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Recording Bass


lukebass

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Hey!

I'm recording a new album soon and I'm debating about using a direct box or miking my amp. If our band sounds something like chili peppers and sublime, what method do you think is better. I really don't know.

thanks for any suggestions

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Okay luke, let's see.

 

Answer these and you might get a useful answer:

 

- what bass?

- active or passive bass?

- what type of strings?

- what type of pickups?

- what cabinet?

- what amp?

- what direct box?

- active or passive direct box?

- is there a proper engineer?

- what does the engineer say?

- what type of mic is available?

- what type of preamp is available?

- what type of compressor is available?

- can you do both?

- what type of recording media are you using?

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I should have been more specific:

ZON sonus bass, active, d'addario strings, svt-pro pre-amp, ampeg 4 speaker amp, I can do both mic or direct, not sure about all the other stuff but i'm renting everything so what ever is needed.

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Originally posted by getz76:

Is it safe to assume the engineer/producer aren't experienced and not properly trained?

I think that's a very safe assumption.

 

Like Getz76 suggested, go with a direct signal as it will give you the most flexibility when you finally decide to find someone to help you mix. If you have the channels, mic up your cab and take that signal too - more options the merrier. It doesn't matter how good your gear is (bass, cab, mic, preamp, etc..) if the producer/engineer has no clue what they're doing. The DI is the safest option, as it's the hardest to screw up.

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So, looks like your engineer/producer/bandmate should pull his/her strip out and connect all of the following:

(1) DI

(2) amp preamp out

(3) dynamic mic close-miked to bottom left speaker

(4) condenser mic close-miked to bottom right speaker

(5) a stereo pair of ribbon mikes mounted from the ceiling

... and so on and so forth.

 

Or you could just DI and re-amp as mentioned previously.

 

Oh, and if you wander over to Phil O'Keefe's archives, you'll see that the only acceptable way to record bass is if you have a P-bass with decades-old flats on it through an Ampeg B3. :freak:

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Originally posted by C.Alexander Claber:

Originally posted by EZ:

Try both if you can see what gives you what you and your band are looking for.

hahahahahahahaha
:wave: I see you following me around, so I guess you want to know the answer to this attraction you have, Yes I am your father Alex, but dont tell anyone, I am very ashamed of this fact. May the force be with you. Hahhhahaahahaha
If you smell something stinking, it's juz me, I'm funky like that
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Hey. I agree with almost everyone that posted. Use a DI and a mic. I'm guessing that you aren't recording with top of the line equipment. That being said, the key is to find the "sweet spot" with the microphone. Fiddle around with the mic's position in front of your amp. You'd be suprised what type of sound you can get with a hundred dollar microphone.
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I think that you definitely have to be more careful of the variables in the signal when micing a cab.

Today I did a small jazz festival with a fender pro combo, 250 watts and a 1x15 speaker. There was no di signal for the foh, just a mic placed off axis on the speaker. I conciously tok certain precautions to make sure the sound was pure and as clear as I could get, while still retaining punch and bottom. In order not to muddy things up with an amp signal I find it's a good idea to go close to flat. On this gig, I had both of my pickups full on, as well as volume, in passive mode. I ran the amp nearly flat, turned the compressor off, and the only eq changes I made were a small bass boost and treble boost (probably 12:30-1:00 on both). i also adjusted the room balance to about 11:00 for the electric to make it sound a little fatter, while on upright I took it to about 1:30 for more articulation in the pa.

When combining a di and a mic signal, you can mess with the amp signal and still really on the do for a clean, direct sound. If you're relying on just an amp signal, realize that you're stuck with it.

P.S. the bass came through very well on the gig. I think a shure beta mic was used. That means I was using a decent amp, and a decent mic, at an outdoor venue, with no di...and it still came through very well. I'm, probably more pleased with that sound than I have been with any other live sound for a number of months. Probably since July. Any body else have similar experiences while solely using a mic live?

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Arwin,

 

As a FOH soundman I always prefer to use a DI (speaker-level one when that's available - and thus post rig EQ/and effects) and a dedicated compressor because too many players either have mixed cabs with different sounds, or tweeters, and I don't feel like pissing around with more than one mic. For recording (back when I did that) it was a different story though - sometimes ambient/distanced mics were even introduced.

