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Getting a full tone on recording

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by badgrandad, Aug 7, 2007.

  1. For several years now my band has been recording a yearly album, and I have never cared much for the sound of my bass in the recordings but for various reasons just "let it be".

    Live I get a good punchy sound, and even get a fairly good sound in the headphones when I'm soloed, but in the mix it sounds bad and disappears.

    Last night for some reason was my night for attention and finally the band gave me the evening to get my tone improved, so at least two hours were spent trying different basses, different setings on my preamp (using my GK head) using compression then no compression, cutting everything but mids, etc, etc. and nothing seemed to bring out the bass in the mix. It had a clean sound but no punch and got lost in the mix.

    As a last ditch effort as everyone was packing up I went and got my hartke kickback 10 that I use in practice and miked it in a soundbooth and "voila!" ... punch. I don't pretend to understand the whys of digital recording but I don't understand why I couldn't get a good tone going direct??

    Share your wisdom..
  2. !Rob!


    Mar 2, 2007
    I would research "Subtractive EQ-ing", removing frequencies from other instruments that are unwanted/not needed. There are some threads about it here, and lots of it on the web, just google it. Seems like this is what you need, as you find yourself disappearing, yet the solo'd sound is good.

    Hope this helps a bit.
  3. OrionManMatt


    Feb 17, 2004
    Speaker(s) did it.
  4. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
    Try the DI on one channel, and a microphone on another. You can then balance the 2 signals together.
  5. Moe Monsarrat

    Moe Monsarrat Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    Austin, Tx.
    Endorsing artist:Regenerate Guitar Works Carvin, Micheal Kelly Guitars
    I have used many different methods to get the bass to cut through the mix. Generally speaking, the bass usually sounds too midrangy when soloed, but will really cut through the mix that way. I turn all pups on all the way & everything else as well. I try to give all the frequencies to the engineer so he can accentuate which ones he needs to. I usually take it direct. Sometimes I use the Radial Bassbone DI which has some cool preset contours. Also I will occasionally run a split signal thru an amp isolated somewhere & mix that with the DI signal. The short story is: you will probably have to record the bass at quite different settings than you use to play live to get it to stand out in the mix. Leave it to the engineer if you dare. I try to be there when he mixes.
  6. bluestarbass


    Jul 31, 2007
    They say the sign of a good mix engineer is after they are done mixing if you look at the board more frequencies are cut rather than boosted.

    Im not quite at that point but you didnt mention much about where your recording or what the medium is. If its your buddies basement, that could be alright but whoevers mixing it may not be as good a mixing engineer as recording engineer. There is a difference and if you get someone who says they are a recording/mixing/mastering engineer they probably arent they good at any of those.

    I used to have one of those hartkes and I always got compliments from the FOH engineer about how punchy they are. Just cuz its not your main rig doesnt mean its not what you want to use for recording.
  7. Well, we are recording in a digital-medium recording studio owned by one of my brothers. When he was an analog studio he did some phenominal work and the companies we sent to for mastering and copying were very complimentary. For some reason the digital studio seems to treat my bass differently because the other instruments sound great as do the vocals.
  8. ric1312

    ric1312 Banned

    Apr 16, 2006
    chicago, IL.
    IME, if the bass is hard to hear, the subtractive EQ of the bass frequencies will make it magically appear in short order.

    I play in a rock trio. When we record I usually give the guitar players 2 channels for rhythm on both sides. Most rock guitar players put a fair amount of bass into their sound. Which is fine live, but when you try to mix all the band through two speakers it will make the actual bass guitar dissapear.

    Also, unless the lead vocalist is actualy a bass singer taking some bass out of vocals helps as well.

    And also the kick drum, but you cant get to heavy handed on the kick otherwise you'll make it weak.

    IME thought it's mostly other instrumentation and voice hogging the bass frequencies.

    If noon on the bass dial is neutral and where everything was recorded flat, I find taking other instruments down to nine oclock on the bass frequency makes the actual bass guitar audible without noticeably hurting the sound of the other instruments.

    I've found that with subractive and or adjusting the EQ you can really make a mix shine and sound much more professional. Often what most people think is a channel volume issue, is really an issue with to many channels trying to use the same frequencies.

    P.S. I use a digital recorder as well, a korg dx 16
  9. make sure you high pass almost everything apart from kick and bass, especially muddy-low instruments like pianos and guitars, this gives the bass room to breathe and be heard.

    a direct sound will often be less full, as the process of a speaker pushing air being recorded by a mic tends to give a more natural sound, less well defined but fuller and warmer (this is a large generalisation though, there is plenty of room to have a weak ill defined bass sound if recorded badly this way)

    for a grinding bass tone try micing up a bass cab, running the aux out to a guitar amp and micing that seperately. overdrive the guitar amp to taste, and mix a little of this into the bass track once recorded, it aids the cutting through of the bass.

    we did this recently with a fender twin and a trace elliot gp7 thing and it sounds ruthless.

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