1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

How can I learn to hear bass lines more clearly?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Bassaga, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. Bassaga


    Sep 4, 2015
    I've read and heard that the real way to get playing on your bass is to just turn on the radio and play what you hear. Trouble is, I hear vocals, I hear guitars, I hear drums, maybe some keyboard... but I don't hear bass. Honestly, whenever I watch a video of a performance, I see some guy rocking out on his bass and I chuckle, 'cause he doesn't seem to be making any noise for all his effort. On the radio, in the car, anywhere I listen to music, I don't hear the bass guitar. I'd never given it much thought, but now that I'm trying to learn, I listen for it and still hardly hear anything. I've got some headphones that are overly bass-heavy, they help, but still, it's not as clear as what it seems other people are hearing.

    I would think it was a low frequency hearing loss issue, but I've been singing a low, low bass since high school, I listen to uber-low bass singers (bass guitar low) all the time. I played trombone as a teenager, and always wanted to go lower. The bass range is my home. A tenor in my old barbershop quartet once asked if he was too loud on a recording; I laughed and said I couldn't even hear him, all I could hear was my way-too-loud bass line (to which he responded with surprise, as he couldn't hardly hear me at all.) I'm the only person I know who could hear a low G and know Thurl Ravenscroft from Vladimir Miller from Barry Carl from JD Sumner from Delos Jewkes. So before I would have said I had an excellent ear for low frequencies... except now I discover I can't hardly pick out bass guitar from the mix. "Another One Bites the Dust" is easy enough, but songs with more going on just lose me.

    How can I learn to hear bass in the mix better?
  2. Cuzzie

    Cuzzie Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2016
    Good quality can headphones
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  3. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Unless you have an excellent sound system, you won't get all the bass. Also, it take practice. You brain/ear connection has to learn to focus on the bass.
    Oh, and get a tort guard and eat plenty of carrots.
    kobass, deeptubes, Templar and 6 others like this.
  4. Cuzzie

    Cuzzie Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2016
    Beer also helps
    Eric66 likes this.
  5. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Getting levels of the recorded track versus your bass helps. Also, pan the recorded material to the left and your bass to the right, (or vice-versa). You may need to adjust the amount of panning to best suit you. Also, reduce the lows on your bass.
  6. Murdoc_420


    Jan 20, 2016
    What music are you listening to?

    Bass is cut down in the mix in a lot of bad music ;) and to hear bass in most metal...

    Several problems hearing it in a lot of music:

    1- Bass lines follow the rhythm guitar, if cut down in the mix all it really does is beef up the guitar
    2- It also follows the drums, so they can drown it out, sometimes it also blends into drums. I swear I know the bassline and play accordingly. I look at tabs and realize I'm also playing a lot of kick/toms :D

    might help to train your ear by listening to bands where the bass stands out more.

    Zeppelin, Rush, Floyd or great examples.

    Guitar Tabs With Rhythm | Songsterr : a lot of playable tabs have other instruments that can be toggled on/off
  7. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    The "real" way? o_O

    I've never heard that.
  8. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    I have 2 tips For specifically playing along and learning songs.

    #1 Put your amp on the opposite side of the room from your sound system. Then stand in between them using one ear for each.

    #2 Learn the harder parts one Octave higher. I often learn the complicated parts this way and it's much easier to "match" up the notes.

    Also, The use of your EQ helps so you can hear your bass without drowning out the Song playing.

    For just Listening: I recommend going digital ie; Using a Laptop and then using a digital Equalizer. You can slide the sliders and eliminate all but the bass with some of them. Even the Free "Audacity" can do it.
    /\/\3phist0 likes this.
  9. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Constant state of flux
    Like with everything in music, there are no secret magic ways. You have to focus on the material you are listening to and LEARN to pick out the bass lines. Having a good sound system is also necessary, having one that is too bass focused can be an issue as the bass can become too muddy. Quality headphones definitely help, but nothing will help until you learn how to focus on the bass lines...
  10. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Possibly true but I believe everyone has their own range of hearing. As early as can remember, I started zoning in on the bass. I can hear everything pretty equally but my brain locks in on the bass. Even on Metalica songs, I hear the bass loud and clear. Sure I can tell that it's a bit buried but It's there just the same. I think some people just may never hear the bass as loud as others.
  11. Quality recordings are a must too. I've found that for a lot of older music, listening to it on vinyl really seems to help separate all the instruments. Even just listening to Black Sabbaths "Master of Reality" via my little 2.1 computer speaker setup I feel like I'm almost on stage with the band.
  12. Michael B

    Michael B

    Dec 16, 2015
    Lowell, MA
    Here is one of many software aids that can help.

    48thStreetCustom likes this.
  13. Michael B

    Michael B

    Dec 16, 2015
    Lowell, MA
    Ios app that has similar functions.

    Anytune Music Slow Downer Home Page

    Be careful of playing with songs off of YouTube as they are often sped up or down to fool the copyright robots.
  14. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    Just listen to Metallica's ...And Justice For All if you want to know why you cannot hear bass in any songs.
  15. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Transcribe! is awesome - I was just using it on "For Your Love - The Yardbirds" as it was whipped out at rehearsal tonight cold and the end of the bridge was unclear. I couldn't even find a correct chord chart for that one as they all have the end of the bridge wrong. I rarely look at tab and the one I looked at had that screwed up too (the last two notes are actually C# and B). Transcribe showed me that the C# bass note was actually a 1/4 step tone between C and C# which would explain all the confusion I guess? WTH? LOL
  16. Bassaga


    Sep 4, 2015
    Thank you kindly for the ideas, folks. I'll get to work on 'em!
    Scatabrain likes this.
  17. Aberdumbie


    Jan 22, 2016
    South Carolina
    Find piano recordings to play along to. Even if it is music you don't care for. Find the notes that fit in with the ivories. Piano recordings are a wealth of "notes" that you can then apply to whatever genre of music you wish to play.
  18. A good sound system is necessary to hear bass. I don't think it is so much a matter of learning to hear the bass as it is simply having a sound system that will reproduce the bass. I struggled for years with a crappy computer sound system and a set of tinny speakers. I recently picked up a small Bose speaker for it and it made all the difference in the world. I didn't change anything else on the computer , simply plugged the Bose in the the headphone jack and I can hear everything now.
  19. MGR

    MGR Banned

    Jan 18, 2015
    Bronx, NY
    Or weed.
  20. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This may seem harsh but I don't mean it that way.

    Go get a hearing exam.

    If you don't hear low frequencies much you may have hearing loss in that spectrum for some reason.

    None of those proposed solutions will work if you have some sort of hearing issue.

    In my car I can set the stereo to rattle the windows with bass. Especially if you can't hear bass in the car you either have a really crappy system or a hearing issue.

Share This Page