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Advice for Better Bass Sounds
Old 18th October 2012
  #31
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skythemusic's Avatar
Bass sounds have been one of my biggest dilemmas for my entire career. I recently got a DI that came from the original Motown studios with a nice UTC transformer in it. Loaded my mutt 70's type PBass with old as crow flats on it into that and then the Retro Powerstrip and that is probably the best bass tone I have ever recorded. Sometimes the gear really does make a difference....
Old 19th October 2012
  #32
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Ephi82's Avatar
 

P bass with flats+
Neve type pre amp/DI (Great River is sublime)+
decent compressor (I love my FMR PBC) , lightly used, if needed+
slight eq tweaks for what the song needs=
great bass sound

with that said, the better player can make it great no matter what the gear

I am trying to get there!
Old 19th October 2012
  #33
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latestflavor's Avatar
 

for rock / pop my DI bass sound always needs a lot of EQ. Always massaging the low mids and usually liberally - just for starters before i even need to look at other stuff. How about the rest of ye slutz?
Old 19th October 2012
  #34
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I'm considering buying a tube DI to go along with my tube pre for bass. I already have an A-designs Pacifica, too, so I was wondering if it benefit me to have a tube DI for bass.
Old 19th October 2012
  #35
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Used to have GR ME1NV, and yes that DI is killer!

I think most of what I am hearing will go away once I get back into a good pre instead of the onboard Omni pres, which are very good for an interface pre, but are on the clean/boring side. I do remember bass and guitar DI sounding much better when I had the GR.....

Thanks to all!
TH
Old 19th October 2012
  #36
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Many of you guys should weep when you hear my bass tones... not. The thing is I have pretty much every silver bullet money can buy and I still don't like my bass tones very often. I'm pretty sure it's me but it also comes down to the one holding the instrument. I can get pretty good results when I play but it's hard to get a gigging bassist to be a good studio bassist unless they've done a ton of it. This is also somewhat style driven too.

My preferred bass rig and the house rig at my studio.
  • An actual 58 P bass with flat wounds. It sounds exactly like John Paul Jones through my
  • 65 Apollo bass amp that I mic with one of my
  • AKG D-12's. I also use a
  • Sansamp and a
  • Radial DI. All those sources will go into either a
  • BAE 1272 into a
  • LA3A or a
  • LA2A as well as a
  • grip of other excellent pre's all driving an
  • Apogee AD16x

I still suffer that **** all the time unless I get a seasoned recording bassist. I think I have spent more money trying to bank a goto bass tone than anything else. It must be me because I almost always think everyone else does bass better than me. Oh, my problem is not anemic bass tones, it's tons of fundamental and not much in terms of definition. I have no problem crushing with bottom, it's all the other parts.
Old 19th October 2012
  #37
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Hot Vibrato's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wagz View Post
I'm considering buying a tube DI to go along with my tube pre for bass. I already have an A-designs Pacifica, too, so I was wondering if it benefit me to have a tube DI for bass.
If you're going for a "vintage" sound, I suspect your tone would benefit from the additional tube gain stage.

I've been getting good results using the line output of my bassist/wife's Fender Studio Bass amp (tubes) or her Eden World Tour Bass head (tubes) into my UA 4-710d preamp (more tubes). I run the gain on the preamp pretty hot. It seems to me that you can get away with using more gain and compression on a bass signal than you can with most other instruments. Soloed, it sounds a bit distorted and over-compressed, but it sits in the mix nicely. This is a situation where it can be nice to have a parallel signal that is cleaner and less compressed. That way, you can blend the two to achieve a good balance between grit and clarity.

Although I'm recording to digital, I'm going for an old-school analog sound. Magnetic tape has a natural tendency to distort and compress. I'm doing my best to emulate that sound. Tube gain and a fair amount of compression helps me achieve that.

I suspect that those who complain about "anemic" bass tones could benefit from some tube "grit", as well as some compression. It sounds counter-intuitive to distort and compress a bass signal, but it works really well. I should also mention that it's a good idea to do this on the front end - adding gain and compression afterwards, in the digital realm, is just not as effective.

Of course, the most important thing is having a great bassist to play the parts. I happen to be married to one. She knows everything about music, and she knows any chord progression after hearing it only once. She walks it all over the neck, and never plays anything the same way twice. She also cooks.
Old 20th October 2012
  #38
Gear Maniac
 

Oceantracks,

I'm curious about your 5 string Spector? Tell me more. I have a czech made 5 string neck thru Spector w/ active Aguilar preamp and brass nut. It took me awhile to figure out how to record it, and for a long time I struggled, but I love this bass now. I'm old school though, more for the fat and deep reggae style, but with some growl now and then.

