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Recording bass for a beginner

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Calzonge, May 17, 2019.

  1. Calzonge


    Jul 30, 2016
    I've played bass for quite a few years but I've never recorded anything at a studio or by myself. My girlfriend makes music in logic/garage band and she records her electric piano straight to the usb-port on her macbook. We would like to work together and add some of my basslines to her songs, but I haven't got a clue how.

    I have two basses (one passive and one active) and a little fender practice amp. As a total beginner in recording I'd like some advice and gear recommendations to help me record my bass.

    And like I said, I'm a total beginner so could you explain everything in detail and without any proffessional jargon. I'd really appreciate some help.
    LowActionHero likes this.
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    knumbskull, MattZilla and Aqualung60 like this.
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Oh, then on the computer side you'll need some DAW software - I use Audacity - free and simple (albeit somewhat limited).
  4. Calzonge


    Jul 30, 2016
    Damn that was a fast reply.

    I wanna make sure I understand everything and don't end up buying something I don't know how to use, so do I just plug in my bass straight to the interface and then plug that into a computer?

    And also how does the sound quality of an usb interfave compare to one of those cheap adapters?
  5. Calzonge


    Jul 30, 2016
    Yeah I've used audacity for some school projects so I know how works, but doesn't garage band allow you to do the same thing?
  6. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Yeah, sorry, I jumped right into the solutions without much explanation. But basically, yeah, there's a lot going on in the interface, but basically, they're "plug and play" now, 1/4" cord into the interface (analog audio in), USB cable to computer (digital audio out). Plus some software on the computer to "listen and write it down" to disk. Not hard at all to set up.
    PillO, Dabndug and Aqualung60 like this.
  7. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I don't know Garage Band, but I've heard of it, yeah, probably does more or less the same thing. Reaper is another free one I've read good things about.
    Aqualung60 likes this.
  8. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I also haven't used any of the cheaper adapters, so can't comment on their sound quality, but it seems to be a very simple / basic function any more, they're including USB interfaces on all sorts of things these days (mixers, DI boxes, effects, etc.). I would think any of them get the job done, but limit how much flexibility and control you have (and the types of inputs you can plug in - the multifunction inputs on the Focusrite boxes are very handy for plugging in mics and different configs).
    PillO likes this.
  9. RyanOh

    RyanOh Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I have the iRig HD and used it with GarageBand, works and sounds good. I also have a cheap 3-way wire that plugs into an iPhone/Ipad with your bass and earbuds. Both work.
    MattZilla likes this.
  10. Calzonge


    Jul 30, 2016
    Thanks a bunch for the replies, I'll look into the products you listed, should be enough to get started.

    All the guides I read made this sound a lot harder and now it seems much clearer.
    RyanOh likes this.
  11. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I’ve always been happy with Focusrite’s products. Their Scarlet 2i2 is an excellent entry point interface that ships with all the software you'll need to get started recording. You can read the whole spec and what’s in the box here. As long as the computer you’re using has a decent CPU and enough RAM, you should be set to go.
    PillO likes this.
  12. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Jule-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand
    GarageBand is much more full functioning than Audacity.

    All you need is that and an interface and you’re ready to record :thumbsup:
    bholder likes this.
  13. morgansterne

    morgansterne Geek U.S.A.

    Oct 25, 2011
    Cleveland Ohio
    I did some bass tracks for my friend in garageband. I plugged the bass straight into the scarlett interface and used the amp models in garageband. It really sounded great!
    I ended up buying a scarlett interface used for $75.
  14. Bodeanly

    Bodeanly Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    +1 on the Focusrite gear. Plug and play with Garageband and Logic.
    JPDsma likes this.
  15. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    Search YouTube for "how to record bass guitar" -- here's one from a popular trainer:

    Julian G and bdplaid like this.
  16. oren


    Aug 7, 2007
    Salem, OR
    Are the two of you going to be playing and recording tracks together at the same time? Or will you be adding a bass track after she already put down the piano? If you want to play together but capture separate tracks, you’ll need an interface that has multiple inputs.

    If the tracks are going to be recorded individually, then you can make do with a simple single channel interface that will allow you to plug your bass directly into the computer. I’ve used the Apogee Jam with good results, but there are lots of options.

    For software, Garage Band is plenty if you have a Mac or an iPad. For Windows there are lots of options, ranging from free to $$$$. Check this article (which has actually been updated for 2019) for some suggestions: Best DAW 2019: Which Digital Audio Workstation Works Best For You?

    You should allocate some time to figure out enough of whatever software you use to get by. It’s a whole rabbit hole you can get way sucked into! good luck and have fun!
  17. Sparkl


    Apr 23, 2011
    Garage Band is a free Mac only alternative to a semi-powerful DAW. It will do way more than what you could with Audacity and since your girlfriend already has that, just use it. The good thing about Garage Band is that once you upgrade to the fully fledged DAW Pro Logic (one of the best ones out there) you will already feel familiar with it since they both share the same user interface and most of the hotkeys/plugin sections etc.

    To answer your other question: Most of the sound will depend on the preamp your recording device has especially when you plug straight into it. So, the better the interface, the better the preamp it will have. For this purpose, Focusrite are one of the most popular interfaces especially on the low budget since they all come equipped with very decent preamps and sound pretty natural even when plugged directly. IIRC, the 2i2 or 2i4 will have the same preamp in there as the much expensier 8i6 or even the 18i20.
  18. WebJunk


    Oct 19, 2015
    Bass-->guitar cable-->interface-->USB-->DAW(Garage Band)+probably an AU Plugin 'Amp Simulator' for which there are free ones.
    Most interfaces from $75 on up would be sufficient. The difference as you go to more expensive models is mainly the mic preamp which is bypassed when you plug in anything other than an XLR. If you will use a microphone, then the preamp matters. But the difference in quality not everyone actually notices or needs. There are other differences but for what you are doing it will not matter.
    I own interfaces from $150 to $2000 and the cheaper one is acceptable for professional release.

    While I use Reaper and (reluctantly) Pro Tools myself. But Garage Band is more than sufficient and you already have it. Every DAW has a learning curve to it. If you decide later you need more Logic Pro is an easy move but if you decide you do not like the GB interface then you could look at others.

    Only two things to be aware of:
    1) Setting the input gain on the interface for what is plugged in. Most have lights like the focusrite green (good), yellow(peaking), red(clipping) or LED's but be sure whatever interface you do not set the gain where its clipping.
    2) Inside the DAW you do not want clipping. But also with digital you do not need a hot signal to be above a noise floor level like in analog. -10 is safe but -16 is still good. You can always boost it later. As long as you did not record noise coming from something else, the noise floor is not a problem.
  19. WebJunk


    Oct 19, 2015
    Unless you plug an XLR connector in to the interface, the preamp is bypassed entirely. They are all designed that way. First to avoid delivering phantom power which can damage some instruments like keyboards or active electronics. Second as microphone outputs are almost always lower than an instrument even with passive pickups. Even many hot passive guitar & bass pickups will overload a mic preamp causing distortion not so desirable or controllable. When you use an external rack mount mic preamp they are designed to accept a wider input range which is why they can be used with instruments. But a preamp is just that, a Pre-Amplifier. To amplify the weak signal from a microphone.
  20. twinjet

    twinjet Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I use an interface.
    Bass --> Alesis Multimix 8 USB --> PC

    Very simple and good sounding tracks.

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