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Not thrilled with bass tone when recording

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by MycooLeeyun, Apr 15, 2017.

  1. So I'm using my g&l jb-2 > radial j48 DI box > apogee duet 2 > Logic Pro X

    The bass sounds fine but the tone is so boring sometimes. I know that I can add different amps, eqs, compressors, effects, etc in Logic but is there something that I can add to my chain going in that will give my tone some spice? First thing that comes to mind is a preamp. Like an aguilar tonehammer or something. Also, I have a Genz Benz Shuttlemax 9.2.

    What do you recommend for giving my bass tone some flavor and versatility when going DI? I'm also thinking about upgrading my pickups to some nordies but I don't think that will solve the problem I'm mentioning here.

    Thank you!
  2. With no examples of the sound you want to archieve it is hard to recommend something. Boring???
    I would recommend a compressor before a preamp. But a good one like the Warm Audio stuff with transformers or one of the Origin Effects compressors - not a cheap pedal. But maybe you like different tones than I do.
  3. Well I love the jazz bass tone but I just want to liven it up a bit and have some more versatility when recording DI. I think the Radial J48 is a great DI box, but it doesn't give me any options to mold my sound.
  4. Try a DI Box with high-quality transformers or a preamp with high quality transformers or a high quality compressor with transformers...
    For me the Warm Audio WA76 was a game changer. Preamps have an impact, DI boxes have an impact, but the WA76 for example gives you the sound of a transformer and a FAST compressor. I have a Neve transformer DI: the RNDI, different preamps (GAP DLX and Warm Audio Tonebeast). I like them but the WA76 was the real game changer. For the first time I had the impression my recordings sound like the ones on my favourite records. Maybe try it, but don't buy it without being sure that it is what you want.
    It needs a line-level signal, so you need a kind of preamp to bring your bass to line level.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
  5. So the Radial J48 that I have does not have high quality transformers? I also have an EBS Multi Comp. Is the Radial J48 able to convert the signal to line-level? Thanks for your input, much appreciated. I have a lot to learn.
  6. Okay this might be a dumb question:

    When using an outboard mic preamp such as the WA12, I would still be running the signal through the mic preamps that are built into my Apogee Duet 2. Is that correct? So the signal goes through 2 preamps?
  7. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Banned

    Feb 23, 2011
    I suggest you copy the recorded track onto another track, so that you play two tracks along each other.
    Then use a compressor VST on both, then EQ to your liking, but try to make one emphasis the low mids and the other the high mids, then to the high mid track add a tiny bid of chorus to your liking, maybe even just a slight bit of reverb.

    That should live up your track a little, and make it sound more like played in a room.

    Eventually you might want to add a bass amp emulator to the low track and a guitar emulator with a slight bit of grit to you high track, if you got such VST.

    At least that is how I usually approach recording bass.

    You can hear the result here (please note that the baritone and bass tracks are improvised first takes, so not perfect. Just to demonstrate how the mentioned approach eventual could sound.):

    Edit: I forgot to tell that I also pan the 2 tracks just a tiny bit to respectively left and right.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
    kjones and Badwater like this.
  8. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    What style of music roughly are we talking about? Different "mojo" devices will help depending on what specifically you're after.

    I'd almost never suggest an effect pedal for recording.. But if you are at all after a fat old-school sound try the solidgoldfx beta. It's a low gain overdrive. If you're not playing real hard it adds wollyness and tubey warmth without what you'd really think of as overdrive. It'll get nasty but has huge usability at lower settings on the gain knob. Retains punch and articulation and really adds mojo.
    MuttThud likes this.
  9. I play mostly rock and some pop. I just want to improve my DI signal and get a fatter, warmer and more versatile tone going direct in. I'm thinking about a WA12 mic preamp.
  10. Man the bass sounds great along with the whole track!
    NoiseNinja likes this.
  11. Thanks for the suggestion. I have an mxr bass overdrive already.
  12. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Banned

    Feb 23, 2011
    Thank you very much :)

    Personally I think it is the best bass sound I ever achieved with home recordings, so now I have that exactly setup saved in a Reaper file, which is my main DAW, so I can use it as a template in the future to model my bass tone from.

