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Tips & Techniques:Bass Guitar Recording

My suggestions are from my own personal expirience.
You might not agree but give it a shot...

first of all, if you don't have a REALLY good bass amp lose the amp,
it is better to record With A direct Box. just plug the guitar to the DI input and use the Balanced output of the DI to your console. you might need to press the PAD button so the signal won't get distorted.

If you can't get the right sound for you'r bass guitar from the guitar it is often a good idea to use a crossover on the bass signal.
dividing the signal into 3 diffrent frequency sections will give you the option to compress and Eq each of them seperatly, letting you decide if the guitar will sound Fatter or More punchy...

If non of this works... you might wana replace your bass guitar or the bass player

Rock ON!


Respect 4 Noam Meiri!

Created by edone, 11th January 2008 at 12:11 PM
Last edited by edone, 25th April 2014 at 06:14 PM
Last comment by MrSoundGuy on 19th February 2010 at 09:56 PM
5 Comments, 40,448 Views

(5) Comments for: Bass Guitar Recording Page Tools Search this Page
Old 23rd January 2008
Gear Maniac
emeline-rec's Avatar

Or get a sansamp bass driver DI. I can't recommend that enough, big amp sound in a small box.
Old 25th September 2008
Gear interested
robbie_rekless's Avatar

I also like taking in bass though a good bass pre, (like the david eden navigator) for your D.I. and then re-amp the D.I. into some good cabs in the largest room you have. I close mic with large diafram dynamics or ribbons and room mic with large diafram condencers. You'll need to fix the slight phase varience between the D.I. and the room (easy to do in 'tools) then you have all you need for great bass with little need for comp of EQ. Experiment with cab volume and room placement and you'll be amazed with how much your track easier to mix with solid low end
Old 9th January 2010
Gear Head
Nairobijones's Avatar

Okay, the following is my procedure for getting the fullest and sweetest/meanest BASS sound to MIX.

Set up your head somewhere in the control room or where ever you're monitors and mic pre-amps are and connect it via a long ass speaker lead (post amp = no signal degradation) to your cabinet somewhere in a well isolated room with solid walls and a treated floor and ceiling.

In the control room, throw your DI on top of the head and insert it in the chain then grab your mic of choice and take it to the isolated room, put it on the best sounding speaker in your cabinet 2 to 3 inches away from the speaker somewhere between the centre of the cone and the edge. Centre for more THUD, edge fop more CLICK!
Go back to your control room (power everything up) record arm everything, turn up your head to where it sounds best through the monitors and loosely set your gain structure for the whole chain, avoiding serious compression to tape/DAW!

Volume/level is sorted, now get your sound/tone sorted. Mute the DI and turn up the monitors until you no longer hear the actual audible spill from the Cabinet downstairs or where ever. Now (while the bass is being played) tweak your head till you dial up the vibe you're chasing. You'll be turning the signal to the cab up and down as you tweak the EQ so counter tweak on the mic pre as you go to avoid distorting the chain and try hitting the phase reverse on your pre to see if the signal instantly gets BIGGER.

Now (avoiding doing anything that ruins your sweet sound) double check your gain structure through the chain. Shoot for an un-noisy signal as opposed to a clean one and a full bodied signal as opposed to extremely hot one..
Now un-mute your DI and mute your cab. Tune up and start tracking, monitoring from the DI signal. (it's cleaner and probably better for a headphone/monitor mix)

That's your bass recorded..

At some point before you MIX your track you've got to put the DI and cabinet signals into faze or all your efforts will be wasted and you'd have been better off just going straight in with no amp which in my opinion is not very rock & roll.

I use protools so I'll describe the procedure I use but the concepts are the same for other audio programs i just don't know the terms and lingo's for them.

After you've edited your whole track ie. cut and moved/copied and pasted everything and the track is playing back relatively seamlessly. In the edit window, highlight both bass tracks and hit apple/command+F. This will bring up the fades menu, hitting enter will apply small CROSSFADES at every edit point.