First thing I did was throw away the roundwounds and replace them with flats. I only record DI, chain of choice for the moment is Germ pre>Germ comp>AD, usually remixing thru any combination of hardware comp/eq to get the sound that works in the mix. I'm liking my bass sounds, but it has taken years to get there.

I also have a fretless mex JBass that I refit with vintage pickups and a badass bridge. It sounds good but the Spector gets most of my work.
Old 20th October 2012
  #39
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Swansonic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Parker View Post
The other thing to realize is that a really mid rangey nasty sounding bass sound when it is soloed can sit very well in the mix and not sound nasty when it is placed well. Those mids supply you with presence. I know a pretty famous bass player and his method is to split the signal to a direct input and a 4x10 GUITAR amp (open back). The DI has all the low end stuff but that 4x10 has the silky nice vintage-y sounding midrange. Blend the two properly with phase aligned and it sounds great.
Good luck!
this is a great thread with lots of info so I thought I'd add my quest for studio bass sounds.

We play heavy blues rock with dense guitars, but of course it varies.
the bass player would always bring cheap bass guitars as most know musicians can't bring in 3 or 5 $1000 basses to sessions.
Great player, not a former guitar player, but a great bass player.

Not a bass player myself I took the bass player with me to check out some local private sales.
Found a very nice playing Fender squire J with upgraded pickups and bridge.
Plays great from what I'm told (sounds close to a good sounding USA Fender that came through the studio lately).

Used the Great River DI with a MC77 and it sounded fine, better that what we had before. I had previously rented a Fender USA P that was a piece of junk, that's why it was a rental I guess.
Still not happy I ended up with flats and wow, I was getting closer to the sound I wanted.

Did some tracking and I was not happy at mix time, so we re tracked with a API DI, MC77 combo and now we were cooking with gas in the mix, just sat the way I wanted.

So for now Great River DI works for me with less dense mixes and the API DI works for heavy arrangements.

But I want to be able add guitar tube amp distortion for grit at mix time so now for the next stage of my quest, I have bought a Fender excelsior that I will mess with reamping and also will be trying a JCM800 just for a bit of blended grit at mix time.

It would be so much easier if the musicians would bring several rigs to the session
Old 20th October 2012
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wagz View Post
I'm considering buying a tube DI to go along with my tube pre for bass. I already have an A-designs Pacifica, too, so I was wondering if it benefit me to have a tube DI for bass.
I think the Pacifica and it's 500 counterpart the P-1 are some of the best bass DIs I have ever used.

I am not a fan of the tube DIs I've used for bass.
Old 20th October 2012
  #41
I have played studio sessions since the very early 70's and have found that the most important factors are strings, instrument and finger tip control. Probably in reverse order of importance.

In my mix studio, I have a dozen different preamps suitable for bass. I can achieve pretty much the same tone with all of them.

Being primarily a gigging bassist, I always have to recalibrate my technique in the studio. I don't attack the strings as hard and I concentrate on consistency and especially right hand technique.

I always record on two (or more) tracks so I have one from the mic on speaker cab and another from the DI/preamp. The speaker cabinet I almost always use in the studio is an SWR 2x10. 10" speakers are great for studio. 15" for MoTown, otherwise always 10's. Don't mic too close! It is not a guitar.
You want room for the sound to develop and you don't want to play the inside vs outside edge of the cone game. It is not a guitar. I will typically use a Neumann FET mic for the cabinet. I also like the RE20, but generally an LDC.

I never compress on the way in. That is where the consistency part is vital. I may use a limiter though, but very carefully.

I find myself looking for a wide bandwidth tone for tracking. That allows us to use only subtractive EQ at mix. If the tracking doesn't have the highs and you find it needs something to make the bass cut more in the mix, your are screwed. Adding highs always sucks on bass. Just my experience though. A always YMMV.

If you can't record a speaker, then use a clean direct and a more colored path, but still use two tracks. Of course you can mult the clean track and create a parallel colored track at mix time. But I find that I like to monitor the colored path in my cans while I am playing, rather than just a dry path. It's a positive feedback thing I guess...
Old 20th October 2012
  #42
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doorknocker's Avatar
Though I tend to shy away from guitar amp software and sims in general, I find that plug-ins can work great on bass. The IK Ampeg plug-in and Softube Bassamp Room are great. Bomb Factory Sans Amp PSA-1 can work too though I tend to use that one on other things and not bass so much.

