bass production for big $ recordings

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by TheGeneral, Feb 13, 2002.

  1. I read in Bass Player (I know...) about Garbage's bassist and his 8 hour bass tracking sessions for each song. My question is this: when you have millions to record an album and a hot-shot producer, how does the bass production come together? Are scratch parts recorded and then the bass line picked apart phrase by phrase and re-written to make sure every single note is perfectly placed and masterfully written, or what? How do you spend 8 hours on the bass track to one song?

  2. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    1) be super anally retentive.
    2) not know your songs very well.
    3) have poor technique=LOTS of takes.
    4) bad judgement=decide to experiment.
    5) some other reason I wouldn't know about because I've never had millions to spend.

    I personally feel that having every note EXACTLY 100% PERFECTLY PLACED makes you sound like a robot unless EVERY other instrument does the same. Then you all sound like robots.:D
  3. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Sheesh. Four or five takes, max, usually one or two, and I'm set...I can't imagine spending 8 hours on every track...
  4. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    Could you imagine if all of his bass-lines were root notes?

    I don't really think music of even the most complexity merits 8 hours per track...unless you are only learning your part. Even then that is kinda rediculous. (especially for a rock band).
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Actually 8 hours sounds like a really short time and a very "economical" way to make records. Some bands like Massive Attack, Blue Nile etc take years to make albums. I have head of 7 years and even 13 years in one case!

    I can imagine loads of thing that would take longer than 8 hours - recording several different versions for different mixes, for example. If you know there are going to be re-mixes and even if you don't - you might want several different types of line so that when you are doing the final mix-downs you can choose the one that sounds best.

    I have also experienced producers/engineers working on a part for one song for 8-10 hours - even when it wasn't big bucks. You can do so much with things like Pro Tools that you can sit there for hours and hours and get drawn in to making "just one more " correction or alteration.

    And it doesn't have to sound mechanical - in fact I have heard things where more "feel" has been injected by manipulation with Pro Tools! ;)
  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I didn't read the article, but my hopes are that a lot of that time was spent getting sounds they wanted. It can be quite difficult to get precise bass sounds and have them fit into the mix exactly the way you invision them. Either that, or I'd have to guess he didn't have a clue what he was gonna play for the songs and started experimenting in the studio - which is a possibility. I disagree with Bruce, if someone knows the material and getting a sound isn't a problem... 8 hours is an insane amount of time for laying down the bass track to one song. Given that a song is an average of 4 minutes - I don't care how many different mixes they want. Somebody's gotta not be giving 100%.
  7. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Most bands don't get millions to record an album; more like a couple hundred thousand, at most. The most efficient thing for the bassist to do would be to nail the part in rehearsal and spend the minimum amount of time in the studio to get it onto tape. 8-hours on a four minute track with the bassist, engineer and producer in the room will only put the band deeper in the hole regarding the recoupment situation.

    Of course, if you're not part of the signed band, but rather just a hired gun with an AFM membership, it's to your benefit to run the clock as much as possible. Also, if you have your own studio (as I'm sure Butch Vig does), you're entitled to waste as much time as you want, so long as the album gets delivered on time.
  8. 8 hours to do the bass on each track is nothing compared to how long it must have taken to do the bass on Def Leppard albums like Hysteria and Adrenalize-
    it sounds like a Fairlight was used to sample every note of straight 8th note lines, combined with other samples for slides.
    very clean and precise, and even consistent tone with lots of definition, but synthetic sounding.
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...I can see (& hear) why such 'music' sounds synthetic. After all that tweaking & scrutinizing, the 'life' that may have been present gets sucked away.
    FME, the 'best' take is usually the first(sometimes the 2nd) ;)
    ...the adrenalin & uncertainty adds some, what I call, edge. After awhile(like EIGHT hours!), I can see where playing the part by rote = a stale take. Boredom & a loss of focus sets in(as far as I'm concerned).
    So, playing via 'auto pilot' kicks in, yaddayadda.
    Music, unlike Art or Literature, is somewhat transient; you hear it in the moment & it's gone.

    Personally, I don't prefer my Rock or Jazz or Funk/R&B to sound so rehearsed...The Beatles, Miles, Motown, etc-
    ...alotta that stuff still sounds 'fresh' today(IMO) 'cause it wasn't so well-rehearsed & overly produced ad nauseum.

    How long did The Beatles & George Martin take to complete Please, Please Me?
    Maybe 8 hours for the whole album? ;)
  10. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001

    You said what I meant. :D
  11. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    I once did a three song demo tape in about an hour. All first take, all instruments on the same track except bass (i played electric.) I may have played the songs once before the recording, too. Pretty raw.
  12. I know what you mean, JimK. Some of the last albums I have done we were careful not to over-rehearse the song and kill the life. We just played it enough to get the form down and the resulting sessions yielded some great takes with a lot of passion.