tone I'm having difficulty finding. I was at a country music show and the whole band was just sitting right on the bass player's low end, and he was just using a Fender Precision into an Ampeg head with no cabinets onstage at all (in ears). It wasn't a particularly articulate tone, I didn't hear a lot of his fingers or attack, just that solid sound that filled the venue in those registers.

    I am using Logic Studio on a Mac, btw.
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    The really deep tone is going to have to come from the DI side of things.
    What type of DI are you using to try to get this?
  3. rp911

    rp911 Guest

    It's a Radial Pro DI ... a pretty basic piece.
  4. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    The Modulus basses I've heard all sounded like a million bucks in the hands of a good bass player. (a poor bass player usually can't afford one) If you can get your hands on a nice tube pre-amp, tube compressor, or active pre-amp - you might find what you're looking for. I use a Groove-Tubes Brick / TL Audio Fatman / or Avalon U5 for bass, depending on the sound we're trying to get.

    Don't be afraid to experiment with mixing in the mic, but it had better be shoved up close to the speaker - or it might get 'phasey' with the DI sound.

    You also have to EQ your bass so it doesn't conflict with the kick and other low frequency instruments to give it clarity. Give them all a place of their own in the audio spectrum where they can shine.

    My 2 cents.

    Good luck!
  5. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    +1 The bass drum and bass need to have separate boosted frequencies. I like boosting the bass drum around 40 Hz and the bass around 60 Hz, but whatever works for you.

    Another thing you have to factor in to consideration is what is being used to play the bass: picks and fingers will require different EQing. I find that using fingers are pretty much essential if you want that "mushy earthquake" bass sound that is popular these days. I'm more about getting the bass to cut through the mix, but I still cut the extended highs a lot. An aggressive low pass at 4,000-5,000 Hz might get you closer to where you want to be. Also, finding a low frequency to boost helps a lot. If you boost around 110-120 Hz you should be getting the sweet spot that will fatten up the bass while giving it more girth.

    While the bass being used is very nice, one thing to be careful with when using a DI is losing definition, that is, the bass just becomes a vibration and you can't hear the individual notes so well. Some people like this, but I hate it. Mixing in some mic signal will help bring the clarity back to the bass while retaining that phenomenal "mushy earthquake" tone.
  6. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    In mixing I often get a "thin" bass track to have work with. If I am not able to get the bass player in to re-track it, I have used with some success plug ins like waves maxxbass to create low frequency hamonics that were not present in the orginal recording.

    The best way is to record it right from the beginning. I like to use a Mic on the cabinet plus a decent DI.

    Recently I got a great deep sound by using a U87 on the cab and Radial JDI Direct. I used a Neve Portico 5012 Pre without silk engaged into a Cranesong Hedd 192 with a some pentode on. The amp was a line 6 bass amp, the bass was a ibanez SG 4 string. I Shifted the DI track to match the mic'd track and that was it.
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    ALL of the definition of a bass track is in the hands of the bassist.

    If the player doesnt dig the notes out and doesnt mute the strings to define the attack, you will get that blurred lowend. I dont care what recording method you use, what equipment is part of the chain, none of that matters when considering the attack.

    The left hand has almost as much to do with the definition as the right.

    Picks vs. fingers isnt an EQ choice per se. It is different. But doesnt mean it needs to be a different setting.

    When choosing the placement of the bass as opposed to the kick I feel you have to consider the style of the music before deciding which will carry the lowest sub frequencies. Not all music is kick=low with bass above.

    Country is a great example. The bass is almost always the lowest sub harmonic with the kick adding the essential thump for the movement of the beat. Sometimes this leaves the bass with very little definition but with the ability to move the chordal arrangement easily through moving the root.

    Bass is hard because it occupies so much space. Putting a compressor in front of an EQ allows you to filter certain compressed frequencies into the mix. Time aligning the DI with the mic is essential.

    These things are only recording techniques to clear up the bass path.

    Without the initial clarity of the bassists technique, these are only surgical.
  8. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member


    Sometimes you need to aim higher than you think. Don't boost frequencies below 100Hz (maybe even cut them?) and instead go for frequencies between about 150Hz and 300Hz approx. It often still suprises me how much of an illusion of low bass you can sometimes create by boosting in the low mids (or cutting those low mids in other parts.) I think that if your ears hear enough of the first few overtones of the bass, you brain kind of fills in the fundamental for you. Doesn't always work, but worth a try!
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    This is one of my favorites. But then I tend to go for an old school R&B style bass. Low mids were key to the sound of these old bass parts.

    The philosophy of mixing bass can be very different now and can be drastically different in live sound. So much live music is all about running as much power as possible through the subs and smacking people in the chest with 40Hz signals. Don't confuse that with what you are trying to get on your recorded mix.
  10. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    No more cab mic'ing for me, unless I just gotta' please someone...


    Cut out what you don't want

    Print it

    End of story

  11. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    Davedog, can you expand on the theory and practice of aligning the DI with the mic tracks?

  12. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Oooooh. Almost makes me wish I did live shows again!
  13. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    yeah... scored a pair of em'.....

    WICKED fat, meaty, beefy bottom... with grunt, grit and plenty of gusto if you need it.
  14. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Sounds like Boris the Spider on steroids!
  15. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma'am! :-?
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Think about it in the realm of the time it takes the sound to hit the diaphram of the mic'd cab and compare it to the time it takes the DI'd signal to get to the recorder/DAW/collecter/ETCETCETC....There will be a bit of a difference. Enough to blur the sound somewhat. If you are recording on a DAW then this process is easy. as you simply overlay the two tracks and match the peaks and dips of the signals.
  17. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    The low end will jump out at you when they are lined up the way Dave Dog explained it.
  18. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Agreed, but the op did say he was in a rock band and that he wanted that live bass sound. At least that was what I gathered from the original post.

    I did a dance song once for fun, and I ended up banishing the bass to the subs and low lows, and the kick sat above the bass. But for rock I think the bass would be above the bass drum in most cases, no? And of course, two people recording the same genre of music will have different opinions about where everything should sit EQ-wise, but to each his own.
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Certainly. My thoughts were of a general nature and not meant as a do-all-be-all.

    Although I have been right before.
  20. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    Davedog, would you slide the DI track back, or nudge the mic forward, or a combo of both, or whatever sounds better?

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