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'Cake's signal chain for bass Dynamic Microphones
Old 18th December 2006
  #1
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'Cake's signal chain for bass

Been listenin to some old Cake albums (and newer ones for that matter). I just LOVE their bass sound. Shot in the dark, but does anyone here happen to know how Cake tracks their bass?

Prob a bunch of gear that's out of my league price-wise but I'd still love to know...
Old 18th December 2006
  #2
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I'd like to know too. Probably just something simple to be honest. A lot of their stuff is mixed bass heavy.
Old 18th December 2006
  #3
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Drumsound's Avatar
A lot of it comes from the player.

Part of the 'trick' is that the guitar and keyboard sounds on most Cake tunes are not super bottom heavy. This leaves a lot of space for the bass.
Old 18th December 2006
  #4
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For recording Gabe Nelson runs his bass through a 6176 but not always...

bcgood
Old 18th December 2006
  #5
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What it sounds like to me is, they don't seem to like eq. Sounds like they run instruments through different kinds of amps and distortions until they find something cool and then go with it.

One thing I will say is, that bass player is off the chizz-ain! He's SO good! My favorite bass tone from them is the song on "Comfort Eagle" that goes "...I want to love you madly..."

I think they are going DI. Maybe they use an SVT through an 810 cabinet with a mic on it. Probably not that much compression. That'd be my guess.

-Aaron
Old 18th December 2006
  #6
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thanks for your thoughts guys. a band I'm going to start recording for soon has a kick ass bass player and I'm really going to aim for that 'Cake' sound when doing their tracking.
This gives me a good point to start from.
Old 18th December 2006
  #7
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Hey guys,

I tracked and mixed the majority of the Cake stuff along with my business partner, Craig. Especially in the early days it was VERY simple. BTW-Fashion Nugget was tracked and mixed 24 track analog, Prolonging the Magic was tracked 24 track for basics and then dumped to Digital Performer for overdubs and mixes, and Comfort Eagle was entirely in Digital Performer. Now back to the question...Pretty much ALL the bass for those projects was Gabe's P bass run into a countryman DI, and into the stock preamps on the Trident 80b. There MAY have been a 1272 used a couple of times, but in most cases it was the 80b. It was compressed with an 1176 while tracking. There were a few times that it was smashed with the 1176 again while mixing to grunge it up a bit, but not many times. Sorry...no big industry secrets here. The only weird thing I do remember doing was with their first single, "Going the Distance." They had a different bass player that used a semi hollow body somthing or other and although it was tracked as the other bass parts were, it was run through this tiny amp on the mix. This thing was really a toy. It had a line out and we used that to overdrive the bass. But, that was only for that one song.
The somewhat dark bass sound that Gabe gets worked really well with the retro sounding kick of the drum kit. The kick didn't have gobs of low end and so they played nicely with each other. I do think that a previous poster was correct in saying that a lot of the sound came from Gabe.

Kirt Shearer
Paradise Studios
Sacramento, Ca
www.paradisestudios.net
Old 18th December 2006
  #8
C/G
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbshearer View Post
Hey guys,

I tracked and mixed the majority of the Cake stuff along with my business partner, Craig. Especially in the early days it was VERY simple. BTW-Fashion Nugget was tracked and mixed 24 track analog, Prolonging the Magic was tracked 24 track for basics and then dumped to Digital Performer for overdubs and mixes, and Comfort Eagle was entirely in Digital Performer. Now back to the question...Pretty much ALL the bass for those projects was Gabe's P bass run into a countryman DI, and into the stock preamps on the Trident 80b. There MAY have been a 1272 used a couple of times, but in most cases it was the 80b. It was compressed with an 1176 while tracking. There were a few times that it was smashed with the 1176 again while mixing to grunge it up a bit, but not many times. Sorry...no big industry secrets here. The only weird thing I do remember doing was with their first single, "Going the Distance." They had a different bass player that used a semi hollow body somthing or other and although it was tracked as the other bass parts were, it was run through this tiny amp on the mix. This thing was really a toy. It had a line out and we used that to overdrive the bass. But, that was only for that one song.
The somewhat dark bass sound that Gabe gets worked really well with the retro sounding kick of the drum kit. The kick didn't have gobs of low end and so they played nicely with each other. I do think that a previous poster was correct in saying that a lot of the sound came from Gabe.

Kirt Shearer
Paradise Studios
Sacramento, Ca
www.paradisestudios.net
Cool. I absolutely love the way their albums are recorded and sound. Nice work!!!!!
Old 18th December 2006
  #9
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Kbshearer ---> thanks so much for your insight. Didn't expect to get the answer from the man who actually tracked them. God I love this site!

