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Need advice for a recording.


Funkwave

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Hello bassists,

 

I usually produce Funk/jazz type material in my studio but this time a song calls for a Pantera/Metallica type bass sound. I really can't explain the sound to you.

 

What do I need to do? Is it the type of bass they use? Keep in mind, I only have an active Fender jazz bass in the studio.

 

Is it in the EQ ??? , the amp ??? , compression???

 

I'm really not familiar with producing this type of material. Any suggestions on getting that sound would be appreciated.

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I know the sound. Seems like you have the bassic stuff down. EQ/Drive/Presence, the bass should be fine. All the little factors add up. And it takes awhile (even years) to get "that sound" sometimes. I prefer to isolate, mic, and go for the classic Ampeg tube/gain tone. I'm a baby though. Getz76,davebrowm,greenboy,jeremy...stop. Almost (if not all) all the regulars, have great knowlege, and it's a blessing to have that, and weigh their advice. They are fairly wise...smarter than I. That's how I learn though.

GOOD LUCK!

Vince

 

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." ~ Pablo Picasso

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Getting a good metal sound is going to me more about technique and the musical approach. You can get a good sound from a DI, but in a metal song it's going to require an aggressive, heavy style. A pick will help with cutting through, but a lot of metal bass players have gotten along just fine playing fingerstyle.

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Will someone else be coming in and playing bass on this recording, or are you playing bass yourself on it? If someone else is coming in, I'd expect them to bring their own bass. If you're playing the bass lines yourself, then you'll obviously be using the Fender Jazz. Did I understand this part correctly?

 

A big part of the sound is going to come from the players fingers. I'd say metal artists have a tendency to dig into the strings moreso than other styles (although some folks may disagree). You'll typically get more "grind" from fret noise and more harmonic content.

 

Are you going for a clean sound or a more gritty sound? For the bands you mentioned, I'd imagine you're going to be shooting for a gritty kind of sound. If you have a good amp with XLR out, bass tube preamp, possibly some of the tube mic preamps, you might want to run it through that on the way to the recorder. Crank the drive up just enough that you start to get some grit. If none of these gadgets are available to you, then grab an MXR M80 or Tech21 Sansamp BDDI locally. These are both tube emulator/EQ/bass preamp/Direct boxes that are great for recording, and both have settings that allow you to get anything between completely clean sounds and total shred.

 

Unlike what's typically thought of as the "classic" bass sound (big lows and mids, not much high content), I think for metal you'll probably want some highs in there. It adds definition and cuts through the mix.

 

Tell us more about what you have available in your studio, what you're trying to accomplish, a little more about what you think it sound should like, etc., and I'm sure folks can help point you in the right direction.

 

HTH,

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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I say try boosting the low-mids to mid-mids and try cutting the highs and high-mids a little, and then add some gain and low end, maybe a little compression and use a pick or heavy finger-style.
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No fret buzz...please! The sound coming from the bass should be as close to pure tone as possible (IMHO that's how it should always be with a few exceptions such as slap)...the grit comes from amplification and eq. A sub synth can be very effective along with the aforementioned compression...I'd say a heavier compression and higher gain. Many metalheads like to use picks but it all depends on player preference and the sound you want...try both.

 

Lows should be present but not woofy (if you're comfortable running a sub synth, that shouldn't be a problem), low-mids are what give it most of it's punch and I usually use high-mids and highs for contouring attack/clarity...alittle boost goes a long way.

 

As far as mic/DI, it all depends on how raw you want the sound. If you're good at micing speakers you can do wonders. DIs are very handy for keeping it simple and clean in my experience (keep in mind that I'm probably nowhere near as experienced as most of the guys in here...I'm just good at opening my mouth when I'm thinking something). If you're DIing, it can be hard (again, in my experience) to get the ambience/acoustic quality you may want. But then you may want the clean sound free of possible acoustic problems.

 

As far as the instrument...many metal players don't spend big money on instruments because of all the production that goes into modern recording and even live sound. I don't think the instrument will make much of a difference if properly amped and whatnot.

 

There is a wide variety of bass sounds in metal (as with any other style of music). If you have sufficient amplification to play funk, you should be alright for rocking with a few changes to your eq and maybe some effects.

