Thread: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    and:

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    The interesting feature of both those tracks is that the bass is really fulfilling nearly the entire "rhythm section" role in the arrangement...which is to say that it is outlining the rhythm and chord changes WITHOUT ANOTHER INSTRUMENT DOUBLING IT (at least, in large sections). A straight DI tone for those sorts of applications would suck just as hard as a DI guitar in those sorts of applications.

    Also, Karnivool FTMFW. Wish they'd make it back to the States again.
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    if there is a point to all this, it's that: bass guitar should sound like something, not just 'be there'
  4. #24
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    I just found this thread today, a meaningful discussion of bass gear, technique, sound, and music sensibility, discussed as a necessary whole and illustrated with examples from Zep, the Beatles , Tool, and Karnivool (some of my favorite recordings); fuck I'm going to miss this place.
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  5. #25
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    A great post that I would like to address.

    I gotta think about it some.

    God help us all.

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  6. #26
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    I too discovered this thread today.

    if there is a point to all this, it's that: bass guitar should sound like something, not just 'be there'
    I still think one of the greatest examples of that must be In The Shadows by The Stranglers.



    And just because I can, I'll post one of my fave bass lines of all time:




    otek
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  7. #27
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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?

    for me, DI and amp modelling is a time saver/space saver/ i don't have enough iso for the bass when tracking the band together and punching in mistakes, it's OK/passable, but definitely not 'good' for me, and I want good to great at minimum

    i think what weedy said re: Bass sounding like "something" not just being there is key.

    For me that normally means micing the bass cab and changing out some bass heads and pedals etc to find something that fits and adds to the whole thing, but also, for me, i prefer to do rythm guitars before bass so that when we're getting the bass sound it really has to work with the guitars.

    my favourite recent bass tone was an orange valve head, 1x15 ampeg box, gibson midtown bass (semi-hollow 335 looking thing) and an mxr m80 distortion box with an SM7 in front of the cab and compressing on the way in with an 1176.

    I find it way easier to pull a bass sound that is easier to make work in the mix with a mic and amp, I struggle a whole lot more with a clean DI signal, even with amp modelling.
    Last edited by moaus; March 18th, 2016 at 07:26 AM.
  8. #28
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar


    i think what weedy said re: Bass sounding like "something" not just being there is key.

    +1

    The other day I was kinda on the fence about a bass sound being too aggressive for a song I was mixing, and this quote kept running through my head. I decided to keep it because, it sounded like an intentionally aggressive bass sound. This seems like a circular thought process, but accepting the too-aggressive bass as ultimately good for the song was a counter intuitive decision for me.
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  9. #29
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    I often would mute guitars and make sure that bass+drums+vocals are enough to drive a song. It actually sometimes sounds cooler that way
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  10. #30
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    regarding a bass sound being just 'audible'...

    Somewhere along the lines I found myself putting some pretty mega distortion on the bass guitar, like 90% of the time, even when the song was more mild. Ugly distortion. What I kept finding was that once I was about done with the mix, if I muted just that bass distortion track, the entire middle fell out. But when it was there, you couldn't be sure if it was the bass or the guitar or what.

    I've also found that the performance matters far far more than the tone. Bass amp sims can get the job done pretty well, in my experience. If I've been having a problem I just can't shake, it's almost always performance or instrument related. And it can't always be edited to work, either.

    I especially remember this every time I see the bass player from MUSE on tv or something, his bass always sounds so good and aggressive and full. And then it switches to a quick close up of his fingers and I'm like "oh".
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  11. #31
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    I often would mute guitars and make sure that bass+drums+vocals are enough to drive a song. It actually sometimes sounds cooler that way
    It also leaves a lot of space to help the guitar riffs stand out when they do come in


    Then you bring them in for the chorus


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  12. #32
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    regarding a bass sound being just 'audible'...

    Somewhere along the lines I found myself putting some pretty mega distortion on the bass guitar, like 90% of the time, even when the song was more mild. Ugly distortion. What I kept finding was that once I was about done with the mix, if I muted just that bass distortion track, the entire middle fell out. But when it was there, you couldn't be sure if it was the bass or the guitar or what.
    The distortion adds harmonics to the midrange. Last night I was trying to get a similar effect to what I was hearing in reference material that was not dissimilar to the material at hand. I cut the really low frequencies of the bass guitar and everything sounded better, drums, guitars and vocals.

