A Good Bass Sound

Discussion in 'Bass' started by Derm, May 9, 2005.

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  1. Derm

    Derm Guest

    ok, this is a subjective thing I know, but I cant seem to get a "good" bass sound like I hear on pro recordings ( & demos).
    I have a good preamps/compressors UA6176 and TLA5051 but still aint mad about the sound. I will confess to having an average to cheapo bass (Encore) and old strings, but will that make so much difference? Bass players everywhere are probably jumping up and down after that last statement :D .Seriously though, the best tonal variation I get is going from using plec to fingers. Any thoughts? :roll:
  2. I-Quality

    I-Quality Guest

    well yes it will indeed make the whole difference...
    this winter I was recording with my band and I tried 6 different basses, and the cheap ones sounded cheap (no definition, muddy...) and the expensive one good (a lot more presence, body.. :) ....that's a sad thing heh (now i'm back with my poor man's squire...
    finally i stayed with warwick corvette supassing the G&L that was closest.... it ran through D.I. and Ampeg SVT-4PRO through an Ampeg SVT-810E and close miced....
    for the strings it depends what type of sound you want...
  3. Derm

    Derm Guest

    So a quality bass is the way to go?
    Im not a "bass player" as such, I just play on my own stuff, so I never bought a serious bass.I thought the secret would be preamp/compressor, but Ive heard stuff that went straight into the desk that sounded much better than what I'm getting.
  4. I-Quality

    I-Quality Guest

    well when i had the warwick i did a short recording on my system and i have made a comparison...just download it....
    first it's my squire then it's a yamaha(mid-randge dunno what model) and the third is the warwick...
    the squire sounds absolutely horrible, i'm wondering myself if I really recorded it the same way.... I think was with my audigy(it has to be ..) just before i got the tascam fw1884 with which i recorded the other basses with the DI
    there was no processing done

  5. westshore

    westshore Guest

    the bass itself is much a big deal. having a nice amp to record out of is very good. Active pickups record much better than non. A BBE sonic maximizer make a rediculous difference aswell, its on just about every major recording you have heard. Message me if you want some suggestions tell me the sound your looking for and i can point you in the right direction. My specialty is rock/very modern rock but im good with all sounds.

  6. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    I am a bass player. And you should be dragged out into the street and shot! :shock:
    No, no, no, I am only joking!
    But strings are pretty darn important. And I would like to add, they will only keep there fantastic "new" sound for only about 4 to 5 days. The first 3 days are even way different sounding than they will be in about a week or two.
    I have played bass for appox. 15 years, and recorded for about 10.
    I really haven't gotten great sounds on my bass (recording wise)until I bought a bass DI. My first DI was a SansAmp bass DI pedal made buy TECH 21.
    DI's are (direct injectors) made for recording bass guitar. And the SansAmp is only about $200, you might even try E-bay and get one for real cheap. But that's what did it for me!
    That pedal is AWESOME!!!!!
    With a capital A. and a capital W, and a capital E, and an S you get the point :lol:
    But for real. It is the single biggest thing I even did to my bass recordings.
    I liked it sooo much that I went out and bought an Avalon U5 DI. And they are over $500. Here's the difference......
    trying real hard to get a great bass sound (with no DI's), and not trying at all, and getting an AWESOME bass sound with lots of tone.
    I still use my SansAmp everyday! I wouldn't sell it for nothing! Unless someone offered me more than what I paid for it. :roll: Of course I'd get one to replace it ASAP. :lol:
    Also there is alot of hype about the new, Groove Tubes "The Brick"
    O.K. I'm out....I gots to put new strings on! :wink:
  7. KungFuLio

    KungFuLio Guest

    +1 on the sans amp pedal

    other options, a Countryman D.I. or an Avalon U5 if you feel like spending a bit of dough. As I've said elsewhere I'm not too excited about the UA stuff. It's not bad, just not pristine. It's definately possible to come out of the Avalon at line level to the Summit compressor and get a wonderful sound. I'm not sure if you can bypass the preamp stage of the 6176 and use it just for limiting but if you can... you know what to do.

    FWIW I've got to disagree with westshore in regards to active pickups being better. I really disagree with the use of the BBE. I've done a fair amount of records and have yet to use the BBE on a track and keep it. (Maybe that's exagerating but it rarely makes the cut, and is often used in an extreme repair and recover mission.)

    Finally, you may be getting a good sound in the computer or onto tape. Maybe an experienced mixer can get the bass to sit how you want. :wink: Maybe DanDan Fitzgerald is available over there!
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Have the Countryman 85....soundmen love these! The U5 is a very nice piece.Have yet to do the Sansamp though there are enough who love it to prompt a trial....Recently....The Brick...bass DI direct to harddisk....Very yummy and not a lot of fuss.Very larger than life sound yet all the peculiarities of the bass...(1956 P bass)The recorded tracks took EQ very well.Have done several 'other' high-end pres for the bass.The BEST was the ancient Altec mono pre.The engineer had added a variable impedance knob...from the sound of it,probably taps on the transformer.Warm and fat.
  9. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    The short answer is you need a great Bass Player to get this.
  10. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2001
    Amen to that brother.
    You can get 10 different players to play the same instrument through the same signal chain with the same processing , and I can guarantee it will sound different every time!

    .... in fact, this is true with EVERY instrument!

    It all starts with the talent.

