Looking for Logic Pro settings, plug-ins and tips for the best possible software-based bass tone.

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by TheRealSebTombs, Sep 12, 2019.

  1. Hello all,

    I have very recently joined TalkBass, and just as recently I started learning how to play the bass.

    My setup consists of a Squier Classic Vibe 70s Precision Bass (mounting EMG GZR pick-ups) which I connect through a Focusrite Scarlett Solo interface to my iMac running Logic Pro X.

    I’d like to start recording my playing in order to get feedback from my bass mentor and have a reference for myself, and I was wondering if any Logic Pro users have any advice on effects, settings or plug-ins to get as good a bass tone as one can get though a DAW-only solution, with nothing but the bass plugged into the interface and computer. Anything that would improve and exalt the sound of a fairly standard P-Bass, basically.

    I just want to have some fun with bass tones (and explore and learn along the way, finding my 'own'), try some great settings and make the instrument sound as some of the bass tones I find online, which are tight and punchy, knowing full well that a software-only solution for now can’t replicate the effect that real gear gives to a tone.

    Any list of must-have plugins, add-ons or companion software is also greatly appreciated :)

    Thanks a lot everybody.
  2. iTzPrime


    May 30, 2016
    The Logic Built in amp simulator, eq and compressor is more than enough. Often it is great to split the signal into the bottom part (30-250hz) and kompress and limit the hell out of it, and a top part (250hz and above) that is slightly compressed and even often with slight guitar distortion.
  3. eJake


    May 22, 2011
    New Orleans
    As mentioned above EQ and compression are what you need. Watch videos on YouTube and use your ears!!
    TheRealSebTombs likes this.
  4. Thank you. Any bass-playing specific EQ settings you find pleasing to your ear and would feel to recommend? I will watch the (many) YouTube videos on mixing bass on Logic Pro, but any discussion with fellow TalkBassers :bassist:that can stem from this thread would be of great interest.
  5. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Using DSP of any type on a recorded signal needs to be in the context of what you're trying to achieve. Are these tracks solo with no accompaniment or mix elements to contend with? Are they part of a larger arrangement? Are they played over backing tracks you're using to rehearse?
    TheRealSebTombs likes this.
  6. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    since you first said your purpose was to get some feedback from your mentor / teacher, for that i would suggest you simply plug into the focusrite (make sure it's set to "inst" and not "line"), set the level so it's not peaking when you play hard, and apply no effects of any kind. you want your teacher to hear the nuance of your playing. you don't want them to hear whether or not you are good at using a compressor and equalizer.

    and your next purpose was to have some fun, explore, etc. and that is fantastic! so try out the built in amp simulator, eq, and compressor. in the course of having fun, you will watch some tutorials on eq and compression, and experiment with the knobs and sliders to see what they do to the sound.

    there are no generic eq and compression settings that will guarantee anything is going to sound good, bad, better, worse, etc (ok, maybe there are some that will always sound bad). you have to experiment and see what works for your fingers playing your bass and see what your ears want to hear. the "having fun" part is where you figure out what doing things with compression and EQ tell your ears.
    equill, SteveCS and TheRealSebTombs like this.
  7. Hello there. In this particular case, after learning my very first bass riff (U2's With or Without You) and having already sent my friend videos of me keeping different tempos, I need to record myself with U2's album version as a backing track, accompany them for the full length of the song, keep consistent in volume and tempo, and basically try to sound as if I recorded that :)

    At the moment the bass as is (no compression, amp room eq, nothing) plus the song sound a bit muddled, a bit too 'dark' and lacking definition. As I said, I haven't opened the EQ yet so in my search for tutorials on bass tone with Logic Pro, in this case I will see if I can find one that helps adding a bit of definition and brightness to the sound. I am using the strings that came with the bass by the way, which are roundwound.

  8. I agree on all counts, thanks for the motivating reply.

    On the subject ot setting levels, there are a few points in the chain where I could set the volume:

    1) On my bass – I have been advised to always keep it at max, and always make volume adjustments further down the line

    2) On the interface, with the gain knob

    3) In the DAW, with the channel input level

    4) Although not properly part of the chain, I can obviously adjust what I hear by using the monitor volume knob on the interface, but that doesn't affect what is 'recorded', obviously.

    Assuming I keep the volume on my bass at max, is there a preferential way to adjust signal levels, i.e. is it better to use the gain knob on the interface or the input level in the DAW? Would any option or the other have any particular drawbacks or things to look out for, such as increased hiss or other noise? I am going to get my hands dirty and play about in my 'Special Room', because that's the best way to learn, but any insight from more experienced people would surely give valuable guidance.

    Thank you.

  9. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Unless your interface is software controlled (Apogee Element for example); Adjusting the input gain knob on your interface adjusts the gain of the interface's preamp(s) before hitting the AD conversion stage. This is critical for not introducing clipping as your signal passes the converter. Adjusting the input gain in your DAW is likely just manipulating pre-fader channel gain after the fact. They each have their uses.

