Recording Bass guitar

recording bass guitar
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Spring is in the air and a young mans fancy turns once again to microphones! We have decided after trying out a LOT of mics that ADK are the best mic manufacturers at any given price point and we are going to start knocking on your door to let you know about them

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Recording a Piano
Recording Bass Guitar
Recording Acoustic Guitar
Recording Acoustic Part 2
Recording Nylon strung
Choosing microphones
Stereo 1: XY coincident
Stereo 2: Blumlein Pair
Stereo 3: Middle-Side
Stereo 6: Binaural

Recording Bass Guitar

Recording bass guitar is a daily task in the studio and we've been looking to retire our faithful old Neuman U47 for a while so when we got our hands on some stunning new U47 valve copies it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. These videos take you through the basics of recording bass guitar.

Part 1: The Bass Guitar (the basics) (sorry couldn't help myself)
recording bass guitar

Like everything in the world of recording, the better sound you have at source the easier it is to get great results and this is particularly true when recording bass guitar. There are a few great bass guitars and amps out there but sadly there are also shed loads of rubbish. Like all instruments the bass definitely sounds better in the hands of a decent player and there is not a lot you can do as a sound engineer to change that but checking the intonation along the neck is a must and you can really improve your recordings by getting rid of those annoying buzzes by setting up the action properly by tweaking the truss rod and adjusting the saddles. However do practice this on your own bass first!

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Part 2: Mic versus DI
recording bass guitar 2

The bass is one of the few instruments that you can actually get away with recording through a DI box either straight out of the guitar or from a line out on the back of some amps. The whole issue of DI boxes is interesting and you can pay big money for a decent one but where possible it's always best to have a go recording the bass with a mic. Some mics like the Neumann U47 have become legendary for bass recording but more and more affordable valve 47 replicas are coming along and recently we have been really impressed with the Advanced Audio CM47 built by Canadian mic guru Dave Thomas so we thought we would put it up against the Neumann and some other mics in a basic test. We're not big fans of mic shoot outs but you should be able to hear some key differences.

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Part 3: Mic Position and phase
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The most consistent results come from close miking and just off centre seems to get the best balance of sound but of course you can experiment with different mic postions. In any situatiion where you are recording something with two or more mics you have to check for phase problems and recording bass guitar if you have two mics out of phase you can pretty well lose all the bottom end. Careful positioning is crucial and always flip the phase button on one channel to hear the sound as well as relying on your phase correlation meter if you have one. There are pieces of kit out there that enable you to progressively move the phase rather than simply flipping it through 180 but they are pretty expensive.

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Part 4: Compression
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Compression is pretty much a must when recording bass guitar as there is often a huge difference in level between the open E string and something played high up the neck on the G string. The trick is to just take off a few dbs at this stage to even up the whole performance. If you can hear the compresser working then its too much. Back the attack time off enough to let the pluck of the string get through and set the compression ratio around 5:1.

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Part 5: Other mics
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Of course a lot of you out there wont be able to afford some of the more expensive condenser mics we have used here but the joy of the bass is that you can get pretty good results with almost any mic and even the lowly sm57 will get you a workable sound as long as it sounds right coming out of the speakers. Best first choice will be a large diaphragm condenser but you really can have a go with anything and most dynamic mics will give you a result.

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The Results...
We're not big fans of this type of mic shoot out where you stack up a few mics against each other as it never really tells you that much about a mic especially on something like the bass with no fast transients to capture. However we'd been getting some great results with the Advanced Audio CM47 on a variety of sessions from acoustic guitar and vocals so we figured it was a good way to see if we could hear how close it was to the original Neumann U47. To be honest I can't hear that much difference between any of the top end mics and the the CM47 amd ADK TT area 51 both sounded really nice and I would never be able to point one out in a blind test. In the end all the mics sound better than the DI. The Audix has a deliberate mid scoop for the kick drum and you can really hear that in this test but the 421 and the good old sm57 sound great....and the reason?... because the sound coming out of the cab is good.
Here endeth todays lesson......


Recording bass guitar wavs
Drum loop Bass DI Neumann U47 fet
Advanced Audio CM47 ADK Area 51 TT Audix D6
Senheisser 421 Shure sm57
To hear the audio files above simply double click on them and they will play in the media player you have set on your computer. To download the files, create a new folder on your hard drive and then right click on the files above and choose "Save as Target" to your new folder. When you have downloaded all the files open up Cubase or a similar audio programme and create a new project. In Cubase go to Import<audio files and select all the MP3s in the folder. Cubase will ask you if you want them on the same track or separate tracks. Choose separate tracks and it will paste them into a new project for you. SEE VIDEO.



Microphones and recording 2010. Recording Bass Guitar