    I know the basics, but am no way an expert when it comes to producing and mixing, so I mostly use trial and error and experiment my way through on how to get the sound I am looking for.

    Took me years to find out what works best, and feel like I am still getting better all the time.

    I have no ambitions of becoming sound engineer though, so I will never be able to do as good sounding work as one who truly master it.

    I do my best though, and am glad you actually like my attempt, when it comes to more serious stuff for real releases I put my faith in someone who actually knows what he is doing and get a real sound engineer to get the best out of my tracks.

    As it is though I do enjoy experimenting, and to see my progress at getting better at mixing and mastering.

    But in that aspect I will most likely always stay an amateur.

    Anyway, to further specify on how I achieved my sound, you might like to know what I used to record the bass, before the VST processing:

    Well, the EMG Geezer Butler P/J pickups I recently installed in my Mikro helped a great deal on my tone as well, I bypass all pots and run them straight to the output plug of my bass, so all tone adjustment will have to be made after the bass, although the Geezers already sound amazing in their own right.

    My signal chain before going into my Sound Interface is like this:

    Ibanez Mikro with EMG Geezer Butler pickups (sub short 28,6" scale bass)> EHX Black Finger (tube driven optical compressor)> Zoom B3 with BassPre (bass preamp emulator) and GalienKruger (bass amp emulator with speaker emulator full up) activated> Behringer Ultragain Mic100 (mic preamp with starved tube, which sounds horrible fizzy with gain all cranked, but actually do add just a slight touch of nice tube grid with the gain on more moderate settings, just breaking up at peaks)> Edirol FA-101 (sound interface)

    You should be able to get something similar to the tone I achieved just with your preamp and the right VST processing.

    Am glad I could help and am sincerely happy that you like the tone I achieved on that track on my bass :)

    Rock on :bassist:
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
    MycooLeeyun likes this.
  13. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    The solidgoldfx beta is a different animal... It's technically an overdrive but the bottom 2/3rds of the gain knob isn't really going to sound like traditional overdrive unless you're playing very hard. Used at low gain settings it will produce a vibe that is reminiscent of an old tube amp.
    MycooLeeyun likes this.
  14. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    I take it we are discussing the recorded sound of the bass, and not the monitoring sound while recording bass.

    Therefore, I agree with the noiseninja. Record 2 tracks (or record one and bounce it into another track). Use Low and high pass filters to cut frequencies: One track with the low end, and the other track with the high end bass frequencies. Then add plugin fx to the higher frequency track. FX like chorus and reverb on the upper bass frequency can give it some really nice dynamics. Then you can add some compression or limiter on the low frequency bass track to tighten it up. If you're doing 4 string bass and not mixing for a sub woofer, cut the frequencies below 40hz. This will help the upper bass come through in the mix and avoid mud buildup in the 300hz range.

    And, if you want a fatter bass sound, you can do small amount of pan to the L and R channel to each of the 2 bass tracks to make the bass big in the mix. If your software has a auto pan fx plugin that can make adjustments to the pan at a set tempo, and mix amount, you can get a real nice big fat bass tone.

    As for more fx and pedals going in, just overdrive would be enough. I prefer clean direct in. Because if you use 2 tracks, you can add the modulation and other fx later. If you record all your fx on the track, you can't adjust each fx or remove it later.
    lakefx, MycooLeeyun and NoiseNinja like this.
  15. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Banned

    Feb 23, 2011
    Overlooked that question completely, until this moment.

    Here's the short answer:


    (read on if you need more specific information and you are ready to consume a wall of text)

    That is giving you actually set them right though.

    I actually end up kind of using several amps and pre amps in my signal path when recording:

    The EHX Black Finger compressor first in my chain, right after my bass, have a build in tube preamp that drives the actual optical compressor, then comes the Zoom B3 on which I run a bass preamp emulator into a bass amp and cab emulator, finally before my sound interface I run it into a tube mic preamp, also there's a preamp build into my sound interface that my signal run through before it is converted and send to my computer.

