Looking for bass guitar shaping tricks

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losthighway
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Looking for bass guitar shaping tricks

Post by losthighway » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:47 am

Hi all. I'm looking for any new approaches to some tone shaping on bass guitar.

My situation is I'm starting to bog down on a mix for a punk/90's rock trio. The bass sits in fine in a thickening/supporting role, but dude wants it more up front.

I've tried cutting the super low frequencies and gently scooping out some unnecessary mids to turn it up without creating mush. So far listening to the mixes it sounds undefined, and too loud at the same time. Just some cloudiness I can't figure out. Solo'd it sounds ok (as little as that's worth). I used an SM7 on a 15" speaker. Dude had a Jazz Bass through an SWR, pretty bright tone. In some areas too bright due to uneven finger picking. The DI has way too much of the random snaps from finger attack to be usable without some radical processing.

Thoughts?

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Post by kslight » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:01 am

There's always adding a little distortion... Not full blown fuzz or anything but just enough to add some more harmonic content...sansamp or similar guitar amp modeling plugs can be helpful...or reamp. A little chorus action as well. Seems counter production but in addition to above, maybe roll off some high end to tame some of the fret noise. When I play bass I almost always roll back the tone control and play with flats...and then play through a guitar amp with a little overdrive...

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A.David.MacKinnon
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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:07 am

There was a great post I read a while back where Joel Hamilton talked about using a subharmonic synth on the DI track and using the amp for all the presence, attack and articulation.
joel hamilton wrote: Anyway, I use the lowender on a duplicate of the DI track these days, running out to its own channel on the console. I usually do run an analog LPF and possibly some drive after the lowender in the analog domain as well, like a serge wavefolder into a MOTM lowpass fillter, inserted on the channel on my console that is dedicated to the lowender output. SOmetimes I will use this instead of the amp channel, depending on the recording/mix/etc. The relationship between the mic and DI forces me to choose one or the other sometimes, and so using the DI channel for SUB instead of tine, and the amp for midrange, I can get the illusion of HUGE bass without much hassle.
The lowender works really well, and the gate is very handy...
I've done that a few times since and it can work really, really well.
The last time I did it was because the Bass amp and DI both sounded awful. The amp was too farty and overdriven for the song and the DI was really anaemic, thin and had all kinds of spikes from uneven playing . I manually evened out the levels on the DI track and threw away the amp track. Then I doubled the DI. One version went through the low-ender plug-in (100% wet, working like a low octaver) and the other was re-amped through a nicer sounding amp. It saved the day.

If that seems too extreme for your needs you might just try re-amping the DI track into a bassier sounding amp and combining that with the bright amp you've already got.

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Snarl 12/8
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:18 pm

Is there maybe a room node on the recorded track or your listening environment? I had a bass track like that a while back that was too quiet and too loud at the same time and I realized it was some particular notes that were waaay too loud stopping me from just turning up the whole performance. I did the "note to frequency" calculation, cut that frequency [a LOT] (and the next harmonic [not so much], IIRC) and walla, things were way much evener. Also, compression, but with slowish attack so you let the trannies through. The transients are your "presence" moments. When I think "shaping" I think compressor with variable attack/release. I think I got that from J. Hamilton too.
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Post by vvv » Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:20 pm

+1 on the re-amp - has saved me a few times.

(And I mean that literally - I'm the bassist)
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:44 pm

my usual solution for problematic bass is seriously heavy handed compression. like to the point where the meters don't really move at all. you can always sneak in a little of the uncompressed track if need be. likewise some distortion (subtle or not subtle) can really help the bass cut through a wall of guitars.

for the DI, try some heavy duty de-essing around 2-3k.

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losthighway
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Post by losthighway » Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:32 pm

You know you're chasing your tail (and this did not luckily happen on the bass tones) on a mix when you take a break and play the bounced tracks through a trusty stereo and write down one particular song as having the best tone for one particular instrument. You go back to the control room to see what the eq setting was and see that there is almost no eq on that particular track.

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Post by drumsound » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:46 pm

Larry Crane likes to use a cross over and separate the low end and the upper end of the tone so they can be treated individually.

Parallel compression can also be quite a useful aid in situations like this, or just plain pummeling it with compression.

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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:59 pm

^^^^^^^^ Yes! This is also a great trick.
I used to do the same thing with drum machines and all in one home organ type keys (like theYamaha PRS keyboards or Omnichord) where drums/bass/and melody are all happening at once on one track. It lets you split the signal so you can eq, compress and pan them differently.

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Post by Jeff White » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:27 am

I find more and more that some of my favorite bass tracks of the past few years on local records (Nightlands, War on Drugs) have been either DI with a Sansamp Bass Driver or a Bass Driver and amp combo. Then I found out on bass forums that the Sansamp ParaDriver is way more flexible due to it's mid contour knob. If I was starting out I would definitely drop the cash for one of these and run my DI tracks through it. I finally bought a ParaDriver in March. It most definitely rules.

This track's deep bass tones are 100% SansAmp Bass Driver (shameless plug: I recorded some percussion for this track winter of 2011).

http://youtu.be/u1So099M_IA

Jeff
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lyman
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Post by lyman » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:10 am

drumsound wrote:Larry Crane likes to use a cross over and separate the low end and the upper end of the tone so they can be treated individually.
Could one achieve a faux-crossover by duplicating the track and highpassing one and lowpassing the other at the same freq.? Same result, right?

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Post by Justin Foley » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:10 am

The uneven-ness is only going to be solved through different technique or some sort of compression. I always like to treat this as early in the signal chain as possible, so figure out if the bassist likes the sound of a compressor (probably in the form of a distortion box) between the bass and the amp. If not, you'll need to experiment where down the signal chain you want to put it.

As for the change in tone, I'd suggest trying more than one microphone on the cabinet. First, if you have the option to swap a RE20 for an SM7B, you may find that the EV rolls off some of the high end while providing tonal definition in the frequencies that the SM7B misses. The RE20 isn't as sensitive with proximity effect, which may be clouding your signal.

I'd also consider using a condenser with an ability to handle extended low end. I've got a favorite LDC I use for this but most will be good. I'd especially consider putting something in omni (again, to avoid proximity) if you have the option of different pickup patterns and jamming it right up against the cabinet, experimenting how far off axis of the speaker cone center sounds best. Try blending this signal with the SM7 (or RE20) and see if that helps.

Messing with bass after the track is printed (EQ especially) is almost always more problem than solution, in my experience.

= Justin

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Neil Weir
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Post by Neil Weir » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:19 am

I agree that running the DI through either a Sansamp pedal or Sansamp plug-in can do wonders in terms of bringing the bass forward and helping it hold its own in the mix without it necessarily seeming more distorted.
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Nick Sevilla
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:57 pm

Without a sample of both the bass and the mix...

I cannot say anything.
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

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Post by Capt. Tripps Ballsington » Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:49 pm

It sounds like you're happy with the how the bass is filling out the low end, but the bassist himself isn't hearing enough of the notes he knows he's playing. For whatever reason, 1k seems to be a pretty magic frequency for bringing note clarity out of a bass. Try boosting that.

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