    Tracks recorded with the B-15 sound good as they are

    I've also found that the performance matters far far more than the tone.
    I've been getting a bit more into bass guitar the last few years and it seems that you can't really separate playing technique from tone. Good gear just gets you to a higher level.
    Man! You have GOT to try a hit of this RANGE SUNSHINE!

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  13. #33
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    What amazes me in many sort of "classic" tones is how many mids there are on the bass. It really is very bright. I would have to add like +10dB at 800Hz or so to get close (and I often do add a lot of midrange on the bass to cut through) on sort of "common" tones I'm given most of the times.
    I wonder how the guys got this bright tone. Was it on the amp? Was it on pre? On the console?
    When in doubt, mumble!

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  14. #34
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    I'm developing a theory that we are able to record WAY lower than we were able to in the glorious analog days.

    And sub activity is fucking us in the ass and because of the non-linear nature a tiny
    cut or dip is not EVEN close to enough.

    Try decapitating (asscapitating) everything below the hi forties with a steep slope
    ( maybe twice) and see what you think.
  15. #35
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    Interesting point! Also tape and transformers would distort on low-end much faster.
    When in doubt, mumble!

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  16. #36
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    Something fun I did recently


    I had some distorted rhythm guitars, chords only, no palm muting.


    Threw out the guitars, replaced with bass guitars being played like a guitar. Yes, power-chorded basses, playing on the A/D/G strings.


    So I had a 'regular' 5-string bass track playing through a sansamp, and two additional bass tracks, one hard left, one hard right to replace the rhythm guitars.


    I have to say, I am seldom that happy with a sound - it works really well in context. No-one takes me seriously when I tell them there are no guitars on that recording.


    Signal chain:


    active bass with low-end minimised -> fuzz pedal to condition the signal a bit -> Soldano solo 60 -> Mesa 2x12 -> SM57.
  17. #37
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    I will typically never high-pass a bass guitar. Except maybe, on rare occasions, down around 25-30 Hz.

    I will definitely attempt to find registers where it clashes with the drums. If I find there is too much low end in general, I apply a low shelf and try to balance it. And it has way more to do with the player and the instrument, to begin with.


    otek
    "Tube color is not the 'thing'. Why would the most linear amplifying device have a color?" - Jonte Knif
  18. #38
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    I will typically never high-pass a bass guitar. Except maybe, on rare occasions, down around 25-30 Hz.

    I will definitely attempt to find registers where it clashes with the drums. If I find there is too much low end in general, I apply a low shelf and try to balance it. And it has way more to do with the player and the instrument, to begin with.


    otek
    Usually, neither will I... but then again I usually treat electric bass like... electric bass, whereas I played a bass like a guitar in the aforementioned example, with powerchords, high amounts of gain, guitar amps etc, even doing double takes and panning them hard.
  19. #39
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    I'm developing a theory that we are able to record WAY lower than we were able to in the glorious analog days.

    And sub activity is fucking us in the ass and because of the non-linear nature a tiny
    cut or dip is not EVEN close to enough.

    Try decapitating (asscapitating) everything below the hi forties with a steep slope
    ( maybe twice) and see what you think.
    I've been wanting to try something like this but haven't had the guts to do it yet. Something feels really wrong about cutting bass on the bass? I've got a mix in progress that's a little woolly in the bass and not quite cutting through the middle the way I'd like... I might try this. I'll call it butt cutting.

    I hear so many records where there's just gobs of controlled low end, but I can't work down there without going ear-blind. And older records usually sound better without even touching the space down there.
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  20. #40
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    Default Re: Rhetoric musings on bass guitar

    I've been wanting to try something like this but haven't had the guts to do it yet. Something feels really wrong about cutting bass on the bass? I've got a mix in progress that's a little woolly in the bass and not quite cutting through the middle the way I'd like... I might try this. I'll call it butt cutting.

    I hear so many records where there's just gobs of controlled low end, but I can't work down there without going ear-blind. And older records usually sound better without even touching the space down there.
    There ain't no 30hz on vinyl records

    I have had mixes ruined because of too many lows (you find out later :( )

    cutting the sub sub will not RUIN you mix.

    I'm obviously not saying ALWAYS, but if your struggling with lows, bass drums too, maybe some data gathering is in order, and see what works for you.

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