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Sir Groove-A-Lot
Charvel So Cal & San Dimas
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's driving me nuts. I don't mean I'm struggling to mix it, I mean because I have absolutely zero identity as a bass player, so I can't settle on something.

I'm a guitarist through and through (and, when this EP's finished, a singer :ugh: ) which is fine. I've been playing guitar for 17 years now, and singing is just talking loudly to a tune, right? :lol: So those are things that I know how to manipulate in a way that represents me. I know "my" tone and have an identity as a guitar player (or at least I think I do)... Or at least I know how to create the tones that are in my head.

I didn't foresee this problem. I guess in the past I've just shoved 'some' bass on my songs to give it some low end, and it's been a bit of an afterthought, but that's when I was doing heavier music. This is different, I really wanted to make bass a real feature with this as it's not fast or technical or anything so has more breathing space for it, and I'm struggling to find a tone that sits right with the feel of everything else.

Basically, I've lost all objectivity and I don't know how to regain it.

I keep going all over the place; The Doug Pinnick bi-amped approach, the super clear and spanky tone, the typical Ampeg SVT 'rock bass' thing, the grungy distorted stuff, I've even tried just a DI (as well as many combinations of all the above)...

I've tried going over some of my favourite bass tones in an attempt to emulate them, but that's got me nowhere. What tends to happen is I'll go for a tone that I love, nail it, and then really struggle to fit it in the mix (which isn't surprising really, it's about context, and what sounds great in one band won't sound great in another).

Anybody else ever had this problem? How did you overcome it?
 

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Guiterrorizer
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15,696 Posts
What about having someone over who knows how to tweak tones, so you can just play along until something fits? I realize that doesn't help in terms of time taken to get a tone, but that way you're not overthinking the chain (since you have to play). Other then that I don't really have any suggestions :(
 

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Premium Member
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5,213 Posts
Maybe you need to take your audio engineer hat off and just find a tone you like and go for it. If it were a full band the bass player would do this and (within reason) not be overly bothered about how it would fit in the mix later.

You might be in danger of losing the 'magic' if you are focused on it fitting in the mix when you are actually playing it.
 

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Sir Groove-A-Lot
Charvel So Cal & San Dimas
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6,916 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Maybe you need to take your audio engineer hat off and just find a tone you like and go for it. If it were a full band the bass player would do this and (within reason) not be overly bothered about how it would fit in the mix later.

You might be in danger of losing the 'magic' if you are focused on it fitting in the mix when you are actually playing it.
Well the playing (recording) is already done (just DI tracks). It's the aftermath of that which is the problem. But then that's the problem with modern recording anyway. The fact that there's the option to not have to settle on something going in... it just makes it all too flexible. At least I've settled on a drum sound this time around :lol: (the nightmare of reamping guitars is yet to come...)

I think I'm going to have to resign myself to the fact that I'm not going to come up with anything remarkable. I've only got so many options at my disposal, and it feels like I'm just cycling through varying degrees of the same stuff. What I've come up with is perfectly sufficient, if completely uninspiring. I might just have to settle for that.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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32,765 Posts
Well the playing (recording) is already done (just DI tracks). It's the aftermath of that which is the problem. But then that's the problem with modern recording anyway. The fact that there's the option to not have to settle on something going in... it just makes it all too flexible. At least I've settled on a drum sound this time around :lol: (the nightmare of reamping guitars is yet to come...)

I think I'm going to have to resign myself to the fact that I'm not going to come up with anything remarkable. I've only got so many options at my disposal, and it feels like I'm just cycling through varying degrees of the same stuff. What I've come up with is perfectly sufficient, if completely uninspiring. I might just have to settle for that.
That's why I don't re-amp - it takes me too long as it is and there are too many choices I STILL have, when I start mixing - the last thing I want to do is have the option to go back and start changing my amp tone. :lol:

I think I had the opposite experience though, on bass - because I'm NOT a bass player, I didn't have too much trouble sticking to something, once I found something that worked (a combination of gritty Sansamp plus a DI that I low-passed and smashed with a compressor). It worked well enough with the guitar tones I had going, so I did little more than adjust the gain on my Sansamp pre while tracking, depending on how "heavy" the song was.

