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Thread: well-defined, crisp bass attack

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    well-defined, crisp bass attack

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    In the mix, what do you do when compressing the bass in terms of attack, in order to make that attack well-defined?

    With vocals or guitar, I make the attack a bit longer when I want a clearer, better-defined attack. Is it the same with bass?

    What's happening with some of my mixes is that the bass is getting a bit lost in the other stuff - the levels are fine, and the bass has got its own EQ niche, but it lacks a bit of punch. I think the leading edge of each bass note needs to be a bit percussive, if you understand what I'm trying to say...

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    Yeah, I'd try increasing the attack time and see if that helps.

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    Hey d,

    You hit the nail on the head with this... "I think the leading edge of each bass note needs to be a bit percussive".

    I spent a lot of time with this same issue myself. Then I finally realized that you can tweak all you want with the bass sound, but you'll never get anywhere until you start thinking of the bass and drums as a single rhythmic unit. A solid "bass attack" is almost always a combination of bass and drums - most especially the kick.

    That said, you can get more attack into your solo bass sound as well, if you remember this. All finite sounds are a combination of many frequencies. Even a pure sine wave pulse must contain other frequencies in order to make it a "pulse". And if it didn't contain other frequencies it would have to go on forever. The shorter the duration of the sound, the more high frequency content it has. High frequencies are fast and they are the only things that can make fast sounds - like sharp attacks. So if you want attack you need more highs.

    Likewise, for example, if you have a deep dark bass sound you can use a sharp kick to reinforce it's rhythm. In this case you would go for a "doom!" kick sound rather than a "thud...", if you know what I mean.

    But, like I said, always remember that so much of it depends on how the bass and drums interact. Engineering can never substitute for musicality.

    barefoot
    Thomas Barefoot
    Barefoot Sound

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    pglewis - thanks, I'll play with that...

    barefoot - near as I can tell, I don't think you answered my question directly, but that was the most interesting post I've read in a long time. I think I know the difference between a 'doom' and a 'thud' . But what you said about the connection between higher frequencies and shorter sounds sparked another question in my mind: what about frequency splitting for the bass, then? What about getting the higher frequency content of the bass off in one spot and the lower frequency content somewhere else in the mix? Maybe even applying different compression to each of them? Like longer attack on the higher, and shorter attack on the lower?

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    Forget all that frequency-splitting stuff and quit overanalyzing the compression. These rules are the way and the light to any/all of your bass-tracking woes.

    Chessrock's 5 rules to better-sounding bass tracks:


    1) Change your strings. Does wonders.

    If that fails, try one or more of the following:

    2) Change the way you thump, pluck, hit, pick, or slap your new strings. If you're a thumper, try plucking or hitting. If you're a slapper, try slapping something else . . . and try plucking or hitting your shiny new strings instead.

    3) Change where you're plucking, thumping, hitting, or slapping your new strings. I've found I get a much smoother yet defined attack simply by moving my plucking hand down towards the bottom pickup. I get a much different sound when I move it between the two, and the plucking is almost lost when I move up to the top pickup.

    (I'm a plucker, by the way)

    This method is the most difficult, because it involves changing the way you have learned to play, but you gotta' be flexible.

    If you've tried thumping, picking, plucking, etc. If you've tried changing the strings to some funky neon pink steel-wound, and you've exhausted all of the different playing styles and none of these work for you . . .

    Then it's time you try numbers 5 and/or 6:

    5) New/different bass.

    6) New/different bass player.


    Those are the rules. I didn't make 'em up. I'm just passing them along for your reference.

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    Okay, plucker, I believe you. But only because what you say makes sense...

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    Dobro: if you're interested in multiband processing, I recommend you this link. It was great for me, it's very helpful, easy to understand and with a creative point of view.

    https://homerecording.com/bbs/showth...threadid=66152

    Check the mastering guide.

    Cheers, Andrés
    "A woman in a bicycle, with a straw hat, is the most flagrant violation of the laws of aerodynamics." (Dr. Vaporeso)

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    Originally posted by chessrock
    Forget all that frequency-splitting stuff and quit overanalyzing the compression. These rules are the way and the light to any/all of your bass-tracking woes.

    Chessrock's 5 rules to better-sounding bass tracks:


    1) Change your strings. Does wonders.

    If that fails, try one or more of the following:

    2) Change the way you thump, pluck, hit, pick, or slap your new strings. If you're a thumper, try plucking or hitting. If you're a slapper, try slapping something else . . . and try plucking or hitting your shiny new strings instead.

    3) Change where you're plucking, thumping, hitting, or slapping your new strings. I've found I get a much smoother yet defined attack simply by moving my plucking hand down towards the bottom pickup. I get a much different sound when I move it between the two, and the plucking is almost lost when I move up to the top pickup.

    (I'm a plucker, by the way)

    This method is the most difficult, because it involves changing the way you have learned to play, but you gotta' be flexible.

    If you've tried thumping, picking, plucking, etc. If you've tried changing the strings to some funky neon pink steel-wound, and you've exhausted all of the different playing styles and none of these work for you . . .

    Then it's time you try numbers 5 and/or 6:

    5) New/different bass.

    6) New/different bass player.


    Those are the rules. I didn't make 'em up. I'm just passing them along for your reference.
    THIS IS GENERALLY GOOD ADVICE. NEARLY FRESH BASS STRINGS IN THE STUDIO IS A MUST. I SAY NEARLY FRESH, BEACAUSE IF THEY'RE BRAND NEW THEY MAY BE OVERLY BRIGHT.

    I MIGHT ALSO AD - TRY FLAT WOUND OR HALF ROUND STRINGS IN THE STUDIO - VERY EASY TO MIX.
    Chuck (Zelmo) Beatty

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    Good to hear from you Ed!

    "On the last CD I mixed, we experimented a lot with using a track double of the bass track and splitting the frequency spectrum between them.....Having a lot of eq and seperate compression between lows and high on the bass guitar offers some cool advantages."

    Cool. I use this technique all the time because I write electronica and some of my distorted snarling "bass" sounds cover quite a bit of spectrum. But using it on a regular bass sound didn't occur to me.

    Thanks,

    barefoot

    http://barefootsound.com
    Thomas Barefoot
    Barefoot Sound

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    good advise, Sonusman! Using an expander is a great alternative idea, never thought of that. Is there a standard spliting point for grabbing the low end, or you change depending on the material? Maybe you use those frequencies you posted as a guide?

    I am also fond of the spectrum splitting technique, and maybe it's good to take it a step further on the chain an use it in a subgroup carrying the bass/drums combination.

    One last question: if you don't have a multiband effect, what do you think is the best way for frequency splitting: a band pass filter or an equalizer? If the second, then what kind of eq, and whould I have some phase worries?
    Cheers, Andrés
    "A woman in a bicycle, with a straw hat, is the most flagrant violation of the laws of aerodynamics." (Dr. Vaporeso)

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