Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 06/25/2007 - 09:42

Can anyone provide their general step by step for recording, mixing, and mastering Bass?

I know its generally a good idea to compress in stages - during tracking, during mixing, and at the mastering stage. Which ratio and threshold settings do you use at each stage? attack / release settings?

I have experimented with lots of mixes, and I still cant seem to acheive the right balance between unwanted "boomy" bass, and an over-compressed "squashed" sound.

Before even considering compression, cover the basics like playing technique (consistant attack level on the strings), clean strings, decent sounding bass with good pickups, and of course a good preamp for bass frequencies. Also, try tracking with a much brighter sound than you'd expect, as other tracks in the lows and mids are going to compete with the bass in the mix. Also, highpass the bass EQ at 25-30 Hz. I'm a bass player, I typically don't use compression when tracking, but if I did, I wouldn't add more when mixing. I've played on sessions at other studios where the bass track was so overcompressed in stages that it completely mushed out. One or the other. I typically use a fairly short attack time, ie: 10-15ms, and half that time for release. Threshold and makeup gain depend on overall track level. Ratio/knee are high & hard. Be sure to give the kick and bass unique fundamental frequencies with EQ, add a boost at 3 times the bass fundamental and some mids around 1.5-3k for definition. Also try panning the bass slightly off center by 3-5 degrees, really allows space between the kick and bass. Good luck with it!

I really like the songs!
Well on Love is free, the low end on acu gtr is fighting the vocal in the beginning. You might what to compress the main vocal a bit more to bring it out abit. Ratio try 4:1
Threshold : low enough to get about -3db on the louder passages.
An average attack to longer attack (0.5sec), to allow the high end to pass
and a average realease should work.

ON end of ice notch down the bass in prechours bit, the bass notes sounds (around 80hz )are a bit unclear because of it. I think a simple level change will help it.

But all and all I like the tunes great job.
Hope this helps.

Also, keep in mind that ANY time you compress a a bass, you run the risk of squeezing it so hard that its' lungs pop out of its gills...:>)

Your songs are great, I think. There is something unpleasing at bass frequencies, too much 80 -100 Hz maybe? The funny thing is that I've run into similar bass oddities myself. It could be uneven bass response of your room, you can't make any decisions when it is too colored. That is my situation anyways.


I too am a bassist. Jon hit it right on when talking about technique. Level and even plucking/picking/thumbing, combined with a bass that has a quality sound and a sensitive pickup system will get you closer to being 'right' than anything. Then, having a preamp that doesnt simply blow all the frequencies out of proportion will be needed. Theres nothing quite like a "Fender tone-stack" to accomplish this. It doesnt matter which brand of pre you use, Alembic, SWR, others, as long as the basic design comes from Leo's brain, your bass tone will not suck.

Everything else is in the fingers.

I find, time and time again, that using this particular setup eliminates the NEED for anything else in the chain. You may WANT something else as an effect, but you wont need anything else as a CONTROL to tame unwanted sounds.

When we record here, its .....plug bass into SWR Interstellar Overdrive pre.......Thump it a couple of times for the meters...."Can you hear it in the phones? How's the level? We're in......"

I will, at times, put a vca based compressor in the inserts of the bass track. Since the pre has a DI with no EQ and a tube in the path, this will sometimes be the track I use. Or I combine it with the output taken from the EQ'd side of the pre. It gives you options.....

There're some nice suggestions here, though a vast difference between what jonyoung suggests, and what I'd suggest.

I prefer the 60s style bass sound, therefore you'd find greatly reduced (if any) bass frequencies above 800hz, and below 75-80hz. I like the kick drum above and below the bass, w/ strong mids, and very little top on the bass sound.

I have a 27 year old Carvin bass with 18 year old strings that stays in perfect tune. I can pull it out right now and start recording. It has the perfect tone straight into a pre!

Most basses I use will sound similar anyway. I'm very consistent from one instrument to the next becausae my sound comes mostly from my fingers.

I also like to use little Fender guitar amps (i.e. Deluxe or Princeton) to emphasize the bass guitar's mid frequencies a bit for some songs.

My typical setup is to split the signal and run one DI, and the other through an amp. That way I can RE-AMP if needed, and/or tailor the sound and mix to taste.

I will sometimes split the DI too. One straight in, and the other through a pre with transformers, and possibly tubes, then a compressor set at about 3:1 with medium fast attack and medium release, compressing about 3-4dBs.

Have to agree with a Leo fender tone stack for bass though (guitar too).

Most importantly, the best tracks are usually well played, and recorded simply.

Have fun!!