Recording Bass Guitar Mid EQ cuts? & Approaches for virtual bass amp/DI capture

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Recording Bass Guitar Mid EQ cuts? & Approaches for virtual bass amp/DI capture

Post by skipper01 »

Hi, can anybody help or advise?
I’m getting in a pickle and possibly over thinking the recording of bass guitar.
I’ve struggled to achieve results I’m happy with to date to get the bass to ‘sit’ in my tracks. Having some multitrack stem examples now has helped to compare and diagnose.
I am recording DI via a nice valve mono channel strip that contains some limited eq and a compressor.
I fully appreciate the many many variables to consider in terms of help.
However, it’s firstly surprising in comparison to some other example stem mixes how much apparent mids it’s necessary to cut at source to both sound more like and look (match eq) like these. Im literally cutting around 15db centred at 500hz on the channel strip going in and then another 7db around 350hz in the mix both default Qs (not narrow nor broad).
Im also boosting a touch low shelf at 100hz.
It seems to afford the bass to fit and sit in the track better.
I just can’t believe this amount of extreme subtractive eq in the mids is the norm?
Perhaps it is or could be in some cases?

Secondly, I’d like to figure how best to deal with recording DI and virtual amp to give me options/choices and best recreate the real studio approaches but avoid chasing my tail.
I am wishing to use the UAD ampeg software sim I have.
Therein, I’d like to use the front end channel for the analog compressor and I guess eq going in/tracking still for the DI capture.
However, I guess in the real world the input into the bass amp recording would be raw and both uncompressed and not eq’d going into the amp (not derived from a compressed or heavily eq’d signal going in from a channel strip!).
So should I look to perhaps split and track a 2nd bass DI pre the channel strip (not eq’d or compressed going in) to add a virtual bass amp in the mix or maybe use the UAD console tracking and commit a bass amp?
I guess these amp sims model the character of the amp/virtual speaker and could introduce there own compression and eq flavours.

Hope these 2 points/questions make sense.
Again I appreciate the potential for variables but would be interested in peoples opinions/advise.
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Re: Recording Bass Guitar Mid EQ cuts? & Approaches for virtual bass amp/DI capture

Post by Tim Gillett »

Without hearing the sound, hard to say. Any chance of some audio of the bass and what it's to "sit" in?
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Re: Recording Bass Guitar Mid EQ cuts? & Approaches for virtual bass amp/DI capture

Post by skipper01 »

Given the problems I've kinda at present just reverted to playing along/recreating with these example stem tracks given the bass sounds great and/or in great mixes - particularly the ones that are defiantly just DI'd bass. I dunno for sure how they were recorded/played/processed etc but they all seem to flag the mid scoop when comparing.
Maybe its just my bass and other variables.
I appreciate its tricky to say - i was just curious.

I'm also interested in views on my other second issue for sure.
Many thanks.
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Re: Recording Bass Guitar Mid EQ cuts? & Approaches for virtual bass amp/DI capture

Post by blinddrew »

As Tim says, without an audio example it's difficult to say, but fundamentally how much mid you need to remove will depend on how much mid you're putting in.
Assuming you're checking your low end on headphones.
If not then be very wary of how much room effect could be at play.

As to using your second point, it almost reads as if you're wanting to use this stuff because you feel you should, rather than because you're clear about what job you want it to do.
But I think I may be missing your real question here.
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Re: Recording Bass Guitar Mid EQ cuts? & Approaches for virtual bass amp/DI capture

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

I wouldn't get too worried about the numbers if you're getting a sound you like... but be careful listening to the bass alone. What matters is how it sits with everything else.

As it happens, though, I believe there's a special feature article currently slated for the August issue of SOS which is all about working with DI bass! I've had a sneak read and it's crammed full of excellent practical advice that sounds just up your street. It'll be in the shops on 21st July.

:shh: Don't tell anyone I told you! :-D
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Re: Recording Bass Guitar Mid EQ cuts? & Approaches for virtual bass amp/DI capture

Post by Wonks »

Try adding a bit of overdrive. Sounds wrong on its own, but natural in a mix.
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Re: Recording Bass Guitar Mid EQ cuts? & Approaches for virtual bass amp/DI capture

Post by MOF »

There are plenty of presets in that Ampeg plugin, there’s bound to be one you like, also consider using a compressor or level automation to rein in the dynamics.
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Re: Recording Bass Guitar Mid EQ cuts? & Approaches for virtual bass amp/DI capture

Post by RichardT »

Some engineers do still like to add some compression and EQ on the way in, even though it’s not necessary with digital recording. It’s really a matter of choice.

If you’re just starting out I would keep things simple and also do things in stages.

First I’d record the bass flat, and listen to the sound. Does it basically sound good? If not, it might be a matter of practicing the line some more, or even trying a different instrument! Different playing styles on bass can massively affect the frequency balance - if you adjust the dynamics you play with, that can make a huge difference.

If you can get a good, or at least reasonable, sound, you could try an amp sim and see if that helps. Whatever you do, you’re likely to need compression to get a commercial sounding, solid, line. Get something in the ballpark at this stage rather than getting something perfect. This is because how the bass sounds by itself is not as important as how it fits in the mix.

When it comes to getting a bass to sit in the mix, it’s not actually an easy thing to achieve. I’ve found there are three main issues to consider. The first is getting clarity at low frequencies. The second is getting the bass to cut through by giving it enough high mids. The third is stopping the bass masking other instruments in the mid range - this can involve cutting the mid range on the bass as you’ve been doing yourself.

Clarity at low frequencies is a question of getting rid of unwanted low frequencies in other instruments using low cuts, and of getting the kick and bass to fit together. That is quite an art and not one I can say I’ve mastered. Essentially it involves letting the kick and bass dominate in different frequency ranges. There’s quite a lot of material on the web on this, including tutorials by Eddie Bazil on the ‘low end’.
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Re: Recording Bass Guitar Mid EQ cuts? & Approaches for virtual bass amp/DI capture

Post by Sam Spoons »

In your situation I tell myself I'd record a clean DI from the bass as well as whatever processing you choose* as it gives you the option to re-amp the original performance at a later date.

* But in reality live sound is my thing so I tend to record 'warts and all' and don't usually give myself that fall back position :blush: maybe next time...
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Re: Recording Bass Guitar Mid EQ cuts? & Approaches for virtual bass amp/DI capture

Post by shufflebeat »

For a busy mix (bass not too exposed) I've found careful use of an impulse response loader (cab/speaker simulator) to be a useful option which does something EQ and compression alone can't do without causing further issues somewhere else.

There are lots of good free bass cab IRs available on the 'net. It's not for everyone but can make radical changes to tone without sounding unnatural.
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Re: Recording Bass Guitar Mid EQ cuts? & Approaches for virtual bass amp/DI capture

Post by skipper01 »

Thanks for all this and I’ll check out the article when it arrives Hugh.
Yes it’s tricky and I appreciate hard to advise even without hearing examples.
I’m going forward with it which is encouraging. Having the quality compare material has helped.
As highlighted I appreciate it’s as much to do with everything else in the mix.
I have so much respect for the whole recording and mixing process.
I also believe recording and mixing at home in sequence is the ultimate challenge!
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