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Old 5th September 2019
Lives for gear

That tone comes from three things that all have to be present.

1. The right bass set up with the right strings. You cant expect to take a muddy sounding bass like an EB1 and make it sound like a Fender, Jackson or Ibanez.

2. you need to be able to produce those sound live using your playing technique and whatever gear you have "Before" you try and record it.

Facts are, the ability to change the sound of an instrument after its been recorded is extremely limited, especially for something like bass. You can compress it, EQ it, change the amount of gain or add ambiance. None of that's going to change the fundamental tones. The bass has either got what it needs or it don't. period. If the musical performance is weak on top of that you may as well wipe the track and start over.

3.. If you record a bass raw plugged straight into an interface the ability to make it sound like you're playing through an actual amp is really tough. Success rate is very low and just getting something that's competes with the other instruments no less matches a particular genre is not very good. Believe me I been recording direct since the early 70's and used every trick you can imagine. I own allot of hardware including instrument preamps, compressors and all kinds of bass specific effects for getting better tones recording direct. For live I used to mic bass amps and use the line outs too.

All of these have varying amounts of success, but I cant honestly say, I was able to produce genre specific sounds. I got close because I own 4 different basses and know my gear well and have allot of digital tools for tweaking which I pretty much exhausted too. None of it comes close to the modelers available now. What you want for recording is a bass amp & cab modeling unit that really nails the tones you want. I started getting really great tones when I bought a Korg Bassworks unit. It was in fact already fairly dated when I bought it used and by the looks of it you'd think it couldn't possibly do very good given its size.

There a good reason why those tiny units still sell for big bucks too. Their special effects totally suck but the EQ Compressor, Head and cab modeling kick major ass recording. Finally I was able to simply plug in and track a part and not have do anything to that track besides adjust the volume. My favorite settings are the 8X10 SVT cab and either the Classic SVT tube head or SS SVT head. Both have slightly different tones but that 8X10 cab will rattle your teeth it sounds so solid.

That my friend is what you want for most metal recordings. SVT tone, then its merely a matter of the correct bass type, plus a little EQ and compression.
It all comes out at the proper line level so plugging into an interface should sound crisp and powerful. Some of the other cabs and heads sound good too, you can get a good Portaflex tone for doing Motown and slap bass and The 2X15" cab and studio amp isn't bad either.

A year later I bought another inexpensive unit, the Vox Stomplab 1B This thing is amazing for the cost. They typically sell for $70 but I got one new on sale for $40. Worth every dime too. This one gives you 60 different effects on top of the 18 amp heads and 12 cabs.

The cabs aren't just EQ tricks either they use actual digital impulses to formulate the cab tones which give then a highly realistic 3D tone. I have pretty good studio gear and several great bass amps and I'd be extremely hard pressed matching those tones micing an amp. Plus when you add the work involved tweaking it for the best sound, its like, screw that man. There's nothing like being able to simply plug in, dial up a sound that matches the music and then put 100% focus into playing instead of twiddling knobs and hoping you might get lucky. My hears get numb after an our of intense listening to the point where I'm not hearing the small improvements.

I'm much better off selecting a preset I know produces killer tones. Then if I notice it needs improvement I can tweak its settings and save it as a new preset. Time needed, involves pushing a few buttons that take seconds then hitting the save button. If I had to do those tweaks within a DAW I'd first have to figure out what got me those tones and determine if an improvement is even possible. It may already be tapped out on the settings with no place to go.

This unit again, like many others I own does some things better then others. Some it does very well and others maybe not so hot. Its excellent for Vintage Rock, classic rock, and metal using something like a Precision bass, Ibanez, etc. Its got bottom end to spare too. This thing rocks on the low end without distorting the bass either. you're going to know somebody's home when you hear the bass tracks it gets you. I like it because it's so versatile. I can get Heavy metal when needed, Big fat SVT tones for classic rock, Funky slap bass tones on a precision, you name it.

I also have a couple of unique basses like by short scale Gretsch and The Hofner. The Gretsch gets deep burly tones with a nice bright end. Very fast action with its shorter scale neck too. The Hofner is just plain get out of town cool. I can really make that thing talk and get everything from upright bass finger tones to classic Beatles mole bass tones. I understand why the Beatles used Vox amps now too. The warmth you can get when that modeler is set for a Vox amp is self evident.

you want to get really out there. its got an octave synth tone you can dial up an octave lower. Or you can add one of the popular fuzz tones used on bass to get that early rolling stone/punk rock grind. The reverb is even excellent. Its tuned to the bass guitar and not some wimpy guitar reverb tone. It sounds like you're playing in a big space. Chorus excellent, Noise hate makes it dead quite between notes, Compression very comfortable, and the 4 band EQ changes depending on the head you select. if you choose and Ampeg head, the EQ mimics what was available on that head.

Like I said, its incredible what they can fit into such a small package but they did it and its made my entire life change. I must have 50K wrapped up in studio gear worth much more I've collected over the decades. Allot of it collects dust now. I even power it up every so often and record just to be sure my mind isn't playing tricks making me think newer is better. Well recordings don't lie, they are a truth detector on what's actually going on. When you play the songs back to back with new and old gear the proof is right there to be heard.

Anyway, get a bass molder unit. They make different kinds specific to guitar and bass which is important. I have them for bass and guitar and all work very well. As far as manufacturer type, theres allot of different types. I've tried over 9 different types, Digitec, Boss, Zoom, Korg, Lexicon, Rocktec, Art, Yamaha, and even have some of the old ones like Morley and Sans Amp which are pretty privative by todays standards. personally I use the Vox the most because it simply works well without allot of hassle. Plug in, dial a preset, set your volume and gain, and hit record. Bass went from being the most problematic thing to record to the least. It sits in the mix exactly where it needs to be all the time now and sounds great switching songs on a CD, No more drop outs or booming notes.

Here's an example using that vox unit I was using the guitar version and a Digitec on the guitars too. This is the closest thing I have to a metal tine already uploaded.