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Thread: When you compress the bass what are you looking for?

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    When you compress the bass what are you looking for?

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    When you compress the bass what are you looking for?

    I don't play or record anything like Les Claypool or Flea so...

    Do you think on a George Strait album they compress the bass?

    I would like a bit more thump and less mush..

    Do you get this with the playing style and tone on the bass or can you help it along with a little compression..


    Hell, now that I read the question I don't even know what I am asking..
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    Let me try to help, as the bass is my instrument.

    Most of the tone and and style will come from the player, not the instrument and not the gear that it is recorded on. Bass is right next to drums as far as being one of the hardest instruments to record because it's natural tendancy to be all lower frequencies. Most of the time, you use compression to even out the volume of a track, so using compression on a bass track will do that too, and the result will be that the track will sound a bit louder. The current school of thought on recording the bass is that for the best outcome, you would record a combination of DI (direct in) and mics on a cab. I've even read articles that describe putting the bass player in an iso booth and recording the unplugged bass close mic'd to pick up the string sounds, then combining all 3 of these to achieve a great bass tone. But as far as compression goes, use your ears. If the bass doesn't stand out even with some eq, then you can add compression until it does sit right in the mix.
    For me, I try to get the best signal going in rather than try to "fix it in the mix". I record my bass with the signal as hot as possible without clipping, and usually have pretty good results. I plug straight into my mixer and then into my Fostex MR-8. I don't think I've had to compress my bass tracks since I got the mixer, as the pre amps are pretty good and relatively noise free.
    I hope I've answered your question. I know I rambled a bit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rokket
    Most of the tone and and style will come from the player, not the instrument and not the gear that it is recorded on.

    You answered my question right there. I didn't want to hear that because I am a half/ass bass player and wanted an easy fix.. I know better.


    What about the tone on the bass itself.. It seem that it has to be all the way down to get the clicking out. Another player not recording thing... LOL..
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottboyher
    You answered my question right there. I didn't want to hear that because I am a half/ass bass player and wanted an easy fix.. I know better.


    What about the tone on the bass itself.. It seem that it has to be all the way down to get the clicking out. Another player not recording thing... LOL..
    Yeah, I play with my tone all the way up. It takes practice to get to the point where you don't get the clicking; however, sometimes it's desirable to have it, it's all dependent on the sound you are after. Sometimes I will even use a pick if I want the bass to really stand out. I will play with the eq on my mixer to add some mid range and take out most of the bottom too.

    To get rid of the clicking when you don't want it, you have to practice holding your hand off the bass, and try to pluck the strings with just the ball of your finger tips. The more meat you hit the strings with, the stronger the attack, the more likely you are to get the click.
    Instead of a Do Not Disturb Sign, I need one that says "Already Disturbed. Proceed With Caution".

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    I also record with tone all the way up because I can always EQ later but it does take practice to reduce the noise (although sometimes the noise can add character to the performance...). I tend to compress based on how well the performance sits in the mix - if I'm finding that the dynamics are too much and I need it to sit tighter, I'll add some compression. I also try to play "mid-neck" as much as possible because I try to cut below 80hz (overall) to make room in the mix and playing "mid-neck" keeps what I play from getting cut (I read about this trick many years ago - motown used this a lot which is why the bass in most early motown numbers is so prominent...)

    also, when in doubt - simple playing over complex playing... KISS principle - if you're only OK, you can still sound great by hitting the right notes at the right time and most listeners will not worry how many or how fast...

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    Quote Originally Posted by gullfo
    I also record with tone all the way up because I can always EQ later but it does take practice to reduce the noise (although sometimes the noise can add character to the performance...). I tend to compress based on how well the performance sits in the mix - if I'm finding that the dynamics are too much and I need it to sit tighter, I'll add some compression. I also try to play "mid-neck" as much as possible because I try to cut below 80hz (overall) to make room in the mix and playing "mid-neck" keeps what I play from getting cut (I read about this trick many years ago - motown used this a lot which is why the bass in most early motown numbers is so prominent...)

    also, when in doubt - simple playing over complex playing... KISS principle - if you're only OK, you can still sound great by hitting the right notes at the right time and most listeners will not worry how many or how fast...
    I agree with most of this. In most cases, tone control should be opened up.

