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recording bass guitar

Discussion in 'Bass' started by took-the-red-pill, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    I'll be brief. i'm just looking for a starting point, but the more specifics, the better.

    You're recording basic pop-rock stuff. The bassist brings in...let's say a P-Bass, to keep it simple. He brings in his bass amp too, which is a decent one.(I'm not up on the sought after bass amps, sorry)

    Do you:

    a)place a ____________(model #)microphone__________distance from the cabinet, and go with that?

    b)plug a _____________(brand)D.I. into the output of the cabinet, and use that entirely

    c)record both, each to its own track, and then blend from there

    d)To hell with the amp, plug the bass directly into a______________(brand name) D.I. and go for it.

    Thanks folks

  2. hackenslash

    hackenslash Active Member

    a)place an SM58/SM57 close to the cab, pointed at the cone, slightly off-centre, where it sounds best.
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I recently discovered the Hartke Bass Attack pre/DI and have used it on a project. It has a smooth modern fet kind of sound and is under a hundred bucks at GitarMart.

    I could fill in the blanks as you put up, but this is something you learn as you go.....so trial and error is the best teacher here.

    The unit I mentioned makes it fairly straightforward.
  4. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Electric bass has a tendency to bleed into everything, even through walls. This makes things too muddy for me. I get best results with a DI right on the bass. Some saturation, then compression, then EQ is my normal chain.
  5. Greener

    Greener Guest

    Gecko, Iso cab or re-amp.

    Amps rule.

    my 1/50th
  6. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Amps rule for electric guitar, but for bass in pop/rock recordings I can live with out one in the studio, and I'm a bass player.
  7. Greener

    Greener Guest

    I've played a bass before too.

    DI is alright, but to get that real spine connecting bass you gotta run it through an amp.

    I don't buy into plugins or digital saturation and compression.

    For me though, DI is better than any amp I can find.

    So yeah... Make do with what you got.
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I'm a bass player who hasn't owned a bass amp in years, so that tells you where I am coming from in terms of personal preferences. But a lot of players have invested a lot of time sculpting their tone through the amps, and so you have to give capturing that a go. Now "spine connecting bass" live is a lot different than recorded, and a great live bass rig often does not record well. I'd always put a bass into a Countryman DI before connecting to the rig and take the direct feed to another track.
  9. Greener

    Greener Guest

    What do you do to the bass you get after using the Countryman DI to record it? Just play it straight back through monitors to get the full enjoyment or do you process? If so, how and using what tools?

    Also how do you record this DI signal? Through another pre-amp then into converters then onto digital medium or onto tape or wax?
  10. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Agreed. When I play out I use an Ampeg 115 and love it, but in the studio I have never been happy with it.
  11. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Thanks guys, this gives me a starting point, and better.

    And I guess I should have thought of this before, but I searched on Youtube, and I found this:


    okay, so the name Countryman has now come up twice. That could work.

    I noticed E.T. mentioned that he prefers them to have a Jensen Transformer in the D.I. This Radial does have one, and the sound guys at the folk club I volunteer at swear by them. I may consider that as well, for a couple hundred bones.


  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I've just record myself this way when recording our church band live. We took the direct outs from the soundcraft spirit board into an Alesis HD24. Note that I play a P-bass with flats and go for a very old school sound, so the countryman into the board works well for me live. For the recordings - really just for band members to practice to - I added compression and eq. and that was it.

    When I record in the studio, I go through a Bass POD ProXT. When I get new preamps, I always try them out in comparison to the POD, but nothing has really moved me yet. I suppose if I added an optical compressor and an EQ unit to my API 3124 it would beat the POD, but in comparison the POD is cheap and easy to use and rack. Besides, I'm using all of my good preamp channels on other instruments.
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    This is so true. In my studio, currently, I have a plethora of bass devices to record with and play through. Theres the early 60's B15 head, an SWR Workingmans head, cabinets w/ 1-15' EV,2-10' EV's,1-12' JBL, 2-15' Cetecs, and a little Crate Keyboard amp which records bass at a low volume very well. The only person who records through any of this stuff is me, and only when I'm in experimental mode.

