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Would appreciate advice/suggestions

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by LarryJ, Sep 2, 2002.

  1. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    I did a recording the other day- a 4-song demo
    for a R&B blues group I've been working with.
    GREAT live sound; very funky, &if I say so myself, my bass playing drives the band. However-
    I was not at all happy with the result of the recording, thugh I haven't heard the final mix.
    This was done at a small, yet pro-equipped studio.
    There was top-rate bass gear to "monitor" through, yet the bass was put through the board using a Demeter direct box. To me, the sound was sterile and thin, not at all like I want to hear.
    Insofar as I'm "out-of-the loop" as far as recording,
    thinking back, I have read that going direct into a digital board produces this result.
    I used my main bass, a MM Sterling, with which I am able to get great tone live combining my set-up and its preamp. This was not the case during the session.
    Now, taking into consideration that recording requires a different approach and attack than playing live, I would appreciate any suggestions as to how to fatten the sound up next time around.
    I did ask the engineer to scoop the mids, & maybe he wasn't the most conducive to working with the bass sound so-
    Options: Could/Should I have miked a live set-up?
    I have an Ampeg V4 BH w/ great tone.
    The studio rig was all Demeter- sounded pretty good in the room, maybe a little sterile, but as I said, on playback, that wasn't the tone I want to hear on bass.
    Any opinions/options/or feedback would be much appreciated. As I mentioned, I haven't done recording for awhile, I wasn't even familiar with the digital process! Interesting, but what can I do to "fatten" up & thicken the sound so I can sound more like ME?
  2. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Personally I record my bass using a SansAmp Bass Driver DI, it has speaker simulation and you can also dial in some minor amount of overdrive to make the sound more interesting. I think it works quite well. Many record bass on two channels mixing the direct sound with a miked speaker cabinet to give you a more "live" sound. I also record digitally - on a Yamaha AW4416 - and the sound is quite sterile without the SansAmp. See if you can borrow one for a test.
  3. Recording? Compression!
  4. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    Donne, Anders, thanks-
    I've been loking at the Sansamp DI; I do think I'll get one & give it a try.
    Could you elaborate on compression- What's involved in adding or subtracting that? Is it provided by me or the recording engineer?
    (Remember, I'm "old-school" & out-of-the-loop, be gentle!:D )

    I hope the final mix pleasantly surprises me.Doing the recording, it's hard for me to dig in & produce a good-feeling part when the sound isn't what I want.

    Anyboddy else has something to add; please bring it on-I'm all ears.
  5. Jon Burnet

    Jon Burnet

    Jan 21, 2001
    Memphis, TN
    if you are already committed to the track have him patch it back through your rig. rmember this is YOUR bands recording and if you are inconveinceing him.... screw it. it's what he gets paid to do.
  6. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    There's two schools regarding whether to add compression and effects before or after recording. Possibly compression was used to be able to get a good high level to tape without to much noise problems. I think the later trend is to record dry and add effects later. With the larger headroom of (24-bit) digital recording it's OK if the sound level fluctuactes a bit, you can increase the sound level later without getting noise.

    There is no going back once the sound is "on tape" (or hard disk as it were), so I prefer to record dry. This way you can choose how much compression and effects to add later. If it turns out that the sound doesn't fit with the other instruments or the mood of the song it would otherwise be wasted effort, and you have to record again. Ideally I add compression and effects to the monitor sound so it feels right while recording though.
  7. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    Thanks again for the good information.
    Maybe I should wait to hear how this guy mixes before I stress.Hearing the bassline playback was
    distressing to me though, in that it is not how I like to sound- I prefer thick/dark/rich; what I heard was
    sterile & transparent.
    I asked the engineer to fatten the tone up, he said he would work with it during the mix, but if I could turn back the clock, I think I would record the bass
    through my rig.
    As far as this "project" goes, it's a pretty basic demo of cover tunes for clubs, not originals, nor are we trying to do "Sgt. Pepper" or anything,
    But still, we all want to hear ourselves properly.
    Stingrayguy, your comment struck a great chord, 'cause in ths case anyway, the engineer had a real "I'm God" 'tude; & while I respect his professionalism & skills, he's supposed to record what we want to hear.
    Next time, I'll be better prepared & informed
    I appreciate it, bro's!
  8. Just because this guy gets paid to do this doesn't mean squat.

    We recorded at this place, and the guy could never ever get good tone from my Pedulla (which is hard to do as it has tone just by itself in the case), wanted me to turn my bass all the way down and run complete treble out of my bass.

    The second time we went in I brought a passive P bass with me, and got the same thing.........

    But at another place, just using my Pedulla and a sansamp DI (I would recommend them) I got THE tone that I was looking for, exactly.

    So, what I am getting at (not tryin to knock anybody) is that the guy may not be that good at getting a really good bass tone when he is recording.
  9. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    You're absolutely right; there are both good & bad engineers-maybe his concept of how the bass should sound is different than mine.
    Nothing beats experience and preparation-If and when I do more recording, even at the same studio, I feel that I have a much better idea now of what to do and how to achieve the sound I want.
    That's why I started the thread;& believe me I totally appreciate the feedback; that's what TalkBass is about!
    I also looked at some other threads in this category and got a lot of good info as well. Recording a bass part & getting the desired sound reminds me of looking into those mirrors with lights in hotel rooms- Every "blemish" is apparent, every misplaced note or phrase or missing the pocket is lit up- there's no place to hide during playback!
    Which is why its most critical I think to get the bass
    tone that we want to hear, not having our feeling colored or uncolored by a board.
    Again, thanks for the input- I anxiously await the final mix!!:cool:
  10. Nails


    Jun 4, 2000
    Austin, Tejas
    I don't think this will really help you out in your situation, but here's how I like to record myself in my little digital studio. I don't have all the gear to do what I'd like to do yet, so I've had to improvise. Maybe you can take some of the ideas and apply them to your next recording.

