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Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by mjw, Aug 14, 2003.

  1. mjw


    Jun 12, 2001
    Spring, TX USA
    Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but, if not, it's easily enough moved. ;)

    I'm curious about the "sound" of recorded material.

    When playing live, it's fairly easy to hide your mistakes since there's so much goin' into the mix. But, when I hear recorded material that's played on the radio, it's so much more precise. And, "basswise" (is that a word?) :)
    I'm wondering if a lot of recordings are done with fretless basses? On the air, I rarely hear any fret noise, clack, or, what I characterize as "speed-bump" noise during slides....

    So are they editing out the imperfections in an individuals playing style, or .....?

    Anyway.... I'm just trying to gain a better understanding of all this so whatever comments anyone might have are most appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    In my very limited "studio" experience, I found out that your playing does have to be more precise, or cleaner. You have to be twice as careful about all the little noises. So all your little technique imperfections come out and shine in your face.

    I'm pretty sure the songs on the radio still use about 80% fretted bass. Fret noises are less obvious if your technique is accurate. Fretted and fretless sound completely different, and with all the new sound gizmos, it's easy to make a fretted sound almost like a fretless.
  3. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    One thing I've learned in the few times I've been in the studio, is that little imperfections, tiny little things, that may be barely audible when you record them, come out and smack you in the face after it's been mixed down(and played on high quality speakers)

    I met(and did some clinics with)one of the top studio bassists in LA, his playing is meticulously clean and precise, it was really quite impressive.

    Also, I've noticed that often times, what a bassist gigs with(gear wise) might differ from what he records with. Example, the music director at my school had '63 and a '70-something) fender jazz and precision basses, they were beat up to all hell, but each one had such a warm and thick tone, that just filed the low end pefectly, it was very hard to have imperfections playing those basses, the tone just swallowed your fingers up.

    But, I would rather perform with my Fodera, because that tone is more versatile for the stuff I like to do.

    A good player to look at is HUB from the roots. In playing the hip-hop/R&B that he does, you'll often find he's repeating the same 4-5 note figure ad infinitum, but his tone never wavers, he never misses a beat, and he never has any fret-buzz or anything.

    Victor Wooten is a great player, and certainly on his recordings it's different, but you may notice, if you have seen him live, that he messes up a lot, and he gets fret buzz, and all sorts of imperfections, this I'd attribute to the circus show he usually puts on, but in the 5 times I've seen him, he has messed up at least once in every show :p

    Being a studio bassist(or any studio musician) is a tough job, but it's one of the most secure jobs one can hope for doing music.
  4. with today's digital editing (especially on hard-disk recording systems) there's a lot you can do to clean up imperfections.
    even on the simple PC setup I've got, in Soundforge you can highlight a squeak, fretnoise or stringnoise and select "mute" and it's gone.

    with analogue recording of the past it would be very difficult indeed to get the same results with faders- even with fader automation.

    also drop-ins are a lot easier with digital recording- a section can be replaced seamlessly.

    that said, note how often the players in an artist's live band aren't the ones who played on the album.
    I doubt Avril Lavigne's live band guys have a clean enough playing technique for the studio.
    but the studio guys are probably, old, fat and bald:p
  5. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Studio recordings are so much clearer than live recordings, that, as WR said, small imperfections show up.

    In the studio, much more time is likely to be spent on getting it right, and for the bass player that means getting a good clean performance down. There is of course more that can be done to a recording in the way of EQ and other processing than can be done live, too.

    No, I don't think fretless basses are used for a lot of recordings - just session musicians who are able to play cleanly, and engineers & producers who know how to get the bass sound they're after.
  6. Raise your string action to reduce fret noise. EQ also makes a huge difference. The "bright" switch on my Alembic pre really brings out fret noise and other percussive sounds.
  7. TFR-bass


    Jun 3, 2003
    Central Jersey
    In regards to how much the sound of a bass you hear on the radio is engineered versus played, there are a number of factors. a good engineer can help to lessen the appearance of a mistake, but if you mess up...you messed up and there's no perfect fix except to do it again. also, i have found that a large number of people misunderstand the purpose of eq in a recording. EQ is used to seperate instrumentation within the mix. if EQ were used on each instrument to adjust the tone to the desired sound, and to correct mistakes, it would really only cause more problems. EQ can indeed be used for all of these purposes, but a good engineer is well aware of the fact that every tiny little change in the EQ on a recording creates a variance in the phase relationships, and when used in excess these variances are quite noticable. To wrap this long and perhaps overly worded reply up...if you want to have the clean sound of a recording in your live performances, or you just don't want your little blemishes from your live performance carrying over to your recorded material, there is one solution...practice.