Helpful ReplyBass like this still eludes me

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sharke
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2018/01/20 07:07:54 (permalink)

Bass like this still eludes me

This has never been one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, but I do listen to it occasionally. And every time I'm struck by how perfectly the bass sits in the mix. It has a lovely thick, round sound which cuts right through, and every note is perfectly even with the perfect attack. 
 
I'm guessing a huge part of it is that it's a great quality performance. But what else? Is that evenness mostly performance or have they dialed in the perfect compression settings? And can I hear some saturation in the mids? Would you isolate the mids from the lows to saturate them in getting a sound like this? 
 

 
 

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msmcleod
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/20 13:14:52 (permalink)
One trick I saw on a mixing course was to put a limiter/gate on the bass track triggered by the kick drum, lowering the bass volume when the kick drum was playing, but allowing the bass to be at a slightly higher volume when the kick wasn't playing.
 
This effectively allowed the bass to be at a higher volume without sounding boomy and hogging the mix.
 
What was surprising, was that the perceived volume of the bass when the kick drum was playing didn't sound any different to the higher volume when it wasn't... but the bass sat in the mix MUCH better.
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pwalpwal
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/20 13:37:04 (permalink)
that fm lp was mixed/produced by lindsey buckingham, so maybe try and find any mix tips etc from him? there's an sos article here but not for that track https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/inside-track-buckingham-mcvie-feel-about-you

just a sec

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sharke
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/20 17:05:44 (permalink)
msmcleod
One trick I saw on a mixing course was to put a limiter/gate on the bass track triggered by the kick drum, lowering the bass volume when the kick drum was playing, but allowing the bass to be at a slightly higher volume when the kick wasn't playing.
 
This effectively allowed the bass to be at a higher volume without sounding boomy and hogging the mix.
 
What was surprising, was that the perceived volume of the bass when the kick drum was playing didn't sound any different to the higher volume when it wasn't... but the bass sat in the mix MUCH better.




Well I guess that would be sidechain compression - it's very common (some say mandatory) in EDM to sidechain the kick to the bass compressor, and it does what it says on the tin. However I'm not sure I like the effect, and I try to write bass lines around the kick so that they're not (or rarely) playing together. 

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sharke
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/20 17:06:01 (permalink)
pwalpwal
that fm lp was mixed/produced by lindsey buckingham, so maybe try and find any mix tips etc from him? there's an sos article here but not for that track https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/inside-track-buckingham-mcvie-feel-about-you




I didn't know it was produced by Buckingham, thanks!

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batsbrew
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/20 19:38:33 (permalink)
sounds about the same live,
which tells me,
it's the player and the player's bass and rig.

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tagruvto
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/21 23:50:59 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby John T 2018/01/22 00:57:07
John McVie always seems to play just the right part, nothing more.
Which is awesome.
In listening to this song, I'm struck with the limited amount of sustain
that he allows most notes to carry.  It really works for this tune.
The quarter and eighth  notes  are delivered with just the right amount of punch and then they're gone, leaving
 sonic space for whatever comes next.  In my opinion, the magic is all in 
his hands. Great muting technique.  Good gear doesn't hurt either :)

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sharke
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/22 00:07:50 (permalink)
Yeah it's a remarkable performance, really solid, almost as if it's been quantized (which of course it hasn't). 

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John T
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/22 00:58:17 (permalink)
tagruvto
John McVie always seems to play just the right part, nothing more.
Which is awesome.
In listening to this song, I'm struck with the limited amount of sustain
that he allows most notes to carry.  It really works for this tune.
The quarter and eighth  notes  are delivered with just the right amount of punch and then they're gone, leaving
 sonic space for whatever comes next.  In my opinion, the magic is all in 
his hands. Great muting technique.  Good gear doesn't hurt either :)


Excellent point. He really controls where he keeps it tight to the kick and where he opens it up a bit. Then again, what would you expect from a band named after its rhythm section?