 

My philosophy when rocking is, "Let your mind and body rock seperately from your hands." Getting too into the music can cause hands to tense up and digging too much into the strings can cause unwanted intonation and tone warping. Yes, you'll need a solid right hand to play the firm, driving lines of metal but keep an eye/ear on it to keep yourself from going overboard.

 

Geeze, I type too much.

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I think it's almost totally a technique and attitude thing, to the extent that I can play my normally groove oriented gear with a different approach and get a metal sound without turning any knobs.

 

Fret buzz and particularly fret clank are both beneficial in providing the ugly high end that will help the bass cut through the mix. Some overdrive or fur can be useful but usually only if it affects the highs and lets the lows and mids retain the quick attack and punch of clean bass.

 

I wouldn't say that playing harder is that important, it's more about having a quicker and sharper attack and playing the strings down towards the fretboard so they clank and grind. If you pluck too hard you'll lose all the weight of the note and just hear the attack which will sound too thin.

 

I guess I just think of galloping, thundering, clank and grrrrr when I play in that old school metal way, and channel the Geezer/Cliff/SteveHarris thang rather than my usual greasier funkified approach. Lots of notes, often just repeated 8ths, 16ths or 8th note triplets, and it's all about the attack of the note, not the sustain and stop. I always say that the key to groove is where you stop each note and where you just play a rest - for metal, ignore this approach and just thunder on.

 

That's not so say that you shouldn't try to groove - it is groove, just not as you know it.

 

Dig?

 

Alex

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When it comes to metal, almost any bass will do... but there are a few elements you want in place:

1. New strings (NOT flats!)

New strings will give the bass tone the extra snap and sizzle it needs to growl and augment the very large guitars you'll almost certainly have on the tracks. Flatwound strings would probably be a mistake, as the bass lines in metal usually dupe the guitars, and flats would tend to give you a dullish "thud" instead of the "clank" you'll want.

2. As several folks here already mentioned, low-mids and highs are where metal bass tones live. Low lows... well they're nice when you're mixing, but they'll end up making things sound muddy in the end. You'll find that a lot of the super lows will alreaady be present in the fundamental bass tone, and metal guitars tend to stray very far into the usual bass frequencies. Think of it this waymetal guitars often have a "scoop" EQ pattern, so use the bass EQ to fill in the hole created by the scoop... if that makes sense.

3. Light distortion/overdrive.

You don't have to go totally nutty with this, but a bit of distortion or overdrive on the bass can add to the overall crunchiness in the track. Don't overdo it, though, or your bass tone will lose definition and character.

 

What else?

Active pick-ups are nice, using a pick tends to help with "cut".... and I guess after that, it all depends on the player.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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I'll second CMDN's advice about strings. They should be new, they should be roundwound, & they should be plain steel (not nickel plated). I've gotten plenty of "zing" out of Ken Smith strings (which also keep their zing quite a long time), but there are many good brands out there. If you can, get to a shop with a good bass string selection & ask a knowledgeable salesperson (hopefully one who plays bass) to recommend a bright steel roundwound.

 

The right string is the best start.

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Originally posted by davio:

No fret buzz...please! The sound coming from the bass should be as close to pure tone as possible (IMHO that's how it should always be with a few exceptions such as slap)...the grit comes from amplification and eq.

It's always interesting to see different folks' different approaches on stuff. I'd take almost the exact opposite approach...I'd rather get at least most of the grit from fret noise and digging into the strings rather than getting it from the EQ and amp. That way, I can do it with my hands only. The fact is either way will work.

 

The one common theme coming out of this thread seems to be: concentrate on content in the low-mid and high area, regardless of whether you get it there via technique or gear!

 

HTH,

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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I've got a simpler idea. Use a small combo with a 10" speaker, pump up the input signal with an active DI/preamp box (either the MXR or SansAmp) and stick a Shure SM57/58 close enough to the speaker to get some overload. Through the mix it'd sound like an SVT. You can then tap off the box's XLR out into a second channel that you can run relatively clean. Mix the two to taste.

 

An engineer did something like this to me earlier in the year. I liked the sound but for the song it turned out to be too much.

:wave:

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I second having new steel strings,fret noise,gnarly tone (Sansamp) mixed with clean DI,and filling the abandoned guitar frequencies. I also think that downstroking with a pick whenever possible is important,unless the player plays with fingers. Compression is important too. Especially if they play really hard.
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Originally posted by Dave Sisk:

 

Tell us more about what you have available in your studio, what you're trying to accomplish, a little more about what you think it sound should like, etc., and I'm sure folks can help point you in the right direction.

