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Thread: Tell me everything you know about THIS bass sound

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    Tell me everything you know about THIS bass sound

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    This is kind of a limb from my earlier thread "The sound of vintage recordings." Obviously, I've been digging some early Stevie lately.

    This bass sound has always astounded me.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvRwR-hZDVY

    Several reasons:
    A) It's massive
    B) It's loud
    Yet, despite A and B, it doesn't step on anything else in the mix or make anything muddy.
    C) It's very round with very little transient, yet it's completely discernible throughout (see A and B). If I had to choose a bass line to transcribe, I would pick this one in a heartbeat because you hear every single note clear as a bell.

    So... I was just wondering if y'all could tell me everything you know about this sound. I'll start with my assumptions. Please correct me if I'm wrong and add to the list if you can.

    1. It was played by Bob Babbitt on a Fender P-Bass.
    2. I'm guessing the mute was used on the bass.
    3. I'm assuming it was plugged direct into the board, which was likely a very high quality board (anyone know which?).
    4. It probably had a bit of compression applied on the way in?
    5. The song was mixed by Russ Terrana

    Anyway ... any more specifics y'all can add?

    Thanks!
    famous beagle

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    Not so much about the bass but on the rest of the track: the bass has a lot of space.

    There is very little low end in the drum kit, the vocals are high and the instrumentation is all panned hard L & R. So much room for the bass to shine.

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    Good observation, thanks!
    famous beagle

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    In addition to the above, it's very melodic and works well with the vocal.
    Almost like another 'voice' singing, like in a choir where you have the baritones and sopranos singing well together.

    One thing with older music, a lot of time was spent on arranging, preproduction, and rehearsal, before ANYTHING even got near a mic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFR View Post
    In addition to the above, it's very melodic and works well with the vocal.
    Almost like another 'voice' singing, like in a choir where you have the baritones and sopranos singing well together.

    One thing with older music, a lot of time was spent on arranging, preproduction, and rehearsal, before ANYTHING even got near a mic.
    Well ... in some cases, for sure. But weren't the Funk Brothers famous for cranking out this stuff incredibly quickly? I don't think there would have been tons of rehearsal for this kind of a song. I could be wrong.
    famous beagle

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    What comes through in classic tracks like this is the clarity of musical vision. The producer didn't have 50 tracks to work with, didn't need them. He highlighted the vocals and the rhythm tracks. Everything else is subordinate. That approach still works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robus View Post
    What comes through in classic tracks like this is the clarity of musical vision. The producer didn't have 50 tracks to work with, didn't need them. He highlighted the vocals and the rhythm tracks. Everything else is subordinate. That approach still works.
    Very true. Thanks for the insight.
    famous beagle

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robus View Post
    What comes through in classic tracks like this is the clarity of musical vision. The producer didn't have 50 tracks to work with, didn't need them. He highlighted the vocals and the rhythm tracks. Everything else is subordinate. That approach still works.
    50 isn't that much. Plenty of older recordings used close to that afa discreet inputs, but submixed them together,

    I think the "musical vision" you speak of is more:
    a)) There were financial barriers to recording, so it was more limited to people who were otherwise persistent/productive in music.
    b)) The small slice of old musics that we still listen to, that hasn't been swallowed by time, we selected for it's (presumably) superlative qualities.
    History has a way of deleting anachronisms. -PKD

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    Quote Originally Posted by famous beagle View Post
    Well ... in some cases, for sure. But weren't the Funk Brothers famous for cranking out this stuff incredibly quickly? I don't think there would have been tons of rehearsal for this kind of a song. I could be wrong.
    Players with chops and experience can do that

    Today I've been listening to some Dire Straights. The song "Once Upon A Time In The West" has those Bass characteristics. Actually the whole record does.
    Why would you take my advice?? I don't even take my own advice.

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    Sounds like flatwound strings.

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