How to Produce a Great Bass Guitar Sound for RecordingPosted: March 13, 2014
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you play guitar, you “can throw a bass part on too, after all it’s only bass, right?” Wrong!The bass guitar track is the most critical part of a recording.
One quick and easy way to get a fantastic sounding bass track is to try this secret. It will give you great tone and an excellent performance without spending thousands of dollars to do it.
Another way is to use a high quality instrument and put your bass through processing before it gets to the mixing board. While plugging in to the board direct gives passable results, and for a few tunes might even be the best choice, it will never have the huge, robust bass sound featured on most major label recordings.
Bass players here at Nashville Trax use a variety of rigs but common to most Nashville session players is a quality bass guitar costing in the $1,000 and up range. Second, all bass players here use some sort of Avalon preamp before the signal is inputted to the XLR that routes to the mixing board. The 737 works well, but the Avalon U5 is THE bass preamp almost every session player has in their rig.
When I play bass on a session I feed my Fender Precision or Washburn bass signal into the Avalon pre-amp. Sometimes I’ll use the compression built into the Avalon and sometimes I’ll use an outboard compressor. This provides the nice deep, tight, round tone needed and many songs and achieved by all session players. Often I’ll run a dual line through a bass guitar amp and put on a microphone on that so I’m recording two signals at once (of the same same part). This gives tone options at mixdown.
After recording there is software made specifically for bass that I commonly employ during the mixing phase. The Waves”bass rider” plug in (see photo above) acting like an automatic fader rider, helps even out any volume fluctuations without further compressing the signal. Max Bass generates super deep bass signals not present in the bass itself that can be added as desired to the original bass signal to create a solid bass tone. EQ and additional compression are typically used, but note that if you’re happy with what you’re hearing and it’s working with the other instruments and supports the song, you may not need all these plugs.
So should you play bass parts yourself? If you are really a bass player, not a converted guitarist who really doesn’t get the concept of the bass guitar’s function, I’d say no, don’t do it. The other caution would be that even if you are a great bass player, Nashville abounds with players who are awesome. play major label artist gigs and have a bass in their hands all the time but can’t break into the session scene because recording is an entirely different animal than live playing. So you may not be capable of delivering true session quality bass tracks.
In both those scenarios. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend purchasing a new bass, preamp and associated software because with the knowledge of how to play the right notes for the song tight in the pocket, all that would simply be a waste of money. In that situation it may be better and far cheaper to hire a professional bass player for $75–
So one of these methods will absolutely give you the bass sound you need to achieve pro results- b.e. watson