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Punchy Bass Tone

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Dkerwood, Jan 18, 2006.


  1. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    Ok, so I'm recording my band in my home studio, where I usually just record my own projects. When I record bass, I go direct, and so this is what I did with our band's bassist.

    Now, usually I'll play with a pick if I really want a part to punch through. Our bassist didn't, and I'm left with a somewhat muddy and dark tone that came straight from the bass. Can I get some advice on how to turn this into a tone that will punch through the mix?

    EQing tips? Compression? I've done everything that I've learned to do with MY bass, but nothing has worked.
     
  2. Micolao

    Micolao

    Sep 7, 2005
    Italy
    EQ the right way and mic the amp.
     
  3. for a little less mud, try cutting back a bit of the lows 100hz and/or below, and to get a bit more punch, push a little somewhere between 100 and 250ish if you want more definition, push round 400 or 500hz. and more clarity, from 800hz to 2khz.

    Or thats what I usuallty work on anyways...

    if you use a narrow Q, you can usually find exactly where it is muddy in the lows and cut that without losing too much else.
     
  4. didier

    didier

    Aug 4, 2005
    NC
    I would for sure try Compression, maybe 4:1 or a little higher, if you set the threshhold a little lower and the attack a little slower than you might otherwise you'll get a little pop up front.

    And eq, try a boost somewhere 150-250, and a cut around 400-500. Those values might need to be moved down a bit, depending on the sound you've got and what you want to get. You should be able to keep plenty of low end, but with the cut it can clean up a little bit and get some punch.
     
  5. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    I was hoping for a little more specific ideas. And this audio is already recorded... I can rerecord if necessary, but I'd really like to just manipulate the audio that's already there.

    Thanks, Son of Bovril. That's exactly what I'm looking for.

    Anybody else?
     
  6. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    Awesome. Keep em coming. I've got most of the mix balanced the way I like it... it's just this bass that's getting in my way (or rather, it's staying completely out of the way). I'd like to get home this afternoon and just try a dozen or so variations until I get what I want.
     
  7. WalterBush

    WalterBush

    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    I'm having the same problem with a band I'm mixing, and getting the bassist to re-record is just out of the question.

    The suggestions already made are good, but you wanted a dozen variations or so, so I'll recommend something completely different.

    Start by rolling off the lows (<100 Hz) and the highs (>2kHz) on the bass. Put a sizable dip in your kickdrum between 200-1khz. This might help, or it might not.

    Then, using a pre-fader send into a compressor, put a hard limit on the bass with the absolute shortest attack and release times the compressor can manage. This is the important part--use the kickdrum signal in the compressor's sidechain input to trigger the compressor.

    What you've done is create a ducking compressor that kills the bass signal by several db when the kick drum hits. This allows you to pump the bass more in the mix, and dial in more lows on the kick, since they're no longer competing for the same space.

    Use the original bass signal at about 1/2 its previous level, and use the compressed bass signal to compensate for the loss. If it's balanced right, you won't hear the effect working in the mix, although it can sound pretty gnarly if soloed.

    Anyway, it works for me on tracks where there's a lot of midrange covering up a less-than-full bass guitar. The other solution, which you may want to try first, is to roll the lows off of any instrument that doesn't need them, i.e. electric guitars, keyboard pads, strings, horns, etc. Just drop off anything under 200 hz and you'll start hearing more bass.

    Sorry for the length, but hopefully there's a couple of things that you can expiriment with.
     
  8. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    Jabberwock -

    I keep hearing about this "sidechain" of compressors. In my mixing, I'm just using a plugin. Is there a way to trigger this with the kick?

    At the moment, I'm getting MORE than enough high/mid kick drum from the overhead, and I've basically run the kick mic more as a low pass filter to fill in what the overhead can't carry. Plus I've got the overhead on a reverb plate, and the kick mic is dry, which makes for a nice tone. I didn't even have to compress the kick much.

    So how would I use this to trigger the compressor on the bass? I've been curious because I've found some other tips on this site that have involved triggering a compressor with a secondary source.

    EDIT: Hmmm... and I'm thinking the ducking compressor would be excellent live if I could make it work...
     
  9. WalterBush

    WalterBush

    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    How you trigger the sidechain depends on what plugin and DAW you're using. In Pro Tools, it's called a key input, and most compressors have a little key logo, and a box to tell it what input it's using as a trigger. In Sonar, it's a box that says,"sidechain" on most compressors, and you just choose the input. If you'll tell me what program and compressor you're using, I'll be happy to look into it, or just do a google yourself on the subject.

    And yes, ducking compressors are great live for all sorts of stuff, and they're handy for lowering the overall level of the band when the singer starts singing on an album, as well. Listen to Ozzy's last album, everything is, um, ducked.
     
  10. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    That's interesting; I'll have to try that sometime. I used to do 'the opposite' for a little while with one band I travelled with (doing audio). I'd put an EXPANDER in there, so the kick kicked-UP the bass. I didn't do it for long - mainly because I had a good sound already, and had better use for the Symetrix expander.

    Dkerwood: I'd reamp it, if it's that bad! I mean, compression won't even help it? I assume it's a digital recorder or something like that, that has the function to compress an already-recorded track, right? I mean that should take care of it pretty-well, I'd think... you said you put it like direct-direct - with no sort of preamp?

    Either way, it's so simple to just plug an output into a bass rig, and mic it right-over to a free channel/track.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The newest band I'm with had a recording session just a couple Saturdays ago, and I am SO-pleased with how the bass went-down. I'm more sold than ever with the idea of running a PA cab for bass. The mixing or recording engineer takes a post-direct signal from the GK head, and what I'm hearing is what THEY'RE hearing!
    Gotta love it.

    Joe
     
  11. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Oh, yes-yes - this is a great thing to do. As a mixer myself, though, it'd take-away about half of what I do during a show. I'd like to think that I can do a better, more 'artistic' job of ducking myself, but I used to try to believe that concerning fader-riding and compressors - no-way! A compressor has me beat, for-sure, for that.

    Joe
     
  12. WalterBush

    WalterBush

    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Yeah, the day I realized that an opto-resistor was faster than my finger was a sad day for my ego :crying: :D
     
  13. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Faster? I'm tellin'ya - and those detectors are, like... psychic or something!

    Joe
     
  14. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    It's not that it's BAD necessarily (ok, so it was actually worse than I thought... the gain was up too high and so it ended up distorting just a hair, but nothing I can't fix).

    It's just that her bass and my bass are completely different characters. And she and I are completely different styles of bassists. I like to really dig in and punch it myself with the tone knobs set as bright as I need. I then dial in the lower end on the amp as needed (usually I can go fairly flat).

    She likes to lay back and rock with less force, more volume. Her bass tone knobs are set totally dark, and she usually dials in the upper end on the amp.

    It just took some time to figure out how to mold THIS sound rather than the sound I've been dealing with for years (I think I understand now why so many engineers say "Did you bring your Fender").

    Thanks all for the great suggestions! I found that by punching the 100hz area and dropping off everything lower, I can dial in some serious guts with this axe... then if I throw in a little 200hz and just a little around 1k, oohhh man. That's some nice attack.

    Plus, I can now let the kick drum have all that space lower than 100hz, and also let it peak somewhere between 200 and 1000. Voila! The bass and kick aren't in the way anymore!