 

HTH,

Dave[/QB]

Dave and Guys,

 

I will be using my Fender active jazz bass through an Avalon U5 DI. At least thats what I use for Funk/slap type applications.

 

I know many of you guys mentioned technique for metal type applications. I don't feel I'll have any trouble getting into the metal pocket on this tune. I was strictly asking about the sound. For instance, all you have to hear is one quarter note of bass on a Metallica tune to know the sound I'm refering to. It most certainly seems like cranked mids and highs but it also has a certain character to it that I can't explain.

 

The project is for an extreme sports like show. I already have the nasty crunching guitar tracks down. I just need that evil bass tone that lies in the backround but adds to the chaos...

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Well, if you're going for a really bright sound, definitely get some new strings. The ones I'm specifically thinking of are DR's High-Beams and Dean Markely's Blue Steel's. Stainless steel strings are a must! Those are going to give you a great, natural high end. Add in a pick with an aggressive attack and I think that will help you tremendously.

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this time a song calls for a Pantera/Metallica type bass sound
just out of curiosity, is it a dimebag tribute song?

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Hi Fella:

 

I think all the technique suggestions weren't really about how you play the song...they were more about how to get the "metal" bass sound with no gear changes. I just thought I'd mention that because I wasn't sure it can across clear enough. In a nutshell, the harder you play the strings, the more mid and high content you get (assuming the action is low enough for the ideal amount of fret noise), and the more "grit" you get in the final sound.

 

Fret noise is one way to get grit...the other is by dailing in some drive on the preamp side. The sound character that you can't explain is probably the grittiness.

 

HTH,

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Originally posted by CMDN:

Oh yeah...

Pick hard and close to the bridge.

If you're using a pick... (though I guess that's obvious).

 

But if you're a fingerstyle player you can do a lot worse than taking the almost hammering heavy fingerstyle up near the neck approach, a la Geezer.

 

The Avalon is a great preamp for clean sounds. But it is really really clean. You might like to considering acquiring a Fulltone BassDrive, which is IMO the ultimate overdrive/distortion pedal. In compcut mode with the gain down low it adds a vintage character remarkably similar to that old B15 tone, and from there by going back to normal and then boost mode, and cranking the gain and tweaking the tone (high boost/cut) it goes all the way through less subtle overdrive into fullbore distortion, all the while keeping the fundamental character of your bass and preserving your low down punch.

 

For less than $200 new with incredible build quality as well as tone, I think it's a true bass bargain. It's all I need to turn my rig from a deep clean and clear funk and reggae monster to a roaring rock beast.

 

Alex

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When my band was recording our most recent cd the engineer and I found that in order to make some parts more dynamic effects were a viable option. So we used pro tools and amplitude effects. While the distortion sounds were either a little extreme or weak on their own depending on the settings. I found that when i split up my signal it worked perfectly. I ended up using my swr 750 and 410 miked for clean, an swr claifornia blonde for effects, and a tube di for the direct signal. I found that the program amplitude gave me the most mileage. YOu could possible split up a clean direct signal and a second miked amp to use for the distortion from amplitude. To get a truly heavy tone i set the wah mode on on the lead channel with high gain and low compression. While this setting was both extreme and a little ill defined on its own, it sounded amazing when mixed at a lower volume than the di.

just my two hundredths of a buck

Hiram Bullock thinks I like the band volume too soft (but he plays guitar). Joe Sample thinks I like it way too loud (but he plays piano). -Marcus Miller
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p.s. the effect created by this setup is very similar to that of biamping. People generally biamp live to be able to push their low frequencies without distorting their high end and vice versa. IN my setup however, i found that using the effects set a tone without much bass a la lemmy let me retain a true clear bottom while still getting that metalesque grind.

 

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/drawingblanks

 

If you go to this site you can hear what i'm talking about most prominently on the prechoruses of the song everybody.

To give you a hint when you here that extra guitar line with the slides at the end, thats the second track of bass.

Hiram Bullock thinks I like the band volume too soft (but he plays guitar). Joe Sample thinks I like it way too loud (but he plays piano). -Marcus Miller
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