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Recording metal bass

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Stevosimpson, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. Stevosimpson


    Dec 31, 2012
    Winnipeg, MB
    To put it bluntly I'm a noob at recording metal bass and I want to go for heavy, overdriven/distorted tone.

    I have a 6 string ESP with EMG's, a sansamp RBI, and a Darkglass B3K but I cant figure out where to start, my typical settings for my amp just don't work.

    Where should I start?
  2. Stevosimpson


    Dec 31, 2012
    Winnipeg, MB
  3. dangerouscello

    dangerouscello I wore a suit under this Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2011
    I'm confused a little. Are you having trouble getting a good metal tone to record, or are you having trouble physically recording it?
  4. KodyAudette


    Apr 30, 2012
    Well, as far as metal tones go, the biggest issue that I usually face when mixing a metal track's bass is finding the balance between OD/Distortion and the bass itself.

    Think of it this way, every track in a mix takes up a certain sonic space. Now Bass is always tricky in any genre because the low fundamentals of the bass fight with the kick drum for space (particularly in metal). Any overdrive on the bass essentially adds a lot of upper mid signal which is right where the guitar's overdrive is sitting as well.

    What this means is you have to pay attention to two parts of the bass' sound, the lows (the note itself) and the attack/snap/overdrive. You have to consider how these two aspects of the bass tone interact with everything else in the mix.

    A general rule of thumb is to take some of the lows out of the guitars with a high pass filter to make some space in the bass frequencies, leaving just kick and bass. Now you have to decide whether you want the kick to carry the brunt of the lows, or whether you want it to be more of precise, punchy sound to leave space for bass notes. That can be done by cutting some lows from the kick.

    Now for the bass tone itself. I usually like to run a DI signal directly from my bass (does the Sansamp have a DI output that will send the dry signal from your bass without overdrive on it? If so, it's really nice to send that as well as an overdriven signal so that you can blend the two to taste in the software. If that doesn't work, or if you only have one input on your recording interface, I believe the Darkglass has an adjustable high pass filter for the overdrive, right? If so, try pushing that setting up so that you have a nice clear low region with overdrive sitting on top.

    It's all really dependent on what else is going on in the mix. Just remember that once you have it recorded, try tweaking the EQ with any other tracks (guitar, drums, etc) playing as well so you can hear how they work together.

    Hint: I usually like at least a little compression on metal bass tracks to even things up but again, it depends on your tracks.
  5. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    So I'm assuming by this statement that it's your recorded TONE that you are having issues with, am I right?

    One of the things you should probably look out for is how much gain you are putting in there. Same as with guitar, you don't need as much gain to get the same effect in a recording as you do with your amp as regular. Since you don't play with your ear right up next to the speaker (if you are recording with a mic) or have it plugged directly into your brain (if you are going D.I.), it's going to seem much more sensitive compared to what you typically hear when you play.

    Most modern "metal" bass is scooped to the extreme (think Fieldy from Korn's tone) to give it thump and clank, leaving the discernable notes more up to the guitars. Depending on time period and genre, the bass can be handled quite differently in the mix. Try recording the other tracks FIRST and play your bass tone over those tracks...it will save you a lot of time since you will want to tweak your bass tone more than your guitar tone.
  6. Another thing about EQ:
    If your guitarists are playing with a scooped sound, crank up the mids. I personally dig honkey midrange bass tone, which I find in a mix sits really well in between drums and guitar.
    If you get the opportunity, maybe talk to your guitarists about cutting out a bit of bass from their tone for a better mix. I find the best mixed metal recordings have guitar tracks which are really high-mid to treble ranged, and the bass takes up the bass to low-midrange frequencies.
    The path to an ideal mix is eliminating everything you don't want/need, this makes it sound a lot tighter.
    But in the end, use your judgement :p I'm no mixing master, I just know what I like and can kind of explain it ;)
  7. KodyAudette


    Apr 30, 2012

    Exactly. First step is to cut out everything that isn't adding value, especially if it is taking up the sonic space of something that is.

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