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Reggae bottom end
Old 24th May 2007
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Talking Reggae bottom end

Any tips on getting a great reggae sound from the drums and bass ?

I'm currently battling with bass and drums with bass drum hitting 100hz, and bass guitar below that...
Old 24th May 2007
  #2
pan
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Keep the kick short and tight and let the bass do the BOOM.
Old 24th May 2007
  #3
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This is a lifetime search..

Starts with the players and the instruments..most important..

Whats been working here--
Bass- Avalon U5 with tone 2 on... line out into LA2A or Distressor to 16 trk 2" 456...
Also been recording the cab in a well tuned bass closet with a 149 into good pre/eq/comp..then tape..

drums--
beta 52 inside, another mic (changes) outside..thru api 512,api 550,,to tape..
sometimes hit 160vu on the way..
tweak the eq on the kick to sit and punch..maybe a bump at 3k and a bump at 50 or 100hZ...maybe scoop a little out of the low mids..
Old 24th May 2007
  #4
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yeah, what he said...
Also, what can help is cutting the top shelf off the bass instead of boosting the lows, it'll allow you to have the kick sit in better. Boosting the lows can easily muddy the mix...

Precision bass with tone closed, using only the neck pick-up is an old standard.
As far as the drums sound goes, it's not really any different than your average rock sound, although you need to have that cross-stick sound way in your face.
I like to mic the snare from top and the side, where the stick falls, but that depends on the drumbeat played, a one-drop would call for that technique where as a Boof Baf is open snare a la Steel Pulse... Ymmv.

Yes I
Old 24th May 2007
  #5
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andychamp's Avatar
Tape and vinyl also helpheh

Also, lots of good info available here.
Old 24th May 2007
  #6
pan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lozion View Post
Precision bass with tone closed, using only the neck pick-up is an old standard.
Thats because an original P-Bass only has one pickup...
Old 24th May 2007
  #7
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Zwinter's Avatar
 

So when I was working in LA Ted Greenburg told me to get that Reggie feel you need to use a Pultec style EQ, which in that particular case was the EAR 822. I have been using that trick from that moment on. However, my favorite Pultec style EQ at the moment is the AMTEC EQP-1A.

I remember when Ted showed me the trick we were working on some amazing tracks. (He always had amazing tracks including, don't tell anyone, some of the multitracks for Queen.) Anyways, the EAR gave the bass the feel where everyone in the room was ready to turn down the lights, light a joint, sit back, and just enjoy the groove.

As I mentioned before I have been currently using the AMTEC to get that feeling. The only problem is I find myself liking it for the kick, so I usually have to make a difficult choice early on, like in the first five minutes of a mix. Do I use the AMTEC for the kick...or bass?
Old 24th May 2007
  #8
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Back in about 1987/88 I recorded a lot of reggae.
I did one week with two guys that were founding members of Black Uhuru.
I think one guy's name was "Red" if I recall correctly.
The guy that mixed was guy from the Chicago area (obviously Jamaica originally) named "Bugs." He evidently was big time reggae mixing figure and I have seen him listed as a mixer on sevearl large Reggae tours.
The KYBD player was a guy named David Palmer who lived here in Dallas and brought the guys in. David played KYBDS with a lot of touring groups as well.

They worked ONLY at 15 ips on 2" (I used 456)
They ran the tapes over and over and over, so the high end was gone.
They carried the tapes around in the hot trunk of their car (bad for top end!)

They kept the machine in a loop and just opened up a track if they felt the "vibe."
They erased as much as they recorded.
It was only about vibe.
They mixed for hours on end and never stopped the tape.

They smoked a ton of 'erb.

