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First Time in the Studio - Some Questions

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by ThumpBump, May 7, 2018.

  1. ThumpBump


    May 2, 2017
    My band is going into the studio for the first time this weekend to record a little EP/demo, and I'm trying to figure out what to expect/how to be prepared when it comes to getting "my sound" down on a recording. My normal signal chain when playing with the band is passive pbass-->compressor (really more of a limiter and clean boost the way I have it set)-->Rumble 500 Combo. I turn on the amp's "bright" voicing switch and also cut the low-mids/bass a bit and boost the high-mids/treble. For one of the songs we're recording I use the amp's onboard overdrive, but otherwise the only adjustments I tend to make from one song to the next are to my tone knob and where/how hard I hit the strings.

    I've been told they'll want to record the bass entirely via DI, which by practically all accounts is the default way it's done, so not surprising. But I'm concerned about my ability to reproduce the tone I get from my amp using an unfamiliar DI box. I guess I'm not clear on whether that's even what I'm supposed to be going for. Is the idea to have my output be the finished sound I want, or is it to capture the purest most complete version of the signal coming from my bass so that the full palette is there to work with and it can be shaped into whatever afterward? If it's the former, should I plan on doing my usual setup but running the XLR out from the amp into the board? Or running the signal from the effects loop into whatever DI box they use? If it's the latter then I guess I'll just plug into whatever they tell me to and worry about the final sound later. Does that sound right?

    If it matters, this is a punk trio we're talking about, so studio wizardry and traditionally "slick" production are not the goal. Think more Steve Albini than Nigel Godrich. But we're not exactly going for lo-fi either - I'd like it to sound clear and powerful rather than anemic and "cheap," to whatever extent we can pull that off.

    Any advice anyone has on how best to pull this off would be much appreciated. Also very open to just general tips in terms of how to be prepared and what to know/expect going in. Besides having fresh strings and knowing how to play the songs. I've gotten that far.

  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    images2b2. this is your ticket!


    you're not doing anything exceptional re: your rig for live, so: record exceptionally played parts and worry about the 'efx' stuff in the mixdown. of course let your engineer know what you 'usually do' before you start! good luck with your recording! :thumbsup:
    MonetBass, old spice and ThumpBump like this.
  3. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Wikipedia often mistakes my opinions for fact Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    Ask if you can record both a DI track as well as your amp mic’d or DI out. You can use the familiar signal to monitor in order to get a performance with a familiar feel. The amp track might be a throwaway, but can inform the engineer what your intent is so they can add back some of the stuff that is lacking on a pure DI track.
    QweziRider, ThumpBump, JRA and 3 others like this.
  4. TuneSalad666

    TuneSalad666 Banned

    Mar 1, 2018
    The idea with having your bass signal captured using a DI'ed signal is most likely to get as clean and neutral signal as possible working as the best basis for shaping the actual bass sound afterwards.

    Although with your stylistic aim of production it would make more sense to me to mike up your bass cab with some good microphones.

    Agree that this would properly be the best solution in your case.
    ThumpBump likes this.
  5. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    If you have a interface and DAW at home, you can start practicing to see how you sound direct. If you don't have a interface, you can pickup one for cheap. They often have a free or light version of a DAW. that will be enough to get you started for listening to your self play direct. Doing this will allow you to develop your ear for what the engineers will be working with. And more important, it will uncover any sloppy or off time playing you may have in specific parts of the songs. Also, it will help you develop a constant volume level as you play, thus reducing the need for compression. And you can try using finger and pick to attack to see just how different they sound when you do it.
    ThumpBump likes this.
  6. JRA and DigitalMan addressed your query well.
    Aside from timbre, etc.,: I hope you and your band know your material inside out and have tempo and form decided on and memorized.
    Know whether you’re using a click track (and whether you need to. If you do, 3 or 4 days may not be long enough to learn how to play with that).
    Know beforehand if vocals are overdubbed or not.
    For the drummer: make sure there aren’t squeaks and rattles.
    Maintain the possibility of eye contact while recording.
    Try to get your songs in 1 or 2 takes; 12 takes on a tune wears out everyone and everything.
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
    ThumpBump likes this.
  7. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    You might like what the engineer can do with a DI.

    Mic's aren't always realistic. When you're playing live, you and your audience are probably not sitting with your ears next to your speakers. For some reason, this is how most will mic an amp. A cardioid inches from the cone. It's not the same as what you hear when you actually play.

    That real sound, the sound what you hear is a mix of everything at a distance from the cab including the room. It's a lot of work to try and capture this with just a mic.

    All this can be done virtually these days, including adding in room response. Or they can re-amp the track separate later.

    You're are probably paying per track - tracks are cheap, so it doesn't hurt to do both. There is software that can correct for phase problems when trying to combine a mic with a DI. It is just a lot more work than doing it all virtually.
    ThumpBump likes this.
  8. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    For that song I would ask the producer/engineer if they could mic the amp in addition to recording a DI between the bass and the compressor, since the drive sound is important to the tune.

    Also, since you'll have the amp with you, remember you can use it to monitor yourself if the cans or nearfields in the control room aren't letting you hear yourself well enough. That way you can EQ your tone so you like what it sounds like even if that isn't what is being recorded.
    ThumpBump likes this.
  9. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned

    Trust the engineer.
    ThumpBump, JRA and Mister Boh like this.
  10. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    ThumpBump likes this.
  11. IconBasser

    IconBasser Scuba Viking Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2007
    Alta Loma, California
    honestly man, if you guys are paying for a service, take your amp with you and ask the engineer to mic it up. It's really not that hard to do, and if he's worth his salt he'll have a DI box that can split the signal anyway.

    While there are tons of guitar amp simulators that sound decent, there is very little out there for bass amp sims. As such it's less likely that there'll be a plugin that emulates how your rig sounds.

    Also, a DI signal just isn't going to capture the full spectrum of a heavily driven bass amp. There's tons of midrange nuance that's lost when you just plug in straight from your bass to pro tools, stuff that can't be replaced with EQ. Especially if you're a punk band, you want to have as much of that "angry live music" sound as you can get. That's what punk is all about!

    I understand where your engineer is coming from. 90% of recordings these days have the bass going DI into Pro Tools, which is then compressed to hell and scooped out to add a thick layer of "bwaaahhhh" without much of anything else. He's just doing what he knows, because chances are, that's what most of his clients are after. However, you have to ask yourself "is that the sound I want?". A grindy, middy, nasty bass guitar is such an integral part of punk, that I think you'd be better off going against the conventional wisdom of dry DI only.

    Just my two cents.
  12. Crater


    Oct 12, 2011
    Dallas, TX area
    The Rumble 500 has a speaker-emulated DI out, post-EQ and post-gain, so it *should* be a close representative of your live signal and sound. I don't know what kind of studio you're going to, but some of them don't have the luxury of having multiple isolation rooms or booths, so in those circumstances the engineer will want to run the bass direct to stop the bass signal from bleeding into other microphones.

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