Can one get growling tone with direct recording?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by HooBass, Jul 29, 2003.

  1. HooBass


    May 27, 2003
    Can one get a good, growling tone by recording direct?

    I've used the search function to scan the postings and read a lot discussed on recording direct, with mics, and with both. Also read a ton about DI boxes (SansAmp getting my attention). What I've not seen is a specific reference to getting *growling* tone.

    I've gained a respect that this is hard, subjective, and there are no easy answers! I posted this just in case I'm wrong.

    I'm eager to avoid mic'ing, but will do so if need be to get a growler. I used to get a great tone live, but never tried to record it (and now I've sold my SVT 810). For info, I still have my Stingray, GK800RB, an SM57, a Bass POD (jury's still out), Cubase-loaded PC, and a desire to learn.

    Talk soon,
  2. :meh: Well, I've spent some time with about four different DIs. Never got close to growling. It can probably be done though.
  3. I get a good growl by going direct out of either my Carvin head or my Ampeg SVP-Pro, with a good amount of volume coming out from them. In fact, I'm retracking my basslines right now because I want more growl, and I don't think I'll mic up the 10s at all. A little distortion (just enough to pull the growl out in the mix) doesn't alway hurt either. Just be light handed with it.

    Fresh strings and a growling hand/bass are a must. Try playing a little closer to the bridge to see if that helps.

    Also, I got a killer sound from a Stingray and a Sansamp once, but it faultered once the bassist I was recording started "tone shaping" on his own. I eventually convinced him to re-flatten his EQ, but he ended up adding some more low end and sucking up all my headroom, so the growl wasn't as noticeable anymore. Point in sum, flatten the EQ and only add a touch of it if it really needs it.

    He was happy with the sound in the end though, after I compressed and boosted a little 500 HZ in the mix. :rolleyes:
  4. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon Supporting Member

    May 10, 2000
    Lake Forest, CA
    i get pretty growly tone going direct with a few specific basses.

    tops! both my Zon fretlesses.

    i had a Geddy Lee that was GNARLY direct.

    my Sadowsky gets nasty too.

  5. HooBass


    May 27, 2003
    Thanks for the input, folks!

    I think I'm going to look into changing to DR Lo Riders (given the forum discussion I saw on strings), getting my setup dead on, and giving that a whirl. Failing that, I'll explore SansAmp, and then new cabinets & mic'ing.

    I've always thought that the bass had as much to do growling tone as does the amplification, however, it was purely gut, not knowledge.

    Some of the input so far seems to support that. Hope my Stingray will turn out to be a growler!
  6. I've found that I can get some great growl out of my ADA MP2 tube guitar preamp. That, and maybe a small parametric boost to the 440 Hz region.
  7. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    I did a session for a punk band about two years ago. The bass player's rig was shredded so I ran him direct with a SansAmp BDDI in the SVT setting and gave him a practice amp as a monitor, just enough volume to fill out the room sound. The bass sound on tape was growly and punchy. I still get comments about the bass sound on that disc. It helps to have a bass that is strong in the mids, but a little tweaking will get you there with just about anything.
  8. HooBass


    May 27, 2003
    I'll try this specific EQ advice (easy), and now that I think GC's return policy might be friendly to me trying out a SansAmp without a 15% restocking fee, I think I'll attempt that route. I really can't tell what the SansAmp will sound until I try it my project "studio" so don't want to buy without "try".

    As I mentioned before, am really eager to avoid mic'ing (investing in a new rig, although I've still got the GK head). These solutions would be just the trick, so thanks!
  9. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    You might want to try a vst plugin like PSP Vintage warmer, or the new Antares tube sim. Just to give it a bit of tube wamth, which'll hopefull give you back some growl.

    Interesting;y, my amp (Warwick CCL250) has a control labaled Punch, which is actually a low-mid eq knob. This is like a growl control. From ultra smooth jazz tones to full on jack bruce fart. So like the man said, a touch of low-mid eq in the 400 area might help somewhat (actually I think the whole 150 - 400 area could be covered). Try a parametric eq. Boost the level, and sweep the freq until you find the sweetspot. Adjust the Q (width) to taste. Be careful tho, as mud can exist in this area too.
  10. Phantasm

    Phantasm I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

    Sep 16, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    If your GC sells sansamp - the one here doesn't stock any Tech21 products.
  11. HooBass


    May 27, 2003
    Yeah -- My GC does sell the stompbox, although not the rack mount.
  12. Yes, one can get a growling tone going direct. First I would have to ask since you are using cubase, do you also use any plugins? What kind of outboard gear do you have?

    Most plugins are simply modeling as a sans amp is, a narrow boost at 200hz does help get a little edge if you choose this route.

