micing bass amps

Discussion in 'Bass' started by nvs1, Mar 11, 2005.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. nvs1

    nvs1 Guest

    just wondering if anyone could give any suggestions on mics to use. I know i can do it direct but I have to record a live band.
  2. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    I gennerally start with a Sennheiser 421 close to the grill and then add a U87 a few feet back and blend to taste.

    Watch the phase!

  3. Johnson Cabasa

    Johnson Cabasa Active Member

    Sep 5, 2003
    if i used a 421 on the kick drum then an re-20 or a d-12 or a sm-57 will go on the bass. i have used room mics on guitars for years but have never found a room mic on a bass to do anything but get in the way and make the song harder to mix.

    ribbon mics can work good on bass amps with 15's i like dynamic mics on bass cabs that have 10s like svt cabs
  4. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    You can still record the bass direct even in a live show. I'm not saying you should, but for me that works out nice. It really gets great seperation from all the other instruments and then when you try to mix down...say you are turning up the bass track, but the damn drums keep getting louder as well. That is why I started recording all my bass tracks direct.
    As for mic's I like the Audix D6. Sorry if this post is not that helpful. :oops:
  5. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Recording bass guitar is always tricky, mixing even more.

    I saw some Bass POD review:

    “…However, everything shot through the roof when I set up the Pod in the chain I had set aside for digital recording. It was bass--->Hughes & Kettner Tube Factor preamp, clean channel, with RCA blackplate 5751 tube (extremely high quality lower gain 12ax7)--->Bass Pod--->Joemeek studio mic preamp/optical compressor/exciter--->mixing board. Astounding! I'll put it this way, if the Pod on it's own captures 70% of the mic'ed sound of the amps/effects/cabs it emulates, the high quality tube preamp at the input and the studio pre/comp at the output push it to 95% realism, easily. I can't even express how lifelike, tubey, punchy, and well-voiced the presets sound on my hard disk recorder. And I'm picky picky about tone...”

    I’m guitar player, tested guitar POD and it sounds like joke to me. Maybe good enough only for tracking ideas (faster). Nothing like the real thing. Guess, the same rules for bass. But, still hope find a “shortcut” (less $ on another bass amp/guit, bigger room, etc.) to get better bass sound than thin lifeless DI.

    If anyone did some experiments with Bass POD in path with other hi(gher)-end studio equipment and reached acceptable results (especially later, in the mix) ... let us know.

  6. wwittman

    wwittman Active Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    I'd use whatever you use in the bass drum...

    I like SM-7 or RE20 for both
  7. xaivious

    xaivious Guest

    Being an avid six-string bass player myself, I am a bit critical on getting the sound I want. I usually mic the bass cab with a D112. The RE20, SM-7, Beta 52, and most bass (low freq.) dynamic microphones work well (usually any ones used on the KICK drum). I record direct only if I have few other choices or am maybe in a rush. DI methods alone just lack the punch and feel for my taste.

    You could always use a second microphone such as a large diaphram condensor farther back (i.e. U87). Take advantage of the comb filter effect. I have also gotten good result with a biamped cabinet situations with two dynamic bass mics also.

    But in the end my favorite results have been blending a direct out preamp signal with a single miked amp cabinet.

    The miked amp/cabinet gives you that spaceous feel, warmth, and fullness. Then the direct out is usually blended in the mix to a lessor proportion adding some of the high end string harmonics and bite (not as present in the amp/cabinet).
  8. Treena Foster

    Treena Foster Active Member

    Jul 4, 2003
    nvs1, don't forget we have a bass/guitar forum with lots of good advice........come see us, we'd love to have you!

    (Dead Link Removed)

    Here's my suggestion.

    Recording Direct input (DI)

    The easiest way to record bass is by going direct from the amp into the board. This method will give you a natural tone with equalization flexibility. There are no speakers or microphones to alter the sound of the guitar. The only drawback of direct recording is that the sound may lack midrange clarity. In this case it is better to boost the mids on the amp instead of on the mixer since the amp's tone controls are more suited for bass guitar.

    You can also try taking a direct out from the Bass( I use a countrymen) to the mixer. This will give you a warmer sound with more low-end. However, I find that getting a signal direct from the bass amp will give me a cleaner sound and will punch through the mix.

    You may need a bit of compression for the bass guitar. Start with a 3:1 ratio and lower the threshold until there is almost always gain reduction. This will insure that the loudest parts of the signal will be affected and the quietest parts won't, which will keep your signals a few decibels hotter and preserve some dynamics. I then increase the ratio until I get between 3 and 6 decibels of gain reduction. The attack should be fast enough to catch peaks but not so fast that it cuts down the attack (depending on pick or finger style technique). The release should be fast enough to let go of the signal before the next note can cross the threshold. However, if your release is too fast, you'll either hear the compression or you'll hear the bass signal distort. I usually start with a 10 ms attack and a 250 ms release.