Lot's of low end knob twisting.
they used my '72 P bass
they used my Les Paul for the "bubble GTR"
Old 24th May 2007
  #9
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andsonic's Avatar
 

Just to add:
The Wailers tended to use really tight and dry drum micing. Those heads were tight and/or taped. Tom mics were inside the toms. This was all part of the sound that let the bass (gtr) go boom. If you've got a good sound system, just make the Bass move the floor and the Kick hit your chest.
Old 24th May 2007
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pan View Post
Thats because an original P-Bass only has one pickup...
Playing from the neck, I meant...
Old 25th May 2007
  #11
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The first thing you need to do is disregard all posts here which list any special equipment or instruments that you must have or use......and especially any that mentions weed.

Reggae musicians and engineers have truly embraced the principle of 'whatever works', therefore you get "that" sound no matter what you have available.

A big part of what you hear is the playing...Yes, the musicians do make a difference.

Anyway, with that said here are a few tips.

Keep the kick tight and short with lots of attack (unlike rock or jazz). Tuning and mic placement are of course very important, but do whatever you need to get the sound you want...don't be afraid to, use your EQ and/or gate....even aggressively.

Most importantly, the drummer has to know what he's doing, he cannot play like a jazz or rock drummer. He has to be somewhere in between the two, not as much resonance as in jazz, (the drum is usually padded to taste), and not as much icepick in the attack an in modern rock. It must lie somewhere in between.......like classic rock!

DO NOT low pass the bass guitar or you will hurt the sound, and do not tune down or boost the bass knob on the instrument either. While there is a lot of low frequency energy there is no flabbyness, and the notes are defined. This is one place where the player is really important because there are a few unique aspects to their playing.

Bass players don't pluck or pick the strings, they genthl caress them with their fingers, and they don't play on the kick they play just a flea's hair behind it (if they're Jamaicans anyway). This is really important because this is what gives the music that laid-back feel and in some cases, even keeps gthe drummer from running away to the point where if you mute the bass in some recordings, you have the impression that the music speeds up a little.

Another important part of the drum and bass sound is the lead guitar....yes the lead guitar. The guitarist plays around the bass line and gives it attitude.

Never worry about the correctness of the sound...as long as it feels right, it is right.

tomorrow I'll post some pictures and sound files from a recent project in Jamaica, (if anyone's interested that is).
Old 25th May 2007
  #12
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Great post Samc! thumbsup




gear is secondary to style for sure, though a nice P-Bass, Tape, and a few 165's doesnt hurt
Old 25th May 2007
  #13
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While all that may be true SAMC, if you read slightly between the lines of what I posted you will see that I am really stressing the "vibe" part.

No... smoking 'erb won't get you there, but it did cause them to enter into a mindset where tracking and re-tracking parts for hours on end was enjoyable and even possible.

Over all I'd say that "feel" is the determining factor.
On the otherhand, you can't get the sonic results they did w/o 2" running at 15 ips.
It won't be the same thing if you try to use ProTools.

Let me also add this which reinforces some of what I posted along with some others.
IT IS A FEEL THING.
At one point the KYBD/GTR player was struggling with a part and I said, "Let me try it!"
He handed me my Les Paul and I attempted the "bubble guitar" part.
The "bubble guitar" as they called it is the rythem GTR that plays the single note line above the bass. Clean on the "riddem" pickup in a staccatto manner.
I have played GTR since I was a small kid and if anyhing I pick VERY accurately.
I could play the syncopated, 16th pattern easily with almost sequencer type accuracy, but it was still "wrong."
They went on to show me how although the pattern was a repeating, two measure riff in 4/4, it really was a FOUR bar pattern because it took the four bars to complete the rythmic feel. The note cycle was played twice before the rythmic cycle was complete.
I never could really nail the feel (maybe if my eyes were cherry red?)
They punched over and over and ended up with a "bubble guitar" track they were happy with.
Old 25th May 2007
  #14
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

One of the most fun albums I ever recorded was with a rhythm section from Jamaica.