Now while the tracks are still highlighted, go to the Edit drop down menu at the top of your window somewhere up next to File and select CONSOLIDATE SELECTION, this will remove all the edit points and create two new continuos regions.
Now CUT off the excess audio at the start of your bass tracks ie. the count in or silence before the bass is played.

Now make both tracks JUMBO size.

ZOOM right in on the first note that the bass player has hit, then further still on the start of that note right down (almost to the sample level) so you can see the audio waves going up and down through their positive and negative cycles.

Now Grab the cabinet signal and drag it backwards (to the left) until it matches exactly what the DI signal in doing. So they start together, they go up together and they go down together.
You may find (once you've put the start points together) they are doing totally opposite things ie. one going up while the other is going down ?
If so, highlight only the cab signal. Go to the AudioSuite drop down menu, go to INVERT and hit process. Now they should be in phase..

If you've done it right you should be able to zoom right in, flatten the audio view down a bit and it the two signals will appear like a two sides of a twisting road.. as you scroll forward the road should twist and turn but never get any wider or skinnier if so. you're bass tracks are in phase.

BUT don't take my word for it, just use your ears at every step of the way..

Turn em right up and you'll know if they're in phase or not.. the walls will shake : )

Now your bass tracks are ready to be run through your usual suspects and mixed...

Anyway, this is my procedure for a full bodied, rich textured bass sound pre mixdown.

Crank it !
Old 15th January 2010
Here for the gear
TracedInAir13's Avatar

Originally Posted by emeline-rec View Post
Or get a sansamp bass driver DI. I can't recommend that enough, big amp sound in a small box.
Dude, I totally agree. I have only NOT used that once recording bass, and I thought it was very stupid in doing so, because I loved the sound that it got so much that its now the key point in my bass rig. Great piece of gear!
Old 19th February 2010
Gear interested
MrSoundGuy's Avatar

Talking A little mad science to share....

The idea of running the bass through the crossover reminded me of a studio session I did with Bootsy Collins a few years ago. Bootsy's bass actually had three outputs on it, one for Low, mid, and High, each with it's own volume knob (star shaped, of course). From this point, each traveled on it's own path through it's own set of FX pedals. He could do things like put a ring filter on the very top end, wha and delay the mids, and distort the lows. He would also split the low, through a DBX Sub Harmonic Synth, the sub output going to it's own set of amplifiers (for his 18" subs - (2) per side in stereo.) So this ultimately was his own 4-way stereo system. I remember his highs came through (2) Hartke 4 x 10 cabinets per side, (1) Ampeg 8 x 10 per side for the mids, (2) 15" speakers per side for the lows, and then the dual 18"s per side for subs.

This was a rehearsal for a studio taping on the Arsenio Hall show, which gives you an idea when this was. I am told that on stage he uses twice the number of speakers, which is pretty hard to imagine.

The result of this orchestra of bass might have been mayhem in the hands of anyone but Bootsy, but the genius of the musician was that with all this sound going on, he underplayed, and kept his parts really simple, effectively tight with the drummer.

This was a huge lesson for me about what makes someone great--never just the gear, no matter how impressive.

I did like the way he split up his sound, and I've taken this approach as a live engineer (albeit in a less over the top way) a few times. One of the things I've done, which I would recommend for you recording guys, is to mic not just the speakers of your cabinet, but the tweeter itself (if there is one), such as on the Hartke 4 x 10 or the Peavey 8 x 10. The sweet top of the strings is great to have on its own track, which you can season to taste in the final mix. If the main bass ever seems to lack sparkle, there it is when you need it.

I suppose you can do this with a crossover too, which is what our friend above recommends. I've thought of taking the Bootsy approach to guitar--just to think-- if I put an octave pedal on the lows, tape delayed the mids, phased the highs.....


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