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Bass chain
Old 3rd April 2021
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
Bass chain

To all you bass players out there: In your opinion what is a good and affordable chain for tracking bass in a home studio?

I'm recording in my basement, so miking a cabinet is out of the question. I have a really good bass, and I have a pretty decent interface with good pre's and great converters. Up till now I've just been plugging it in. Sounds good in the mix, but those transients.. Compressing the heck out of it using plugins.. Feels like I'm loosing something!

So I was thinking about maybe buying a cheap second-hand bass head, Trace Elliot or the like, and plug a line-out to the sound card. Or maybe a pedal of some sort. Or maybe investing in a somewhat pricier outboard (mic)preamp. Lots of Neve clones out there..

What's your weapon of choice?
Old 3rd April 2021
  #2
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by muffegutt ➡️
To all you bass players out there: In your opinion what is a good and affordable chain for tracking bass in a home studio?

I'm recording in my basement, so miking a cabinet is out of the question. I have a really good bass, and I have a pretty decent interface with good pre's and great converters. Up till now I've just been plugging it in. Sounds good in the mix, but those transients.. Compressing the heck out of it using plugins.. Feels like I'm loosing something!

So I was thinking about maybe buying a cheap second-hand bass head, Trace Elliot or the like, and plug a line-out to the sound card. Or maybe a pedal of some sort. Or maybe investing in a somewhat pricier outboard (mic)preamp. Lots of Neve clones out there..

What's your weapon of choice?

If you can afford some gear then no question - an 1073 clone into an 1176 / LA-2A clone will help in a major way.

Something you can do right now, without spending any money:

Track like you usually do, but before applying any compression, write in some automation to level out the printed signal. This way you're giving the compressor plugin less work to do, and your transients won't be altered as much.
Old 3rd April 2021
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Progger's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
For a while I was going into my old Genz-Benz head (with a nice little tube pre) and then from there into my interface via the DI on the head. But lately, I've just been going straight into the interface line-in (RME Babyface Pro) and using one of Plugin-Alliance's Ampeg emulators. Honestly, I love it... super easy, fast, and sounds good. Here's a track where I did that. (Bass comes in at 1:02.)
Old 3rd April 2021
  #4
Gear Addict
 
blueflag's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
Phoenix Audio NICE di.
Skip the compressor, skip the EQ.
This is GREAT and affordable.X2

Expensive but a bargain.
Retro Powerstrip.
Old 3rd April 2021
  #5
Lives for gear
 
bkbirge's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
This might be a good solution. La2a (kind of) in a pedal. Great tone, compression, and enough gain to use as a pre. Not cheap though.
http://retrospecaudio.com/the-squeeze-box/
Old 3rd April 2021
  #6
Lives for gear
 
M.S.P.'s Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Sansamp Bass Driver or VT into your interface.
Old 4th April 2021
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
SWR Studio 220 if you are going for a bass head.
KT 76 as a comp.
UA 6176 would be the secret weapon if money doesn’t matter.
Old 4th April 2021
  #8
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
The Acme Motown DI or the Ampeg svt di are both really cool.

I usually use the DI input of the Tree Audio Branch but that’s a different level price wise.
Old 4th April 2021
  #9
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andyfreeman's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Reasonable quality DI (Rupert Neve, Acme, Avalon...), good player, straight in. I don’t mean to be flippant but 99% of the bassists I record don’t want anything in the chain. It’s all in the hands.
Old 4th April 2021 | Show parent
  #10
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
ZOD ID DI
Old 4th April 2021
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
I think it’d be relevant to know what kind of music you play, your style and technique (pick, fingers, SLAP) and what the rest of your bass chain consists of (strings, any pedals, which bass you use).
Old 4th April 2021 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
Great response! Thanks guys!

Some of the gear you mention is hard to come by, though. At least where I live.

A piece of gear that is easily available (and affordable) is the Radial JDI. Been reading good things about it. Not sure how much it does for the sound though. Would I need an external preamp with good transformers as well, or will the pres in my RME do? Not Neve, anyway. Too expensive for me, but maybe a clone?

I agree with Andy Freeman. It is indeed in the hands of the player, but it doesn't hurt to help mother nature a bit now does it?
Btw: When i say transients I'm not talking huge peaks. Just looking for something to smooth things out a bit, like an amp and cabinet does.