99.99999999% of the "sound" was the musicians.
Old 25th May 2007
  #15
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bongomania's Avatar
 

FWIW, over on Talkbass the subject of "which bass for reggae" has been run over more than once... and the fact is that most of those deep dubby tones were not played on a P bass. Recognizing that it's true that "feel" and technique are most important, and as Samc said there's more of an attitude of "whatever works" among Jamaican bands... but it's the Jazz bass (neck pup soloed), not the P, that has been favored by the big name Reggae bass players over the decades. And I've actually seen more Yamahas and Steinbergers on the stage at reggae shows than I have P basses. Anyway, I realize again that "which bass" is the least important factor, but I wanted to dispel the "P bass for reggae" myth.
Old 25th May 2007
  #16
Gear Guru
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned flatwound strings on the bass.

And feel the halftime. What you call a quarter note, they call an eight note.
Old 25th May 2007
  #17
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Wasn't Robbie Shakespear the #1 reggae bass player and didn't he use a Jazz Bass?
Seems like it.

I'll say it one last time, but they relied a lot on the 15 ips headbump.
You just won't get "that" classic raggae sound running at 30 ips or on a digital recorder.

There are lots of details that add up to produce that sound.

Also, if you use a bass with a rolled off high end then the actual model of bass will matter much less.
A MusicMan, a P, a Jazz, a Yamaha will all be close enough with the highs rolled off.
The MusicMan will have a bit more low end and a more pronounced 800 hz range.
Old 25th May 2007
  #18
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The most recorded bass in Jamaica is the steinberger with flat wounds. I have recorded Robbie Shakespare playing almost every make of bass guitar over the years, and every bass player seems to have a Fender Jazz bass in their closet.

Later I'll post some samples tha were recorded in Jamaica that never once saw a tape machine and this should dispell thge myth that tape is Ark of the Covenant for that reggae sound. One of the things Jamaican musicians are known for is their efficency, session musicians don't get their "eyes red" and then come into the studio and take hours to "find" a sound......just ask the Rolling stones or Paul Simon, or any of the other thousands of musicians that record in Jamaica.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoiseflower View Post
gear is secondary to style for sure, though a nice P-Bass, Tape, and a few 165's doesnt hurt
No it wont hurt......but it also wont hurt if you don't have it too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
One of the most fun albums I ever recorded was with a rhythm section from Jamaica.

99.99999999% of the "sound" was the musicians.
One very important thing I forgot to mention in my previous post; The rhythm section always play live. No click track....movement in the tempo is not the most important thing......how they move, and the fact that they move together is what's important.

Oh yeah, there is one more thing I forgot; 99.99% of all bass guitar sounds come from the DI...I can't remember the last time I saw someone micing a cab (for a reggae session that is).

And guys, please do not "roll off" the high end, or low/high pass the bass guitar, all you will be doing is killing the tone and definition.
Old 25th May 2007
  #19
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mig27's Avatar
Awesome thread.
Keep 'em coming.

Michael
Old 25th May 2007
  #20
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
The first thing you need to do is disregard all posts here which list any special equipment or instruments that you must have or use......and especially any that mentions weed.

Reggae musicians and engineers have truly embraced the principle of 'whatever works' therefore you get "that" sound no matter what you have available.

A big part of what you hear is the playing...Yes, the musicians do make a difference.

Anyway, with that said here are a few tips.

Keep the kick tight and short with lots of attack (unlike rock or jazz). Tuning and mic placement are of course very important but do whatever you need to get the sound you want...don't be afraid to, use your EQ and/or gate....even aggressively.

Most importantly, the drummer has to know what he's doing, he cannot play like a jazz or rock drummer. He has to be somewhere in between the two, not too much resonance and

DO NOT low pass the bass guitar or you will hurt the sound, and do not tune down or boost the bass knob on the instrument either. While there is a lot of low frequency energy there is no flabbyness, and the notes are defined. This is one place where the player is really important because there are a few unique aspects to their playing.

Bass players don't pluck or pick the strings, they genthl caress them with their fingers, and they don't play on the kick they play just a flea's hair behind it (if they're Jamaicans anyway). This is really important because this is what gives the music that laid-back feel and in some cases, even keeps gthe drummer from running away to the point where if you mute the bass in some recordings, you have the impression that the music speeds up a little.

