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Isolating Base Line from Old Recordings

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Carl, Dec 31, 2006.

  1. Carl


    Sep 10, 2006
    I am having a difficult time isolating the bass lines on recordings made in the sixties and early seventies. I can turn the bass way up and sort of hear it, but on many recordings it stays lost in the mix.

    Any ideas?
  2. jamesblue


    Mar 27, 2005
    I have a hard time too, but one thing you can do is:
    Get an MP3 or copy it to your computer.
    Use a 10+ band graphic eq or a notch eq to help bring out the frequency you can best hear the notes of the bass.
    A sequencer program like Audacity (free) with some VST EQ plugins should help.
    Get into digital recording, it's fun. Takes time though.
  3. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    Which recordings are you having difficulty with?
  4. billjr


    Jul 25, 2006
    Darlington, SC
    I have noticed the same problem. I notice it on early recordings for bands like The Drifters, The Four Tops, and many original blues recordings. It is much better if you find an artist that has re-recorded songs later, when the recording technology and techniques where much better.
  5. Rattlehead


    Dec 28, 2006
    Very difficult eh?

    In the 80s you would expect better bass sound. But I listen to metal more than any other genre. Try picking out a bass line behind distorted guitars and amidst double bass drum action - probably as difficult, if not more difficult than picking out bass from older recordings.
    And it gets even worse for Death metal and especially in Black metal, where poor quality recording seems to regarded as a good thing by some.

    Apart from cranking the low frequencies, there are a few other things I've found that help.

    If it is a stereo recording, unplug one speaker. Sometimes they put some instruments only on one "side" of the recording. Bass and drums are always in both, but sometimes there will be one guitar on the left only and another guitar on the right only

    Buy the vinyl. Apparently vinyls have better bass sound than CDs, if you compare a good quality vinyl player to a good quality CD player. That's one of the reasons vinyls are becoming popular again. I can't speak from experience though.

    Cranking the bass frequencies helps, but sometimes, oddly enough, doing the exact opposite helps. If the bass has a puchy high end, you might be able to pick this out better if you crank the treble. At any rate, this might help you anyway, as your mind sees the contrast and starts to separate the diffrent frequencies into different mental "tracks".

    And also, check Powertabs.net
    Powertab is a program that creates midi files from guitar tabs that people input into the program. It is free for download. On the website, there are many "powertab renditions" of songs, and sometimes these can be quite accurate.
  6. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I don't think so. One of the big drawbacks of Vinyl records is that bass is often heavily compressed, as necessitated by the physical issues with analog recording. CD's generally have better bass sound, IMO. Further, trying to transcribe parts from an lp is one of the least enjoyable things I've experienced (after you're used to the convience of doing the same from a cd or cassette tape).
  7. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    If, as a bass player, *you* cannot hear the bass line, the audience cannot hear the bass line. Just make up something that sounds good.

    It took me a while to appreciate this. I have had people come up to me and say "You played it just like the recording!" when I wasn't even close. What they really meant was "The bass line fit the song, so it *must* be the right one."
  8. dmperry24


    Dec 11, 2006
    Stamford, CT
    There's a piece of software called Transcribe! put out by Seventh String (www.seventhstring.com) that will read an mp3, or even directly from a CD if you have enough computer memory. You can then go to an effects menu that allows you to select the bass which will boost the bass line to the point that is almost all you hear. Conversely you can also cut the bass part out of the tune all together and practice a music-minus-one type of situation. It works pretty well on all types of music, and sells for around $50 or so. You can mark measures, beats, and sections of a tune, and then slow it down in percentages to pick up the rapid notes. It's great!
  9. Carl


    Sep 10, 2006
    Thanks for all of the information. My computer died and that is why I am so slow getting back to this.

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