But of course the DI itself plays a big role too. My fave at the moment is the one on the Chandler TG-2. Even though I had the TG-2 for years I somehow never tried it on bass and once I did I was pretty blown away!
Old 21st October 2012
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
So I have a Precision and a 5 string Spector, neither of which are particularly great examples of their kind, but are good enough sounding that I don't believe the source is the problem.

The problem is my bass sounds are somewhat anemic. I'm going direct into the Avid Omni and while OK it's certainly not killer (nor do I believe any interface would be). I can get them sounding OK with some amp plugs and compression, but boy soloing those tracks is pretty nasty.

I'm wondering whether getting a better outboard pre would help, or whether any DI bass sound is going to be very impressive and I should just find a small bass amp and record it in my home studio live. This is for "all around" material, pop, country, etc, nothing really raging in volume, just good solid bass sounds.

Maybe the fact that probably most of the records I'm listening to are recording live bass possibly with some DI mixed in, while I'm doing ALL DI, is the problem.

Suggestions?

TH
my stupid opinions about getting great bass tone:
have new strings
perfect instrument setup
awesome musical arrangement
its really all about the midrange (700Hz-1500Hz)
unless it's broken, the problem is not your D.I.
Old 22nd October 2012
  #44
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Biggest ah ha! moment for me:


Switching from rounds to
T.I. Jazz flats
Sans amp bddi into
LA610 solo
Old 24th November 2012
  #45
Gear Addict
 
skinnypete's Avatar
 

"The fact is, a lot of modern Bass guitars actually do sound just a tad anaemic."

Quote:
Originally Posted by unfiltered420 View Post
Hmm, I wonder why that is? You need analog tape for bass (and drums and everything else for that matter). World of difference. Hearing my 67 hofner through a studer machine was what turned me on to tape in the first place. The sound was not necessarily vintage, just good. You can get a decent drum sound without tape, but trying to get the bass the way you want even with compression is super difficult with digital, especially since the bass is usually dead center, because digital has a way of making the center sound strange and undefined.
I think anyone who heard my '77 P-Bass through my TAB v71 would say, "no, you don't need analog tape for bass"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axelrod View Post
my stupid opinions about getting great bass tone:
have new strings
perfect instrument setup
awesome musical arrangement
its really all about the midrange (700Hz-1500Hz)
unless it's broken, the problem is not your D.I.


Agree 100% on instrument setup, new strings and high-mids. I just don't see how you're gonna get any useful bite around 1.5k if you're using old flatwounds. That's just me, I know many experienced folks disagree here.
Old 24th November 2012
  #46
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oceantracks's Avatar
 

Thanks everyone.

In my case I solved the problem and am now hearing what I was looking for by getting a Neve mic pre (88rlb) with a DI input. All the diff in the world!
Old 24th November 2012
  #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skinnypete View Post



I think anyone who heard my '77 P-Bass through my TAB v71 would say, "no, you don't need analog tape for bass"
I believe you, but then try the same setup hitting a ampex 440 or a studer j37 and then try going back to digital.
Old 24th November 2012
  #48
I love the old school way of recording bass sound, real amps and cabs in real rooms with oodles of hot KT88's and partridge output transformers saturating like crazy.
I have a sequis motherload that I use with a little labs phase tool for DI
So I can powersoak great 100 watt tube amps down to a reasonable level
for the room and to use ribbon mics for the speakers, I also use a sub kick
depending on tonal goals.


That will do for most conventional tones but then I need to fulfil the tone goals of mad metalers as well:

Mr Johnson of Devilment playing the dual rig with a jazz bass with the lower four
of a five string set tuned to A.
I run an all tube clean dirty dual amp rig in another larger room which I usually pick up with a single U87 at about a metre range into an RCA OP-6 pre.
Model that! Nah! You have to move some air to make real bass sound.
Old 24th November 2012
  #49
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shortstory's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
So I have a Precision and a 5 string Spector, neither of which are particularly great examples of their kind, but are good enough sounding that I don't believe the source is the problem.

The problem is my bass sounds are somewhat anemic. I'm going direct into the Avid Omni and while OK it's certainly not killer (nor do I believe any interface would be). I can get them sounding OK with some amp plugs and compression, but boy soloing those tracks is pretty nasty.

I'm wondering whether getting a better outboard pre would help, or whether any DI bass sound is going to be very impressive and I should just find a small bass amp and record it in my home studio live. This is for "all around" material, pop, country, etc, nothing really raging in volume, just good solid bass sounds.

Maybe the fact that probably most of the records I'm listening to are recording live bass possibly with some DI mixed in, while I'm doing ALL DI, is the problem.

