1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Can't get my bass right...Experienced studio guys needed

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by kosborne, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. kosborne


    Apr 16, 2013
    Hey guys. I'm a full time recording engineer and I've got a lot of experience in the studio. I recently bought an American Jazz bass with custom shop 60s pickups (passive bass) to have at the studio for other bassists to play if they needed a different sound, or if I needed to drop a quick bass line on something, even if it's just a scratch.

    Here's the problem I'm experiencing - MY bass never seems to sound right or fit in the mix.

    I know it's not my recording equipment; I've recorded other basses at the studio that sounded great, like old P basses, Active Js, lots of stuff, but for some reason mine just never sounds right to me. My usual bass chain is Bass > Radial DI (active or passive, whatever sounds better) split to the amp and then split to a 1073 and a Distressor or 1176. Generally speaking, it sounds great. I may use a sansamp for grit.

    BUT...on MY bass, it's like there's a weird resonance at 100hz and one around 190hz that just muddy up the entire bass up. Of course I've tried mangling it with EQ, but come on, a Bass DI shouldn't be that hard, right? A note - the bass sounds pretty good with absolutely brand new strings, but that's about the only time when it does.

    Any ideas? Could it just be that I'm really after a different bass tone "in my head" like a P bass?

    FWIW - my favorite bass tones generally come from:

    Train (early stuff with Charlie Colin)
    Third Eye Blind (early stuff with Arion)

    An odd mix, I know, but just thinking off the top of my head here. Any ideas why I'm having these problems with my J? Should I try different pickups? Different strings? Any suggestions?
  2. This statement sounds rude but I really don't mean it that way. Does this bass sound bad with other players playing on it? Some instruments just don't cut it sometimes... Especially fenders. There is a ton of variance with these "studio standards." Different pickups and strings will always change the tone, but you will always be chasing the dragon if the bass isn't vibrating the way you like from the get go.
  3. xabicho

    xabicho Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2009
    Long Beach, California
    Roger Guitars
    Do not change the pick ups, try a Stainless Steels D'Addario or Rotosound, set-up the bass according to Fender specifications. Remember that Jazz Basses are noisy if you do not open to the full both pickups…

    I will go straight from the bass to the DI then to your DIgital Audio interface or your mixer, di not add compressor or EQ until you mix. Usually I EQ with a pinch on the 40Hz, 120 Hz, and 1 Khz for the finger attack.

    It could be a bad string, a fret that was no proper installed at the factory or the neck, that is why the setup is important.

    The less EQ the better.
  4. kosborne


    Apr 16, 2013
    Hey -

    No no I completely understand your question and its totally valid - the bass still sounds bad when an ACTUAL bassist plays it. Haha.

    Bass is set up to factory spec and I usually keep elixir, daddarrio, or roto strings on it. That's all why this is baffling.

    I try not to eq it as much as possible, and like I saidi get basses thru the studio like last week--- 60s P bass that literally I did nothing to but compress. It was gorgeous. That's what got me thinking of all this--- why oh why was that so easy and my bass makes it so hard?
  5. kosborne


    Apr 16, 2013
    The best way I can describe it is a resonance or overtone, like a drum has. It very well could just be the bass.
  6. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    If you can rent or borrow a REDDI do it. One of the places it truly shines is in the clarity that it slots the bass into a mix with minimal EQ and compression. People rave about how magic this thing is but you really have to hear it to believe it.

  7. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware rep.
    To me, this is the most interesting part of your post.
    Try PMing JohnK_10. He's been working with Fender basses and others for a several decades.
  8. kosborne


    Apr 16, 2013
    I was THIS CLOSE (erh....a very small hand gesture) to buying the REDDI because of all the great things I've heard about it. I've really never heard a single bad review. Does it live up to its name? Some have called it "the best bass DI ever made."

    Yeah, @Stumbo. That's what frustrates me - I really LIKE the tone of older strings on certain songs, especially for certain genres. Sure on punk, metal, certain rock stuff, brand new round wounds with a pick through an SVT sounds killer. That's just the thing. But in a lot of styles, that metallic sound from a brand new pack is sometimes way too much, and it's not something that turning down the tone knob can always cure the way you want it to.