    Also keep in mind that modern interfaces, even cheap ones, have such a low noise floor that there's no reason to try and do the "record JUST under clipping" thing. Adjust the input gain on your interface until the loudest parts you're recording hit about -6dbfs and you'll be fine. If you have a way of measuring things via dbRMS than a standard of -12 to -18dbRMS in the box is a commonly accepted studio practice.
    TheRealSebTombs likes this.
  10. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Does the Focusrite have a high impedance (instrument) input? If not, you might spend a few $$ on a high quality passive DI box rather than trying to use EQ and compression to extract some tone that isn't there to begin with.
  11. JKos

    JKos Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    TheRealSebTombs likes this.
  12. sotua


    Sep 20, 2004
    Somewhere in time
    Audified's GK emulator plugin has a free version that has let me achieve some really good tones.
    TheRealSebTombs likes this.
  13. Hello, yes the interface has a high-impedance switch for inst input. I also have an inexpensive Harley Benton D.I. pedal which has EQ and a compressor, but I find that to be incredibly noisy (as in sort of a hiss). I may give it another go though.

    NKBassman likes this.
  14. It looks good though :)

  15. Oooh that looks nice… I am downloading it as we speak.

  16. Nevada Pete

    Nevada Pete Guest

    Nov 22, 2016
    First things first! Get the sound out of your bass first! Meaning, among several other playing technique issues, where and how you pluck / pick the strings has a big effect on your tone. A rule of thumb is if it's not right coming out of your instrument, no amount of EQ, compression, etc. will help you. So if you think you hear something that needs improvement, see if you can get it from how you play the instrument first.

    The kind of strings you use will, of course, make a very big difference in your tone. For the classic P bass tone, if that's what your looking for, you will want to use flat wound strings. A lot of players like the La Bella 760FL's or Fender 9050's on a P bass.

    With the above in mind, try this, if you haven't already: Record your bass straight in, i.e., with no EQ or compression. Then you can experiment all you want with the basic signal to put the finishing touches on it.

    Figure out how your system is metered, i.e., dBvu Vs. dBfs, and make sure you don't record too hot. Digital recording doesn't require that you saturate everything the way analog did.

    Try to spend more time practicing your bass technique, scales and arpeggios than you do twiddling with knobs. It's fun, though, isn't it! :D
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
    TheRealSebTombs likes this.
  17. Tell me about it! :) Thanks for the great advice. One needs solid foundations on which to build their next big thing, as with everything in life. Wow, that's too deep for this time of the day. Take care!
    Nevada Pete likes this.
  18. Nevada Pete

    Nevada Pete Guest

    Nov 22, 2016
    Hi again,

    I just thought I'd throw another idea in here, which is that the register you play in also makes a big difference in the tone you will get from your bass. In other words, you can play the same notes in different locations on the fret board, and, of course, on different strings. If you experiment playing your bass lines in all the different places you can think of on the fret board, you will quickly discover what a difference it makes in tonality. It's a big difference!

    When you pluck or pick a note, see if you can discern how many actual tones are being produced by the string you happen to be playing on. For the sake of this explanation, let's say that the lowest tone you can hear when you play a note on your bass is called the fundamental. The tones above the lowest tone you can hear we will then call overtones. It's actually a little more complicated than that, but when you play a note, how many "overtones" are there besides the lowest tone you can hear? One? Two? How does moving the fingering position for the note you are playing to another place on the fret board for the same note affect the overtones, or lack of them.

    Ah, ha! There's more to playing bass than meets the eye, isn't there? In the context of your original question, training your ear to hear the overtones will make you way better at dialing in a mix with EQ, compression, etc., on your DAW. :hyper:
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  19. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    Just remember, as you learn and grow, that "best possible bass tone" is only as applicable as the song you're working on. The "best possible" tone you use for playing along with U2 songs may not sound appropriate if move on to some Motown stuff, or Metallica, or Neil Young, etc.

    There is no "best possible" approach, is what I'm trying to say.

    That being said, I think you've already got some good advice here.

    My $0.02:
    1. The built in amp simulators in Logic aren't terrible. Use them. Don't spend any money on fancier plugins until you can clearly identify that you're missing something you "need".
    2. Try and stay away from gigantic EQ boosts. A super fat low end, for example, may sound cool at first, but it has a tendency to swamp out everything else. Less is often more. Start with the natural tone of your instrument and apply subtle tweaks from there to take it in the direction you want.
      • Sometimes cutting some of the deepest low end will clean up your tone and actually make it sound fatter, but also cleaner. Learn what a high pass filter (HPF) is and apply as needed.
    3. Use your ears, not your eyes. Don't get too caught up in what you think your EQ settings "should" look like. Contrary to what I just said above, close your eyes and just turn knobs till it sounds good to you, in the context of the song you're playing. If the song calls for a gigantic bass boost, then do it!
    4. Lots of people, myself included, like adding some compression to bass, but applying that correctly can be a very difficult thing to try and teach a novice player. If you want to try it, pick a simple compressor model (preferably with just 2 knobs) and start playing around with the provided presets. Use your ears and see if you like what it's doing to your sound.
    5. Focus on your playing and technique, and the knob-twiddling will follow.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
    knumbskull likes this.
  20. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    1. Start with your bass volume at max, yes. There may be very subtle tonal changes if you turn it down a hair, but ignore that for now.
    2. Play really hard for a few minutes and adjust interface gain so that it's not clipping no matter what you do.
    3. Adjust DAW channel input level until you see your peaks coming in at around -12 dB or so. This is a good compromise between headroom (not clipping) and signal level.
    4. Your monitor level only affects what you can hear. You may think this doesn't matter for recording, but it kinda does. If your monitors are very quiet, for instance, you may subconsciously compensate by playing harder. Or vice versa. I have a tendency to really dig in and play hard, so sometimes I'll intentionally crank my headphones to force me to play with a softer touch.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
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