 

But for PA unless the band and player favors an old school or a ratty sound and requests micing it's DI. This also benefits the sound on some stages that are smaller and less rigid and damped because there won't be so much interaction between the mic on the kick drum. More than once I've seen other soundmen stratching their heads as their kick drum seems to get all unfocused and hugely resonant, with quite a few hundred milliseconds of overhang beyond the dry sound. Sucks. Not tight.

 

If I have to use a mic from a selection I try to pick one that isn't a vocal mic with a big presence peak and I desire extended lows as opposed to faking it with proximity effect which often can threaten to be boomy. Especially with limited EQ on the mixer this makes it easier to have even response for the subwoofers and without some notes hitting the compressor way harder than others.

 

I like the bass to have a very clear and full and uncontested spot in the mix.

.
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I'm all for it, and that's usually how I go. What was surprising was that depsite notable setbacks on the way to a good tone out in the audience, the tone WAS good. I usually opt to use the di that the soundman provides, unless it is one that I know is not reliable or of good quality, then I will suggest using the line out on my head (which features a jenson transformer and closely rivals a quality di).

What struck me was that on this gig, as I did try to keep levels flat and the sound even from my main input to the final stage, the bass did "have a very clear and full and uncontested spot in the mix", while still sounding very clear and punchy, and organic. It definitely wasn't "an old school or a ratty sound", although I can see how micing an amp with a vocal mic off axis would most likely lead to that, especially without a di.

It could be contributed to a very solid, elevated stage, or the acoustics of the venue, or ,very likely, that the band has a weak trombone section and prominent upper register horns with very bright fender guitars run through very bright solid state fender amps therefore leaving me a lot space in the mix.

Another consideration was that the input and output level on the amp were set at twelve o' clock, and it is a single speaker combo, which in turn leads to less phase canceling and better headroom.

Now I'm wondering what the soundmen did to the bass at the board, all I could see were some qscpower amps and a mixer, of course for all I know there could have been an amazing compressor hidden in there somewhere.

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Yeah, I wasn't saying it couldn't happen, just that it has some things that stand in its way. I think you probably knew that. I'm a situational type, where I just try to hear well, and have a lot of understanding of the tools and the psychoacoustical stuff that is such a huge part of an environment, and then I work from there with whatever is available, hoping some client bandd00d or whatever won't make it tougher to get it good.

 

Anyway, recording is kind of different, and kind of the same. It's still about either recreating the illusion of the way you/the client think it should sound WITHIN THE MIX, or in some cases, just experimenting with sounds until you decided to roll with a method for the time being, and somewhat building that into the mix. That happens more than most realize in tracking sessions, and sometimes surprises are the best! And you can always learn more from them.

.
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Yup,

The fact that a clear and articulate tone did come through kind of surprised me. I guess I was just trying to let Lukebass know that its a good idea to take precaution when micing up an amp, that you really have to get rid of many of the variables that can fundamentally destroy your tone: excessive eq, mediocre compressor circuits, etc.

I hear you about how sometimes suprised can be the best for fitting a sound into a mix or creating a unique sound. Examples range from the drum tracking on When the Levee Breaks, to the definitive bass tone of early black sabbath, to some other unconvential recording techniques methods, and gear used. I remember hearing on the forum that Victor Wooten actually miced up his fodera by the fingerboard while he tracked to get some of that acoustic snap in there.

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Yeah, as with Vic's micing the fretboard, using the imagination is what a lot of good tracking has come from all through recorded history, and we are often able to get ideas or get confidence that the imagination is a GOOD tool from all the interviews we are able to read today if we are not fortunate to do internship with someone who's able and beyond.

 

It all comes down to hearing what's going on, and thinking of what could possibly get us closer to desired results if we already have a fixed idea of the sounds we want. Knowing some techie stuff and about the gear at our disposal shows us which tools are possiblly going to take us there.

 

...I was somewhat cautionary about the micing and stage stuff when discussing live sound because the past few years have seen a lot of smaller environments with sup-optimal stages. And also, PAs have sometimes have had woofers replaced in say the subwoofer cabs without any regard or knowledge of port tuning that was there for the old drivers... a band I was in most of spring and summer had two 218 subs that woofers were replaced in and they'd make my lower notes hang around for what seemed an eternity after I damped them. Sounded good for the kick drum at times in some types of songs, but for the bass it was hard to compensate for the blooming of a note you had already played while on the next note in the phrase ; }

.
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That last phrase reminds me, at the show I played today, an elderly woman played the star spangled banner on the keyboard, accompanying a vocalist.

