Monday, 20 February 2012

Bass Guitar

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Bass Guitar

I normally set up a bass guitar so there’s a mic on the amp and a direct signal coming from the bass itself or a “DI” output from the amp. Most amps have an output marked “DI” this is the signal that comes straight out of the guitar before being effected by the amp circuitry. I’ll concentrate on the hows and whys of microphone technique at a later date so here we’ll look at getting it into a mix.

This obviously shows up as two separate tracks in your mix. One marked “Bass Amp” the other “Bass DI”. Before you start grabbing the EQ or compression have a listen to the two tracks. The amp track should be a bit grungy sounding, depending on what sound you are going for, and the DI should be quite clean. The basic idea behind having the two tracks is that the amp will give you the oomph and grit that you need whereas the DI will give you the clarity and low end that could be lost by getting that grit from the amp.

Note the routing and phase reverse on the plug in
We talked about phasing earlier so here’s a chance to see if it’s getting in the way of our bass sound. Both of these tracks are from the same bass but the microphone will take longer to receive the sound than the DI that is hooked up to the guitar itself. So that means there’s a danger of phasing. Turn both tracks up to the same level and phase reverse one of them. Does it sound better? Well then keep that button pressed. If it sounds worse of course then get rid of the phase reverse.

Now that the two tracks are in phase with each other your next step is to raise and lower the levels until you get a nice blend between the two tracks. Remember, too much DI and you’ll lose the meatiness, too much amp and you’ll lose clarity.

Next set up a mono auxiliary track. Change the outputs of the bass tracks so that they run to the inputs of the auxiliary track. This means that you can control the level of the bass without changing the blend between mic and DI and also you can EQ and compress the two tracks in one fell swoop.

I’m going to get into EQ and compression soon but that’s it for the moment. You’ll find that even these small items can make the world of difference to the bass.

My next blog will be Thursday and it’ll be about compression. If you have any questions on compression or your bass sounds please either post comments on FB, contact me on Twitter or email

Remember I will be teaching a weekend introduction to recording and mixing course in STC Temple Bar on March 3rd-4th. We’ll be going through everything from sound cards, mixing desks and microphones to EQ, compression and effects. It’s going to be a great weekend so if you are interested call Maggie on 01-6709033.

Andy Knightley

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