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Advice For Bass as a Feature Instrument
Old 7th July 2009
Gear Maniac
hakim's Avatar
🎧 10 years
Advice For Bass as a Feature Instrument

Hi John,

May I call you John? My name is Hakim and I am an aspiring music producer, part-time recording engineer and full-time bassist. I am working on a solo album and though much of my album will feature a lead vocalist, I want my bass to standout.

I am able to get great tone and have a pretty decent signal chain going for recording bass. However, I wanted to know if you have any advice to make the bass guitar step out just enough to know that the bass player is an important feature of this mix.

I am not a purist so I am willing to do anything... I am already doing some pretty strange things with my bass... can you advise me?
Old 20th July 2009
Gear Nut
johnleckie's Avatar
🎧 10 years
Bass as feature instrument

Hi Hakim
How to make bass stand out? Turn it up! No, really I know what you mean its often not that easy. I dont know your music but there's probably some universal things you could try...
As far as possible get an even tone on instrument so notes don't stick out and boom or sound thin and disappear. Compression may help but really its all in the playing and as much as possible I record bass uncompressed with no eq. With an even tone it will sit in mix through the song. Use quality (the most expensive) DI box, short leads and try different pre amps. Avoid total tube chains for bass cos is not always best sound depending on what you're after. Most importantly ask yourself do you know what you're listening to? What are the monitors and room resonance doing to bass tone? You sometimes have to crank the monitors to get the bass tone and performance, but check if its still all there when track played quietly
Record DI and miked amp. Be careful miking amp for boom. I've used 84 on amp and it can focus in on speaker and be less boomy. One problem is getting good phase between amp and DI. Try getting mike in as close to speaker as poss (AKG D12 good for this, but dull) Try Little Labs Phase Box or as UAD plugin or even try moving waveform a snitch to match up (fun, but can you decide where it should be?)
If you want it to stick out but not mixed too loud, create a distinctive tone, that no one else uses. This may involve everything you've got in you're arsenal of sounds and modifications. Dont be afraid of bit of chorus (the old Dimension D is bass favourite), delays on certain notes,
In mix main thing is to create space for it...cut boom/low end on guitars and keys. Watch out for loud resonant bass drum hits and maybe use these to mould bass drum and bass together...if the song/vibe lends itself to this. If you're into the funk try putting bass drum and bass through same compressor..
Old 20th July 2009 | Show parent
Gear Addict
Recycled_Brains's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Originally Posted by johnleckie ➡️
Avoid total tube chains for bass cos is not always best sound depending on what you're after.
Hi John. Thanks for doing this.

Could you please elaborate on this point? Why do you feel an all-tube signal path is less desireable?
Old 21st July 2009 | Show parent
Gear Maniac
hakim's Avatar
🎧 10 years

I really appreciate you answering my question. I was surprised to get such a detailed response. You really pulled out everything I was thinking to the surface and addressed it. Thank you again...

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