    ... but quality equipment and new strings are also a factor..... just to a lesser extent to the talent.
  11. itchy

    itchy Guest

    i have a question that pertains to this thread...

    does a fretless bass have a different frequency response for a given note than a fretted bass? here's why i ask.

    also, i just started using the instrument inputs on the isa 428 to record my fender electric fretless jazz bass (mexican, not american). honestly, it sounds like complete poo. i was very surprised, and dissapointed. the low end of the recordings are very muddy and undefined, and the bass is just impossible to eq well. i used to record a $100 washburn into an art mp and was more pleased with the results. unfortunately, both broke. but i thought this would be so much better! guess i was wrong.

    would a DI like the sansamp be better than the 428 for bass? i'm thinking about trading in my fretless for a fretted model, and possibly getting a sansamp di stompbox. what do the pros 'round here think of this?

    thanks for the help,
  12. JeffSanders

    JeffSanders Active Member

    Jun 10, 2004
    Fairhaven, MA USA
    Home Page:
    This topic is perfect timing for me, as I'm about to record a bass track any day now for a new song.
    I've been getting a good tone from my J Station with UAD-1 LA2A and some Hydratone eq.
    I also have The Brick. Everyone claims the Brick is fantastic for DI bass.
    When you record a DI bass, do you just treat your EQ like a bass amp? (Say, Bass=10, Middle=2, Treble=4) or is the EQ process different for this type of recording? (less is more)
    What is a basic EQ tweak for DI Bass?
  13. Dave62

    Dave62 Guest

    I get great bass sounds by DI,ing thru a passive cable tech DI (big jenson transformer) and at the same time micing the cab with a 421 or a shure 52. That being said however, the bass and the player are very important in the chain. A lot of basses just sound too thin or they have weak notes that won't voice properly giving uneven response, although a good player can compensate for a lot of that. The best way is to listen to a lot of basses thru a DI with no EQ and hear what the real tone of the instrument is.
  14. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Git a good bass dude. I bet that will help a lot. The Brick is good for DI on some basses, and not so much on others. One of my recent favorite setups was Fender Jazz Bass 5-string through Ampeg SVT w/ 4x10 cabinet miked a foot and a half back by a D4 into the Brick, and the direct out from the Ampeg on a separate track. The mic picked up some good clarity and the direct signal carried a lot of solid lows. Metal bassplayer, finger picked. UA Fairchild plug for compression is my fave on bass.

    For an easier solution, I hear that SansAmp RBI thing is pretty ruling.
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    I guess this is why after 38 years of bass playing I still use an old Fender P Bass.Nothing fancy....no active anything...no special wood...no neck through....not even a specialty bridge....just my hands and the strings at the proper tension on a bass with no dead spots.Doesnt matter what style either.Or technique. I get the tone I want first and the recording part is easy.Just like with the drums.Tune em right and find the spot they work in the room.Put up mics...hit record.........NEXT!
  16. Derm

    Derm Guest

    Well, theres a lot to think about here, some contradictory, thanks for the replies all.
    I think I'll start with new strings.
    Im intrigued to know the difference the D.I. box, Sansamp etc. will make,surely these merely match impedances?Do they affect the tone so much.
    There are suggestions that a great bass player will get a great tone out of anything. This more or less rubbishs the idea of changing or improving equipment. :wink:
  17. wwittman

    wwittman Active Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    It's true that a great player will always play great.. so that's a BIG head start.
    And the true greats know how to make the best sound out of whatever instrument they have in their hands... their note production technique is worked out.

    But that doesn't negate the value of BETTER equipment at every stage.
    A great player still sounds better on a great instrument (and most will bring terrific instruments, not expect to use your cheap one)... so it's not like it doesn't matter at all.

    And likewise, I'd rather record McCartney through an ART than the kid next door through an API... but that's not the only choice.
    If I can record McCartney with the API, better still.
    Know what I mean?

    Many DI's PURPOSELY alter the sound in an attempt to be more amp-like.
    That's fine, especially as a back-up.
    But I always still think that you get the best sound with a good instrument into a good amp...
    then mic'ed into a good preamp.

    There's much less advantage to a better recording chain if the sound, at origin, isn't good.
    So a good bass, and probably played by someone who can make a good sound on it!, is the place to start.
    Next a good amp, or a good DI (which is not my preference but in certain situations i understand that an amp isn't always practical).

    Only after that sound is really together do you need to worry about the preamp and mic (if it's an amp).

    hope this helps.
  18. JBsound

    JBsound Guest

    I agree that the number one issue is going to be the bass player. I've had some guys over here that I could record through a friggin DW Fearn and they would sound like crap. I've also had one guy in particular that could go through a Behringer board and sound better than most of the others. He just knew how to play...touch, timing, and consistency. He also knew how to get good tone out of his bass. He also had a Sansamp unit that worked out real well and he knew how to tweak it.

    As far as the equipment goes, I like the U5, the Groove Tubes Brick, and the sansamp (at a lower price level). The avalon u5 is real nice on some stuff, but it's not the silver bullet on everything. The brick is probably the best in its class, and you're getting a tube mic pre with it. It fits in most modern music real well. If you've got less of a budget, go with the sansamp. It won't sound as good as the other two units, but it will be better than anything else for the money.
  19. itchy

    itchy Guest

    yeah, i went ahead and traded in my fretless mexican jazz bass for a spector performer. feels and sounds a lot like my old bass, but the tone has some more meat to the bone. this made an enormous difference. the frequencies are more familiar to me, you can still hear it at lower levels, and it has a good attack even just going DI. i'm glad to see a lot of different ideas presented here, it'll be a good reference for the future!

  20. Derm

    Derm Guest

    Thanks once more for the replies, Im taking everyones opinions on board. A significant part of my last post did'nt come thru for some reason :roll:
    As I'll probably never be the great player I will improve my gear.
    If I am use some form of DI, does this replace the preamp?
    As far as the Avalon goes, I know this is a dedicated instrument preamp, will this be so much better than my UA6176 (using its instrument in) ?
    Thanks :wink:

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