Thanks again!
Old 4th April 2021 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wjbratcher ➡️
I think it’d be relevant to know what kind of music you play, your style and technique (pick, fingers, SLAP) and what the rest of your bass chain consists of (strings, any pedals, which bass you use).
Of course! Guitarbased pop, fingers, vintage Fender Pbass, semiround strings, no pedals.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by muffegutt ➡️
To all you bass players out there: In your opinion what is a good and affordable chain for tracking bass in a home studio?

I'm recording in my basement, so miking a cabinet is out of the question. I have a really good bass, and I have a pretty decent interface with good pre's and great converters. Up till now I've just been plugging it in. Sounds good in the mix, but those transients.. Compressing the heck out of it using plugins.. Feels like I'm loosing something!

So I was thinking about maybe buying a cheap second-hand bass head, Trace Elliot or the like, and plug a line-out to the sound card. Or maybe a pedal of some sort. Or maybe investing in a somewhat pricier outboard (mic)preamp. Lots of Neve clones out there..

What's your weapon of choice?
I feel like you'd be better off getting a compressor that you can play into. You've mentioned compressing in the mix, but if you had a compressor in your recording chain, you might adjust and play in reaction to it, because you would hear it in context.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound ➡️
I feel like you'd be better off getting a compressor that you can play into. You've mentioned compressing in the mix, but if you had a compressor in your recording chain, you might adjust and play in reaction to it, because you would hear it in context.
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Subtle settings, playing the compressor as well as compressing the playing In my experience a good bass amp does this ever so subtly, sort of smoothing out the highs. I believe this is the case with a preamp with good transformers as well. Do correct me if I'm wrong!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
 
18 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Wolfbox style DI, API style preamp BOOM done, instant bass for me, nothing else needed. Do you regular mixing afterwards.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 
DirkP's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
A first: I'm - most of the times - not interested in rock sounds, distortion etc. I want a classic recording chain, but with a bit of color. I'm playing mostly Fender basses, mostly Jazz basses and most of the times with flatwounds.
My goal was to sound like the bass on recordings I love. Very different ones, but most of the bass players I admire went directly into a mixing desk. Like Robbie Shakespear, Jamerson, Bernard Edwards, Carol Kaye, the Roxy Music guy, Joe Osborn etc. Very different players that have recording straight to the mixing desk and not caring much about amps in common.

These are the chains I'm using after years of experimenting.

Recording chain 1: Bass into Warm Audio Tonebeast (sometimes using a Neve RNDI-DI box into the mic-input), Tonebeast into a EQP from Warm Audio, than into a WA76 followed by a Klark LA2A clone.
To be honest: I use the Warm Audio EQP Pultec clone simply because I own it. Doesn't do a lot for me.
This chain is kind of the classic: a fast FET comp followed by a slower opto comp for leveling.

Recording chain 2: a Universal Audio LA610 MKII (their classic tube preamp combined with a simple EQ and a LA2A like opto comp).

As you might see, I was on a budget when starting with the Warm Audio gear about 10 years ago. The WA76 was a revolution for me: for the first time, I had the impression to sound like "on a professional recording". After countless pedals - esp. comps, and amps and amp simulators. I've used it first with a GAP preamp, for pragmatic reasons: I had to change the bass signal to line level.

Now I'm mostly using the UA 610. Got it way cheap used. I miss the fast 1176 like comp for the peaks, but the preamps I've used before (tonebeast and GAP 73 DLX) didn't do much for me. The tube preamp of the UA makes a real difference. The other chain is mostly used by my vocalist now.

But I still think, preamps are kind of overrated. A real transformer or tube based compressor makes a real difference. And there is a huge quality gap between even these clones of the classic comps I own and most pedals available. For live gigs I'm using one of the better 1176 like pedals from Cali / Origin effects, but there is still a difference.

I can simply switch between chain 1 and chain 2 on my mixer while playing the same bass. The difference that makes me prefer the Universal Audio - despite the 1176 in chain 1 - is very small, but it is there.

My lesson learned: I have the most regrets buying numerous budget pedals or < 500,- boxes, that "do it all". This was wasted money. The cheapest piece of gear I own, I would recommend to bassists on a budget is the KT-2A from Klark. It is incredible good for 300,-.