Another important part of the drum and bass sound is the lead guitar....yes the lead guitar. The guitarist plays around the bass line and gives it attitude.

Never worry about the correctness of the sound...as long as it feels right, it is right.

tomorrow I'll post some pictures and sound files from a recent project in Jamaica, (if anyone's interested that is).
No need to keep 'em coming. That's all you need to know. The bass player usually plays with the balls of his fingers and is, as the man said, usually a 'feel' behind the beat.

Reggae is in the blood, like hip-hop and so many other musical directions. The bass has to be sparse and have clearly defined notes. (But that should be true for most types of music.)

There are no rules and definately no equipment rules or even guide lines.
Old 25th May 2007
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bongomania View Post
FWIW, over on Talkbass the subject of "which bass for reggae" has been run over more than once...
EVERY one of these dub forums do more harm by spreading bad info than anything else. The "experts" usually have no first hand experience of the things they talk about, and anecdotal info gleaned from.....wherever is what usually pass for fact.
Old 25th May 2007
  #22
pan
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pan's Avatar
 

A friend came over with the Bob Marley album "Talkin Blues" sessions for KSAN radio '73 - amazing!
Everyone into reggae should study these tracks. - some nice bubble-guitars too!

Most of the tunes are _bone dry_ the only reverb on the rythm section apart from some "dubs" and the percussion is the spring reverb on the guitar.

Great thread!
Old 25th May 2007
  #23
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lozion's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post

And guys, please do not "roll off" the high end, or low/high pass the bass guitar, all you will be doing is killing the tone and definition.
I think the OP was refering to tracked material during mixdown Vs tracking...
Old 25th May 2007
  #24
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Theres often a "mute" gtr...doubling the bass line..
helps bring out the definition of the bass..
Old 28th May 2007
  #25
Gear Nut
 

great responses

thanks all who have offered advice, I have found it very useful - especially the tip on not low passing bass guitar - really improved my sound.

Also I have found wave max bass is v useful on the bass guitar.

SamC - would love to see your pics - hear anything you want to share...

Cheers all
Old 28th May 2007
  #26
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soupking's Avatar
 

Having an Ampeg B-15-n doesn't hurt either. It's not terribly strong with only like 30-50 watts but it's got neverending ass.

I have a B-18-n and that fliptop through an 18-inch speaker fills the room like no other.
Old 29th May 2007
  #27
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I can't seem to upload anything, I keep getting a message that I've already uploaded the maximum allowed already.

If someone can figure this out........................
Old 29th May 2007
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soupking View Post
Having an Ampeg B-15-n doesn't hurt either. It's not terribly strong with only like 30-50 watts but it's got neverending ass.

I have a B-18-n and that fliptop through an 18-inch speaker fills the room like no other.
Except that most bass guitar recordings are from the DI.......those that I know of anyway.
Old 29th May 2007
  #29
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Depends on what you are listening to ... most of the classic bass tracks I prefer where done with an amp. But this is reggae we are discussing, and I don't really know about the classic reggae players. For bass, i've pretty much studied McCartney, who I think has got some deep reggae-ish tones in the past.

I think there is something you get from a room that a DI bass just can't do. Apart from the obvious time/reverb thing, I can't really put my finger on it. Logically, the fundamental is in the DI signal, and the room shouldn't really be adding anything lower, but it seems like it does. Especially if you stand near a wall.

Bass notes have long wavelengths, and there seems to be some benefit in getting some distance between the cab and mic. In some classic recordings, it's even possible we are hearing bleed through from all the other mics in the studio, which could be many feet away. Even though isolation was probably used, bass travels, and we probably are hearing significant bleed in the low end.

I would be interested if anyone is using room mics on bass ...
Old 29th May 2007
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger View Post
But this is reggae we are discussing, and I don't really know about the classic reggae players.
Maybe I should have been more specific; In Jamaica, apart from early Ska and Rocksteady, where they miced an upright bass, most of the electric bass guitar tracks were recorded from the DI.
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