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recording electric bass

Hi. I own a small studio at home, base on a PC system and 2 Echo audio drivers (Layla+Gina). I also use a MAckie 32.8.2 mixer to manage instruments inputs, tracks outputs and outboards.
So far I have always recorded electric bass parts by mic, typically a SHURE beta58 catching the sound from the bass amp, without any external EQ or compression during the recording phase (other than the EQ / comp used within the bass preamp itself).
My question: what could be the best recording procedure in absence of the bass preamp, in other words, when I am obliged to plug the bass directly to the channel strip of the mixer? Should I use my valve preamp/compressor that I use for the voice takes?


Pro Audio Guest Wed, 03/22/2006 - 01:53
Ok, thanks to all of you for the patience.
I apologyse for not providing the specs of my valve preamp: inputs and outputs have both XLR and TRS connections, and allow the selection mic / line.
I have done the following:

bass --> cable TRS into the TRS input of the preamp -->switch to line --> preamp TRS output into the TRS input of the mackie --> soundcard inputs.

I have not used compression during the recording.


RemyRAD Thu, 03/16/2006 - 08:17
No, you are still slightly confused. If your valve preamplifier that you're speaking of only has an XLR input, then it is strictly a microphone preamplifier input, not an instrument input that would specifically be on a 1/4 inch available input socket. If in fact if it is an XLR input it it's designed for a 150 ohm microphone not a one million ohm guitar pick up.

The XLR output is a line level output and there would be no reason to plug that into another XLR microphone input. Unless perchance it has an output switch for level control that indicates both microphone level and a line level output capabilities. So the XLR output is generally a balanced line level output that should be plugged into a console's balanced line level input. It may also have a balanced or unbalanced 1/4 balanced output jack that could then be plugged into your " Mackie" style line input, bypassing the microphone input on your console.

It does not exactly sound like your valve preamplifier was made for instrument purposes but rather strictly for microphone purposes with a line level output to go into a console's line level balanced input.

I've done my level best
Ms. Remy Ann David

Reggie Thu, 03/16/2006 - 08:46
Lemme see if I can simplify for you:

Bass-->guitar cable-->active DI input -->DI XLR output-->Standard XLR cable-->preamp/channelstrip XLR input--->channelstrip XLR output--->XLR to 1/4" TRS cable--->Soundcard TRS input.

If this channelstrip is anything decent, just bypass the mackie altogether like this. Other wise you could go DI XLR output to Mackie XLR mic input.

RemyRAD Wed, 03/15/2006 - 22:51
You could plug the bass into the channel strip BUT DON'T! The bass needs to be plugged into a high impedance input, not a line input!

For you, I would recommend an active DI or direct box to then be plugged into a microphone input. Do not use a transformer DI, those transformers typically only have a 50,000 ohm input impedance. Good enough for an electronic keyboard instrument but not for any kind of guitar or bass. An active DI will have a proper impedance load for your bass or any other guitar with similar pickups. That will provide the best sound possible. Plugging into the line input is too low an impedance and will make your bass sound crappy! Check with your music store to see how many different kinds of active DI boxes they have. They vary in price greatly.

Conversely, if you already own a bass preamplifier, you can use that in lieu of an active DI, because it already is! That can be plugged into your console line input. If you want to use the microphone input on your console, your bass preamplifier may already have a " XLR " output? In which case, use that! If it doesn't have that, plugged the preamplifier into your console line input directly.

The above suggestions are all quite legitimate and most of us have recorded bass in the ways I have just suggested. None of us plug any kind of guitar directly into an input strip without making sure the proper impedance is observed. Many of us have our favorite ways to get the best sound from those instruments. Sometimes it's like your mother's secret recipe for brownies?

I'll never tell!
Ms. Remy Ann David

(Well actually, my favorite recipe for chocolate brownies..... Is the chocolate!)

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 03/16/2006 - 00:15
let me just check if my understanding of your suggestions is correct.
I could do the following (only UNTIL i buy an active DI !): plug the bass wire (XLR) into the valve preamp, like it was a microphone, i.e. mic option (without the phantom power!) : then plug the valve preamp output (XLR) into the XLR input of the mixer and record the takes.

Please note that my valve preamp is NOT a specific bass preamp, it's just a general-use valve preamp (it's a Behrinher T1953).

I would not apply any compression during the recording (or should I ?)

Is that correct? did I misunderstand your suggestions?

Thanks again!