Last edited by DirkP; 4 weeks ago at 01:21 AM..
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DirkP ➡️
A first: I'm - most of the times - not interested in rock sounds, distortion etc. I want a classic recording chain, but with a bit of color. I'm playing mostly Fender basses, mostly Jazz basses and most of the times with flatwounds.
My goal was to sound like the bass on recordings I love. Very different ones, but most of the bass players I admire went directly into a mixing desk. Like Robbie Shakespear, Jamerson, Bernard Edwards, Carol Kaye, the Roxy Music guy, Joe Osborn etc. Very different players that have recording straight to the mixing desk and not caring much about amps in common.

These are the chains I'm using after years of experimenting.

Recording chain 1: Bass into Warm Audio Tonebeast (sometimes using a Neve RNDI-DI box into the mic-input), Tonebeast into a EQP from Warm Audio, than into a WA76 followed by a Klark LA2A clone.
To be honest: I use the Warm Audio EQP Pultec clone simply because I own it. Doesn't do a lot for me.
This chain is kind of the classic: a fast FET comp followed by a slower opto comp for leveling.

Recording chain 2: a Universal Audio LA610 MKII (their classic tube preamp combined with a simple EQ and a LA2A like opto comp).

As you might see, I was on a budget when starting with the Warm Audio gear about 10 years ago. The WA76 was a revolution for me: for the first time, I had the impression to sound like "on a professional recording". After countless pedals - esp. comps, and amps and amp simulators. I've used it first with a GAP preamp, for pragmatic reasons: I had to change the bass signal to line level.

Now I'm mostly using the UA 610. Got it way cheap used. I miss the fast 1176 like comp for the peaks, but the preamps I've used before (tonebeast and GAP 73 DLX) didn't do much for me. The tube preamp of the UA makes a real difference. The other chain is mostly used by my vocalist now.

But I still think, preamps are kind of overrated. A real transformer or tube based compressor makes a real difference. And there is a huge quality gap between even these clones of the classic comps I own and most pedals available. For live gigs I'm using one of the better 1176 like pedals from Cali / Origin effects, but there is still a difference.

I can simply switch between chain 1 and chain 2 on my mixer while playing the same bass. The difference that makes me prefer the Universal Audio - despite the 1176 in chain 1 - is very small, but it is there.

My lesson learned: I have the most regrets buying numerous budget pedals or < 500,- boxes, that "do it all". This was wasted money. The cheapest piece of gear I own, I would recommend to bassists on a budget is the KT-2A from Klark. It is incredible good for 300,-.
Thank you so much for contributing!

First: I like pop, rock, jazz, hip-hop, hardcore, whatever.. Like you I'm not too interested in a distorted 'rock'-sound.

Long story short: I'm not the worst bass-player in the world, and I am so extremely lucky to have in my possession a 1968 Fender P-bass. Great instrument! I do want to make the best out of it, but I am recording in a home-studio and I am on a budget. Currently, the UA is too expensive for me, but from what you're saying I can save the dough from NOT buying a neve-clone pre like the Warm or GAP and maybe buy a 610 in a distant future. Or maybe go for the KT now.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by muffegutt ➡️
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Subtle settings, playing the compressor as well as compressing the playing In my experience a good bass amp does this ever so subtly, sort of smoothing out the highs. I believe this is the case with a preamp with good transformers as well. Do correct me if I'm wrong!
I feel like my '66 bassman compresses more than any preamp, even with a big transformer do. But it doesn't translate the same way to recorded medium than the way my ears react to it. When tracking I still generally prefer a compressor to be in line. On a player who is sensitive to how they use their right hand, there might be just a bit of gain reduction, especially on open strings. On a 'lesser experienced' player I'll probably rely more on the compressor...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Yeah I agree with everyone in this thread in most ways. I do the p-bass and flatwounds thing, and I agree that just straight in to the interface’s hi-z input doesn’t ‘feel’ as good to play into, though it may sound fine in the mix.

After experimenting, I like my regular radial active DI into a CAPI preamp into my acme xla-500 into a good eq. The tube opto-comp changes the tone a bit in a cool way, levels the dynamics a bit, and gives a faux ‘amp’ feel.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #21
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by andyfreeman ➡️
Reasonable quality DI (Rupert Neve, Acme, Avalon...), good player, straight in. I don’t mean to be flippant but 99% of the bassists I record don’t want anything in the chain. It’s all in the hands.
While I agree that it's all in the hands, if OP had those hands he wouldn't be asking the question. And since he can't hop online and order a pair, he needs to at least have gear that won't get in the way of the hands he's got.

