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The Importance of Your Tone on Your Band's Recording

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by SonnyBassPlayer, Aug 6, 2016.

  1. SonnyBassPlayer


    Nov 29, 2013
    How much is your own bass tone important when you're recording with your band?
    Would you aim at something in particular or just let the recorder work with sound?

    I am finding myself in that situation when one of the band members (originals) offers to record digitally some of the tracks at home.
    I played my part and it was all fine. I got into band later so I Just did some light modifications to the original bassline provided by the guitarist when I joined. I went thought it in one shot and I was quite satisfied.
    I play a P bass with a pick, no grindy tone but not too mellow either. Than the band member starts fiddling with it, literally cutting away anything above 300hz. My bass got to sound like a subwoofer.
    At my reaction of surprise (hiding fear) he said that any instrument has its slice of frequences so that there wont be any mess.

    We did this in the evening and I was too tired to start an argument, I'll see what happens when vocals are added and the track will be ready to be mixer. At this point,from my bass player point of view, the bass sounds crap.

    Long story short: what do you do if your band wants your bass to sound completely different from your taste and rehersal tone?
    MontzterMash likes this.
  2. punchdrunk

    punchdrunk Supporting Member

    Jun 22, 2013
    Jacksonville, Fl
    He doesn't know what the Hell he is doing. I would google mixing techniques and print out a brief overview of the typical position spectrum wise that each instrument occupies in the mix. Keep it selective and brief. Tell him that this is how professionals tend to mix the instruments, and that that should be a jumping off point. Also be sure to caution him against mismanaging the mix as it could make you guys sound like a garage band in the worst way.
    P.s. Mids are a friend to basses.
  3. lakefx


    Sep 14, 2012
    Keeping each instrument to it's own frequency space is key, but that means cutting small bands or gentle contouring. Not scrapping most of the signal.
  4. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    It all depends upon how it fits in the mix. I've heard too many isolated bass tracks that sounded like #$%!@#%~, but worked in the mix. Tell them you don't think it will work, but wait and see. If it sucks, then honestly speak your mind.
  5. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Assuming that you are the band leader and you are paying for the recording session, my advice is this: choose a player or player whose tone you really like, go on YouTube, search for isolated bass tracks by that player that sound good to you, and share them with the engineer. It is his job (because you are paying, you are the client/customer, it is YOUR money) to help you achieve that sound. If he refuses, fire him and hire another recording engineer who is more sympathetic to your artistic vision. :)
  6. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    If it's my band I never let myself get mixed like crap. Especially by someone who has no idea what they are doing (your guy). I know how to mix records well enough to get it how I want it. Your situation sounds like the mix is going to be awful, so I am sure other members will notice and say something.
  7. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Are you interested in the spotlight or having a good sounding finished product. Recording and mixing is an art. Sometimes you need to make space for the benefit of the mix. Listen to the finished product.

    That said, I've been mixing away recently and find cutting guitar below 300 pretty helpful. Wonder if he's trying to slot all the territory above that. You've told us what he did to your tone but failed to mention what he did to his. That said, without being in the room, it will be hard for anyone to know.

    I've thought that I had a great tone but realized it wouldn't fit well and then EQ'd it as needed. It wasn't what I thought it would be but it worked overall.
    Ukiah Bass, steveinohio and TonyP- like this.
  8. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    I learned my lesson in my early days that saying nothing to stick up for yourself ends in misery.
    Never again.
  9. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Slighly scooping eq bands to make way for other instruments is one thing; but killing everything above 300 Hz during tracking is extreme. If the instruments are that much in one another's way, it's probably time to rethink the arrangement. And assuming your band plays a genre that features vocals, why does the guitarist/mixer think he knows what space each instrument needs in the mix if the vocals aren't tracked yet?

    Assuming he's not making destructive (irreversible) changes and that you've already registered your concern, I'd recommend not getting into a battle about instrument tones while the sessions are still in the basic tracking stage.

    However, in your shoes I'd make a copy of the tracks so I could mix a few versions at home. I'd also be encouraging the band to identify a few well-mixed songs in your genre to be mixing references for each of the songs you're working on. Finally, I'd be scouting for isolated bass tracks from songs in your band's genre to listen to with the guitarist, demonstrating how those bass tones work in isolation and in the final mix.
    lakefx, MDBass, bdplaid and 1 other person like this.
  10. Bassnomer

    Bassnomer Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2013
    Lakewood, CA
    What genre of music are you playing?
  11. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    + 1 million.
  12. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    Are you a full band member? If I was, and it were me, I'd say that's not my sound, and say I like it the way I laid it down. You don't tell him what his tone should be, right? Is he cutting out everything below 300Hz from his guitar or other instruments to make room for the bass?

    A lot of us here, me included, have done a lot of studio work with some big named people, and I've never heard of this.

    The guy's definitely a beginner. This is the reason why a lot of bands do better hiring a producer so that level of control gets taken away from any single band member.

    I feel for you, I really hate this kind of crap.
  13. Bass'd on a true story

    Bass'd on a true story

    Jun 28, 2015
    Something that a fantastic producer told me once is this: it should sound good enough while you are recording it that you could release it without editing anything and still have a good song.

    Another good rule of thumb is to treat your recording process as if everything is analog. If you start making edits that are so extreme that it would be impossible to do on tape, you probably shouldn't be doing it. Obviously there are exceptions to this, like edm, etc... but for recording live instruments, these rules have served me well.
    tbasstreble11, jamro217 and bdplaid like this.
  14. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    And, the whole notion of "fix it in the mix" is nonsense. One only does that out of desperation to save bad tracking.
    Ekim, Grumry, jamro217 and 1 other person like this.
  15. Bass'd on a true story

    Bass'd on a true story

    Jun 28, 2015
    Trying to fix a track during mixing is like trying to fix a meal you've already eaten. Garbage in garbage out.
    MVE, Grumry, bdplaid and 2 others like this.
  16. Offer to redo the track and tell him you're not upset that he accidentally ruined your first take. Those things happen. Once. If that doesn't work, rage quit and fire the drummer.
  17. No, he said above 300hz, which I don't see it the mind blowing if it works in the mix.

    Ok, he plays with a pick, I'd like to listen to the track first before saying the mixing guy is a total.....and ruined his tone.
  18. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This is easy. Find some isolated bass tracks from famous recordings. They are all over YouTube. Many of them have most of the "grind" left in. Yes and Rush tracks in particular do this.

    Play for him the isolated bass track followed by the whole song. Then you'll be able to show him how physics will do a lot of the work for him. The fact that he has even touched your signal before the rest of the tracks are even recorded tells me all I need to know. He is mixing using math he either read about on the interwebz or that he was told at a bar one night by an equally unsuccessful recording engineer. He is not using his ears at all. Why would I want to touch a signal from any instrument until I hear it in the context of the song? If anything I want every track to be too bright until mix down because I can always take away highs and mods, but I can't add them if they aren't there.

    Last edited: Aug 7, 2016
  19. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Suspended Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    If you are actually a band member and not a hired hand, you should have a say in how you sound. If you don't stand up for yourself, that's on you.
    gregmon79 and bdplaid like this.
  20. steveinohio


    May 27, 2007
    I always try to do what is best for the mix and the song. I would rather be satisfied with the sound of the recording as a whole. Some of the recordings I am most proud of tend to have what I consider a great bass sound. I also have a few where the bass isn't great but everything else wails. Finding where that medium is can be tricky sometimes.
    Emanuel Apascaritei likes this.
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