Bass guitar: tricks, tips and advice on getting the most out of equalization and compression.
Home recording and DIY production is a tricky old business for the newly initiated.
With each new software program, vst plugin, hardware and technique their comes a new challenge.
As with the other instruments I’ve talked about on this site, getting your bass to respond in your mix is every bit as important and needs just as much care and attention as anything else.
Your track can live or die by getting these things right.
I’m not an expert but I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way.
Some may seem to contradict each other, but these are received wisdoms and as such should be treated as guidelines.
Every recording is different, there are no set in stone presets to fix what you need fixing.
Use your ears as guides and treat each recording as new material.
Get your mix right in the first place the mastering will be easier in the long run.
These settings are guidelines only, use your ears it’s important that you get a sound that you feel fits with your material. Driving the compressor hard with create distortion, if that’s what you intend then go for it
Compression can also be used to control muddiness and level changes, peaks and dips.
If you’re new to bass then compression can help control the uneven peaks and dips in your playing volume.
Set your Threshold to the level where your compressor starts to work.
Ratio: 2.5:1 or 3:1 – increase this as you need to really but try and be careful with your settings, aggressive settings here will introduce distortion.
Attack: 40ms to 50ms – the attack of your bass is important, if the attack rate is too short you’ll create a muddy sound, less definition.
Release: Around 180ms – as always with your release settings you need to set it long enough to work but short enough so that when the instrument plays again the compressor is allowed to work. This way you’ll get the pumping so you want.
Gain: As always try not to add too much gain if any, make up any difference between your input and the output volume.
To add a fullness to your bass try a boost of between 1 and 2db in the 100 to 200hz frequency range.
To get rid of mud from your bass try a cut of around 3 to 4db in the 200-300hz range.
To add punch a boost of 2 to 3db between 500 to 1000hz should do the trick.
To give your bass more attack try boosting the frequency range between 2.5 and 5khz by 2 or 3db
A shelf to remove the lower end, around 40 to 50hz is always a good way to start with Bass guitar. It’s the part we can’t hear and most stereo systems can’t deal with.
Be aware that most mud occurs in the 200–300hz range, try small cuts if your instrument lacks definition.
Avoid if you can adding boosts below the 100hz but boosting between the 100 and 200hz range can fix a thin/flat sounding bass.
If your bass lacks punch then adding a little boost between 500 and 1000hz can increase this.
To bring in more attack and add sparkle try a boost inbetween the 2.5 and 5khz range.
When you work with the bass guitar bear in mind your kick drum, adjusting the frequncies of each instrument can allow each instrument to exist and be heard, when your cut from the bass try boosting the same frequency in the kick.