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First Bongo recording session (advice, please)

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Alvaro Martín Gómez A., Sep 4, 2005.


  1. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Hi everybody.

    I've just come from a local recording studio where I was recording some bass tracks for a rock band. This is my Bongo's first recording session and I had a trouble that I'm hoping you friendly TalkBassers help me to solve (I also posted this at the EBMM forums).

    The problem was: When I plugged the bass (direct to the recording console), it distorted and clipped a lot. The recording "engineer" (no real recording engineers here) tried to solve the problem by moving his knobs and couldn't do it. I told him: "Look: With all my basses, I've been used to set the volume knob at maximum and control my output from the amplifier. With this beast, I simply can't do it. No matter how many -500db pads I use, the amps always clip, so I have to turn my volume knob down. Maybe that's the solution for this as well". He told me that doesn't like to do that because he feels that putting the instrument's volume knob other than full makes the instrument to sound weaker, so he started to mess with my bass' knobs (except volume) and he could approximate a decent clean tone, but not totally convinced, anyway.

    I don't know... I'm not a recording engineer, but I think that moving the tone and pickups' knobs to a different setting than the one I like REALLY changes the bass character. In fact, the bass EQ knob, for instance, was almost zero. I think it's best to turn down the volume, but I have no arguments to convince this guy, so I really appreciate your input on this. Who's right? My preferred settings for playing with a band (different from solo playing) are everything full blast. Only the low mids slightly cut (like on 6,5 -from 1 to 10-). We're going to continue the recording on Tuesday night (although I think it should start all over again). Any advice for recording my Bongo is welcome. Thank you in advance!
     
  2. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    To me it sounds like the problem is the console, not the bass. If you can't get a strong signal and make it weaker, there's something wrong. Heck, between pads and the input gain knob, you should be able to make the signal as weak or strong as you like. What sort of console is it?
     
  3. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    I think it's a Mackie, but I'm not sure, Pete.
     
  4. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Well I've never had that problem on any of the Mackie's I've used. I think we should be pointing the finger at the operator......
     
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Nope, it's not the console or the engineer. Here's a clue:

    "I told him: "Look: With all my basses, I've been used to set the volume knob at maximum and control my output from the amplifier. With this beast, I simply can't do it. No matter how many -500db pads I use, the amps always clip, so I have to turn my volume knob down. Maybe that's the solution for this as well"."

    I'm with the engineer...you should leave your volume on full so the pickups sound best.

    The real solution would have been to pull out another bass and record with it instead of the Bongo. But since you insisted, I'll tell you what I think. I'm pretty sure all Bongos are active. If you dime active tone controls, that is probably what's causing it. It can often lead to clipping. People that aren't used to active basses (not saying you aren't, but it's common with those who aren't) often dime the tone controls. EQ is a reductive art, not an additive one. It's best to leave the tone controls flat, and then gradually (extremely gradually) add a tiny bit of what you think you're missing, or just let the engineer do it in the mix. You might not get that overly excited tone that cranking active controls gives you, but since that's not working for you in any situation, who needs it?

    So try that at the next session. And if it still distorts, pull out another bass and call EB the next day and ask what they think. Don't force your Bongo on them just because you like it.
     
  6. Are you using a Direct Box or plugging directly into the console? Is there a PAD button on the console? Are you plugging into the LINE input of the console? These are a few possibilities....as far as knob placement and tone controls.....I NEVER dime the tone controls on my bass....channel EQ flat and minimal EQ on the bass itself (just want it to be full and clear to tape) I will sometimes use compression to tape depending on the session but for the most part do not.....you can go back and ADD anything EQ and compression wise you want when you mix...If the EQ is tracked badly you can NEVER truly get it all out!! HOWEVER, make sure that you get the sound you want when tracking because the same is also true that you typically can not add something in the mix stage that is not already there!!
    That is of course unless you realize that it is all wrong and want to overdub it and fix it. :eyebrow:

    Peace,

    T
     
  7. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    The bass is plugged into a direct box. I asked this guy if it's padded and he said yes. About being plugged into the line input, well, I just gave him my cable. I assume that this is a common procedure to him and he plugged it into the right input after the direct box.
     
  8. nysbob

    nysbob

    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    Bongos are great basses, but the output is hotter than a firecracker. I don't see what's wrong with dialing it back a little if that helps your situation...but I think it's odd that your guy coudn't just trim back the input level to something acceptable.

    I also think once you've got a serious preamp on your bass the overall sound of your pickup shouldn't suffer noticably if you dial it back a tad.

    This, incidentally, is one of the reasons I play & record passive basses.
     
  9. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    I agree about making sure the volume is dimed on a passive bass, but if an active bass is worth a damn, you should be able to dial the volume back a little bit if the output is too hot. Since the Bongo is worth a damn, you shouldn't have any problem.

    If you couldn't get a good tone the engineer's way, what's the harm in trying it the other way? Record both ways, and see which sounds better. I mean, the end result is what's important--not how you get there. So, if your way sounds better, screw conventional wisdom.
     
  10. If the Di signal is distorting, you may want to try lowering the pickups a tad, I had a similar problem with my active warwick thumb. I didn't notice it playing through my amps at band practice, as it only distorted when playing hard on the strings, but it was way more apparent in the studio. I lowered the PUPs a notch, which reduced the gain a little, but fixed the distortion problem.