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How do you get a good bass sound?

Discussion in 'Bass' started by tyCobb, Dec 26, 2007.

  1. tyCobb

    tyCobb Guest

    Hi, a bandmate of mine has been recording bass on a good fender through a decent head/cab setup. We're unsure of a few things such as:

    1. what are good mics for recording bass guitar? We have sm57's, e606's,which work well for guitar, but don't know if they're the best for bass.

    2. we'd like a thick sound that "pops" out of the speakers (without clipping) rather than just being low and muddy and really not adding any bass, as in punch (instead of just low frequencies)...any suggestions?

    We can get a good sound with the above mics, but like I said, we'd like for it to jump out and spread thickness and rumble throughout the mix rather than low, paper-flat hum.

    Any pointers will be received gratefully. Thanks!
  2. TheBear

    TheBear Guest

    i wouldnt recommend micing a bass amp. id use a DI box.

    but if you record a bass amp you could use a beta-52, 56, etc.

    im sure bent, cucco, remy, etc could think of even better mics to use if you still decide to mic it.
  3. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Mic away!

    421 in front of the cone, a 4033 or 4050 in the room.

    Blend into DI to taste.


    Oh, and another tip: Don't crank the low eq up on the amp like you might on stage - a little goes a long way, same reason you don't need to bring a 4x12 into the studio. Play around with the mic placement until you get the definition of the notes to 'pop out'.
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I would like to add a touch to Jeremys' post. Not only do you NOT need the EQ that you would normally use in a stage situation, but also you only need the volume to be slightly above talking volume. Nothing more. Mic it right up close. Use a room mic a couple of feet out directly from the speaker. Blend to taste when its done.

    The clarity and frequency response you'll discover at this setting will ASTOUND you. really.

    And what happens to sound thats really clean and dynamic when its recorded? Yes, it sounds good, but better than that, you can crank the livin hell outta it when you mix it and it doesnt add any 'bad' artifacts to its sound. Easy to control, clean and clear, punchy and full, whadda'ya want already...!
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    And then there are those of us that will take a direct out of the bass head cabinet if it has a direct output and/or a high impedance active direct box to the Neve 3115 preamp/EQ and overdrive the front end. Boy oh boy, no EQ, no limiter, big fat round sound that cuts right through from top to bottom. Sometimes, I'll back the preamp down and throw in a 1176 LN with all 4 buttons mashed in. I might tweak a little EQ one way or the other but generally, with the above setups, hardly ever screw around with the sound much once I dial things in. I'm still mixing this Led Zeppelin cover band and I'm doing both examples to the bass on different cuts as the same settings are not appropriate for all songs. I'll post it soon for all to hear.

    And on that subject, who hear thinks who has the best sound online for these demonstration purposes? My Space, Pando.com, etc.? I've heard some really bad examples out I'm not sure if it's the originating master or whatever compression crap the web sites convert our stuff to?

    Looking stupid, stupidly looking
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  6. fourone3

    fourone3 Active Member

    I use a Radial J48 for DI and SM57 and/or AKG D112 and have been pleased with the results.

    And since I have the DI track, I can always use the Radial X-Amp and re-amp the track and adjust the mics until I'm satisfied :)
  7. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    It may not be the sound your going for, but I really like a RE-20 on a bass cab. I usally DI and throw a mic in front of the speaker cone. Sometimes I will compress the hell out of one on the signals and mix to taste.

    By all means throw a mic up and have fun!
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Or just throw up?

    Ms. Remy Ann David
  9. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I've used a Summit 2BA-211 preamp that provides simultaneous MIC and DI inputs to be used. I'll plug the bass into the DI side, a 421 or an RE-20 into the mic input, and blend the 2 together through the tube output stage.
    Being able to vary the blend between the sources will provide you with a neat "Master Tone" control, so to speak. Maybe a little limiting to rein-in the popping dynamics. I like the FMR RNLA for that...
    Besides the Sennheiser 421 or the E-V RE-20, another decent bass amp mic is the A-T ATM25. Which one you'll use is dependent upon your budget.
    Addendum: Regarding Remy's remark about sites and their crappy sound.
    I, too, have been frustrated listening to these clips. It seems that they all have a too-limited bandwidth and puny dynamic range, plus glitchy artifacts galore. Any suggestions?
  10. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Off topic- moonbaby how does the FMR RNLA handle bass? Just curious because I had trouble with distortion with RNC with low frequencies.
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Dog...you must be seeing stuff...I didn't post yet.

    Anyway - "That" bass sound. It can be tricky.

    When using DI alone, I REALLY like a good, clean DI such as the Radial J48 or the REDDI box. I'm not a fan of the Avalons or the Manleys in this case as they tend to fatten it up and contrary to popular belief, bass usually doesn't need fattening.

