Definition of "Cutting through the mix"?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Aussie Player, Oct 1, 2021.


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  1. Aussie Player

    Aussie Player

    Apr 20, 2011
    One of the first things you learn on here, is that no matter what your intent to communicate, it can be misunderstood, misinterpreted or misaligned with your narrative to assign relevance to an irrelevant response. Sadly, this is also inherent with the internet so we are stuck with it. That being a constant in modern life, I decided to start this thread so that the similar and dissimilar response could stand on their own.

    My definition of "cutting through the mix" or "CTTM" to assist brevity, is substantially "specific note and tone definition" rather than volume separation. This would include the subtle growl, that can come from some basses you "chose" to incorporate into "your" sound.

    Most basses can be heard quite well by turning them up on the amp or mixing board and that is exactly what I am NOT talking about. CTTM is not about volume in a mix. When you play articulate note phrases to accentuate musical passages, CTTM allows these to be clearly heard as the showcasing additions you as the bass player brought to the sound. It is your contribution. That which separates you from the last or the next guy. It is what makes you, you. It is what created your idols and mentors.(though it is easier in the studio to control and more difficult in live settings, hence our frequent subject of live settings)

    So, I have essentially made this easier to digest by breaking it into 2 parts, "Your individual playing style through note and tone selection" and secondly, "the ability to clearly hear every aspect of it contributing to the sound of the song".

    Long winded and my apologies for that, but I need to separate volume as the separator for CTTM.
     
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  2. A9X

    A9X Inactive

    Dec 27, 2003
    Tone should not be dull and thumpy. I prefer what many traditionalists would consider a 'hifi' tone and have had no trouble being heard no matter what genre I play. No Ps and SVTs for this little black duck.
     
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  3. cassanova

    cassanova

    Sep 4, 2000
    Florida
    Short answer: being heard in the mix.
     
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  4. Ricky Rioli

    Ricky Rioli

    Sep 29, 2020
    UK
    What if part of your unique character is to not cut through?
     
  5. Aussie Player

    Aussie Player

    Apr 20, 2011
    My observations would agree with you. A P into an SVT is the epitome of lost and muffled sound almost as if a blanket is shrouded over the speakers. John Entwhistle explained it as being lost after the 4th row which is why he turned up the treble to be heard in the back row. I personally don't like that treble sound so never went there. Its one of the reasons I am repulsed by slap playing.
     
    Giffro, Mechanical, Mili and 12 others like this.
  6. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    I prefer "not getting lost in the mix". If everyone is cutting through the mix, there is no mix. But the OP's comments otherwise gel with mine. And it is very much about frequencies and how everyone in the band is working to compliment each other rather than trying to cut through and have "my sound".
     
  7. A9X

    A9X Inactive

    Dec 27, 2003
    Someone once asked if my rig could sound more like an SVT. I asked if he had a spare wet blanket.

    I didn't know that, but it makes sense. The Ox was my bass mentor.

    With most bass cabs, I completely understand as they implement the HF so poorly using cheap crap components. My 3 way rig is designed like a very clean full range PA speaker (considering that's what the first version was, my small PA stack). Do it right and it's fine.

    Not much of a slapper here, but if it suits the song/genre I don't mind. Too many people overdo it though.
     
  8. tvbop

    tvbop

    Mar 11, 2021
    Got a feeling the OP is referring to my post in that other thread. Anyway this is what I said and and after three decades of successful playing Im sticking with it. If you want to be heard and dazzle and create fireworks then either play guitar, keys, sing or play to a lesser extent drums. If you like the idea of underpinning all that razamatazzle then play bass. Bass was never supposed to be a lead instument till Jaco turned up and turned it into a lead instrument.
    Maybe this modern obession with bass being a lead instrument has something to do with keys players not controlling their left hands well enough....who knows.
     
  9. luciens

    luciens

    Feb 9, 2020
    My conception of "cutting" through the mix is exactly like yours - each individual note can be heard clearly above, but not overpowering/covering up, the other instruments.

    I'm also going to agree with you totally that the P bass, even through a good very high power amp with lots of headroom, driving small drivers (like a 4x10") isn't as good at this as other basses. And that's why not everyone plays a P bass. Billy Sheehan, for example, is a virtuoso player, but is definitely an example of where it would be really good if he didn't just love that tone he uses lol.