I would, however, like to know what OP means by "... but those transients." Post a clip, bud.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by M.S.P. ➡️
Sansamp Bass Driver or VT into your interface.
The cost of that is obscene here in Australia. It's nearly half a gorilla.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
M.S.P.'s Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by hello people ➡️
The cost of that is obscene here in Australia. It's nearly half a gorilla.
Really eh? (I assume a gorilla is expensive, Ive never been quoted a price on one. haha) Hmmm... Were you looking at the price of the pedals or the rack units? The pedals do just as well. If they are too pricey, the TSE BOD does a really decent job of emulating the Bass Driver for a free plugin.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by M.S.P. ➡️
Really eh? (I assume a gorilla is expensive, Ive never been quoted a price on one. haha) Hmmm... Were you looking at the price of the pedals or the rack units? The pedals do just as well. If they are too pricey, the TSE BOD does a really decent job of emulating the Bass Driver for a free plugin.
A gorilla is a thousand dollars Australian, says me I guess.

These units are approaching 500.

I couldn't justify it myself, but each to their own.

Well not sure if I can even say that these days, hey comrade?

I kid, I kid.

They're bloody expensive, is all I'm saying.

Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
M.S.P.'s Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
That sucks. If your interested, maybe check used. I paid $80 (Canadian dollars) for my VT pedal, and $120 (also Canadian $) for my Bass Driver, albeit a few years back.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
Lives for gear
 
dickiefunk's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I use a Warm Audio TB12 into either a Klark Teknik KT-2a or KT-76. I also have a Klark EQP-KT which I sometimes use.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
Lives for gear
 
James Lehmann's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by muffegutt ➡️
I have in my possession a 1968 Fender P-bass... a piece of gear that is easily available (and affordable) is the Radial JDI.
I would at least stick to an active DI.

Radial themselves say this on their site: "For low output instruments such as an old vintage Jazz Bass, even a bit of loading can cause a bass player to notice a minute drop in level. For these artists, an active direct box like the Radial J48 tends to be a better solution."

UA6176 is a mighty fine bass channel but whether or not that qualifies as 'affordable' is a bit of a moving target.

Warm Audio TB12 is just an excellent solid-state preamp/DI at any price.

Also DAV BG9 which is actually a two-channel device in a nice extruded desktop box if you don't go in for 19" rack stuff: one mic pre and one active DI input. No frills, great sound straight into your DAW, compress etc later. That's what I use - mostly for the mic preamp, but also when friends come around for sessions etc (remember those days?) I can plug a bass or guitar straight in and it always sounds good.

Last edited by James Lehmann; 4 weeks ago at 07:19 AM..
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by M.S.P. ➡️
That sucks. If your interested, maybe check used. I paid $80 (Canadian dollars) for my VT pedal, and $120 (also Canadian $) for my Bass Driver, albeit a few years back.
Nah, not even interested. I used to be. But the best bass sound I ever got was from a 200$ (Australian dollar mind you) bass guitar direct into my LA610 mkii. No amp sims etc.

I've recorded a whole lot of bass tracks that way that haven't worked...but the few that have worked tell me it is doable.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #29
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
While I agree that it's all in the hands, if OP had those hands he wouldn't be asking the question. And since he can't hop online and order a pair, he needs to at least have gear that won't get in the way of the hands he's got.

I would, however, like to know what OP means by "... but those transients." Post a clip, bud.
Thanks for sticking up for me! I'm no Jaco Pastorius or whatever but my hands are just fine!

"... but those transients". I dunno, english ain't my mothers tongue so maybe something got lost in translation. I'm not saying my attacks are all over the place, it's more like wjbratcher so eloquently puts it, the interface 'doesn't 'feel' as good to play into. Okay, but not great you know. Or like Drumsound is saying a good bass-amp implicitly does some compressing. This is useful IMO no matter what kind of hands you've been given

Maybe I'll post a clip or two tomorrow when I have the time!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Oldone's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Tech 21 RBI SansAmp RBI is an inexpensive option but some are noisy. The guys at Sansamp provide a wiring option to compensate. I tried it and it works great but I tend to blow lightbulbs if I touch the screw on the wall light switch after recording.

Seriously, a REDDI into a decent preamp works as well.
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