    Another method for recording the bass is by micing the amplifier. When the bass player gets his sound, place a microphone (D112, 421, or an sm57) four inches from the grill of his/her speaker cabinet. Aim it where the dust cap meets the speaker cone. If the sound coming from the mic isn't what you want, try moving the mic. Moving it closer to the center of the speaker will give you a brighter sound. Moving it closer to the edge will give you a duller sound. Either way, try to avoid using EQ. Compression can also help with the tone. (I love the LA2A for bass).


    Direct recording can lack midrange punch and using a microphone can lack low-end depth. So, another method of recording bass would be the combination of both direct and miced sounds. Simply split the signal after the bass and send one signal to the amp and one signal to the mixing board. This will give you the best of both worlds - the midrange punch of a miced signal and the low-end boom of a direct sound. Use the miced sound as your main sound and blend in the direct signal for low end. Try compressing the blended signals to help to further smooth out the bass sound.

  9. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    Mar 22, 2004
    New Delhi, India
    what would be thebest way to split a guitar signal... is using a twin DI (like one of thembehringer units, that can be switched to link mode) an OK method ?
  10. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Here is what I've done.

    I always mic a bass cab with a different mic than what I put on the kick. Normally a D112 on kick and Beta52a on bass cab.


    DI from the bass amp




    Korg Bassworks! It's a cheap amp modeler that is battery operated, but it surprisingly kicks the ass off of the bass POD and works in a pinch if the bassist brings a shitty amp.

    I agree with the Guitar POD being a joke. I bought it thinking that it was going to be a brainless way to get a good guitar tone...haha...am I stupid or what? Now it is used to do scratch guitar while tracking drums.
  11. wwittman

    wwittman Active Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    hmmm well I respectfully disagree COMPLETELY that a DI is a "natural tone"

    Bass guitars were designed to sound good through bass amps.
    Bass players mostly get their sounds listening through amps.

    The amp certainly "alters" the sound but only in a positive way...

    the only thing one can say about DI bass guitar is that it is EASY.

    Personally, I'd rather it sound good, than it be easy.
  12. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    Jul 18, 2004

    But what if recording room is not very well acoustically designed ($$$) for miking the bass amp?

    Any good DI advice/device when we have to do that way?
  13. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    Everyone talks about their preferred method of recording bass, but what everyone is failing to mention, is

    a) what style of music. you are going to record acid jazz much different than r&b different than rock, different than punk etc ...

    b) what type of bass equipment. If you are recording a bass head with a di already on it (ie. ampeg svt3-pro) you can get different sound than recording a vintage ampeg svt with the direct out on it (which sounds terrible imo). also you might record a 6 string bass different than a 4 string bass, etc.

    I think that preamps and mic combonations make a difference too.

    My band starts recording in 2 weeks, and I am starting to assemble a list of equipment that I want to try out when recording.

    I've been doing ampeg svt3-pro into an 8x10 cab with d112 into 002rack, and the di into the rack too, and i get ok sounds, but in the mail any day now i am getting 2 channels of 7th circle api clone preamps that i look forward to recording with.

    for our EP we're gonna record, i think i am going to use my 1974 fender p-bass into a splitter into an avalon u5 for di and into 1975 ampeg svt head into my 8x10. For mics, I was going to use an akg d112 and a studio projects c3 or maybe a groove tubes gt-55 (need to see which sounds better)

    the converters are going to be frontier tango24 unless i can find better ones to borrow or buy (maybe lucid ad9624) into protools 002rack.

    so that is my entire chain. we are a rock band in the style of the pixies, blonde redhead, radiohead, with some interpol, stills, broken social scene and arcade fire. very fun sound.

    i'm gonna be starting a page on our website detailing the entire recording process if anyone is interested. prolly posting up some clips of before / after mixing, etc.

    we're gonna be tracking drums here: http://www.audiodesignrecording.com

    guitar/bass/vocals/keys/percussion/etc ourselves and then

    mixing here: http://www.signaturesound.com

    thanks for reading....

  14. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    A couple of nice looking places....Hopefully the staff will be really easy to work with and your experience there will be fullfilling as well as profitable.
    I'm sure if WW was on the knobs he'd have all of you jumpin up and down with each take...

    Let us know how its going...love to hear them details on sessions in real studios.....
  15. huub

    huub Guest

    being a bassplayer myself, i very much prefer recording my bass through a basspod...
    buttttt, that is for getting my own preferred sound (agressive, bright, lesclaypool style).
    For some styles straight di'd sounds best, for most styles i prefer lots of amp, and a tiny bit of di, for definition..
    The basspod is always a great alternative, when theres no time to experiment and/or no nice amp available...
    (The guitarpod is really plastic sounding i think)
    My humble bassplaying opinion...
  16. huub

    huub Guest

    oh, and for what it's worth...I really wouldnt use one of those pre eq'd
    bassdrum mics (beta52, d112)..I would use a more natural sounding mic, md421, sm7, or possibly large diapragm, depending on style...
  17. ahdonye

    ahdonye Guest

    If your playing a place with good monitors; or have two cabnets(so you can face one towards the band or crowd) you can face the cab that you are going to mic away from the rest of the band. My Favorite mics for my bass is either a audio-technica DR-DRM kick drum mic, or a combo of a shure sm-57 and a Carvin D-44 kick drum mic.
  18. wwittman

    wwittman Active Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    see, I don't personally think it matters that much.

