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Tracking Techniques?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Tames, Dec 8, 2004.

  1. Tames


    Dec 31, 2002
    Decatur, IL, USA
    Alright the past few times my band tried to demo it up, I hate to say I just didn't have the equipment for it. Just a 1x15 rogue amp, and passive pickups on my bass.

    The very first time we laid down tracks (I recorded us all in my own basement) I just plugged an XLR cable into the direct out in the amp and went straight into the board. This recording just left me wanting more, and I really didn't like the sound becuase that's not how my bass sounded.

    The second time around, I tried miking it. I used a Shure Beta 52 on the cabinet, no direct. Found it to be way too boomy. Didn't get any high end at all, and what was there, was muddy.

    Now days, things are different. I actually have the equipment worth recording. I put an EMG J set in my jazz bass, and now I'm using an SWR 4x10 and SWR 1x15. I love the sound I'm getting out of my amp. Now I want to capture it.

    For "studio-ing up my sound" I really want to be able to have 3 mixes of the bass, possibly 4. I just want a second, third, fourth, etc opinion on it. I want to mic both cabs, and get a direct signal of the bass. Here's the question:

    What mics for what cabs give what sound?

    Where do I go direct with an active bass? I've got a direct out on my amp, or I could use a DI, or both... which is better? (I'm leaning towards having a solid DI)

    When miking AND running direct should I have one of the tweeters on the cabinets off? Which one? What's the difference?

    I'm going to run all of these into a mixer and see what the absolute best sound I can come up with.. is.

    Any questions or comments, please! Thanks guys in advance!
  2. rusmannx


    Jul 16, 2001
    i hate to say things like this, but in my experience, experimentation tought me more about what i had, and what i wanted (and what i could actually produce) then just about anything else.
    that said.... i have no actual advice.
  3. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    Please don't be that guy. Unless you are doing all the production your self you are just going to waste time, and money. I would say, mic one of the 10's or the 15. Then run a DI right out of your bass, or maybe after effects. If you can't get a good sound doing this, adding 2 more signals won't help either. I know i am probobly insulting all of you Hi-fi bass players out there, but if you are paying somebody else to record and mix they will most likely recomend the same. It will take less time and tweaking to get a solid sound for the song. Just been my experiance anyhow.
  4. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    I think that you should experiment with the multiple sound sources + blending thing at the beginning of a recording, especially when you are using a new (to you) piece of gear in the chain. Make a recording and listen to all of the sounds you hear. See if blending one really makes a difference or not.

    I have done the multi channel blending extensively in the past as a learning tool and because I thought it would give me that extra 10% coolness to the bass tone. After the initial fun of playing around was over though I found that most of the time I would just pick one single source and go with it. Which source I pick depends mostly on the sound of the rest of the band, especially what the guitar cabs sound is like once it hits the disk and, to a lesser extent, how tom-heavy the drummer is.

    Remember, actually plugging in and getting your hands dirty is the only way to really figure this out for yourself. If you haven't already done so, don't rely on this thread to teach you much. There is no substitute for experience if you're serious about doing a decent job.
  5. If you have the time (and the gear) you could try this setup:

    One channel for DI
    One channel for close miking the 4x10 (the best driver of course)
    One channel for an added ambience mike a bit further away (~2m), pay attention to line it up so that there is minimal phase cancellation
    One channel for miking your strings with a condenser microphone (this can basically only be done if the amp is in a separate, soundproof room)

    If you have those four components you should be able to get pretty much the best out of your gear.

    If you don't have the time/money/gear to this, DI is usually the best option for a single source.
  6. endorka


    Oct 15, 2004
    Glasgow, Scotland
    I go with the simple approach these days, for live and recording; experience has shown me that a mixture of Occam's razor - I paraphrase - "the simplest solution that works is the best" - and Murphy's law - "if something can go wrong it will go wrong, and in the worst possible way" - nearly always apply. The more complex your setup, the more there is that can go wrong. Remember that when you are using a microphone as well as another signal, even if it is a DI, you have to deal with the phase of the signals. If you have time, this can be used to good effect, if you don't, you can end up with a rotten sound.

    A recording studio will deal with the compression, so you shouldn't have to worry about that. My advice is to concentrate on getting the best sound possible out of the bass itself, i.e. make sure your technique is good and that the tone coming from the jack on the bass without any colouration from amplifiers or effects is to your liking. You can do this by routing your bass through a good stereo (via mixing desk or 4-track, say) or less effectively, by setting all the levels on your amp to neutral.

    To my mind, this will get you 90% of the way there, and will make you a good friend of the sound engineer, because he will have to do very little to make you sound right. If you are running the bass through the PA at a gig it will likely be DI'd so it also makes sense in this context.