    As if that weren't enough, when recorded I often copy the recorded track into 2 tracks, and beside the other VST's I usually place respectively a bass amp emulator and a guitar emulator last in the chain of the respective tracks.

    So my usual recording/mixing approach actually makes my bass signal run through quite a few pre amps and amps before I have the final result.

    As said it will cause no problems as long as you set the different amps and preamps so that you make sure they will sound good together.

    I also know several people who actually stack preamps live and feet it into their amp, which will also have a preamp stage, to get their desired tone.

    Hell I do it myself.

    With my live and band rehearsal rig I first run my bass signal through my Black Finger, which as mentioned actually has a build in tube preamp, then into my solid state Trace Elliot combo's input, which means preamp stage, the signal from the preamp of my Trace Elliot amp is then fed, via the combo's tuner output, to a Joyo Orange Juice, which is a small analog Orange Amp emulator, which again means it actually acts like one more additional preamp, and then finally into my Bass King tube amp's input, so basically into my tube amp's preamp stage.

    Further more my signal chain contains a Joyo California sound, which like the Orange Juice is an amp simulator, acting like a preamp, in this case I stack it with my fuzz and use it as a tone control for it, and then I also got another Orange Juice pedal, which takes care of my overdrive tone.

    So that was the long answer, it is absolutely possible to run your bass signal through several preamps and with good results, if only you are aware that you will need to adjust the individual preamps so that they'll actually work together, instead of against each other, and listen carefully.

    No problem!
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
    MycooLeeyun likes this.
  16. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Banned

    Feb 23, 2011

    Good that you mentioned the use of HPF and LPF, I kind of forgot to mention that, even if that is also a part of the procedure I use.

    I just do it with the EQ I use, so I kind of see it as an integrated part of the EQ'ing of the bass, still should have specifically pointed it out.

    It will help a great deal to make the bass sound a bit more defined and tight, and prevent things from mudying up too easily if you add other tracks with other instruments.
    Badwater likes this.
  17. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017

    I think you covered it well. The Plug-in EQs have the cut filters.
    NoiseNinja likes this.
  18. I have the EBS, too. It's a nice compressor, I kind of like the tube simulation, but it is not comparable to fast Fet-Compressors like the Warm Audio. For ME!!!
    The J48 is advertised as "not changing your sound in any way" - what gets in gets out. If the J stands for Jensen transformers (didn't Radial buy Jensen?) these transformers are great and Radial has a very high reputation. But DI boxes are made to just change the impedance of your signal and to let it cross long cables without degredation of the signal. They are not made to change your sound or announced as effect pedals! For me there is something about transformers when they are driven hard. The Radial doesn't change your signal into line level, it changes your signal into mic-level. Di-Boxes were build to use the mic-inputs of PA-mixers to directly inject signals of basses or guitars: DI = Direct Injection.
    The WA-12 is very good but doesn't have an impact like the WA76.

    I - but this is just my experience and my taste! - have invested a lot into pedals, rather cheap outboard gear etc., a lot of this gear wasn't bad, but it never had THE sound I was looking for.
    At home and for recording I use a Warm Audio Tonebeast, a WA76 and the WA-EQP. Live and at rehearsals I use a Origin Effects bass compact compressor (comes very close to the WA76 and has some very interesting tone shaping abilities).

    For some people, the Warm Audio stuff is still considered budget gear, for me it is luxury. But again: try before you buy!!!
    MycooLeeyun likes this.
  19. Man that sounds like a sick home studio recording setup for bass. So if I were only to invest in 1 of those 3 Warm Audio products you use, you would suggest the WA76? What's the point of investing in an outboard compressor when my DAW has plenty of compressors?
  20. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Many recordings just use plugins with the DAW
    Record raw, then add processing, doubling, compressing, distortion, filter
    Once you add in these things, it is hard to get them out if they end up being too much.
    A good raw track is always a good starting place.

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