    "sitting" in the mix is more what I think of as the traditional type of sound where the P bass is typical - think Jamerson Motown, etc.

    For "cutting" through the mix, the jazz bass on the bridge PU, plucked hard directly over that pickup, with a little bit of limiting is more of what I think of. Or the nuclear option which is the G&L L2000 on the bridge PU in parallel mode. That'll get the full, undivided attention of even the drunkest/stonedest bandmates, sound guy and audience no matter what it's plugged into..

    L
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2021
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  10. AceOfBassFace

    AceOfBassFace

    Jun 23, 2019
    Toronto
    I dial in the bass while it's as low as possible in the mix, just enough so I can make out all the notes and nothing disappears. Then turn up a bit, or a lot. Works most of the time.
     
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  11. WillyW

    WillyW l’art pour l’art, fonction de baise

    Dec 10, 2019
    I have no idea, but I repeat it often, so I look smarter.
     
  12. jk_bass

    jk_bass

    Jun 28, 2006
    modern obsession? music is art, there are many different ways to express yourself....
     
  13. All other contributing and/or external factors aside, I would say that keeping your signal clean and powerful is important. Cut the low mids, and then you can turn up the volume without muddying up the whole band’s sound.
     
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  14. Aussie Player

    Aussie Player

    Apr 20, 2011
    Never saw your previous comment so there is no connection but thanks for making it known here. Opinions matter.
     
  15. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    none
    Cutting through the mix means your guitarist believes you when you tell em not to crank the lows on their Marshall and the keys player isnt trying to get sub lows on his "killer patch". Anything else is volume wars.
     
  16. A9X

    A9X Inactive

    Dec 27, 2003
    Wow, what a limited viewpoint.
     
  17. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass

    Nov 22, 2017
    Cutting through means to me that your tone is defined well enough that your notes can be distinctly heard. That often means that, in addition to having an instrument that is not producing mud out of the gate, you also have a soundperson at the helm who knows how to sculpt your bass sound accordingly. Many do not; many view bass as an annoying undercurrent that warrants less attention, and that's unfortunate.

    When I'm doing my own sound I do my best to sculpt a sound that is audible and distinct but not overpowering. I soundcheck myself using my wireless to get out where the audience is going to be. It's surprising how different things sound out there. I think the gear that I've chosen helps me clarify my own sound with a minimum of effort.
     
  18. dab12ax7ef

    dab12ax7ef

    Sep 25, 2011
    Pittsburgh
    It probably matters what the other instruments are doing and the sound person is doing more than what bass and amp we are playing.
     
    bobyoung53, Swift713, JTE and 7 others like this.
  19. luciens

    luciens

    Feb 9, 2020
    Not sure I agree with this. Being heard is part of being an ensemble player too - if your part is complicated and maybe you play a lot of things in unison with other instruments like the guitar or keyboard, a "cutting" volume and tone can be exactly what's needed to be a good complement to the music.

    Not to rag on Billy Sheehan, because he's one of my favorite elite-level players, but, :), listen to his playing with Niacin for an example of.... oh man, I sure wish he was "cutting" a little better here... :). It's the most fantastic music where every note is perfect, but when he goes down into the lower registers, he kind of disappears. And it's because of the super low bottom/fundamental but shattering treble kind of thing he does with his tone.

    Then listen to someone who plays at a virtuoso level but with more of a cutting tone like Bunny Brunel for example. It's a night and day difference.

    But I wouldn't call either one as soloing all the time. They're actually not just shredders: they both play as ensemble players most of the time in supporting roles. But IMO, Bunny Brunel is a lot easier to hear his parts than Billy Sheehan is.

    Course, now I'm saying all this as a P and J bass lover - I have 2 Tony Franklins and 2 Jaco Artists, so I love me some P and Jazz bass too, don't get me wrong.

    But if I really need to cut, I can use the bridge PU's on either bass, or if the situation is really drastic, I get out my fretted L2000 and that puts an immediate and permanent end to any inaudibility problems....

    L
     
    scott sinner likes this.
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Tone should be whatever I or other bassists want and you don’t get to decide that for anyone but yourself.
     
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    Primary TB Assistant

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