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bass tapping is lost in the mix

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by tylercmorris, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. tylercmorris


    Sep 3, 2019
    I play bass in an experimental metal band. Think Lamb of God meets Primus. I'm having trouble getting tapped bass parts to not be lost in the mix and hidden by the aggressively distorted guitar. There is one guitarist and we both play lead.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    Tyr a comp. If needed, adjust it so that you hit the pedal only when you're tapping. Boost the overall volume if necessary.
  3. SunnBass

    SunnBass All these blankets saved my life.

    Aug 31, 2010
    Columbia, Mo
    I was gonna say that exact same thing.
    pellomoco14 likes this.
  4. tylercmorris


    Sep 3, 2019
    I've tried a compressor, and boosting the volume. I think it's an eq issue. I try to not have the bass and guitar fight over frequencies, but it always seems to leave one if them feeling flat.
  5. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Notch out a hole in the frequency spectrum of the guitar that allows the bass part to be heard.

    If you're tapping you're probably overlapping each other's frequencies pretty directly. Start with the fundamental frequency of the highest tapped note and sweep it up and down until that part is clear. You'll have to experiment with the Q as well to get the best tone.

    Listen closely to how Primus is mixed. There's a huge cut from the low end of the guitar to make room for the high bass parts.
    Bassdirty and Reedt2000 like this.
  6. You are gonna have to get guitar and drums out of your frequencies. Good luck with that.
  7. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    I'm not sure, but I find myself wondering if compression might actually exacerbate the issue in some cases depending on the way it's set. You want maximum attack for each tap, but the compressor may be cutting some of the peaks that you want.

    Have you tried a clean boost? You talked about it being an EQ issue. Perhaps try boosting the mids around the 800hz to 1000hz range?

    Additionally, what's your signal chain? Are you clean, or are you running pedals? If you're tapping through a distortion pedal or something of that nature, it may already be compressing your signal to an extent (and yeah, double distortion = lost in the mix) so I'd think that adding a compressor there might cause more issues.

    Take this with a grain of salt, though. I'm just throwing out some thoughts that I had - maybe it's worth experimenting with, or maybe I'm completely full of it! Good luck, though.
  8. tazunemono


    Sep 13, 2018
    I wouldn’t add anything else, pedal-wise, in your input signal chain, at the risk of losing “your tone” but realize that you might have to make some adjustments in order to give each instrument, and your bass, its “sonic space” vs “mud” in the mix.

    Things to try:

    - make sure you’re getting enough high frequency content to work with either by DI or Mic’ing. If you end up not having enough you’ll have to add it/change your tone to get it. It can’t be added back in later, but it can be removed via EQ in your DAW.
    - make sure you don’t over-compress your input signal. Need to have enough dynamic range to work with on the stem
    - use an RTA to look at your primary spectrum, then layer a parametric EQ underneath, add a boost peak and sweep the spectrum looking for the key frequencies that make your tapping “pop” - this is where you’re going to want to focus your attention. You know how with kick drum there is significant high frequency content above 3k? Bass also needs HF content to “pop”
    - EQ the other instruments out of this range, or lessen them enough to give the upper range of the bass some room. Use a combination of parametric EQ, high-and low-pass filters on each instrument stem to ensure there’s minimal spill outside it’s assigned slot in the spectrum.
    - level the individual instrument dynamics with pink noise & compression, and use some mix bus compression to glue everything together
    - Perhaps try to mix the bass first, then later other instrument stems on top to make sure it stays prominent in the mix.
    - listen to your recording on some small speakers lacking much bass response. You should be able to still hear your tapping in the mix, along with the drums, guitar, vocals etc. If you can’t hear it then re-EQ and re-mix to ensure it’s there. Then work your way down the frequency spectrum.
    - listen closely to some reference tracks to see how they are mixed. If you find one you like, use a program similar to iZotope Music Rebalance to isolate the bass/guitar/drum stems and listen to them. I think you’ll be surprised how “thin” the tone actually is, and how they are EQ’d. Things always sound different in the mix, and the tone you recorded in your head
    /played live may need to be quite a bit different in the final mix. After EQ, compression and mixing an individual stem may seem thin and weak but placed in the mix it fits perfectly while retaining the tonal information you want.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
  9. AdamR

    AdamR Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    I know this is old but I put my tapping parts on a separate track so they can easily be processed differently. Live I use the combo on my amp as a boost.
    Bassdirty likes this.
  10. I use a tube guitar preamp in my rig. It gives me the tonal control to be able to sit in with heavy guitars. Also, most basses tend to have more mid attack from the bridge pickup, which can help a lot with clarity in a mid heavy mix.
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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Feb 28, 2021

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