Suggestions?

TH
If you can, try using a culture vulture direct in with a second channel of an amp. The CV allows you to dial in the sound of the tubes. Try an 1176 after and use the amp to fill it out with a bit of LPF and an LA2A on it.

Otherwise you may want to have a luthier take a look at the set up- maybe even the strings.
Old 24th November 2012
  #50
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skinnypete's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
Thanks everyone.

In my case I solved the problem and am now hearing what I was looking for by getting a Neve mic pre (88rlb) with a DI input. All the diff in the world!
Nice brother! Glad you worked it out. The Neve sound is great for alot of applications. As we speak I'm about to record a fretless Music Man into a Vintech 573-Purple Action-API 550 to go for kind of a Flea-Jaco sound if that makes any sense. Inspired...

Old 29th November 2012
  #51
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jono_3's Avatar
You could also try a little bit of serial compression - it tends to work well on thin, unflattering bass.

Try an 1176 with a fast attack and fast release doing 1-3db of compression max, then follow it with an LA2A/opto comp doing ~4db (6db max). Then cut the all the crap out of the low mids that is now fighting with the guitar, and the low crap that will be fighting with the kick.

*Most important part* Do this only while listening in context to the rest of the track! If you lose the sense of impact when the bass starts playing, reduce the compression from the LA2A, or start over again keeping in mind that less is more.

You can figure out how much total compression is going on by multiplying the reduction from the 1176 by the reduction from the LA2A. Eg. If the 1176 is doing 3db, and the LA2A is doing 5db, the total compression is 15db.
Old 29th November 2012
  #52
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Decapitator is helpful
Old 29th November 2012
  #53
Quote:
Originally Posted by phil2000 View Post
Sorry to sound like a smart-a$$: good tone comes out of the fingers of the player. It's not all about gear... (yeah I know what forum I am here...:-)

This is so true though. I have a great custom Fender Jazz, a Reddi (IMO the best DI in the world) a GTQ2 and TG2 (both have excellent DIs) and best of all, an Altec 1567a. I usually run one channel through an API pre and 550B EQ. The other line goes to a Sansamp RBI and into the Altec or a Neve......something warmer.

While I can tweak that signal chain to just kill in most applications.......every once in a while it sounds a little weak and sadly it's the fault of the player. A good bass player can make anything sound good, just as Jack White can take the weirdest, crappiest, cardboard box of an amp and make it sound cool. It's all in the performance.

Back to the OP though, I sold my late 60's Ampeg blue stripe last year. It was getting used less and less till finally it was just taking up space on the shelf. I am happy enough with the DI signal 95% of the time.

Never EQ the bass while solo'd. Crank the hell out of the mids.

Old 29th November 2012
  #54
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For DI bass I have been enjoying an old/usa Ampeg SVP Pro into an Empirical EL-9. Transformer out on the SVP into the mic input on the EL-9 = MMMmmmmm

Lot's of amps here to play around with too. Try a 5150/green channel into any cab with a 57/etc. Lots of midrange grit..

The player trumps all gear when recording bass guitar (or any other instrument). It's just really obvious when the bass performance is sub par...

Please and THANK YOU!!
-pfhuck
Old 30th November 2012
  #55
Gear Maniac
 
SMARTGUY's Avatar
 

'62 p bass set up ala Jamerson, late '80's stingray with old rounds running through a Great River mv500 or API 512c, mc77 and depending on my needs - a kiss from a hammer Eq. Other days I'll just mic a sb12 with a sm7b. Don't forget chops, chops and more chops.
Old 30th November 2012
  #56
Gear Nut
 
MrSayWho's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skythemusic View Post
Bass sounds have been one of my biggest dilemmas for my entire career. I recently got a DI that came from the original Motown studios with a nice UTC transformer in it. Loaded my mutt 70's type PBass with old as crow flats on it into that and then the Retro Powerstrip and that is probably the best bass tone I have ever recorded. Sometimes the gear really does make a difference....
hey I was just going to build a di with this old utc transformer, may I see some pictures of this thing?
Old 30th November 2012
  #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carlheinz View Post
+1 ^

If I'm stuck with a D.I. only,then I need things in the chain that will compensate and smooth or round things out a bit.This requires a decent chain of gear or a channel strip.PRE/COMP/EQ...

A nice solid state chain if money is no object...and isnt too imposing and could be used for other things

Radial D.I/Manley Tube DI
Neve 1073 OR 1073 style mic pre
Empirical labs FATSO OR UBK FATSO...set to opto>D.A.W.>PLAY
Tube compression works well.
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