Skip to main content

Recording a Cheap Bass

I have a young Rock Band in the studio recording a four song demo.
The bass player is using a cheap $300.00 IBanez Bass.
The big problem is, every string on this thing rattles against the frets causing unpleasant fret buzz. The bass just sounds horrible. I don't even think a set-up on this would help.

I've tried everything, to make this thing usable,eqing helped get some rattle out,but the bass just sounds bad. I even offered the studio's Fender P-bass to use, but the bass player insists on using this bass.

Does anyone have any suggestions ?



Pro Audio Guest Thu, 03/09/2006 - 18:55
record it the way they want, they're the ones paying, and they are the ones that will end up with a sh*tty sounding bass on their record. Next time they will ask to use the p-bass. I would suggest that you emphasize how bad it sounds and be honest with them, if they don't change their mind, be sure to charge them for overdubs later when they want to redo it.


Pro Audio Guest Thu, 03/09/2006 - 21:47
I was in this same situation lately, during a session which also included, and young band, and, a shit bass player and a shit bass, and he also refused to play a real bass.
What i did, in the end, because, i refused to put something out, that was so crap in the low end dep, i actually took one of the tracks, and, i personally redid the bass, with a p-bass of course, and, let the band listen to it. I kinda explained to them, that in the studio alot of times, its comprimise to get the right sound. The other band members, agreeed that this new bass track really rocked, and, they wanted the bass player to use this bass, or bring in a new one.

Needless to say, the bass player, was not happy, but, in the end, they had a better product which the bass player still got to play, and, my name isnt on a piece of shit recording, cause of some young ego. Got to convince them, to go with what sounds better......good luck this one sux.

Pro Audio Guest Fri, 03/10/2006 - 21:19
This is what you do you sit down with him and record the conversation with his knowlege tell him what you think and let him choose, if he chooses wrong then record the crap bass. This is a customer service business and if that is what they want then that is what they get this way you can sit down with him later if he or anyone else complains and say listen you said these words and you knew the conversation was recorded. You do what the "Artist" wants to do and if it turns out bad then that is there problem. You tried not him. Dont stress out about it, this is how it works. As long as you cover your bases then you are fine. They are paying you to record their album not your album just remember this is CUSTOMER SERVICE. If you dont want to do the album because of this then tell them, give them to someone else. I would not worry about it, and if you are worried about your name then tell them you want a pysdonym insted of your original. Hope it helps.

StevenColbert Sat, 03/11/2006 - 04:07
As a bass player myself, I somehow feel like I might be able to find some common ground. However, I find tricking people to do what I want is an art in itself.
There are many, many ways of doing this...

Plan A---- Make a few comments on how "good" the bass players style is. NOT his playing (which sucks), but his technique and or style. And THEN ask him to do the same "cool" stuff on your bass guitar. If he believes that you really think his style is cool, then he may want to impress you, and do a little something extra than usual.

Plan B---- Show the other guys in the band the difference. And try to get the other band members to take your side and let THEM be the bad guys against their own bass player. You don't need to be in the middle of the debate. It's best to be as far out of the picture as possible. Also try to find the one or two band members that are really attentive and get them to say what you are trying to say to him. Even if you have to talk to one or two of them while he is out of the room. He might resent you (since he doesn't know you as well) but, he will most likely back down when faced with his peers ganging up on him.

Plan C---- Pull out a gun, wave it in the air, and start mumbling "I can't take it anymore". However this approach gets varied results.

Plan D is much like Plan C but requires some dynamite and duct tape.
Happy recording

Pro Audio Guest Sat, 03/11/2006 - 07:19
Thanks for all the great suggestions!

The bass player in the band is a female. She and the bands manager say the Fender, is to big for her to use and that she wouldn't feel comfortable playing it. They won't give it a second thought.As far as the rest of the band, they have no say at all, the manager is paying and controlling the show.Pretty crazy! I mean the band members don't talk.

So,I worked on the bass sound and got the sound usable. The thing that helps also ,is the music there playing is a heavy Metallica sound.

Anyway, after recording there first songs rhythm tracks. They have more problems then just the bass sound. The band should not be in a studio yet, they're not ready. The big problem is there timing. Its really bad.I set up a click and they couldn't play, at all to it. The drummer is the weakess link and I find out after I start recording them. That the manager is the drummers father.He knows there timing is bad but still wants to record them.When he came to the studio to check it out and set up the recording.He raved about how good the band was, but had nothing I could hear to make a determination myself.

So its like, Spookym15 said, "its a customer service business". I'll do the best I can, to make them sound good. Timing, mistakes and all!

There's going to be alot of editing!

Thanks again

therecordingart Mon, 03/13/2006 - 13:05
I record a lot of high school aged garage bands, but I've had the priviledge of recording my old band and a label band. Both of them have great gear, and they can really play well. We took our time on the recordings and they are great. Very few edits, and it kinda mixed itself. (No more than two or three hours spent mixing each song).

When I meet with a band before setting up a date I explain the importance of good gear, good performances, and good attitudes. I then show them the difference between the two good bands I've had in, and the rest of the bands that I see. I explain the differences between them as far as gear, peformance, and attitudes are concerned.

Since doing that I'm able to weed out the duds and the bands that choose to record with me delay setting up a date while they practice to a click and put together a plan to bring in the best gear they can.

It's really done a 180 in my clients.

TeddyG Mon, 03/13/2006 - 15:55
The poster asked a question. This reply is not based on anything they said(More replying to some of the other replier's, as it were) - just some suggestions:

You guys are alot more knowledgeable about this than I, but, I have some "cheap bass" experience(Geez, I have cheap everything experience! Is that sad?)... Anyway, if the strings really do slap the frets badly, are they the right strings? Junky strings? Could a simple string replacement(Which I bet you could do, huh!) make a difference? Would raising the bridge, a bit(Could you do that, too?), make a difference? If not, would it be better to suggest a good instrument repair person you know to "tune the instrument to it's best recording potential, as ALL the big bands I work with do"!?

Would it not be better to try to make a friend(s), then throw your ego into the, already crowded, mix?

BTW: Personally, when I hire a studio, I am not, generally, hiring the studio, or it's engineers and owners as "producer". Just run the stuff, make suggestions if/when asked, try to be helpful - to a point - otherwise, shutup --- I'm busy here, trying to get my ideas to tape before my money runs out... Inotherwords - if you can't, somehow, make a kind sounding, worthwhile comment about the stupid bass AND THEN, let it go... get into another business than renting studio time to the great unwashed......