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Tips for Recording Bass

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by ComeHomeShane, May 23, 2020.

  1. ComeHomeShane

    ComeHomeShane Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2016
    Southern California
    I'm having two specific problems that I can't figure out, but I'm open to suggestions in general. First I'll give you some background info, what I'm using, etc...

    At the beginning of the quarantine I bought a Presonus Audiobox iTwo to start recording at home. Even though I've been playing bass for a while, I'm a total newb to using DAWs. However, I am familiar with the recording process due to many years of sessions in friend's studios. My go to bass is a G&L JB strung with NYXL 45-95s. To gig (and now in my super amateur home studio) I play through a Thunderfunk 800B. Due to some fancy electronic work that I don't understand that Dave Funk did to his amps, I'm able to record direct from the head to the interface without a cabinet. My typical tone uses both pick-ups at 10 with tone at 10 while using an average mid scoop on the head. If I'm feeling gritty I'll add low mids. Lastly, I do not know a ton about frequencies, recording, DAWs, etc... So you aficionados out there might need to simplify things for me.

    The problems I'm having:

    1. I can't get rid of the transient noises from fret contact with the strings. I hear every little contact between the string and frets on both the press down and the lift up. However, I don't have a problem with string/slide noise. When I gig live, I typically get rid of transients and string noise by cutting in the 500-800hz range. However, when recording if I make a cut at that range it doesn't get rid of that tapping sound from frets. If I starting cutting all the upper frequencies it hides that fret tapping sound, but totally obliterates my tone.

    2. I'm getting a steady hum that seems to be coming all the way from my bass. When plugged into any head anywhere, my JB hums quite a bit if I take my hands off the strings. I'm pretty sure it should not do that, but it's never been a problem because I'm either playing, or have a hand on the strings. But now through recording equipment, it's very annoying. To combat it I have been recording at a loud level so my friend making the mix/masters has enough level to hide the hum. But it would be ideal if I could get rid of it altogether.

    Thanks for your feedback.
    - Shane
  2. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    1. Are those sound audible in the final mix? If not don't give it another thought. Every instrument has various extraneous noises that are audible when played solo, but inaudible in a full band setting.

    2. The hum when you aren't touching strings is a classic problem. Buzz when not touching strings
    ComeHomeShane and seamonkey like this.
  3. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Back to 1. If the noises are still audible in the mix, you'll need to get more surgical with the EQ. Use a fully parametric EQ, set the Q to it's narrowest, increase the gain by 10dB, and sweep the frequency until the frequency of the noise is found. You'll know, because the noise will be much louder. Now turn the gain knob and adjust the Q to get rid of them offending sound.

    Sometimes a narrow Q and big gain reduction works better, sometimes a slightly wider Q andmless cut sounds better. You can find the frequency while soloing the bass, but the final EQ should be done in the context of the mix.
  4. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    String/fret clack is a higher frequency. @Frank Tuesday 's method above is exactly what I would suggest to zero in on it. I'd start at 1k and slowly sweep higher until you find it.
    ComeHomeShane likes this.
  5. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Both of the issues you describe are not recording issues.

    The first is a technique issue. @Frank Tuesday correctly states that it's not a problem in the context of an ensemble recording unless it's noticeable. You will hear that kind of noise in soloed bass tracks of many successful recordings. If it IS noticeable in that context, then you need to work on your technique.

    The hum is probably due to the single-coil pickups in Jazz basses, although there are many other possibilities. Again, it's not a recording issue; the issue is that you are hearing it.

    Recording can be an extremely valuable process if you learn from it. It's definitely humbling.
  6. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Also look to see what "Demo" songs might have been included with your DAW, then solo the bass track.
    You might be surprised how many artifacts are included from frets, sliding on strings, clanks from pulling a note hard, and so on These are all just natural sounds that get masked in the mix, but also add to clarity of the bass track.

    Find some raw bass tracks to compare yourself to them:
    300+ Free Multitracks For Mixing Practice - Behind The Speakers

    Note that on a lot of classic rock tunes a guitar track usually mirrors the bass track. It's there to add clarity to the bass track. This isn't done as much today as people tend to record bass tracks more hi-fi and include in these artifacts that naturally improve the clarity.
    ComeHomeShane likes this.
  7. ComeHomeShane

    ComeHomeShane Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2016
    Southern California
    1. No, the engineer we use runs a Low pass and cleans it up. Some of the louder clanks stick out, but that’s normal for running a hot tone like I prefer. With the bass solo’d and no DAW padding I wasn’t sure if those little taps were a normal thing. Seems like they are.

    2. Great, thanks!
  8. ComeHomeShane

    ComeHomeShane Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2016
    Southern California
  9. ComeHomeShane

    ComeHomeShane Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2016
    Southern California
    Nope, once mixed/mastered it’s not a problem at all. Since I’m recording the bass track/listen back/record/ etc..., it’s just something I would like to reduce. I don’t claim to be a professional, but I don’t think my technique is a big culprit here. The fret tap sound is audible no matter what approach I use. Also, string noise is not on issue. After reading up on it, I think that using a super clean head with a treble forward tone is just naturally going to pronounce those sounds. I’m going to practice sweeping the highs like explained above hopefully get better at using my heads parametric EQ.
  10. GrahamNN3


    Apr 11, 2018
    Frank Tuesday - has given excellent advice.

    I wondered if you were comping your bass part and editing the best parts without fret noise together? In Logic Pro X it’s the ”Take Folder” and then ”Comping”.

    You could also edit fret noise with Melodyne or similar

    Probably even in your DAW by cutting the audio where the offending noise is and then just reducing the level of the cut segment.
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
    ComeHomeShane likes this.

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