Recording soon: What head should I use?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by *ToNeS*, Jul 24, 2003.

  1. *ToNeS*


    Jan 12, 2001
    Sydney AU
    Okay, heading into the studio soon to do an E.P and my band is demanding that I hire out a better-quality head than the one I use live (and they're right on. 'Ashton' is not synonomous with 'quality', but with 'budget') - what do you guys recommend? I can pretty much get my hands on anything locally available. The stuff I'll be using raw is...

    Bass: Warwick Corvette Proline 5

    Box: Warwick W-411 PRO

    Head: ?

    Effects: Digitech BP200

    Going for a nice meaty alt-rock tone. Think Ryan Martinie from Mudvayne's sound but a lot smoother and without the 'gravel'. There are lots of Chi Cheng-esque straight rest-stroking progressions, so I can't get away with too much mid. 'Smooth yet audible' is the call, I guess. The guys weren't happy with a Warwick head to complete the Big W setup I seemed to have developed recently, so count that out. I was thinking one of the GK 'RB' models myself. Suggestions?
  2. Ryan uses an Ampeg, I normally don't suggest Ampeg's but from your description, I suggest an Ampeg head, Ryan uses a Ampeg SVT2 Pro. Just turn down the highs and mids of his settings and your Warwick should cut through and still be fat.
  3. Most all studio's I've recorded at have amplifiers there that they are familiar with (recording characterists, etc...) on hand and you should give them a shot first (call and ask). My method of choice is to go straight to the board through a nice pre-amp or compressor (ooh... Avalon... drool...). Manipulating your signal afterward is far easier with the vast digital arsenal most studios have these days. They can make your bass sound just about any way you want. If you've never recorded before, taking suggestions from the engineer/producer, etc... is a good starting point. I'll reiterate and say "Give them a call".
  4. baba

    baba Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2002
    3rd stone from the sun
    Skip the head and take a DI straight to the board. If you start with a clean signal on tape you can do anything you want with it post recording.
  5. Exactly! By taking bass and Keyboards straight to the board, it means only one isolation room is required (for the guitar amp). That is, if you are going straight to the board with vocals added later, and if you have only one guitar.

    What you can do with a clean bass signal at a good studio totally beats what you will get with an amp/speaker/mike combination. Any decent studio will have some good DI's for you (or the engineer) to choose from.

    Good luck! I had a blast doing our first demo (8 tunes) last month.:D
  6. ERMAL


    Jun 20, 2003
    San Antonio, TX
    Might I suggest using a D.I. AND miking the cabinet - Then you can mix the 2 signals and get the "best of both worlds". Sometimes a D.I. alone can sound too thin and wimpy(especially in a live setting), without the 'umph' of a cab to fatten it up. Just my thoughts/experience.
  7. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    bada-bing, bada-boom... :D
  8. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    You, sir, are correct!!!

    The only need for a head in studio is if you are recording the whole band in a live set up. Even then, the best signal you'll get is the one you send direct.
  9. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    I went to a recording school for 1 year (didn't finish), but they often suggested several things to the engineer and the musician/guitarist.

    1. New Strings (for brightest tone, they can tone it down later if necessary)

    2. have guitar intonated (so most of your notes are in tune farther up the neck)

    3. record a direct/clean guitar signal

    4. record effected direct signal (processor etc that the band thinks they want)

    5 possibly a mic'd sound (we never did this because equipment quality and the isolation problems were not productive with recording schedule, we had to record mix and master one song in 4 sessions of 6 hours each! for beginners that was almost always not enough time!)

    if the studio is good they can do alot of things with a dry direct guitar in the mixdown phase of recording.

    **** The most frustrating for me when recording?? The guitarist that doesn't have a clue that his guitar is not INTONATED properly and no matter how good he COULD play the result still sucked!!! Thats why guitarists like Joe Satriani sound good aside from a gazillion effects! I like Joe, really!
  10. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Tones is from Australia. Engineers over here have a thing for recording both DI and a miced amp. They usually end up using one or the other, sometimes a blend. The DI usually wins but not always. Ring ang check if the engineer is planning to mic your amp.

    As for hiring a head, I'm not a fan of taking exuipment to the studio unless you are 100% familiar with it. Time is money in the studio, and unfamiliar equipment usually ends up being a waste of time while everyone stands around saying "what does this knob do?". Also, because it's hired, everyone assumes it's ok for them to twiddle knobs, often ruining a sound you were happy with and again, wasting time....

    Slightly off topic but still relevant - live settings often suck in the studio, and vice versa. Be prepared to have to change your effects settings, EQ, etc etc.........
  11. I'd take the rental money and buy an Avalon U-5!!

    1. Direct sound (DI)is a must.
    2. A GOOD mic'd cab with almost ANY decent head can add both body and depth to a recorded bass IF it is mic'd AND blended correctly with the DI.
    3. A lot of times I will actually mic the bass guitar itself at a point near where the neck joins the body.
    (I know this sounds weird but it gives you EXACTLY what the unamplified bass sounds like to tape!)This does, of course, require that the cabinet be isolated in a different room than the player, otherwise you will get too much bleed from the amp unless you skip it and go DI (This works well sometime to if you have a clear sounding Bass)

    It is considered acceptable studio etiquette to make these suggestions to the engineer, however, TRUST the engineer, he/she will know what works in the space you are working in and may have some specific gear that helps get the sound you are hiring him/her for. Remember that at the end of the day a PROFESSIONAL engineer will want you to sound great as much or more than you do. It is his/her reputation that is on the line after your project is done. An engineer gets their next gig based on the last one they did!!! Take it from someone who has been doing recording work for nearly 25 years....Good luck on your sessions! Relax and don't overplay just because it is going to tape, sometimes less is more!



    with a name like tommixx I better know what the hell I'm talking about......
  12. *ToNeS*


    Jan 12, 2001
    Sydney AU
    Thanks for that point, Poida. Saved me from looking completely ignorant about studio time because our backwards country does everything a little different, even recording music. Sometimes, on Australian-recorded CD's, you can faintly hear the sounds of a muffled footy game during the breakdowns and quiet bits :D

    Thanks to everyone for the replies! Some very interesting suggestions here that I hadn't even considered, especially from tommixx (it's a cool name, bra, don't sweat it) - mic'ing up the actual bass at the neck join? MAN that is a sweet idea and so completely unconventional I will have to give it a go.

    Here's to making a kick-arse E.P with the chubbiest subterranean backup out! Ta! :bassist: