I'm told my bass is too loud and to use foam

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by MichelD, Jan 31, 2023.

  1. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    I'm playing in a band playing Cajun songs and the leader of the group who is a veteran drummer who plays washboard and triangle says in the recordings we've made at rehearsal that my bass is too loud. He suggests foam in the bridge. We've just been recording with Zoom recorders for now, but are switching to microphones on everything live in one room with no baffles soon.

    He says that even in mixdown that my bass will overpower everything.

    Oops. Looks like I loaded the file twice. This was with a Zoom H4N with one mic on vocals and an overhead on the fiddles.

    In any case, is using some foam in the bridge an option?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 31, 2023
  2. Notaluthier


    Oct 7, 2021
    Play more quietly.
  3. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    The recording sounds good to me, but I can't see what the sound person had to do to mix it this way.

    I take it you are not using any pickup or mounted mic?

    It could also be the geometry of the venue and/or your or other players location in the room. Location wise, if you're shooting your double bass sound into a corner of the room you're in, it's going to be spread everywhere. Some rooms just have an affinity for the double bass and some don't.

    The problem with using foam or any kind of physical mute is that it's hard to dynamically control how much muting is happening. Also be prepared that if you mute the double bass, tone may be affected too.

    Might try not stroking the string so hard, left hand muting so there isn't quite so much sustain, or simply being further from the mic, or having everyone else play louder or closer to the mic.

    I like the Zydeco sound you guys are producing.
  4. I doubt a bit of foam will do much more than take out a bit of highs, stand further away?

    To my ears the bass sounds perfect in the mix.
    perhaps the leader just wants to hear more washboard.
  5. You could try using a "gobo" or baffle between your bass and the microphone. That would make you quieter in the mix without fundamentally changing the tone & feel of your instrument.

    Another old trick (from the days when bands recorded by gathering around 1 microphone) is to use a mic with a "figure 8" polar pattern, and put the louder instruments off to the sides.

    ps You guys sound great! I didn't think the bass was overpowering, but probably the bandleader has familiar reference tracks in his head that he is trying to duplicate the mix.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2023
    buldog5151bass likes this.
  6. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    Thank you all for your feedback.

    As far as what he had to mix dhergert, it was the vocals. The Zoom H4N has its own microphones on top of the unit, plus two inpus for xlr mic chords so we recroded the vocals that way, plus the fiddles had an overhead mic.

    We're recording a a church we're permitted to use Monday nights that has quite a live room sound too.
  7. The bandleader should use one of those mics for himself (if he wants his washboard playing to be loud in the mix). This would also give him more control in mix-down.
  8. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Play softer!

    Glad I could solve that one for you.
    longfinger likes this.
  9. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    I'm told by a professional player that in order to get tone out of an upright bass you have to put some muscle into it.
    littlebun likes this.
  10. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Well, what do YOUR ears tell you?

    Does it sound better to play real loud and overpower the rest of the band?

    Most of us are trying to get the damn thing louder.
  11. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    I try to do two primary things on the bass, play in tune and have a good tone. It's an acoustic instrument. If I just gently feather away at the strings nothing comes out. I'm actually a gentle guy. Just ask my wife. Or my girlfriend. But not at the same time and place. I don't whack and thwack the bass. I play firmly and clearly. I'm not overpowering the band, the accordion is. lol

    By the way, we had two Zoom recorders going last night. The track we got back this morning after the recorder mixed the vocals down a bit came out well-balanced. For the reason, the recording our band leader got on his Zoom came out really bass heavy and that was why he emailed me today asking me if there is some way to tone it down.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2023
    dhergert, littlebun and CatOnTheBass like this.
  12. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Washboard guy needs to be closer to the mic. If an unamplified acoustic bass is drowning out a washboard, the problem is not the bass.
  13. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Good point. A washboard is louder than pretty much anything acoustic except a trombone.
  14. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Bass on the recording sounds fine, for a Zoom recorder in a generic room.

    If bandleader guy wants the thing to sound like a properly mixed and balanced studio recording, he ought to pay for studio and engineering time to get a properly mixed and balanced studio recording.

    What do YOUR EARS tell you?
  15. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Can your bandleader hear what's going on at the time, or does he have to listen to a recording to be able to tell how it sounds? (Hint: what HIS EARS tell him is likely to be more accurate than a quick and dirty recording.)
  16. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Oh gosh, you mean you can use those things on the sides of your head?

    Bandleader guy sounds like one of those people who can't figure out whether they enjoyed dinner till they post it on Instagram and see how many "likes" and "dislikes" they get.

    And what is the purpose of this-here recording, anyway?
  17. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Mics pick up sound differently than our ears. Just spend some time positioning the group for proper balance. It's not that hard. Set up, record, listen, move too loud back, too soft forward. That's how they did it in the old days with one mic, so it can be done.
  18. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011

    Foam on the bridge sounds like a silly suggestion. Bandleader doesn't know what he doesn't know.
  19. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    Don't think you are gonna get too many folk HERE complain that the bass is TOO LOUD! :D

    I also think it sounds fine - especially for a 2 mic casual recording. I'm ignorant about recording/electronics - have always enjoyed allowing someone else to run sound. But if everyone mics including you, I don't know why the levels can't be adjusted. We usually use 1-3 mics - primarily for the vocals/lead instruments. My bass projects just fine into such mix. As others said, you can really change the sound from your bass through positioning.

    But yeah, you can play forcefully - yet quieter. I have been working on that very recently. I realized I had gotten into the bad habit of overplaying from trying to ride herd at too many too large jams. The bass still projects wonderfully w/ far less effort.

    As others said - you guys sound great.
  20. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I've played plenty of cajun music. If the band is completely unamplified and the bass sounds too loud in the recording, move away from the mikes. Heck, the rubboard itself can easily overpower an unamplified DB.

    You do not have to pound away on a DB to get a good sound.
    Wasnex and longfinger like this.