Thread: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

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  1. #1
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    Default Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    Obviously on the kind of record that your mom won't like.

    (Unless she is into that kind of thing)


    Why do our ears perceive direct recorded electric bass as acceptable / decent / good-sounding when DI electric guitars frequently do not cut the subjective and audible mustard? Why is amp modeling a contentious SOB with guitars (less so than a decade ago but still) but okay with bass? Because it sounds better? Because it sounds passable? Because it gets the job done? Because some of us actually prefer that? Confirmation bias? Comfort? Cost/benefit analysis of palatable vs expensive? Or really just a case of the human ear preferring a dry low-end signal squat in the middle of the stereo spectrum?


    Does it really sound better, or can we just not be arsed to mic up bass amps in a time when many of us seldom bother to even mic up a guitar amp? Or do you just find it ridiculously easy to pull good tones from a bass guitar? Perhaps as a whole the 'sound' on a bass that makes people go YES is just something less complicated than a chording, palm muting high-gain guitar fest?


    When last, if ever, did you go to an enormous amount of trouble in shaping a unique-sounding bass sound of a heavy record? Have any of your ever put more time into shaping the bass than worry about swapping out the guitarist's 6L6's with EL34's?


    The bass-tone-of-God that you carry around in your head for the heavy record you'll never make, or want to make one day, or the album that you've listened to and thought, THAT'S IT, was it a simple bass signal from an awesome bass DI'd? Was it a labyrinthine signal path split multiple ways with multiple amplifiers and room mics combined to form a textured air-pushing monster that locks with the kik? When last have you though, I want poweramp interaction on my bass sound?



    I mean, i mostly ask these questions to generate discussion about a certain trend i see happening from my very subjective experience. Metalcore and the screamo kids happened, and the bass guitar got obliterated into a 70Hz sine wave. Now people run a Sansamp/ampeg plug, and demand producer of the year awards because the bass is...


    ... audible.


    Not great, not filthy, not ugly, not beautiful, not fear-of-God-inducing, but.. audible. A little low-end and a little string skronk turns you into a connoisseur of electric bass guitar.


    I can, and regularly do spend hours obsessing about an instrument that the majority of my friends cannot give a rat's rear end about.


    YMMV?
  2. #2
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    Obviously on the kind of record that your mom won't like.

    (Unless she is into that kind of thing)


    Why do our ears perceive direct recorded electric bass as acceptable / decent / good-sounding when DI electric guitars frequently do not cut the subjective and audible mustard? Why is amp modeling a contentious SOB with guitars (less so than a decade ago but still) but okay with bass? Because it sounds better? Because it sounds passable? Because it gets the job done? Because some of us actually prefer that? Confirmation bias? Comfort? Cost/benefit analysis of palatable vs expensive? Or really just a case of the human ear preferring a dry low-end signal squat in the middle of the stereo spectrum?


    Does it really sound better, or can we just not be arsed to mic up bass amps in a time when many of us seldom bother to even mic up a guitar amp? Or do you just find it ridiculously easy to pull good tones from a bass guitar? Perhaps as a whole the 'sound' on a bass that makes people go YES is just something less complicated than a chording, palm muting high-gain guitar fest?


    When last, if ever, did you go to an enormous amount of trouble in shaping a unique-sounding bass sound of a heavy record? Have any of your ever put more time into shaping the bass than worry about swapping out the guitarist's 6L6's with EL34's?


    The bass-tone-of-God that you carry around in your head for the heavy record you'll never make, or want to make one day, or the album that you've listened to and thought, THAT'S IT, was it a simple bass signal from an awesome bass DI'd? Was it a labyrinthine signal path split multiple ways with multiple amplifiers and room mics combined to form a textured air-pushing monster that locks with the kik? When last have you though, I want poweramp interaction on my bass sound?



    I mean, i mostly ask these questions to generate discussion about a certain trend i see happening from my very subjective experience. Metalcore and the screamo kids happened, and the bass guitar got obliterated into a 70Hz sine wave. Now people run a Sansamp/ampeg plug, and demand producer of the year awards because the bass is...


    ... audible.


    Not great, not filthy, not ugly, not beautiful, not fear-of-God-inducing, but.. audible. A little low-end and a little string skronk turns you into a connoisseur of electric bass guitar.


    I can, and regularly do spend hours obsessing about an instrument that the majority of my friends cannot give a rat's rear end about.


    YMMV?

    Who says it's OK?

    It's "acceptable" because usually it isn't out front.

    Why obsess? Record a well played bass through an Ampeg tube amp with a decent mic and be done.

    EDIT - if it's a "heavy" record you need a (real, all tube) SVT through 15s or (fast, light coned) 18s in a large room. You can't record heavy bass in a small room or with small speakers. Or at low volume.

    Stop trying to record "metal" in a frikken bedroom. If you don't have a decent room, rent a studio.

    There is no "magic" answer.
    http://www.johnnyoklahoma.com/

    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    Everything is some mixture of awesome and suck. We simply want the awesome to be highlighted sufficiently that it distracts listeners from the suck.
    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    The appropriate role for science is the study of observed phenomena to gain an understanding. It is not dictating what people ought or ought not to be observing.
    Hey, if I'm Grumpy, where the hell is Snow White????
  3. #3
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    A DI'd bass sounds pretty much like what popular culture has conditioned us to think a bass sounds like, give or take. A DI'd guitar usually doesn't.
  4. #4
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    A DI'd bass sounds pretty much like what popular culture has conditioned us to think a bass sounds like, give or take.
    Meh.