    Finger noise on a bass track is very common and, in a mix of any density, doesn't hurt - in fact, it can add vitality. BUT - you should be able to play without making a lot of noise when you need to.

    Gullfo, when you say "mid-neck", you're talking about left hand, right? Keeping the notes from, say, the 3rd fret through 8th fret? You do tend to get more "boom". If you're talking about right hand, though, James Jamerson (the early-Motown giant) had an unorthodox style, picking with only his middle finger with his hand anchored on the pickup cover.

    And - you cut the overall mix below 80 hz? What are you "making room in the mix" for? That would take out fundamentals from bass guitar and bass drum.

    One way to get more thump and less mush is to fashion a mute - foam rubber or masking tape, touching the strings down at the bridge. It cuts down on undesirable overtones. I use mutes all the time, even for live.

    By the way, I seldom use compression for my bass tracks - I've played for 35 years and have attained pretty good smoothness - but the sonic maximizer is nice for bass. And I always play simpler parts in recording than live.

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    There's definitely some tricks that can help out with the clicking. A multi-band compressor is kind of a no-brainer. Set it up the right way and you have yourself a nice de-clicker, and you can dampen a lot of the clicking without making it sound all mushy overall.

    The secret to a lot of this stuff, as you've already ventured a guess, is in the right-hand technique. Ever notice how chicks just all seem to love bassists? It's because of their highly-developed and agile right hand fingers. Okay, I just made that one up. But seriously, the biggest differences in tone you will hear comes not necessarily from "how" you pick as much as "where" you pick.

    Example; if your hand is directly over one or both of the pick-ups while you play, then it will likely sound like a plickity-pluckety mess if you're not careful. Now if you move your right hand up or down, you'll find sort of a sweet spot that's more forgiving, and where your bass responds and sounds really good. Usually this is between the two pickups (assuming you have two) ... or perhaps just a bit lower down from where you normally play. If you're a forceful picker, then by all means, move down to where the strings have more resistance. The higher up (closer to the fret board) you get, there's too much slack, or "give" if you're a hard plucker.

    You see, a lot of people just pick way too forcefully to begin with. And this isn't just with bass, either. A lot of people just play like they're angry and they think it's pretty rockin.' Like in their minds, they're playing heavy metal in an 80,000 seat stadium or something and they're getting to an emotional part of the song that just RAWKS, so they have to really TEAR in to those strings like they mean it.

    And it's kinda' funny, because I see the same problem with some kids when they play accoustic geetar. Like they really think they're rocking or something because they're just tearing in to the strings with their heavy pick ... and they think it's going to come accross as sounding more loud and powerful ... like they're Kip Winger or something.

    Playing with controlled intensity is where it's at. If you want something to sound more forceful, then you need to learn how to crank up the intensity and play more deliberately as opposed to more forcefully. Ya see, when you play more forcefully, you're actually achieving the opposite of your goal ... instead of sounding louder and fuller, you just sound thinner because the sound of the pick (or finger if you're playing bass) attacking the string over-rides and dominates the tone and resonance of the notes and/or the chords.

    It's a very similar phenomenon going on when singers try to hit higher notes ... or when they want to project more and sound more powerful. Ya see, when you reach for those notes or intense vocal passages, the idea is to relax and open up your vocal chords. Not tighten or strain them. My brain still can't grasp that concept, or I would have been a good singer by now.

    I'm babbling now and getting off on a tangent, but it's a principle that's important when playing anything ... with the exception of drums. You should pretty much beat the hell out of those if you want more tone. That's all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chessrock
    and they think it's going to come accross as sounding more loud and powerful ... like they're Kip Winger or something.
    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    You said "Kip Winger" and "loud and powerful" in the same phrase.













    No wait, you said Kip Winger in a context other than, "Kip Winger sucks cat eggs."














    It is a thread about bassists, I guess.
















    But still, Kip Winger?














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    What I meant was ... insert name of any early 90's cheezy hairband glamrock boy.

    Kip Winger came to mind as fitting that basic profile. Very well, actually.


    ( BTW ... Just WTF is a "cat egg" ??? )

    Heading for a hea- eart ... break.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chessrock
    ( BTW ... Just WTF is a "cat egg" ??? )
    You mean, you don't know???
    "That was so terrible, I think you gave me cancer!"
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