Need help cutting through the mix!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by funkmasterron, Jun 22, 2021.

  1. funkmasterron

    funkmasterron Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2010
    Glen Allen, VA
    I play in an instrumental trio with drums and guitar/keys.

    I use 2 handed tapping to play both the bass part and melody on some songs, but obviously the volume of my bass drops when tapping (compared with plucking or slapping).

    When I am tapping, I have a hard time cutting through the mix on louder songs, and am not an effects guys so not sure if I need some sort of "boost" pedal, should be using compression, or something else??

    I really like the sound of my bass and amp, so am not looking to change my sound if possible -- just cut through better in certain situations.

    Thanks for any suggestions!
    jdh3000 likes this.
  2. I use a compressor when my technique drops my volume. A boost could work as well, but the comp keeps the volume in check if I mess up and really hammer the strings.
  3. seedokebass


    Mar 21, 2009
    Boss LMB3 is a great and cheap place to start for compression!
    Bass4Brkfast likes this.
  4. marchone

    marchone Since 1951 Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    The Sadowsky SBP-1 preamp has the same circuitry the NYC basses do. It cuts through a mix like butter.
  5. Klangfarbe


    Jan 12, 2020
    Yep, compression is what you're looking for.
    Loring and funkmasterron like this.
  6. funkmasterron

    funkmasterron Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2010
    Glen Allen, VA
    I have an EBS Microbass 3 which I mainly use as a DI, A/B switch between 2 basses, and tuner. I can start there in terms of using its build in compressor. Only compression control it has is to turn up the compression ratio.
  7. Klangfarbe


    Jan 12, 2020
    Do you use the Microbass 3 already in your setup? Then i would recommend an extra compression Pedal. Reason is, that you would like to use the compression as a boost. You couldn't do that with the Microbass (if its allready dedicatet to something else).
    funkmasterron likes this.
  8. Mighty Thumb

    Mighty Thumb

    Jun 17, 2006
    Compressors that are referred to as “transparent” will probably be more to your liking. Cali 76 or Keeley Bassist might be good ones to check out for starters. I’ve been very happy with the Keeley, but it’s an always on pedal for me. There are MANY others that would also be considered “transparent”.
    DustyBottom, Loring and Howardzark like this.
  9. Wretched Banana

    Wretched Banana

    Mar 7, 2020
    MA, US
    When tapping compression is a must but you need two things in particular: 1) A gain/output/similar control to make it simultaneously act like a boost. Signal compression can only reduce volume by virtue of, well, compressing your signal. Without a boost that won't help you cut through anything at all. 2) A slow attack and a fast release, so that you hear the initial spike when you tap before it gets tamed. This is perhaps the no 1 requirement for good clean audible fast tapping in a band/mix situation.

    Keeley is an awesome compressor, but it didn't help me precisely because it does attack/release "intelligently" and that didn't cut it for tapping. I replaced it with the Cali76 CB, with reservations, because it has attack/release combined into a single knob, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it gets the job done perfectly. MXR M87 and the big & expensive version of Keeley both work wonders with their precise controls.
  10. Lukasonbass


    Dec 12, 2019
    New Hampshire
    The real answer is band dynamics. If you’re getting quiet (as result of technique or musicality) then the rest of the band needs to react to that, especially if you’re the one playing the melody.

    In addition to that:

    A volume pedal for sure. A bit of compression will help too, but that’s more to make the volume gap between tapping and plucking smaller and less to help you be heard.

    Tapping is always tough in a live full band situation and considerably difficult if the band is loud/heavy. It definitely takes teamwork to pull it off effectively.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2021
  11. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    If you don't have a volume pedal, you won't hear tapping. Even on a recording. That's something you only do if there aren't any other instruments playing. Tapping, harmonics, delay effects. Those are things that bass players shouldn't do. You can't hear it, and it jumbles track.
  12. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Commercial User

    When I first saw your post with the perennial question of, "how do I cut through the mix?", my immediate instinct was to give my generic answer - "You don't want to cut through the mix - you want to be the mix."

    However in your specific case, I would concur; a compressor is probably what you're looking for. If you're handy with a soldering iron, I just built up a Pumpernickel Compressor from Schalltechnik. It really is a first rate compressor, and it does have an "output" knob that you can crank up. I have it on all the time and I don't notice when it's there - I only notice when it's not there.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2021
  13. Grahams Groove

    Grahams Groove If it feels heavy, it's heavy. Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    Boulder, CO
    This x1000. Presumably, if you're tapping certain parts it is for a reason & the other two guys know it's a purposeful shift in attack, melody, and technique that changes the feel of the song. If they're just plowing through at the top end of their dynamic range & volume, your tapping ultimately draws from the song instead of adding to it, as you get lost in the mix. A compressor will help your tapping sit a bit better in the mix if you all find your place, but it won't fix the issue if they aren't listening to you and shifting dynamics with you.
    tblurker, Lukasonbass and seedokebass like this.
  14. Adienn7


    Jan 26, 2007
    how about turning the volume down on your bass.. turn the volume/gain up on your amp.. when you go to tap.. turn the volume knob up on your bass.. one thing you are missing.. is a mute above the strings.. natural compression is good for tapping too.. but if you want a great comp.. order a FEAlabs comp..

    any questions just ask
  15. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    The choice of bass is a significant factor. IMHO most basses are not very good for this style. One bass I have tried that was exceptional was the Ibanez AFR105. The bass I played was one of the originals from a few decades ago. The neck was perfect for tapping, and the balance in volume between finger style, slap, and tapping was all very good.

    A compressor is a good tool for this, but you need to switch the compressor in specifically when you are tapping. The reason is so you can put a little extra gain on the compressor to bump the volume up, so the level does not drop out from under you. In other words use the compressor partly as a clean boost. The compressor is also nice to even out the sound and provide a bit longer decay.

    Good Luck!
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  16. Fernando Costa

    Fernando Costa

    Aug 4, 2013
    Buy an Ernie Ball volume pedal.
    JeezyMcNuggles and DJ Bebop like this.
  17. Amajew

    Amajew Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2016
    How about adjusting your EQ a bit? I've found (just started tapping) that EQ'ing by boosting my mids (500Hz) and treble made the notes jump out much better. Also, aside from a compressor that's been suggested, how about a dedicated pedal you could turn on and off while tapping?

    I recently picked up a Xotic Bass RC Booster V2. This unit is a good "presence" adding pedal which has 2 different boosts. One boost could be an always on and the 2nd, a higher output you can turn on and off.
  18. Wretched Banana

    Wretched Banana

    Mar 7, 2020
    MA, US
    Shifting band dynamics is important, but not always viable in all music. Analyzing tracks from the more extreme rhythm-driven metal bands gives great insights into what works when everyone’s going all out.
  19. Jeff Hughes

    Jeff Hughes

    May 3, 2020
    Eq/mid boost pedal or get another amp that you can add to the mix with an volume pedal.

    eq pedal is probably easiest.
  20. Play through Hartke cabinets with the all-aluminum speakers. You will cut through anything with those.

    Even if you are playing P-bass, you will cut thru with those cabinets.
    bigdaddybass12 likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Aug 1, 2021

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