Three cheers for Gearslutz
Old 18th December 2006
  #10
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Kris's Avatar
Always loved Cake's sound and production... Great work. Tell us about the drums...please?
Old 18th December 2006
  #11
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Okay...drums....First of all, the drum kit has a specific sound. It's an old Ludwig wooden kit of the same era as the sparkle finish kits. Coated ambassador heads all around. Old dark Zildian (sp?) cymbals. Kick mic was an RE20 inside the kick. Sometimes a 414 a couple of feet out from the kick. Sm57's on the snare top and the toms. A 414 under the snare. The overheads changed....sometimes 451's and sometimes 414's. Hell....one time maybe even Rode NT2's. OH....one thing I remember....the overheads weren't in the traditional position. They were a little more in front of the kit at about 10 and 2 oclock just a little higher than the level of Todd's head. Much of the sound came from the room mics. Our main room is about 22 x 30 and if we oriented the kit so it is facing the wide wall, we would put 451's in the upper corners of the room at about 13' high. This seemed to really give that kit dimension. Those mics were often compressed, but not always with the same thing. Sometimes it was even a soft ware compressor. On some songs we would open up the back storage room which was mason block and concrete and put a single Telefunken 251 back there. That was really cool as a "live from the next room" thing. Much of the time the drums were sub'd partially or entirely to a buss that was compressed by a ART Pro VLA compressing about 6db's. So...no esoteric equipment involved. I love the sound of the Trident 80b for this stuff, but the rest of the chain is fairly boring. You just have to EQ and compress and balance to get it right. Again....much of the sound came from the kit.

Kirt Shearer
Paradise Studios
Sacramento, CA
www.paradisestudios.net
Old 18th December 2006
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

How 'bout the guitars?
Old 18th December 2006
  #13
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The guitars: Well, there was a fairly high turnover in that department. The first project was with Greg Smith (Now with Deathray) and he used a Gretch semi hollow body with a Silvertone amp and sometimes a Matchless. How's that for diversity? Later on, it was Xan mostly, and he had a Guild semi hollow body that was custom made for him. I honestly can't remember what sort of amp he used. With Greg, the mic used most was an RE20. With Xan it was mostly a como of an SM57 and a condensor of some sort. Maybe a 414 and sometimes a U87. I don't think we had the Royers then, but I think we may have started using them on the last trumpet sessions. Again, fairly stock stuff with the guitar. Mostly the 80b preamps, although sometimes again we used a 1272. Compression was also with an 1176. The key to the guitar sound was the semi hollow body guitar,and also making the sound mostly about the 1-2k range. Some boosting in that area and if needed, some cutting of the lows. It's a fairly retro sound that is all about the midrange. VERY little fx during the mix, except for a LITTLE room from the 480 just for dimension.

Kirt Shearer
Paradise Studios
Sacramento, CA
www.paradisestudios.net
Old 18th December 2006
  #14
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kirt,
thanks for posting- i've always really dug the Cake records. totally fresh writing and the playing and engineering/mixing are fantastic. Great job. Thanks
david lawrence
Old 18th December 2006
  #15
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Once again it seems like these are the Tools:

Great player

Studio worthy bass

Countryman or Tech 21 DI

Slutty pre of choice

an 1176


Old 18th December 2006
  #16
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someone has to ask

Someone has to do it...

Could you share any info on how you tracked the vocals? Also, how did you handle trumpets and other ancilery instruments?

BTW, thank you so much for sharing this information. Just incredible to learn how an album that has spent so much time in my cd player was actually recorded. Thanks again!
Old 18th December 2006
  #17
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RE20 on the kick drum eh? awesome to know
Old 18th December 2006
  #18
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I love that bass sound you guys got for going the distance Kirt!

For "Pressure Chief" Gabe did run through a 6176 for a few tracks and then they just used the stock digi plug ins for the rest, real basic. Patrick Olguin helped engineer and mix the band but otherwise Cake did everything else in a living room in Sacramento pretty much all by themselves.

bcgood

P.S. Hey Kirt, why no Cause and Effect on your site... ; )
Old 19th December 2006
  #19
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Drumsound's Avatar
Hey Kirt,

Thanks for posting about the Cake records. For about the last 5 years or so they have been one of my all-time favorites and are probably my favorite band that is still making music. All of the records sound great and are so full of personality.

Great work!
Old 19th December 2006
  #20
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Hey everybody.....I've been working so I'm just getting back to this thread.

bcgood....yeah, you're right. We should have the Cause and Effect stuff on our site. I have no idea why it isn't there. How'd you know about that?

Thanks to everyone for the words about the projects. I never know how many people actually care about any project, but it's good to see that people do pay attention and listen. It was fun to be one of the people contributing to such a recognizable sound.

Vocals were usually a Telefunken 251 into a 1272 and then sometimes into an 1176 or sometimes even a Symetrix 522, which is somewhat DBX like. We started their projects many years ago when we had less choices in the rack. There are other pre's and eq's that we might use now, but back then those were the choices. Some of the vocals on Comfort Eagle were actually done on a Rode NT1. We had used that for scratch vocals and then decided to keep some of the roughs....you've heard that story before....so many of the vocals were on the Rode instead of the 251. 80b board EQ was used. Sometimes compressed with a Pro VLA on the mix, although these days I would probably use the Millennia TwinCom. I MAY have had the Twin Com fro Comfort Eagle, I don't remember. For the projects that were done in Digital Performer, we often used the MasterWorks Multiband Compressor plug in for de-essing above 5k.