    I don't want to just have to keep putting new strings on the bass every time I record, that's absurd. I know that guys get sweaty in the studio from recording 8 hours straight, so I get that strings wear out, but come on, they shouldn't sound like total crap after 8 hours of playing. I expect them to sound a bit dull, but not "bad."

    Keep in mind, guys...I'm admitting here to NOT being a bassist. *duck and cover* - this just seems like the best place to get lots of opinions on this! I really appreciate the help so far - any other ideas?
  9. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    It is everything people say it is and every studio should probably have one...it's useful for a lot more than just bass. But honestly if the bass is a POS (sorry I missed that before I suggested the REDDI) you'd be better off finding a good instrument first. No sense polishing a turd. With a little looking something like a great sounding MIM P-Bass can be had for half what a REDDI costs.
  10. Maybe the sound you're looking for is not the Jazz tone.

    Maybe you need to try a Precision? I've yet to meet an experienced studio engineer who doesn't have a healthy respect for the P Bass.
  11. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    Are you able to borrow a jazz bass or two from friends for real time comparison? Might give you some perspective so you can hear the differences. Sounds like you might have an instrument that just isn't cooperating, or just isn't the 'one'.
  12. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Start with the bass. Get a Luther to do a setup on it. Loose things can cause resonances. New strings may just be louder than the resonance for a while.
    Last place to look is the DI/Interface - you have to have a good sounding bass otherwise it's garbage in garbage out.
  13. A good PJ is a useful studio instrument if your only keeping one instrument there.
  14. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    If you know what you are doing (as it seems you do by the info given) then you should know you got a bad instrument. I have a handful of amazing sounding basses in my studio i'll never sell, but to find those few i've gone through hundreds in the last 30 years, no exaggeration. Flip it and move on, same way you've gotten to the quality studio gear you use and trust.
  15. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    I'll echo the setup idea and say that if a proper setup doesn't do the trick, you bought a dud. There are always duds to be found.
  16. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    I would agree with this. I've got two J basses in my studio and each is a keeper. Especially the Sadowsky NYC JJ4. Not only does it sit right in the mix but requires almost no processing to get a killer bass sound on the projects I work with.
  17. kosborne


    Apr 16, 2013
    I recorded an Active American J the other day with stock pickups and it sounded 10x better than mine. I know it was active, but the EQ was flat, and to my ear it was like "little bit more aggressive hyped version of my bass" but it just was so much clearer. I guess I'm debating on whether or not it's MY bass, or if it's JAZZ basses that I don't care for.

    I may just have a dud. what I probably should do is have some session guys come over, just pay them for the time to do a bass shootout. It very well could be BOTH - I may have a dud, AND I don't like Jazz basses. Who knows. I also considered taking the bass up to a music store and comparing them side by side - even though music stores are generally not great for hearing an instrument's true sound, at least I can hear it in comparison to mine.

    Another question---Have you ever had a bass that sounds good with a pick but bad with the fingers? Curious on this too. I'm a guitarist and I've had a few acoustics that are this way - sound lame when strummed but great fingerpicked. Can't think of any electrics I've had that are like that though...
  18. kosborne


    Apr 16, 2013
    I bought the bass from a session player about 3 years ago. I found him on facebook today and sent him a message asking about my issue - and guess what? He said "Oh yeah that bass always sounded its best with semi-flats, 50-105. Trust me. Never liked it with rounds." So I went and bought some, and what do you know - it actually sounds a LOT better. Still having a little bit of problems with the weird resonance stuff, but definitely not NEARLY as much. Combination of the different gauge, the higher tension, the semi-flat feel and sound...

    Nevertheless, I'm going to demo some other basses. Thanks everyone for the help thus far.
  19. +1. Some basses just don't sound 'good.' It happens.
  20. Glad there's an improvement, but I still think you need a new bass.