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How do you record basses with F# (and lower) strings?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by alexclaber, Apr 25, 2003.


  1. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    I hope this is in the right place. Basically, I was wondering how you guys that play extended range basses manage to get an even recorded tone that cuts through the mix and can be heard on normal speakers when you're playing such low notes?

    Compression, EQ, sonic maximisers, overdrive?

    I've noticed that even the lowest notes on the B-string struggle to punch with the same authority as higher notes, which I suspect is due to the second harmonic being below the area where most bookshelf speakers roll off. So what happens when fundamental, the second harmonic, and the third harmonic (a key constrituent of 'fatness') are all below the -10dB point?

    Enlighten me you big string users!

    Alex
     
  2. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
  3. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Play the thinner strings?

    :D

    Sorry - I know it's not very helpful but there is the fact that a lot of domestic playback gear isn't going to do anything about reproducing those extra low notes (and even if it did, the neighbours would complain...).

    Ergo, there might be some argument for rearranging the bass part to make less use of the really low notes. But then again, I've only ever had a low B to worry about and I haven't got a huge wealth of recording experience, so don't count this opinion too heavily.

    Wulf
     
  4. MatW

    MatW

    May 10, 2000
    UK, Swindon
    Well, this is a good point. I'm a fan of bass tones that you can hear as well as feel. With this in mind I personally don't find anything much lower than a dropped 'D' on your 'E' string is particularly useful.

    Still more power to all you F# players. I'm sure you've shredded many a good punter's insides ;)
     
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I suppose the person to ask is John Turner - I know from using "budget" home-recording gear that it definitely doesn't like very low bass notes.

    But on the other hand -digital recording with something like Pro Tools - then it seems to be no problem. So I recorded though an all-digital setup into Pro Tools and there was no problem with an open low B.

    I can hear pretty low notes on my home Hi-Fi - this is one of the big things I noticed when Classical Recording went all-digital and onto Cds from vinyl.

    So before - low organ notes, just produced distortion which affected everything else on the recording.

    But with new digital recordings played back on CD - the extremely low organ notes really come out and are felt through the floor, shaking my whole flat ! :eek: - as Wulf says - not too popular with the neighbours - I had them banging on the walls !! ;)

    So - I have mentioned here before, that Charles Dutoit's recording of the Planets by Holst, with the Montreal Symphony is a good test.

    Towards the end of 'Saturn' and in part of 'Uranus' there is an incredibly low Organ Pedal sound - much lower than most bass guitars - which shakes my flat, if I turn up the volume!! ;)
     
  6. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
  7. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    Digital is definitely better for LF extension - with analogue magnetic recordings the bass extension is limited because as the frequency gets lower the rate of change of flux becomes smaller and smaller and thus is more difficult both to put onto tape and read off tape.

    With records, the bass extension is limited because the lower the note, the greater the amplitude needed for a constant power let alone constant loudness, hence the excursion of the stylus has to become so large that higher frequencies get doppler shifted and the length of music that will fit on an LP gets shorter and shorter.

    So, I'd assume these low bass players would record on 24bit digital systems - my concern is how they balance the volume and tone of these lowest notes, because even if the system can record down to 20Hz, the speakers on which the music is played back (particularly on cheap non-separates systems) will not go that low.

    Bruce, what are your hi-fi speakers? Do you think you're really hearing the fundamental and lowest harmonics of low notes, or do you think that your ear is assuming that those frequencies are there by extrapolating the harmonic series downwards?

    Alex
     
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I have big Tannoy speakers which are very much like Studio Monitor speakers - very bassy.

    The organ pedal notes which I was talking about are more felt through the floor and literally vibrate the walls and floor - it's not my ear making assumptions, but rather my feet feeling the fundamental!! ;)
     
  9. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Out of interest, Bruce, how does that recording of 'The Planets' sound on headphones. You won't get rumble underfoot but does it still sound as awesome?

    Wulf

    (who resisted all jokes about subsonic rumblings near Uranus... whoops :eek: )
     
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Hmmm ...interesting - never thought about that as I don't like hearing classical music on headphones - sounds un-natural to me, completely unlike the concert hall.

    So I just tried listening to a few snippets on a Sennheiser pair and a Sony pair that says "Digital Reference".

    So, it still does sound awesome, but I am not sure if I am hearing the same thing - maybe in this case my ears are being fooled by an acoustic trick. I don't like the way that on headphones it sounds like it's inside your head and not somewhere in front of you like at a concert hall - but in this case when the low organ pedal notes sound - it sounds like the sound is coming from all around you - inside and outside your head! :confused:
     
  11. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Ahh, I'd be interested to know what model Sennheiser's you're using Bruce - and what you think of them?