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Recording For First Time

Discussion in 'Ask Adam Nitti' started by borgward, Mar 6, 2017.


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  1. borgward

    borgward

    Sep 28, 2006
    Need advice about playing bass in a recording studio. In Austin TX. First time for me. I've been in several recording studios, hanging out and giving moral support, but was oblivious to the process.

    The band I play with recorded there before, minus having a bass player. It is an analog studio. The sound quality of that CD is really good.

    Ideally I would like the bass to sound like what it does when we play live. (or what I hear on stage) I don't want to be a prima donna but don't want my wishes to be totally ignored either. Any thing I should discuss with the recording guy before we start? What's the usual procedure? Bring your own amp and cab or use theirs? Plug directly into their system? If that's the case, I'm thinking maybe bring my rig so the guy can get an idea of what I want to sound like. Thinking I should put on a new set of Rotosounds well in advance of the date
     
  2. Whoops, didn't see that this was in Adam Nitti's section. Hopefully, he'll weigh in on my observations.

    I'm fairly new to the bass, but I've operated a recording studio for decades.

    Who is the producer? If it's a third party, then you've established who the boss is. If you're doing self-production, then you guys needs to figure out who the ultimate arbiter is and dub them the producer. In any event, discuss ahead of time what the producer's role is. If the band is making the ultimate decisions, then the band is, in fact, "the producer" and the guy behind the board is just the engineer.

    First and foremost, trust the producer, whoever that is. Let go of any pre-conceived notions about "my sound." The studio is not the stage and what works in one probably won't work in the other. You can discuss how you want things to sound at a high level, but ultimately, the producer's job is to have the big grand vision for the band and how to achieve it through production at the individual instrument level. He may ask you to change your part. Try it. He may ask you to play a house bass. Try it. He may ask you to play with your toes instead of fingers. Maybe don't try that.

    I have found that the more professional a player is, the more flexible they are, and accommodating of the producer's approach. Conversely, amateurs invariably come into the studio with an unyielding idea of "their sound," which is often refined in their bedrooms, playing alone. I've recorded bands where everyone brings their "bedroom tone." While the individual instrument tracks may sound full, the resulting recording is mush, since everyone is competing across the whole spectrum. When an instrument is well recorded for its role in the song, it often sounds weird or thin when solo'ed.

    If the recording is the accumulation of every individual players' decision of part, tone and arrangement, you're highly likely to have an unsatisfactory recording.

    I hope this helps.
     
  3. borgward

    borgward

    Sep 28, 2006
    Sounds like good advice. The producers are the singer/songwriter and the engineer. I will take your point about individual tone vs the wide spectrum into consideration. Somebody suggested I bring your my pre amp and compressor of which I have neither (they are built into my bass head) That sounds like what you are warning against.
     
  4. Totally fine to bring your own stuff, just be prepared to experiment and don't feel dissed if the producer wants to go in another direction.
     
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
  5. adamnitti

    adamnitti

    Nov 29, 2001
    sorry to chime in so late; i am in the process of catching up on all of my correspondence. it has been a really busy year.

    not too much for me to add, as mr. sensitive has given some great feedback. ultimately you are there to serve the artist/producer, so sometimes you have to follow their lead with respect to your sound or parts. every producer is a little different. i've worked for some that literally show me every note to play, and others that let me do whatever i feel, and everything in between. it is a rare occasion where you would need or be asked to bring in an amp. i tell players that if they are stocking their portable recording rig, at most they would want to have:

    -a quiet, clean, and accurate d.i.
    -a good compressor
    -a good preamp (this is optional...)

    if you are going into a good studio, they will already have each of these components anyways, but a lot of players prefer to bring in their recording rig so they know what it's going to sound like. don't be afraid to ask the engineer if they can listen to your sound _before_ they start throwing you through their own signal chain. you might still end up having them run you through their treatment, but at least everyone can start on the same page.

    have fun!
     
  6. borgward

    borgward

    Sep 28, 2006
    Already recording. Good experience so far. The studio is very well organized. The guy went through a large selection of mic's for the singer until he was satisfied. The studio provided everything - don't even bring your own cables.

    What is a compressor used for? I have no idea if it is being used. The Amp I use for gigs has compression built in but I do not use it.

    What can a pre amp do for me in a recording situation. My Amp has pre amp out, but output to speaker is not deactivated when pre amp out is used, so no good for the studio.
     
  7. adamnitti

    adamnitti

    Nov 29, 2001
    if you are using your amp in the studio, then you are already utilizing the built-in preamp, unless your output is set to bypass it. a preamp is what gives you specific tone controls that change bass, midrange, treble, etc. sometimes if the bass that you are using is especially heavy in a particular frequency range, a preamp can help you tweak and 'dial that out' to aid in the recording process.

    a compressor is a tool that takes your signal and shrinks the threshold between the softest notes and the loudest notes you play. some players use them to manage inconsistent dynamics, which i personally don't recommend, as i would prefer you to manage that completely with your hands. however, another useful use for a compressor is to provide a tiny bit of 'color' to your sound, while also 'softening the edges' of how you play. most studio engineers will end up running your bass tracks through a compressor or compressor plugin during mixdowns. you may find that using a compressor in line in your signal chain before you go to the hard drive can help to smooth out your performance a little to help your bass sit in the mix a little bit better. compressors come in different forms: pedals or stompbox versions, rack mount versions, and software plug ins.
     

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