Recording bass can be a lot of fun, but sometimes, matching the tone to reinforce a wall of guitars and still fit with the drums is difficult. We've put together this guide to help you get the right tone while recording your bass guitar every time.
This isn't exactly a secret, but having a great bass will immensely contribute to a great bass recording. It is not completely necessary, but having awesome pickups on an awesome bass is a great combo for success.
Also having the bass setup properly will keep it in tune no matter which frets you are playing. Before going into the studio, it is crucial to always put on fresh strings as well. If you don't put on fresh strings and you have really nice pickups, they are only going to pick up the bad strings better. And if you have a cheap bass, the easiest way to make it sound more better is fresh strings.
This is where the sound starts. If this sounds bad, you can't save it in the mix. Spend most of your time getting this right and everything else will come much more easily.
After the bass itself sounds really good, it's time to record. One of our favorite methods is to split the signal. One ends up going to a DI and the other can be sent to an amp. The two can then be affected separately in the mix.
For passive bass DI, we love the Radial Pro DI because these metal boxes are built to last and sound great.
For bass amps, we love the Hartke HD series for their hybrid speaker. This delivers a really punchy sound and very crisp highs.
Cater to Your Style
Some types of music require you to strum with force, some require a very delicate touch. Really listen to the sound coming out of your amp and make sure that how you're playing the bass is producing the best tone possible. Strumming by the neck pickup vs strumming by the bridge makes an enormous difference in tone. How hard you hit the string also has a huge impact on the tone. Bass is more susceptible to this than any other instrument. Simply moving your hand from the neck pickup to the bridge pickup can make your tone go from round and flabby, to tight and defined.
Also, choosing to finger pick vs using a pick has an enormous impact on the sound. Listen to the tone and play to the sound. It is very possible to alter what is happening quite a lot just with a small change in technique.
A Few Cents Can Make a Big Difference
Tuning after every take is huge, especially with bass. Bass is the foundation of the band, and if it's even a little bit out of tune, it can make for a very messy mix. Think of your five favorite records. How many of them have an out of tune bass? Probably none of them. In fact, you probably haven't even thought about that. That means the engineer did their job well and put the song up to professional standards. You can too if you go through the tedious work of keeping every note in tune.
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
Practicing to a click is something everyone tells you to do - and that's great. But just practicing isn't enough. You've got to challenge yourself to lock every note to the click as best you can. If you practice like this, performing it in the studio won't even break a sweat.
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