  7. This reasoning has a few holes in it but I'll just say that I believe that at least 90% of the greatest bass tracks ever recorded were via Passive p/u's.

    That being said, there is not a darn thing wrong with actives and it could be that only actives will give you what you're after.

    This is exactly what everybody experiences the first time. Here's why:

    The direct-out in your amp sux. It probably is not even a real direct-out but rather a "balanced" (XLR) line-out of sorts. The bottom-line English translation of this is that your amp's "DI" is not doing a good job of supplying your mixer with a strong level, clear, lotsa headroom, no-noise signal. There are tons of threads here at TB about how many people are disappointed by their amp's built-in DI; sometimes even on the very high-end amp's like Aguilar. So don't feel bad.

    So what to do? You absolutely must have a real good DI unless what you are after can be achieved without one at all (never been my experience tho and most likely will require those active p/u's but I'll tell you that that can make things tougher but that's another thread altogether).

    What's a good DI? The good news is that there are a lot ranging from the Countryman ($100 used) to Radial Engineering ($200ish) to Evil Twin, API, Neve, etc. ($1000+). Stay away from anything less than $100 if you can help it because you'll be back where ya started.

    I posted in another thread about this and would link it but can't find it right now. I'll start by saying that Recording bass requires much effort. Takes some knowledge. Requires making some decisions that go against logic. Not at all like guitar where it's easy to get a good tone recorded and pretty hard not to.

    Here is the most important thing I can tell you: For you to get the sound you want recorded you will have to set your bass's tone controls to positions that will make you want to puke. Read that again slowly.

    Especially with actives, you must have the tone knobs set for all treble. This is because the bass is a badass instrument that kicks the ass of recording gear. Recording gear fears the bass. Remember that.

    At the mixer you will want to cut, not boost, the lows. You can boost the highs.

    Try that out next time. It will get a good level to tape (or whatever). You may not like the result at first but you will have a starting point to then begin bringing up the low-end slowly until it begins to sound bad. try it out.

    Master getting a good direct sound first. Then master getting a godd mic sound. Then master blending those two. Then master the world.

    Do not even attempt to find out the answer to this question unless you want to go literally insane and broke, broke, broke. All I'll say is that your Shure is all you need and can sound phenomenal. Otherwise get an MD421 or a Neuman. ;)
  8. supermonkey


    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    The KingOfAmps knows that of which he speaks. I have heard this advice before, and read it elsewhere on this board -- and not just from KOA. It's kind of zen, i.e. "To get climb the hill, one must first descend." Makes no sense at first, but then once you're doing it, it's wax on, wax off, Daniel-san.

    The problem this trick rectifies is getting definition and articulation in the tone. The low end is already there, fundamental to the notes you're playing.
    Think about it this way:
    listening to music in air <> moving signal thru wire. Capice?

    Do consider investing in a quality DI box. Do.

    If you are forced to mic the amp due to equimpent or setup issues: use the 15, w/ the Beta 52 about 2 inches out, slightly off axis, and slightly off center of the speaker. Make sure to consider floor reflections -- they can hurt you on occasion.
  9. Wierd, this is pretty much exactly the opposite of what i have experienced up to now, I never really managed to get a really good guitar sound on record.
  10. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    Here is how I record rock guitar:

    Most everyone I play with has gotten past the need for a stack cranked to 11 and plays with small tube combo amps. I have them bring over their favorite and I set it up on their amp stand (or a chair for the one or two who haven't got one). The front of the cab gets either an MD421 set all the way to "M" or an SM57. Then I put on the best noise blocking headphones I have and have the guitarist play at low volume while I place a second mic behind the cab. I run the headphone mix in mono and put the mic where it sounds the best WRT phase. I also get a recording of the guitar itself before it hits the amp (direct box).

    During mixing, I solo the mics I put on the amps and put the front mic to Unity (0db). Then I blend in the rear channel according to taste, usually somewhere between -4db and -10db depending on the guitar and amp that the player was using, and what kind of space I'm trying to fill. Then I send those outputs to a sub bus and don't touch those faders after that unless I need to do further tone shaping.

    With the pre-amped guitar signal, I have the means to go back and run it through an amp (ideally), a plugin, or a POD if I need to get a different sound. Sometimes if a different guitarist with a seriously nice cab is up for it, I'll run raw guitar from a different session through their stuff if the original amp's tone wasn't quite cutting it.

    I would like to note that in the end, the most important thing is the player. If she or he has technique and 'personal tone' which isn't appropriate for the songs, nothing you do and no hardware you buy is going to make it 'happen'.