The team at UK console, preamp and interface manufacturer Audient are always expanding roster of titles and tutors in their Tutorial Hub. In these three videos by session and live bass playing legend James LoMenzo (Megadeath, Slash, Ritchie Blackmore) you are shown some of the less obvious considerations to take into account when you start to record and mix the bass guitar to form the foundation of a mighty rhythm section.
Part 1 Choosing The Bass Guitar
In the first video in the series, James starts by talking about the type of bass guitars you will find in pop and rock music, how they are constructed and how the construction affects the tone and sound of the instrument.
James explains how the Bolt-On neck or Fender style bass has a punchy quick attack with plenty of bottom end then a fast decay. This is what you might call the classic Rock & Roll bass. The next style of bass James takes about is the Through Neck design with active pickups. This type of instrument has a more even tone with a smoother attack and a great deal more sustain. The active circuitry which controls the tone and volume of the pickups give you much greater control over the tone of the bass, but remember to keep fresh batteries in your bag and when they start to die the tone can become flat and lifeless. The Through-neck bass is a much more pop sound but due to the amount of control you get, they are very versatile for all kinds of music.
Let's not forget not all basses have just 4 strings. It is very common to see and hear 5 and 6 string instruments and less common to see 8 and 12 string basses and there are Bolt-On and Through Neck styles of both with and without active pickups.
Part 2 EQ Tips For Bass Guitar
In this video, James starts by talking about how he divides up the frequency spectrum to work specifically on areas that affect the bass instrument, not just the bass frequencies.
James believes that it is the Midrange control of either the amplifier, the mixing desk or the bass its self that is the most important, between 300Hz to 1kHz. James tunes the midrange EQ for the instrument to give it a depth and life that feels right and sounds right.
James goes on to talk about some specific bass amplifiers and gives us some examples of how he works on a bass tone.
The low or serious bass frequencies are next between 40Hz and 250Hz. This is the part of the spectrum that can make or break a live performance or recording so be gentle with the over-application of the BASS in your setup, sometimes cutting the bass end can fix a whole heap of issues.
Lastly, James talks about the high frequencies where all the percussive tones sit between 1kHz to 8kHz and he goes on to talk about how to set up the high end to cut through the potential wall of sound coming from your band's guitar players with their 100w Marshall amps. It's all about setting up your sound in content, rather than in isolation so the bass becomes part of the sound rather than a tone that stands out.
Part 3 Micing A Bass Speaker Cabinet
In the final part of the series James talks about how he likes to record not only the clean DI from either the bass guitar or the DI out of the amplifier but he also will mic the speaker and record the "real sound" of the amp, playing a mic close to the cone just off centre. If James chooses to record a second mic on the cab he will use a large diaphragm condenser, such as an AKG414 and set it as far back away from the cone as the cabinet is wide. So for a 1x15" speaker cab the second mic is about 15-16 inches in front of the speaker (allowing for the extra cab material) placed right in the centre of the speaker dust cap.
James explains his choice of mic preamp and how he has each mic routed to different sounding mic pres with no EQ then how it routes the signals into the DAW.