    In the control room, theres a BBE MaxT bass pre, an SWR Interstellar Overdrive bass pre, a Countryman 85 DI, the aforementioned Hartke DI/pre, and 32 channels of Soundcraft pres. These get used. ALL the time. Why? They sound great. The set-up time is very small(the SWR pre has its own channel) You can get ANY bass sound you want provided you have the bass for that particular sound, and (this is the best part) they are extremely easy to MIX. Theres no standing waves or other odd anomolies putting in their two cents when it comes time to add all the tracks together.

    For what its worth.........I have been playing bass for 40 years and recording for at least 35.

    I dont regularly recommend a lot of things as far as gear. I do have some favorites and mention them but am not usually sold on a particular piece simply because so many pieces do the job well and ,as is the case always, YMMV..........

    BUT! For the small studio owner, who struggles with bass.....and theres a lot of you....its hard to get good bass....This Hartke piece is the real deal.

    And cheaper than a Chinese Condenser.
  14. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I sort of want to disagree with Dave, but maybe we're not actually that far apart. I've felt that recording bass is pretty easy. P-bass, flats, DI/preamp, eq, compression, play for the groove and stay out of everyone's way. A lot of different variations on the theme, but it's basically all good.

    Of course, the place where my theory falls apart is when someone wants a brighter "lead bass" sound. Then you are fighting for sonic space with a lot of other instruments and it's tougher to get the job done. I've haven't really played that way much, so maybe that's the source of the difference of opinion.

    A big part of the problem might be the happy face, scooped EQ that so many bassists in that style use to play live. Then you are using true bass (sub 80 Hz) frequencies to move a lot of air and hit people in the chests. Works well with the right live rig, but hard to make an effective recording. Old school rigs like the B-15 or even (to a lesser degree) the SVT put a lot of power in the next octave or so. Their live sound is easier to translate into a recording.

    Another way to think about this is that there is essentially no way to put the experience of a good live bass rig on a .wav file. For those of us who play bass, this is not a bad thing.
  15. Greener

    Greener Guest

    I read, I may have absorbed. I book marked.
    Thanks guys.
  16. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Interesting discussion guys. Thanks for the input.

    Dave, you're pretty insistent on that Hartke unit, so I'll give 'er a shot.

    I think I'll talk to my local music store to see if I can bring home a Hartke, the Radial JDI, and a Countryman. Then I'll record some stuff on each of them, and compare them on their own, and in a mix. Then I'm assuming one ought to pick the one that sounds best in a mix???

    It will be interesting to find out if my ears are discerning enough to tell the difference.

    I'd even post the results here for you, in MP3 form, but alas, I kinda suck on bass, so to save me great embarrassment, you'll just have to imagine it.

    Cheers mates
  17. Brien

    Brien Guest

    I imagined it was well played and sounded pretty good ;)
  18. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    While we're on the subject, can you tell me exactly what piece of gear i have to buy to play like this?


    ...maybe the secret is to play naked.
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Bob, recording bass is made much easier when adhered to with the method you espouse. My point was to those who arent primarily bassists and lack the fundamental approach to the instrument that you and I and a few others on here can apply to it..... As well as the plethora of different devices which enable the sound to be fairly..automatic.

    I am the illegitimate step-child once removed of James Jamerson and John Paul Jones with Andy Fraser and Boz Burrell as second cousins, so the bottom part of the music is my realm. And I know where you're coming from, so, we really are in agreement.

    Mr.red-pill, all the units you're going to check out are outstanding. If they happen to have an Avalon U5 there, play through it so you know what to strive for in the future.
  20. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    A practice room and a metronome...Maybe new strings.

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