Trumpet was tracked either with a 414 or a U87 into the Trident pre and compressed with.....say it with me.....an 1176. Later on we used Royer 121's which is what I would grab first now. When we used a 414 we had him play a little off axis to take some of the edge off the sound.

I can't think of anything else of interest right now. For the record, now I also use quite a bit of the UA stuff: the 2192 converter, the 2108 mic pre and the 2-610 mic pre. I also got the Barefoot MM-27's a couple of months ago and they really rock.

Kirt Shearer
Paradise Studios
Sacramento, Ca
www.paradisestudios.net
Old 19th December 2006
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbshearer View Post
Thanks to everyone for the words about the projects. I never know how many people actually care about any project, but it's good to see that people do pay attention and listen.
Plenty of people around these parts that pay plenty of attention to good sounding records.

Thanks again for all your input. Fascinating in this day-and-age that just yesterday I was caught wondering about this record and today I've got the information right from the horses' mouth. Blows my mind
Old 19th December 2006
  #22
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I love the sound of Cake stuff. In fact you guys also made Cause and Effect sound so organic and natural even though they where using a lot of cheesy 90's synths. I need to record at Paradise!
Old 19th December 2006
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbshearer View Post
it was run through this tiny amp on the mix. This thing was really a toy. It had a line out and we used that to overdrive the bass.

Kirt Shearer
Paradise Studios
Sacramento, Ca
www.paradisestudios.net


Kirt,
Thank you for posting that! I love that bass sound and always wondered how they did it. Appreciate you taking the time to chime in here.

Just a question, on "Never There" did you guys do anything special? What is that higher sound following the bass, is that a clean electric guitar or something? The mix of everything on that track is incredible. Amazing to listen to.
Old 19th December 2006
  #24
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djui5,

Yeah, that's a clean electric following the bass part. I don't remember who played it because that was the album where they were trying out guest guitarists before Xan got the gig full time.
Here's the really weird thing about that song: That song was done before we really got into non-linear editing. But John wanted to mess around with the live tracks and combine synth and programmed stuff with the live tracks. SO, believe it or not, MOST of the tracks were sampled into Roland 770 and 700 samplers and triggered from Performer as a sequencer. That includes the performance of the drum kit. There was a 24x that the sequencer was synced to, but I not much other than vocals was on it. Most of the instruments were mixed live from the multiple outputs of the samplers and the synths triggered live.Very wierd way to work, but as I said, it was before Digital Performer and non-linear editing. It just shows that you can always figure out some way to make things work if you have to. But not anything that I'd want to do again.
I was driving back from Home Depot with a van full of supplies to remodel the studio when I heard on the radio that "Never There" had hit #1 on the Alternative Rock charts. I just about drove off the road. But the thing that had the most impact was hearing David Letterman's band play it as bumper music going into a commercial. That was wierd.

Kirt Shearer
Paradise Studios
Sacramento, Ca
www.paradisestudios.net
Old 19th December 2006
  #25
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wow. This is awesome having the guy that engineered and mixed telling it exactly as he did it. Amazing. The guitars always sounded like they were played through blown amps or at least very dirty little amp cabs. Comfort Eagle, what an amazing album! And who can forget Nugget or Racecar yah yahs.

They were a favorite band to listen to during my younger years of getting completely wasted with a few friends. We proclaimed them the god's of drinking music. (A few years later one of the same guys txts me one night "Cake is awesome to listen to when getting drunk, but even better when doing coke!") sssheesh

Anyways always loved the character of these guys' albums.
Old 19th December 2006
  #26
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I just want to know what rig that guy is playing through. I mean the singer. Looks like a small body classical with a pickup through a tiny amp. Maybe a champ?

-Aaron
Old 19th December 2006
  #27
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Kirt,

Those Cake albums are some of the best and most interesting sounding Alternative Rock records ever released. You have some serious skills my man, thanks for posting about this record.
Old 19th December 2006
  #28
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simonv's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdier View Post
Just incredible to learn how an album that has spent so much time in my cd player was actually recorded. Thanks again!
Same here!
The cake cds have played an important role in my life..
They were the soundtrack of my first true and heartbraking love.. I loved The Distance, Frank Sinatra and Italian Leather Sofa when it started, and I loved Mexico when it ended...

And when I went out to buy my first guitar and amp with my first big paycheck in 98, I asked the music store clerk: I want to sound like Cake.
Old 19th December 2006
  #29
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Trancetones's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgrif08 View Post
Kbshearer ---> thanks so much for your insight. Didn't expect to get the answer from the man who actually tracked them. God I love this site!

Three cheers for Gearslutz
True that, and three cheers for Kirt for sharing.

Hizaah, Hizzah, Hizzah!!!
Old 19th December 2006
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbshearer View Post
I just about drove off the road.

Well I would imagine!

Thanks for the response. Happy Holidays to you and yours.
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