    When mic'ing, I'll use what I have available and usually can get a good sound with just about any mic. The 57 works fine. My biggest beef with it is that it's a slow mic. Because of this, it smooths the transients a bit and you loose a little of the snap which gives the bass its presence and attack.

    For dynamics, my absolute favorite for bass is the MD441. It's a tad pricey (much better when bought used) but sounds F-ing awesome on bass. It's fast enough to pick up the transients and still retains that dynamic quality.

    I also like some condensers for the job. u87/u67 work fine as does the SP C1. I really dig the SoundElux U195 (or Bock 195...same thing.)

    I personally feel that compression and/or limiting can suck the life right out of a bass, especially when overdone and only a little bit is ever needed. There are always exceptions to this rule. For example, I'm mixing a recording of a 250 piece marching band that had two basses through two MASSIVE Ampeg stacks that I recorded with a single omni mic between the two of them (both playing the same part). Other than the trickiness of getting the mic placed just right to avoid phase issues, compressing the bass is a nightmare.

    The sound they want is a bass pad of sorts with a clean attack. In this case, I'm using an 1176 with a medium attack and a long release. It helps to keep the front end in tact while really fattening the tail.

    If I wanted more front end and less sustain, then I'd just pull the release back a bit. In this case, it's squashed - majorly. In your case, I'd only add light compression - 2 to 4 dB reduction at peaks would be good. Too much more and you'll fatten it and it doesn't sound like that's what you want to do.

    If you want to blend DI and Mic, this is very effective too.

    I also like Remy's idea - take the output from the head if it has it. That way, you're getting all that juicy amplification circuitry and none of that pesky cone noise or excess 60Hz...

    So many ideas, so little time.

    Just play with it. (Wait - that will make you go blind...Thank God for my braille keyboard.)

  12. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Not bad. I use it in the insert loop on the Summit. I don't know how it will do in your situation, though. What I have noticed, with BOTH of the FMR processors, is thet the low-end DOES get 'dicey' as headroom gets lowered. Example: using The Brick into either the RNC or the RNLA will result in distortion as the frequency goes down, mainly because the Brick has such a "hot" output. I don't recall what the exact ouput level of the insert on the Summit is (-6dB?), but it sure as hell doesn't beat up on the FMRs the way some other preamps do. That is probably my only bitch about the FMR stuff. Well...
  13. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    How did those bass players march around with "2 massive Ampeg stacks"?
    Dollies and 300-ft extension cords? Did the cheerleaders push them around? I dated a cheerleader once, and she could push me around all she wanted to... :cool:
  14. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    lol- Yep I have to agree, if FMR (FMR are you listening) could just bump up the RNC rails, LINK would buy more of their products. And he might even keep this time.
  15. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Ha...fortunately, the band was stationary.

    The cheerleaders....they were in the control room with me, lava lamps and some Colt 45....yeaaaahh...
  16. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Geez? I've never had problems getting a good bass sound except out of a bad sounding bass. If you have a crappy instrument with crappy pickups, it doesn't matter if you are Stanley Clarke, it will sound like crap.

    I'll take a bass any way I can get it. I get great bass sounds. Sometimes just barefoot, with no equalization and/or compression/limiting. Sometimes with a 1176 with all four buttons depressed, loads of equalization and SPX90II and/or PCM 70. Recently, I had fun just taking a bass track and over cranking the gain on my Neve 3115. Jesus! Sounded so great, dense, fat, round, warm, punchy. Didn't quite sound the same when I tweaked gain to normal levels, i.e. not overloaded. Of course, there was no sound or sense of overload as, this was producing more second harmonic distortion from the class A front end of the operational amplifier. At normal gain levels, it lacked a sense of thickness and then also felt like it needed a limiter? Barefoot with the gain over cranked, no equalization and no limiting, it was UBER COOL and sat perfectly in the mix!

    From the bass up
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Did I say Jeremy? MadCow I'm sure of it!

    Bass at my place comes through the SWR Interstellar Overdrive Preamp/DI with the BBE762 as an insert.

    Lots of things work.......Lots of things cause more problems later on.

    I like the BASS to be almost done when its recorded. So the instrument has to sound great and the player has to be a righteous DUDE with impecable timing and touch, as well as a groove that says simply............."Yeow Baby......"

    I get triple scale.
  18. Music_Junky

    Music_Junky Active Member

    I had the same problem when I begun recording bass. After the bassplayer in my band bougt this DI/Driver thing: http://www.tech21nyc.com/bassdriver.html
    It got alot better.

    Now I can get good bass sound with or with out it but it helpt me when I was starting out.

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