    1. I run a direct line out of my head (Eden WT-800), which provides a good bit of my tone on tape.

    2. I run a seperate signal to a direct box, at the moment I'm using my brother's Guitar Pod Pro set to tube preamp, no cab, and everything set flat except drive and reverb which are cut completely.

    3. When I'm feeling like getting loud and angering the neighbors (I live in an apartment so I don't do this often), I hook up my Eden D410XLT and mic it up. Last time I used a Sure SM57, didn't sound bad to my ears.

    I always do at least 2 tracks (even if it's recording one then copying it onto another track.) It just gives it a bit more power to it, even though a GPP isn't a great bass DI.

    What I would like to do is get a bass amp/kick drum mic (like the Sure Beta 52 for example) and a Bass Pod Pro. Then I'd mic my cab, run direct from my head, model a WT-300 thru an Eden 4x10, and the uneffected signal from the Pod. So that's 4 bass tracks, which I think some would think is overkill. However, my brother likes to do a lot of guitars on the recordings we do, so I need a little something extra to push through. That and I like to use effects while recording (I want to record the right sound to tape and not worry about fixing it later,) I also like to run a clean signal with the effects so the bass tone doesn't get lost just because I'm using distortion or delay.

    In my opinion, I would always record a direct signal and either a mic'd cab or take a signal from the head. That way you can mix in more of the bassists live tone.

    Happy recording.
  11. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    Thanks, Nails-appreciate the effort posting your techniques.
    I've read a lot of info; talked to a number of players-Now I really want another shot at getting a better sound-
    Next time for sure, among other options- miking a live cab.
  12. I know what you mean about hearing your mistakes. Listening to yourself back on tape is one of the best learning tools know to man for improving your groove (or making you work on it at least)

    I recorded a friends violin recital and there were several places where she was really out of tune. It wasn't tha apparent in the heat of the moment, my mind was other things, but listening to the playback, ouch.

    One of the things that I use my gear for is to record myself playing with my drum machine, just making up grooves. It has helped me be a more steady and in the pocket bass player.
  13. I agree that there are good engineers and bad ones out there. Did the band request to hear some finished product before booking the session or get good feedback about said engineer from other local bands? Always do your homework first.

    The one thing that you need to remember is that the sound that works in the mix often isn't that great sounding when you solo the track. Tell the engineer what overall sound/vibe the band is after and then let the engineer do his job. Oh, and don't ask to have the engineer scoop your mids unless you are planning on doing Korn songs. I still am baffled as to why people think that the smiley face EQ curve sounds good. Scooped mids=MUD.
  14. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    I wasn't so bummed about mistakes- I played
    the parts relatively error-free, but the SOUND was not right to my ear & it's hard to dig in & get a good feel & groove with a transparent, thin, shell of a sound!
    When its "on" live, I get a thick full sound that's warm & does what I want- It pounds!! going direct digitally took that "control" away- due of course to my lack of knowledge of ways to overcome or deal with this.
    As far as the engineer, w/ the exception of a minor
    'tude, he was professional & OK- We got a reduced rate 'cause he was a friend of a friend, etc-
    I'm alway's leery about that too-maybe that effected his demeanor.
    Overall, the product will be OK, the final mix may be fine, etc. But now I've learned what to anticipate and how to compensate for the conditions in the future:
    1) Possibly my own DI (I like the sansamp)
    2) MIKE my live rig (Ampeg V4 BH w/ SVT 48HE)

    I'll bet these two techniques will get rid of that
    "pencil-necked direct digital clacking transparent
    thin freakin' sound I do NOT want to hear!
    Give me Warm, Thick Tubular sounds!!!!!

    (Sorry, got overcome w/emotion!~)
  15. Here are my recommendations:
    1. put a new set of strings on your bass
    2. rent an Avalon 737sp preamp for recording the bass and just use a tad of compression from this unit (perhaps 2.5:1). You could probably get one for $50/day. Heck, just buy one--they're only $2K.
    3. Record your bass with your eq flat. Scooping the mids may make your bass get lost in the mix unless your song has a lot of space or you are featured.
    4. If the bonehead engineer doesn't know what he's doing, go somewhere else.
  16. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    LOL- Verdict still out on "bonehead" engineer, at least 'til final mix- Everyone agreed his 'tude
    was NG though!
    Re: new strings- You got that right- the funny thing is I was just beginning to appreciate the somewhat "deadened" sound of my month-old
    Thomastik JR344's (lots of use in a month)
    Live, the "thud" from older strings can sound right, but yeah, you got that right- I would have/should have put bright new ones on for the session- another lesson learned.
    I've heard all good things about the Avalon units-
    I'll check it out-
    I'm still convinced I shoulda had a track miked from my live set-up and not been at the mercy of a digital board/box.
  17. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    ...Got final mix. Bass sounded............
    I gotta learn to relax! The engineer did a superb job with what I assumed was a washed-out thin bass line. In the cans & on playback, I was stressing, & did NOT like what I heard. As I mentioned, the digital board took away all the warmth & roundness that I need to hear.
    However, like a doctor in the operating room, Frank the engineer put it together, and the bass sounds nice & deep, eq'd very well with everything!
    Whoa, I'm relieved. Not to say I can't /won't do better & have more knowledge next time, but
    what a relief!
    To everyone who offered input & suggestions, thank you, your comments were helpful & appreciated.

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