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Recording Bass Guitar Straight To Recorder or Miced?

Discussion in 'Bass' started by toneuc, Jun 18, 2007.

  1. toneuc

    toneuc Guest

    I am very new at recording music. I own a Zoom MRS 802B recorder. When I record the bass I plug straight into the machine. The sound is very muddy and far from pure. I was wondering if it is better to mic the amp and record that way. If anyone has suggestions please let me know.

    Take it easy on me, remember I am new at this. Thanks
  2. tifftunes

    tifftunes Active Member

    I'm not familiar with your recorder. However, I am quite familiar with recording bass.

    You could record direct (DI for direct injection) a couple of different ways - plug the bass directly into the recorder (as I assume you have already done), or plug into an outboard pre-amp before the recorder for more control and gain, or into any one of many pedals first then to the recorder or pre-amp.

    To mic the bass amp, all you need to do is listen for the "sweet spot" in front of the amp and place a mic there. I highly recommend a low powered tube amp. I have used vintage Fender Princeton Amps and Fender Deluxe Amps through bass cabs, and (more quietly) through their own speakers, with great success. However, be careful if you use the built-in speaker because it can easily be damaged if pushed too hard. Little guitar amps can sound great for bass though. Properly recorded it can sound huge.

    Recording anything is an experimental process of elimination anyway. So experiment away and have fun as you learn what works for you.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Even if you end up deciding to record the amp, you should figure out what is causing the problem with your direct recording. The only things I can see would be a muddy sound coming from your bass (old strings? low battery in an active unit?) or you are overdriving a preamp in the recorder or clipping (turn down the bass? trim pot in the recorder?)

    Can you give us more info about the bass and how you are making connections?
  4. toneuc

    toneuc Guest

    Thank you for the replys.

    I am using a Fender P-Bass and using (DI) into the Bass/Guitar input on the recorder. I have also tried the INput 1 & 2 and recording with 2 tracks (stereo, I think). I recently bought a Zoom 607 bass pedal for added boost but it still sounds muddy. I sincerely appreciate the help.

  5. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    The Bass/Guitar input on your recorder might be the so called Hi-Z inputs. In that case you should be able to record without DI and plug straight in.
  6. toneuc

    toneuc Guest

    I am sorry. I am confused. I know that DI stands for direct injection, but what exactly does that mean?

    Also, when I plug directly into the recorder the volume is low and some notes do not sound true. Could this be because the built-in preamp of the recorder is not strong enough and I need a separate preamp? Thanks
  7. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    The manual might help here :D.

    How is the read out when you plug in without DI? Does it stay beneath 0dB?

    A DI picks up an unbalanced signal like that of a guitar and makes it a balanced signal, nothing more/nothing less. A balanced signal can travel a longer way without interference. Some DI's (active DI's) might even boost your signal up from consumer level -10dB to a pro line +4dB signal.

    To plug a bass or guitar into balanced line input your signal chain should look like

    Guitar/Bass -> DI -> Line Input

    If you have an instrument input, leave the DI out, just go straight in using your guitar cord.

    What could make a world of difference is if your guitar or bass is active (battery powered electronics inside). In that case you definately need a DI. A passive instrument should be fine going into that special input.

    A separate preamp, perhaps even something simple as a SansAmp might get you a better sound still.
  8. toneuc

    toneuc Guest

    No the level is above 0db. Maybe I am just not going to get that bass sound as if I was playing through an amp. Is it possible that it all comes down to mixing properly?

    I have read the manual cover to cover and the chapter about recording bass/guitar is very basic. The Sansamp you speak of, do you know about how much it costs?
    thanks again
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    How much above 0dB? Is it possible you are clipping? Try turning the bass down a bit. Turn the tone control up. If there is a trim pot on the direct recording channel, turn that down as well. A direct recorded Fender P-bass will not sound like it does through an amp, but it should be a nice clean, thumpy, tone. Nothing I would describe as "very muddy and far from pure." What are you using to listen to the recorded sound?
  10. toneuc

    toneuc Guest

    Thank you so much for the reply. I believe it reaches about 4 or 5db. I am using Sony MDR 7506 Stereo Headphones. Unfortunately I cannot afford monitor speakers right now.

    Bob-Do you think a bass head would help?
  11. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The 802B has an instrument input that is designed to take guitar pickups directly without needing a DI box. Assuming you are already using that input, the muddy sound could be due to having too much signal from your bass and overloading the input of the 802B.

    Experiment. What happens if you turn the volume knob down on the guitar? You will have to increase the volume when you replay the recording, but the thing to listen for is whether the muddiness is still there.

    You will get a quite different sound from connecting the guitar directly to the recorder than from using a microphone to pick up the sound from the guitar amplifier cabinet. This subject has been covered extensively in these forums, but briefly you could either (a) blend the mic channel with the direct channel in a ratio that gives you a sound you like, or (b) play the direct channel back though the same or a different amplifier and mic that (a technique known as re-amping) to get a mix of sounds. If the different channels are panned away from centre in L and R directions, the stereo effect enhances the sound.
  12. toneuc

    toneuc Guest

    Thank you Boswell. Those are techniques I will try for sure.
  13. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Using headphone may make it hard for you to get a mix that translates to other sound systems, but the Sonys are fine for listening to the tone of your bass.

    Before you buy any new gear, I'd try to learn how to record a good direct tone from your bass. Follow Boswell's recommendations. You may find a direct tone too sterile and uninteresting; but if you are not recording a clean, articulate tone then you are having problems with either your bass or the settings on the recorder. If you add another piece to the puzzle without correcting the problems you are having it is just going to get more confusing.

    As far as the bass - it is some sort of Fender P. What kind of strings and how new are they? How is your live sound through the amp?

    As far ast the recorder - Have you tried to record a guitar direct? Another bass? A naked guitar sound will be even more sterile, but is it clean and sweet or muddy?
  14. toneuc

    toneuc Guest

    BR: I am using Fender NPS strings which have been on about a month with relatively low amounts of playing time. It sounds great live.

    I don't have another bass and my cousin has my elec guitar so I can't try that until tomorrow. I will mess with it and use the information you guys have given me. While I have your attention, if you wouldn't mind directing me to a good place to learn about mixing down tracks.

    thank you all so much for the help. Awesome. I just hope I can help someone out one day.
  15. _bryan_

    _bryan_ Guest

    I have not done any recording, but I do know bass guitars and regular guitars (6 string) sound muddy when played through hifi amplifiers.

    What is probably required here is a low pass filter. The lower end of the bass needs to be rolled off.

    Bass guitar and regular guitar amplifiers have low pass filters built in to prevent the muddy sound.

    Recording the bass clean (DI) allows you to play back the recording through any guitar amp you like and re-record (mic the speaker) as you are doing so. This give the most flexability.
  16. toneuc

    toneuc Guest

    Thank You


    Thank you so much for the advice!

  17. _bryan_

    _bryan_ Guest

    Actually, it requires a high pass filter, not a low pass filter, to roll off the lower end.

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