Can't hear the bass lines!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by BassFiesta, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. BassFiesta


    Mar 18, 2018
    I'm starting to dabble with bass after years on guitar. A good bass line is exciting to play and really makes me want to dance and sing. However …

    I'm having a hard time hearing the individual bass notes. I use Transcribe! and can work out really fast & complicated guitar riffs, but the bass just sounds like thump thump thump to me without discernible notes. Thank God for bass covers on YouTube, or I'd give up right now.

    Tell me it gets better …
    hintz, Smooth_bass88 and Tom Bomb like this.
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Hmmm.... ...almost all I hear any more is the bass line. I guess you need to practice listening for it. If you can't discern pitch on low notes, might want to check with an audiologist...
    btmpancake, taught, Mili and 17 others like this.
  3. Tom Bomb

    Tom Bomb Hypocognitive

    Apr 23, 2014
    Mark my words. It does :)
  4. Low Commotion

    Low Commotion Supporting Member

    You could try to increase the pitch when you're listening to the song. Five semitones will move you up a string. By this I mean if the song starts on E (open forth string) it will now be on A (open third string). Or you could try 12 semi tones and move it up an entire octave. At my age, my hearing isn't as good with the lower frequencies, and this does help. It brings the bass frequencies more into my hearing range.

    It does get easier the more you do it.
    P. Aaron and Stumbo like this.
  5. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    Just in case you have some audio post filters enabled, try turning them off. ie 3d effects, surround, etc.
    Also moving your speakers closer together can help focus bass tones.
  6. Use full size speakers with hard wire connections, or over-the-ear headphones. Don't use a built-in ipad or laptop speaker, ear buds, or wireless dinky bluetooth speakers.
    mbelue, Mark_70, gebass6 and 3 others like this.
  7. tkonbass

    tkonbass I'm just one of the out-of-focus guys. Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    St. Paul, MN
    I use Transcribe! also, have for many years. You need to use the EQ functions available in the program. You can isolate the bass to a large extent. The built in presets can get you in the ballpark and then tweak the graphic eq until you can hear what you want.
    pomegranesis and saabfender like this.
  8. Ikons2


    Mar 15, 2018
    It will automatically get easier as you play and listen more. Sometimes the way the song is mixed drowns out the bass.. not much you can do about that. You already use Transcribe! so maybe you already know this, but move the pitch up an octave to get a clearer picture of the bass notes.
    RoadRanger and hintz like this.
  9. saabfender

    saabfender Inactive

    Jan 10, 2018
    I have a subwoofer, turn off the full-range speakers and turn it up.
    bumperbass and five7 like this.
  10. Giffro


    Apr 29, 2017
    South Australia
    My wife says I tap my feet to the bass lines even when i'm asleep loll
  11. superheavyfunk

    superheavyfunk Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2013
    Yeah, me too. I think it's a product of training... like any other exercise, the more you do it, the better you get and the more intuitive it becomes.
    JRA likes this.
  12. The real answer is to unfailingly insist on having the bass higher in the mix for all of your bands and projects.

    With some bands I wonder why they’re even paying the bassist - if you can’t hear him why bother having him around? Odds are he’s not that good looking.

    But seriously it does get better, your ears hone in on it. Doesn’t Ed Friedland do a trick where he pitch transposes it up an octave to get the bass notes to pop out, then somehow shifts it back down an octave but the bass parts are still much easier to pick out?
    dbsfgyd1 likes this.
  13. ktedrow


    Feb 18, 2015
    Folsom, CA
    +1 to using headphones and shifting up an octave. The bass lines just jump out. It’s pretty cool. If not for this I would have a hard time transcribing some songs.

    Also slowing it down to make out faster passages.

    I use Amazing Slow Downer to do both things. Don’t know Transcribe!
    easyj and TheReceder like this.
  14. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Actually it does, but on as quickly as you would like. As I've gotten older and listened to more and more music, I have found I can go back to old recordings and hear the bass more. That isn't just because I know the songs better.
    Taking time to listen to bass is one aspect. You have to spend a good amount of time listening for bass; understanding the wide range of sounds it can make. Guitar is a comparatively easy instrument because it is usually way up front and has FX on it to make the sound more listenable. The bass is far more dynamic and has a much broader way of projecting its self.
    The next piece is equipment. This is going to sound snobby, but a junk source listened to with junk equipment isn't going to give you the listening experience you need to hear every detail. MP3s are the wrong way to listen to music for many reasons, but for your purposes they are counter productive. They compress by literally deleting information; sonic information about the soundscape you need to transcribe. Use a CD, FLAC files made from CDs, or Hi-Def 24-bit waves. There is a difference. Also, use good headphones or in ear monitors. Speakers are great for listening, but analytical listening is better done with something that cuts out all the room noise. Also, a good set creates a broader soundscape, meaning a sound that surrounds your whole head, which gives each instrument more room to be in its own place. When listening for entertainment, if you want something that is colored and has boosted bass, then do that. For analytical listening, you want something as flat as possible. Too much lo EQ makes it hard to hear the other details of the music.

    I can hear the bass in a lot of recordings now, however, my problem is I'm tone deaf. I can follow an interval if I have a reference, but can't hear a note just by its self and tell you what it is. I can only give you a rough idea if it is high or low, or if it higher or lower than something else. I really wish I could transcribe by ear since so much of what I like is obscure and doesn't have online tabs.
  15. Volunteerk9


    Oct 20, 2015
    When you’re looking on the YouTube, add ‘bass boosted’ on the end of your search or even just ‘bass track’. Grab you some good earphones too.
  16. 4001

    4001 Inactive

    Sep 29, 2004
    Lake County, IL
    Try listening to the song in another room from the one that the speakers are in.
    Sometimes you can pick out bass notes this way... seriously.
    The frequencies have weird ways of travelling around to our ears sometimes..
  17. Most songs purposely do this, the bass is barely audible...

    I just turn up the volume a bit and use earbuds
    Bassbeater likes this.
  18. Some audio on YouTube has very poor quality, so you may need to find a better source.
  19. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    I mix everything as bass heavyas I can get away with. FTW
  20. I always heard the basslines first, even before I took up bass, so it's partially how you uniquely hear music. That should've been a clue to me; but I didn't switch from guitar to bass for years. Your ears will come around, just don't make the other mistake I did, listening at too-high a volume to nail down every note trying to learn some song perfectly. There's better ways.
    StraffordMike likes this.