The irony here is I've been consistently impressed with your bass tones. :lol:
 

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Sir Groove-A-Lot
Charvel So Cal & San Dimas
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6,916 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That's why I don't re-amp - it takes me too long as it is and there are too many choices I STILL have, when I start mixing - the last thing I want to do is have the option to go back and start changing my amp tone. :lol:

I think I had the opposite experience though, on bass - because I'm NOT a bass player, I didn't have too much trouble sticking to something, once I found something that worked (a combination of gritty Sansamp plus a DI that I low-passed and smashed with a compressor). It worked well enough with the guitar tones I had going, so I did little more than adjust the gain on my Sansamp pre while tracking, depending on how "heavy" the song was.

The irony here is I've been consistently impressed with your bass tones. :lol:
:lol: that's the thing though man, I don't doubt my abilities to get a decent tone going, it's more that I can't identify with the ones that work.

If you take a band like Kings X - you've got two VERY distinctive identities going on there, and they work so dam well together. If Doug had a typical bland bass tone going on, it would no doubt still fit the mix and be well engineered, but it just wouldn't leave the listener with the same impression.

I think ultimately that's my problem... I'm not trying to break the mold here, I'd just like something a bit more memorable than what I've got going on.

I know what I like, it just seems that what I like doesn't necessarily fit the mix.
 

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Mod Britannia
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7,233 Posts
Why not just run with something, then change it later if it's not fitting the mix? You've got DI's after all
 

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Obsessed by day glo Green
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2,827 Posts
Do you really need bass? I mean, do you really need it?


/End thread

In all seriousness, have you thought about actually getting a bass tone you like and then tailoring the guitar tone to it? It may very well be that you're thinking the wrong way round sticking with guitar tones that you like on their own without redialling in the tone to meld with the bass?

You have all your guitar tracks DI'd anyway right, so why not take a track, put down a bass tone you love, and then find a guitar tone that works well with it. I think you're probably going to find that easier as you spent so many years working on guitar tones, so you'll be able to get it going on quicker that way?
 

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Sir Groove-A-Lot
Charvel So Cal & San Dimas
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6,916 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
No I'm far too precious about my tone to want to build it around something else :lol: Everything else must be built around IT!

I've expanded my toolset and have hit upon something I actually really like, so I think the crisis is over and can move back on with the important stuff; writing!
 

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Obsessed by day glo Green
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2,827 Posts
So what's tis secret sauce you've found? I am rubbish at bass sounds, got a passable one I am using at home, but also My bass is proepr bargain bin rubbish so not sure anything can really save it
 

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Super Moderator
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4,876 Posts
clean track, heavily compressed, scoop out tons of mids and a little high end.
dirty track, kill most of the low end, not as heavily compressed. blend to taste.
 

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Sir Groove-A-Lot
Charvel So Cal & San Dimas
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6,916 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
clean track, heavily compressed, scoop out tons of mids and a little high end.
dirty track, kill most of the low end, not as heavily compressed. blend to taste.
That's my general method, yeah, but finding something that really stood out and didn't sound like every other bass mix I've done was the trick.

FWIW Ignite SHB-1 preamp VST is what I went with in the end. Sounds great through the right Ampeg impulses.
 

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Premium Member
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4,657 Posts
That's my general method, yeah, but finding something that really stood out and didn't sound like every other bass mix I've done was the trick.

FWIW Ignite SHB-1 preamp VST is what I went with in the end. Sounds great through the right Ampeg impulses.
But all of your other mixes sound incredible. You know what they say, if it ain't broke...
 

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Sir Groove-A-Lot
Charvel So Cal & San Dimas
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6,916 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I've realised what it is... It's the bass. As in the guitar itself. Or, the pickups at least. I opened up an old project where I'd used my bassist's bass and the tone was right there, instantly, even in the DI. I A/B'd with my bass and it's night and day. Time to borrow that bass again...
 

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Is Actually Recording
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32,765 Posts
I've realised what it is... It's the bass. As in the guitar itself. Or, the pickups at least. I opened up an old project where I'd used my bassist's bass and the tone was right there, instantly, even in the DI. I A/B'd with my bass and it's night and day. Time to borrow that bass again...
What's your buddy's bass?
 

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Sir Groove-A-Lot
Charvel So Cal & San Dimas
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6,916 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
It's an 80's Aria Pro II, Cliff Burton style. Unbelievably good sound. Especially split to single coils.

maybe it;s not the bass problem itself but guitars/kick/etc that's taking a space where bass can breathe?
for the bass - jazz bass + b7k/svx and you can't go wrong I believe :p
No as I said in the OP, it's not mixing the bass that's the problem. The mix I had with my bass was fine for what it was, I just couldn't stylistically nail what I was after.
 
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