    I'd honestly start with a good amp with an SM-7 or an RE20 in front of it for any style.
    The differences are in what bass guitar the player uses, how he plays it, and how we set the amp.

    A punk band is going to come in with their bass already sounding punk... the way they've been playing live.. and we all know what we're going for.
    But they make the sound, I help to make sure they're getting what they really want at the source, and then I record it.

    And I don't.
    Not in a meaningful way.
    I think you need good mic pres to record anything.
    But I don't need anything different for one instrument, or one microphone, versus another.

    Most of the best sounding recordings of all time were made with consoles filled with one type of built-in mic pre.
    No one needed to 'match" their mic choices to mic pre choices.

    My basic premise is that the bass player has a good sound, one that works for HIM that sounds like HIM and that is appropriate for his band, and that I have to record it.
    That sound is coming out of his AMP, almost always.

    But even studio players, I can't tell you how many times big name studio guys have said "wow, my bass sounds so good, what are you doing?" and the answer is always:
    a B-15 with an SM-7 in front of it. Usually flat at the desk.

    They're just so used to the typical lazy "stick a DI on it" that they cannot believe how good they sound through a good amp.
  19. rudedogg

    rudedogg Guest

    hey will, just curious, what styles of music do you record, in your sig there it seems that you have all pop music, just curious if you ever do any "out of the box" type stuff to try to get new or different sounds.

    i think that personally, if i was recording with an engineer that told me to just plug my bass into a b-15 with an sm7 and it will sound fine, i would be a little offended. i would really want someone to understand the kind of sound that i want for a song, and for an album. different songs imho need different sounds. maybe i'm biased as i play in a band where we work to try to make ever song unique, but as an engineer i would never want to get stuck using the same techniques for every player.

    when you (not you, the general you) have been working with pop music too long, i think it is easy to get caught in the make it all sound radio friendly and normal. this is what mixers like lord-alge types do. i personally wouldn't want them to mix my band even if we could afford it. i don't want music that sounds like everyone else. i want flavor, and i want new sounds.

    do you think the beatles would have been as great as they are if they had people telling them, no no no, blues sounds like this, is recorded like this, rock is supposed to sound like this. after all, it's what the labels and the dumbed down radio listener wants.

    i say all this with no disrespect intended. i have not heard your mixes that i'm aware of, and i am an idealist dreamer, so feel free to write off my thoughts
  20. wwittman

    wwittman Active Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    I'm not saying "just plug in and it will sound fine"

    I'm saying show me YOUR sound, show me how YOU get it, and tell me what you think you should sound like.

    I'm also saying that 85% of the time we can get that sound out of a B-15.

    I record pop, and rock, and hard rock and EMO and hardcore. I record folk and traditional Irish music and (although not so much recently) jazz.

    I entirely agree that the band should decide (with the producer) what they want to sound like.
    But then they need to sound like that, and then it needs to be recorded.
    If it's about recording techniques then of course that needs to be discussed.
    But the band shouldn't generally have to think much about that or have it preconceived.
    I frankly think it's a bit ridiculous when the singer in the band says "I really want to sing on a tube mic" or similar.
    "I really want to sound a bit edgy and distorted" or "I want a nice full, round close sound" .. these are more HELPFUL goals.

    Back to bass guitar... If a song comes up that makes sense to record the bass from down the hall for a different sound, that's possible.

    But I would hardly post here as 'advice' that someone should do that GENERALLY.

    You think my response was too static? What about the advice to "just take a DI"?
    Isn't that MORE 'rigid'?
    A B-15 can be soft or loud, bright or dark, distorted or clean, close or far...
    It's not ONE sound.. b ut my point was that most often we make that sound with the bass itself and at the amp (whatever good amp) then just record it well.

    With very few exceptions, The Beatles described the sounds they heard in their heads and then created it with the instruments they played and the way they played them and otherwise left it to their producer and engineers to GET those sounds.
    John said he wanted a "fairground sound".. it was George Martin who found the calliope tapes and cut them up and threw them in the air to scramble them.
    It wasn't John saying "I need you to mic my voice with this mic into this preamp with this EQ..."

    Labels want what people want to buy, in large numbers.

    The ONLY band who ever really managed to pull off being eclectic is The Beatles.
    Most bands trying it only manage to confuse their audience.

    I do understand your point.. but the original question didn't ask about unusual techniques for specific songs.
    It asked about essentially a general place to start.. or at least that's how I understood it.

    hope this clears things up for you a bit
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