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Recording bass

Discussion in 'Bass' started by liveit777, Apr 5, 2011.

  1. liveit777

    liveit777 Active Member

    Hi...... I was wondering if anyone new how to get that crisp smooth sound out of the bass when I record... I've got a few condenser mics and a few dynamic mics. Is there a general area of the speaker I should mic with certain mics? I'm just not getting the right sound. I know it's not much info. But could y'all help me anyway? Hoe do you record bass? Thanks and God Bless!
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Are you talking about an acoustic double bass, Hoffner or solid body electric? Fret or fretless? Do you feel that miking a cabinet is the only way to record bass? Would you consider both miking a cabinet & taking a direct. Then time aligning them down to the sample in your multitrack audio software? Do you feel limited? Or, do you feel unlimited when you want to record bass? Both? And in parallel? Don't worry there's nothing to FET about unless mu think there is? Do you think you have anything to gain with a pad or without a pad and less gain? You think You Tube should have one or could the Trans resist her? Personally, I would prefer to have a trans sister Instead of my kid bother. Either way I like to push the limits electronic technologies new or old.

    There, all you need to know about recording bass. English lessons cost more than audio lessons.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. song4gabriel

    song4gabriel Active Member

    "Hi...... I was wondering if anyone new how to get that crisp smooth sound out of the bass when I record?"

    I've been wondering this too for quite some time. Also if anyone knows how to get:
    that crisp smooth sound out of my guitar
    that crips smooth sound out of my singing
    that crisp smooth sound out of drums
    that crisp smooth sound out of my piano
  4. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    When I record bass I mic the cab 99% of the time. DI just doesn't sound right to me. Bass is about the player mostly. I made a tutorial for a different site about this some time ago.

    YouTube - Bass tutorial - Medium.m4v
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    A lot of this depends on style and playing technique as Remy indicates. For an old school style using flat wound strings and emphasizing the fundamental and the first few overtones a lot of people go direct. I do. But you probably wouldn't call that style "crisp" - at least the Jamerson, Dunn camp. Maybe Carole Kaye - who played (plays?) with a pick would be the crisp side of that school. When you get into the slap and pop school like Paul999 above people mic the cabinet a lot more. The amp and cab has a lot more to do with shaping the tone. Us old school guys call them "baritone guitarists," mostly because we're jealous that we can't play as fast as them, but also because of the tone.

    Now someone like Jaco sort of bridges the gap between the two schools. Is that what you mean by crisp smooth? I don't know anything about how Jaco was recorded. Anyone?
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    BTW I like this video by Audix on micing a guitar cab. The basic principles hold for bass cabs of course.
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    One of the great studio bassists, Joe Osborne, reportly used a Fender Super amp to record with. For those that dont know, its a guitar amp, open backed. I dont think he recorded very loud but I could be wrong about that. Real 'old school' is mostly amps. It wasnt until the mid 60's that the "direct injection" method became a standard in the studio. This came about through the machinations of some little known group called The Beatles asking for more and better toys. So the engineering dept. at EMI built a box that did this.

    Not to say this was the beginning. I'm sure that other recording engineers were building little do-dads like this for years before.

    That still didnt completely do away with amps for bass in a studio setting. It certainly begat the advancement of new techniques. Fender Bassman, Ampeg B15, Standell, Sunn,...all have been standard amps for the studio.

    These days, the modern studio guys have their racks full of gear and its plug and play for them. There are particular pieces that have the go-to sound. Check in with basstalk.com for discussions of some of these. Its a great site and completely dedicated to bass guitar and bass amplification in the most detailed sense.

    I like the combination. I am a bassist and have technique in my hands that a guitarist or other player might not have developed. I will use whatever it takes to get the 'basic' track solid and in the pocket. The tone will have a lot to do with my approach to the track. I will also choose a bass with a basic sound suited for the piece. I'm more likely to use an active bass for a more modern sound that may involve heavy attack or 'popping'. This will also involve a choice of string type. Stainless, roundwound, sounds different than nickle, roundwound, as does a multicore string compared to a solid-core. Flats are as different as night and day from one manufacturer to another as are all of the myriad of material selections available.

    Combine this with all the different pick-up selections and preamps, and if you're NOT a bassist trying to capture that 'special' bass sound, you will probably struggle with it.