    FUCK "popular culture"! With a Louisville slugger baseball bat!
    http://www.johnnyoklahoma.com/

    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    Everything is some mixture of awesome and suck. We simply want the awesome to be highlighted sufficiently that it distracts listeners from the suck.
    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    The appropriate role for science is the study of observed phenomena to gain an understanding. It is not dictating what people ought or ought not to be observing.
    Hey, if I'm Grumpy, where the hell is Snow White????
  5. #5
    Voice like Marcel Marceau Waiting for his millions from Nigeria
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    Sounds like a plan. Can we turn the bat sideways first? It'll hurt more.
  6. #6
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    Sounds like a plan. Can we turn the bat sideways first? It'll hurt more.
    No. Louisville Slugger baseball bats are round, unlike cricket bats.

    They hurt equally from all directions.
    http://www.johnnyoklahoma.com/

    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    Everything is some mixture of awesome and suck. We simply want the awesome to be highlighted sufficiently that it distracts listeners from the suck.
    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    The appropriate role for science is the study of observed phenomena to gain an understanding. It is not dictating what people ought or ought not to be observing.
    Hey, if I'm Grumpy, where the hell is Snow White????
  7. #7
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    Meh.

    FUCK "popular culture"! With a Louisville slugger baseball bat!
    I tend to reach for my aluminum first but the shorter
    Louisville is better in crowded places. When are we leaving?
  8. #8
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    One interresting thing that the DI-rout has to offer compared to micing things up, is that the transients are really in your face. The fact that there is no room information really drives the point home. Of course, to some, that is an absolute horror and exactly the reason to mic things up.. Put if I'm going for something in the vein of NIN etc, that's an interresting possibility.
  9. #9
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    if it's a "heavy" record you need a (real, all tube) SVT through 15s or (fast, light coned) 18s in a large room. You can't record heavy bass in a small room or with small speakers. Or at low volume.
    Except that "heavy" doesn't sound heavy anymore. It's all tupperware tones :(
  10. #10
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    No. Louisville Slugger baseball bats are round, unlike cricket bats.

    one of many reasons cricket is a superior game to baseball
  11. #11
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    People don't distort bass as much and overtones do not span that far as with distorted gtrs. A DI of distorted gtr is ear piercing.
    When in doubt, mumble!

    EVERYTHING SOUNDS LIKE SHIT IF YA LISTEN LONG AND HARD ENOUGH.
  12. #12
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    one of many reasons cricket is a superior game to baseball
    At least baseball wasn't named after a noisey insect.

    And you almost never see anyone sliding home playing cricket
    Man! You have GOT to try a hit of this RANGE SUNSHINE!

    IMTBO = In My Thoroughly Biased Opinion
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    one of many reasons cricket is a superior game to baseball
    Booooo!!
    Sign Here

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    one of many reasons cricket is a superior game to baseball
    That's like saying that diarrhea is superior to hemorrhoids.
    One can kill people with many tools; the best assassins use the best and most appropriate tools to get the job done...

    -Comte
  15. #15
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    That's like saying that diarrhea is superior to hemorrhoids.
    Out! NOW! Bwahahaha!
  16. #16
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    one of many reasons cricket is a superior game to baseball

    Says the Yankees fan.
    http://www.johnnyoklahoma.com/

    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    Everything is some mixture of awesome and suck. We simply want the awesome to be highlighted sufficiently that it distracts listeners from the suck.
    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    The appropriate role for science is the study of observed phenomena to gain an understanding. It is not dictating what people ought or ought not to be observing.
    Hey, if I'm Grumpy, where the hell is Snow White????
  17. #17
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    Man! You have GOT to try a hit of this RANGE SUNSHINE!

    IMTBO = In My Thoroughly Biased Opinion
    CMIIW = Correct Me If I'm Wrong
    Never underestimate the amount of contempt a failed musician has for those of us who are still trying.
    If the party's good enough, you can actually suck to a remarkable degree.

    Greedle
  18. #18
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar



  19. #19
    Obsequious oddball Peggy Guggenheim's bartender
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    In seriousness...I HATE toneless bass.

    It may sound "blendy" in a lot of my mixes...but I work really hard to make the bass interact harmonically with the guitars [ED: I do a lot of shithead rock music]. It takes a fair amount of grind and dirt and bullshit to make the bass simultaneously cut through a dense mix (but not jump out unnecessarily) while still being able to generate some good low end and provide the solidity that I want.

    The thing that is notable in the clips up above is that they're all fucking gross sounding...and I mean that as a compliment. They all have some sort of attitude. Helter Skelter in particular sounds like Paul was TRYING to break shit...which...isn't that kinda the attitude that rock music (especially harder rock music) is supposed to carry as like, a fundamental trait?

    *RANT BOT IAN*

    I know a lot of guys here would probably sneer at my mixes. That's fine. BUT...

    ...what I DO think I bring to the party as a mixer is an ability to convey the energy of the song with the sonics of the recording. I don't give a shit about high-fi or low-fi or mid-fi or any sort of fidelity...UNLESS it somehow serves the intention of the song.

    In the case of aggressive rock music...wouldn't AGGRESSION be a big deal? Is SUB BASS aggressive? [ED: purely rhetorical question]

    *RANT BOT IAN OFF*

    That all said...for reasons of convenience, as often as not, I'll use a DI and a Sans to kinda clownfuck my way into that sort of tone...and it's funny...you'd think that in a setup with a clean DI and a SansAmp, that the Sans would be there for grit.

    On this thing I'm bouncing a client ref of as I type this, the Sans ended up being the clearer sounding of the two, so I ended up mangling the DI and making it the slappy, crunchy, honky component of the sound...whoda thunk?

    I'm obviously a bit punchy right now. Been a long couple weeks.

    Any more thoughts on this? I'm really interested in hearing more thoughts on the matter.
    One can kill people with many tools; the best assassins use the best and most appropriate tools to get the job done...

    -Comte
  20. #20
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

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