How do you record bass guitar?

Guitar techniques, music theory, recording and anything to do with actually playing your guitar

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singlepup
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How do you record bass guitar?

Post: # 1405750Post singlepup »

I've always run my bass instruments DI into the DAW with few problems. Have gotten some nice tones in the past from P-Basses and a Fender acoustic/electric bass.

However, I'm struggling to make anything sound good with my Squier Bronco Bass. Maybe it's the strings, maybe it's the pickup. All sounds overly bright and clangy.

And then there's the whole topic of getting a bass guitar to sit correctly in the mix, limiting it, high pass filters, mixing bass with Muffy guitars. Aaaaaarghh.
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Post: # 1405854Post BearBoy »

Are you using an amp sim in your DAW?

I've got a Squier VM shortscale Jaguar bass, which I run through an EHX Battalion pre-amp into my DAW. It's got PJ pickups but I tend to mainly use the P bass one. The strings are D'Addario half rounds, which I put on shortly after getting the bass - the stock strings were pretty awful from what I remember.

I think I actually prefer the tone I used to get using the COSM presets in my Boss BR-1180CD though (on the run from the tone police). I think they had other things going on in them (limiting, enhancing, modulation, EQ etc). Would be interested to know how people are recording bass in 2020.
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Freddy V-C
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Post: # 1405859Post Freddy V-C »

I haven't owned a bass for a couple of years (working on it), but earlier this year I did a lot of recording with my ex-girlfriend's bass. I had the same kind of problems you're having - too bright, too clangy, no low end definition.

You'd be surprised how much of a difference it makes putting a (subtle!) sub-octave effect in the signal chain before your amp sim. You don't want it to sound like there's a sub-octave going on, but if you get the balance right it really fills out the sound. You can also get away with boosting a bunch of EQ around 60-115Hz if you compensate by cutting some muddiness around 200-400Hz.

Beyond that, though, I think the key to a good bass sound is actually less about how you process the bass on its own, and more about how you process the whole mix. Are you doing any parallel compression between the bass and the drum kit? Are you doing any mid/side processing to high-pass the sides and keep the bottom end central? I usually set up an aux with some REALLY HARSH compression (and usually a nasty limiter and some fake tape saturation), and bus all my drums and bass there (sometimes don't send the drum overheads if it gets too sizzly). That drum aux will have a mid/side filter taking everything below about 300Hz out of the side channel, and boosting everything below about 100Hz in the mid channel. And then my master bus will have another mid/side filter taking everything below about 150Hz out of the side channel, and high-passing everything below about 40Hz.
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Post: # 1405873Post Bacchus »

I've always had decent results using Amplitube and sort of trusting it to place itself nicely in the mix.

I suspect that part of the reason for the success of things like Amplitube and all of the various instruments included in modern DAWS (think of all the instruments bundled in Ableton, Reason etc.) is that they are designed to sit nicely without getting in each other's way (particularly if you use presets).

This is very much cheating, and it might be that you want to be more ambitious with your mixes than this.

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Last edited by Bacchus on Thu Nov 19, 2020 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post: # 1405893Post Doog »

Some solid advice from Freddy there, would definitely look to that approach.

On simpler, possibly very dumb point: have you messed around with the bass' own tone control, especially if you're literally DI-ing straight in?

Even when using an amp sim (my only approach nowadays), I'll pretty much always back off the tone control a far bit, or using an 'EQ pedal'
in the software chain before the 'amp' if I forget to use the tone control when tracking.

I find this helps round everything out a bit; the upper mids and highs aren't fighting with the guitars and cymbals, it effectively 'compresses' some of the attack and lets the bass sit in the frequency it really 'lives' in. I feel like most bass amps have post-preamp EQ sections, so it's never quite the same just ducking the treble on the amp.

Another eye-opener for me over the year, regarding your other point: focus on how much low-end your favourite recorded distorted guitar sounds actually have, vs. your own recording. You should be able to carve out some low mids to make room for the bass without them sounding weedy.
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Post: # 1405911Post kim »

I like amplitube's ampeg vr simulation amp, lots of tonal options in those amps.
Blend DI with SIM like not 50/50 but a bit of DI and more amp sim. Also two bass tracks with different settings to blend going into a bass pre master for mixing.
Then for making it sit in the mix i use plugins in fl studio, some stock ones are decent.

I get overwhelmed easily in mixing so i try to keep it as simple as possible. :roll:
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Post: # 1405918Post aen »

Uff da. I think it's always going to be hard, if you care about your bass tracks, and your songs.
After countless hours of fighting cabs and mics I've gone in-the-box. Logic has some very cool amp sims that I've made presets for. Not perfect, but better than the battle.

OH and regarding the muffy guitars: I almost always end up high passing them now, as long as the bass guitar is strong.
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Post: # 1405936Post plopswagon »

Get the fingers plug-in, that’s where the tone lives.
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