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Bass guitar definition
Old 1st May 2019
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🎧 10 years
Bass guitar definition

Hi Andrew, thanks a lot for doing this Q&A.

Sometimes I find the bass guitar loses the definition of its notes within a mix. I end up having to boost upper mids more than I'd like to help the notes 'poke' out as it were.

How would you advise helping bass notes to retain definition within a busy mix without having to increase eq more than is desirable?

Old 3rd May 2019
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AScheps's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Bass is a tough one. There are three different ways I can think of to tackle it:

1) Parallel compression. By using parallel compression you can even out the response of the notes, and when it's more consistent it should be easier to find a static level where you can actually hear what's going on. I have the bass in the rear buss shared parallel compression for exactly that reason, but there's no reason not to have a dedicated one just for bass.

2) Split it up. I've seen other mixers (notably Ryan Hewitt) have two faders for the bass, the low end and the mids. That way he can compress the mids or do whatever without affecting the low end. I personally don't do this because I haven't really wrapped my head around how I would want to split them up, but it certainly works for Ryan!

3) Distortion/saturation. I use Sansamp, or the PSA1000 on almost every mix on bass. It's a great way to be able to balance the frequencies (there are basically four bands) as well as add distortion or light saturation if I want it. By definition the saturation will be on the harmonics, so in the mids, and also by definition, distortion acts as a compressor, evening out the performance. You don't need a lot of it, just a little will really help it to poke out.

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