    Let me know, I will be happy to help you if I can! My fav for recording bass is a direct line out and mic the amp, even at low volumes, combining the two signals will acheive clean growl. IMHO

    ;) Treena
  13. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    buy a sansamp bassdriver di. It will do the growl. It is great. I won't go without it now.
  14. HooBass


    May 27, 2003
    Thanks Treena, tmo33,

    Plugins: Only stuff I've used has been a compressor I downloaded for free, and the provided parametric EQ. While I've not experimented with the specific EQ advice I've seen in this thread, I have played around a bit and made some progress. It just seemed there was more to it than EQ -- Like guitar wood tone, fretboard/string noise, technique, speaker strain -- something making “noise”.

    Outboard gear: Easiest just to list the remaining items I have in the signal path -- there's not much!!

    Active bass to a Bass POD, POD to a 14-year-old 4-track tape recorder (not quite like your gear from the photo I saw, eh!) that is standing in for a proper mixer. 4-track to soundcard (Steinberg "Project" card -- I forget the specs but not the best, probably not the worst. Latency is very low, for example).

    In the specific pursuit of growl, have contemplated biting the bullet and buying a new bass (J or P, or whatever growls at me), replacing my amp (GK800RB -- want something with drive, gain), buying a cab, and a kick/bass mic to follow your suggestions.

    A final bit to add, the original purpose of the mixer in my current set up was to be a kind of patch bay, rather than literally mixing multiple sources. It keeps me from having to crawl under my desk and connect/disconnect various inputs to my soundcard. More recently I've been using it to monitor output, as well, listening under headphones, or redirecting to my "monitor" speakers. I can't tell if it's need or desire, but am thinking about getting a better mixer and monitors actually meant for recording. Have been reading tons of other threads on this, including some of your comments, and other internet sites.

    Talk soon,
  15. HooBass check out Recording.Org

    Registration is free and they discuss all the recording techniques for bass! Many Pro bassist post there!

    ;) Treena
  16. slinkp


    Aug 29, 2003
    brooklyn, NY, USA
    i've recorded through those. I find that i'm always fighting it to get more midrange. It seems to be permanently "smiley" unless I turn the blend way down to the "plain" side - at which point it sounds about like any other DI.

    Here's a fun way to record bass:
    bass -> small tube guitar amp (e.g. an old fender champ) -> dummy load or speaker emulator -> DI -> mixing desk or recorder input.

    the DI might be optional if you can go straight out of the dummy cab.
  17. japhy4529

    japhy4529 this is only a test... Supporting Member

    IMHO, the first place to begin on your quest for "growl" is your Bass. I have found the following Basses to offer significant growl:

    G&L L-2000
    Warwick Thumb BO
    50th Anniv. Fender Jazz

    I own the Basses listed above, and they all have varying levels of growl. The Warwick kicks some major bootie, but the G&L cuts through the mix a bit more. The jazz of course is a classic.

    Next on the list is a good DI box. I would highly recommend the SansAmp Bass DI for this task. I just picked one up and it is the shiznit! Excellent distortion and with the drive set around 12:00, you can dial in sick growl.

    I usually just go direct, without micing a cabinet. Upon occasion, I will mic up my Hartke 115XL with an Audix D6 mic to add a bit more "air".

    If you have access to a full SVT rig, by all means mic it up! However, I usually get great results with just a DI. From what I have read, many pro studio do just that.

    And finally, don't forget new strings!

    Have fun!
  18. Corwin81


    Mar 18, 2003
    Ames, IA
    not sure how "growling" this is but check out "Anthem" on I used an Essex Jazz bass directly into a Mackie 24 channel mixer that the studio had. Listen to the solo where the guitar goes high and I go low(on the low D string). Starts growling around there.
  19. First off, I wouldn't go direct, I would use a Countryman Type 85 Direct Box. I have used mine since 1984 without any problems at all. I use it on stage with my amp and in the studio.

    It won't change the tone or volume you hear from your own amp like passive direct boxes. It won't add hiss, distortion or buzz like some active direct boxes. It won't break just when you need it. It won't develop a dead battery on stage because it runs on Phantom power. The best on the market IMHO.

  20. HooBass


    May 27, 2003
    Thanks to all the recent replies. Am back from business in Chicago and, while I don't have time to read and reply properly now, will do so ASAP.


    BTW, anyone ever hear of a music gear store in the Chicago area called "Snookers" or "Shooker" or something like that. Heard a wild tale about it, including how the owner still has gear "in the box" from the sixties, refusing to sell some of it, having a shotgut just under his desk, etc. Said it was like a mad packrat's den full of forgotten jewels amidst junk.