    My suggestion for anyone trying to get a solid bass sound is to use as simple a combination of gear as possible. Cut down on the number of devices and connections in the chain. Track with only as small an amount of compression or limiting as you can to keep the inputs at a fairly level setting. Use a thick pick and really be conscious of the length of the bass notes, making sure to physically damp the strings with your hand to cut off the notes quickly whenever possible. It adds punch and clarity in the low-end to a mix and will make the mixing job a lot easier.

    If you are using an amp and micing it, record at a low volume and a relatively dead space. You can get HUGE later with reamping but the initial tracks should be compact and definate.

    Look closely at the arrangement. Bass goes a long way with very little. If you are not highly skilled as a bassist, then hire someone who is, or make sure you're not trying to overplay a bunch of notes that are simply going to muddy things up for everything else in the arrangement.

    If you are detuned a half or even more steps, make sure the bass can be adjusted for the proper tension at these tunings. If you are down a whole step or more and are using a four-string, try using the bottom four strings of a five-string set. You will have a better tension, less slop more impact, clearer overtones, an overall easier time of it.
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    You mean talkbass.com? Also look as Basstasters.com for lots of great gear clips.

    Also, I've read that Jamerson recorded direct most of the time (used a B-15 live). Of course, you have to take everything about Motown in that era with a grain of salt. Lots of people in and out of the studio with lots of different memories - none of them that I've seen interviewed are gearheads in the modern sense.
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Was I being lysdexic ainga??>
  10. song4gabriel

    song4gabriel Active Member

    Hey Dawg

    just caught this and was wondering

    ...how low do you mean when you say low volume?

    I tried micing a bass amp and after a few crappy results (all i got was LOW LOW mud) I've Di'ed ever since. Now I'm thinking it might have been too loud?
  11. liveit777

    liveit777 Active Member

    Hey everyody!!! Thank you all so much for the advice. It has really helped me out. But don't stop now. I like the advice, KEEP IT COMIN!!!! I did read something that caught my eye very quick though. It's quoted above. He quoted somebody else. But anyway..... Does recording the bass a low level really help to clear up the muddy sound? I've never thought of that. I will definetly be trying that. Thanks again for all the advice and GOD BLESS!!!
  12. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    Not in my experience. My first go to micing option for bass cabs is a wunder cm7-> shadowhills monogama->distressor. I have recorded at excessively loud and quiet volumes and it doesn't make a ton of difference. It is about getting the amp in the sweet spot. By far the coolest tones I've gotten out of bass have been through guitar amps. I don't even own a bass amp because guitar amps in the studio keep kicking the bass amps. When mixing I usually am cutting low end on bass guitar. Don't be afraid to cut some low end on the amp in the room. As always the bass needs to sound awesome in the room before you even put a mic in front of it.
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    When in doubt? Just do both. Record the bass direct while also miking the cabinet and laying that down on its own track. Then all you have to do is time delay the direct or advance the cabinet miking for perfect phase accuracy. Then you'll be nominated into the real audio engineers Hall of Fame.

    I enjoy when I have the option to record both.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  14. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    And if you don't like it you can throw it away.
    Like Remy, I take the options early. It's much easier to undo a bad decision than retroactively make a good one. Actually, the latter is impossible - unless it's a good mistake, which is another storry.
    Anyways, take what you can get and make your decisions later.
    But have an idea where you want to go, first.
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I agree 100%. It must sound great before it can be. Recording bass at a high volume through a guitar amp is a perfect way to make it sound bad. Yes, recording bass through a guitar amp at a low volume definately allows for several factors.....One: You can get the mic and chain up to a decent level, opening up the sound....Two: You're not going to get distortion....Three: You are able to control the EQ and the phase shift from high volume, effectively reducing the 'mud'.

    Paul has an incredible mic and pre chain and not everyone is going to be using the 4K mic with the 1K pre and the 2K compressor. The point is the same, its just that these pieces will not lose their tone or their ability to reproduce it faithfully at any volume. A nice LD dynamic in front of a guitar amp used as a bass transducer will surely be enough to reproduce most bass tones in a high quality manner. I like an RE20 for this as well as ATM25, Audix D6, and even my Neumann U87.
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