DO YOU KNOW HOW EFF'N ANNOYING THAT SONG IS WHEN THE PLAYERS FOOT IS GLUED TO THE SUSTAIN PEDAL!!!

.............I now do.....excuse me while I try to erase that memory...

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Originally posted by EZ:

Yes I am your father Alex, but dont tell anyone, I am very ashamed of this fact. May the force be with you. Hahhhahaahahaha

That's strange, he died 6 years ago. Of course, if reincarnation happens then you could be some kind of 6 year old creature (human seems to be unlikely), which would explain a lot. Maybe a guinea pig, that fits with the odd squeaking noise at the end of most of your posts.

 

hahahahhahahahahahaha (How's my accent, did the meaning come through?)

 

Alex

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As a recordist (not a bass player) let me say that I usually do what the producer wants. If there is none, then I use a DI first, and a cabinet mic second if at all. Why? Most bass players have mediocre sounding rigs that don't really mic up very well, or use some folded horn cab, which does not develop it's full waveform until some poit out in the room that becomes impractcal to mic, for various reasons. This is changing as bass amplifier technology changes, but the real deal sound still comes mostly from the bass itself. When I do use the cabinet, it is more for flavor to the mix; the DI still gets the bulk of the work.

 

Live I'm prone to using both, because I like the sound of both live, even though the mic part of the deal might be a compromise.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Hey Bill, looking to learn from you, not trying to bash you. I feel more comfortable in this forum than the other.

Originally posted by bpark@prorec.com:

Most bass players have mediocre sounding rigs that don't really mic up very well, [...]

Is it any different when a g****r player brings in a rig? I'm sure a lot of them insist their rig is integral to their sound, whether or not it is better than just "mediocre sounding". Or, are there simply more makes/models of quality g****r rigs? On the other forum the only acceptable bass rig for recording is an Ampeg B-15.

[...] or use some folded horn cab, which does not develop it's full waveform until some poit out in the room that becomes impractcal to mic, for various reasons.
How impractical? If a studio can have a separate vocal booth and drum room, why not one designed to mic a bass rig? Are we talking something the size of a one-lane bowling alley?

 

Now, to be fair, Geddy Lee records DI and two other chains through preamps. This is the same setup he uses live, so he's less concerned about how things sound through his "rig". So, there is some validation that bass should be recorded without a rig.

 

Have you ever had a bass player in your studio that really blew you away, that you went out of your way to record his/her sound? Was DI always the answer?

 

For an acoustic bass, I'm sure you'd rather mic it. If you've ever had to record tuba, a mic is the only way. Is there something about amplified electric bass guitar -- loss of fundamental tones or something -- that makes it sound terrible next to an acoustic instrument? (Based on what you said, it would seem that the problem is the means of amplification. But outside of the studio, this is how we hear ourselves every day.)

 

I hope you can see things through the bass player's eyes. We work hard to develop our tone, too, and something made us choose the rig we bought. Maybe it's something as simple as a tube preamp in the head. If the recording engineer goes out of his/her way to mic a g****r rig and then asks the bass player to play DI -- or worse yet, hands them a P-bass with flats plugged into an Ampeg B-15 -- what does that say?

[...] the real deal sound still comes mostly from the bass itself [...]
Wouldn't that be true of electric g****r as well? Wouldn't it be better from a recording engineer's position to record g****r DI and then add distortion/etc. later? Or would all g****rists start sounding a little too much alike? Maybe they should all play a Gibson LP through a Marshall stack?

 

I don't mean to sound confrontational. I'm just wondering why no one ever tries to think outside the box (in the general sense) when it comes to bass.

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Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

Hey Bill, looking to learn from you, not trying to bash you. I feel more comfortable in this forum than the other.

Originally posted by bpark@prorec.com:

Most bass players have mediocre sounding rigs that don't really mic up very well, [...]

Wouldn't that be true of electric g****r as well? Wouldn't it be better from a recording engineer's position to record g****r DI and then add distortion/etc. later? Or would all g****rists start sounding a little too much alike? Maybe they should all play a Gibson LP through a Marshall stack?
RicBassGuy, it actually is also true for guitarists. Plenty of engineers and producers are talking a DI from a guitar as well as a mic'd cabinet just for that reason; if the mic'd cabinet sounds like crap, take the DI signal and re-amp it to make is sound good.

 

The laws of physics work against recording bass when it comes to isolation and capturing the sound via a single microphone. It is not as difficult to get a good sounding guitar track, even through an average rig, with the right engineering.

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