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jackson white
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/22 05:13:32 (permalink)
Hearing it as a combination of a great player with a great arrangement for "sitting in the mix". No guitars muddying things up, mostly breathy female vocals/stacks, a spare drum part and twinkly bits panned pretty hard. I recall McVie using an Alembic going direct quite a bit in the modern version of Fleetwood Mac which could have something to do with it but given LB's documented tendency to go off the deep end at times, would not be surprised if multiple tracks with parallel processing were used.  

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bitflipper
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/22 16:54:23 (permalink)
That's perhaps the best-produced Fleetwood Mac song, which is saying something. Three singers, each triple-tracked, same technique used for Bohemian Rhapsody.
 
I doubt they used externally-sidechained compression on that recording. It just wasn't a common practice in the all-analog era when it was recorded. More likely, it's straightforward aggressive broadband compression from something like a 670 or 1176. And plenty of organic distortion from a classic amp (currently uses Orange, but back in the day it was an Ampeg).
 

 
However, that even-ness is a hallmark of a very good player who can modify his plucking intensity in real time on a note-by-note basis. An easy way to fake it in the digital era is using a dynamic equalizer.


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sharke
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/22 17:21:33 (permalink)
Is he using a pick in that photo? 

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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/22 17:50:32 (permalink)
Looks like it...Probably a felt one.  Attack without the click...
 

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Cactus Music
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/22 19:51:35 (permalink)
It sure looks like a pick but then the photo might have just caught him dampening the strings. Note his left hand  holding an A and a D at the fifth fret low strings , but his fingers where the pick would be are over the hi strings . Look at his hand position too. That's real close to the bridge which is where I play too. I find the further away from the bridge the less attack you get. You can hit the strings a little harder at the bridge. It's all in the hands that sound. 

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sharke
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/22 20:37:38 (permalink)
Felt picks eh - you learn something new every day.

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davdud101
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/24 18:51:28 (permalink)
sharke
However I'm not sure I like the effect, and I try to write bass lines around the kick so that they're not (or rarely) playing together. 




I gotta say, sharke - this here strikes me as a bit of an oddity because my training tells me that kick and bass ought to play together most of the time, since the kick sound would make the bass punch a bit harder.
But I've never thought about it in terms of low frequency-crashing or anything like that, if that's the reason you'd cite for writing bass lines so that they are independent from the kick.
Interesting! Any good examples in popular music of this?

 
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sharke
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/25 07:13:54 (permalink)
davdud101
sharke
However I'm not sure I like the effect, and I try to write bass lines around the kick so that they're not (or rarely) playing together. 




I gotta say, sharke - this here strikes me as a bit of an oddity because my training tells me that kick and bass ought to play together most of the time, since the kick sound would make the bass punch a bit harder.
But I've never thought about it in terms of low frequency-crashing or anything like that, if that's the reason you'd cite for writing bass lines so that they are independent from the kick.
Interesting! Any good examples in popular music of this?




I can't think of any specific examples offhand, but having the bass play the off beats against a four to the floor kick is very common in a lot of techno and trance music. It was also quite common in disco. 
 
Of course you're not just limited to doing this with the kick and the bass. Writing parts which entwine around each other but never play together is a great technique for achieving a full sounding arrangement without too many things stepping on each other. It's really easy to do if you're programming MIDI in a piano roll - if you have both tracks in the PRV, you can visually see them flow around each other. Arranging like this can greatly reduce the need for EQ as you're not having to carve as much out of each sound. 

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sharke
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/25 07:26:56 (permalink)
This is another great sounding Fleetwood Mac song with amazing production. Again, perfect bass. But everything else in it is perfect too. Very nice balance of frequencies. Brasslike keyboard sound in right channel during the chorus is just lovely. I hated this stuff at the time because I'd grown up with Rumours and I felt like they went all cheesy in the 80's. I can really appreciate how good it is now though. 
 


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batsbrew
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/25 18:12:53 (permalink)
FM always had top shelf production.
they pretty much set the bar for that style of music, IMHO
 
that said,
so much of this stuff you are talking about,
has nothing to do with production.
 

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Jim Roseberry
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/01/29 17:07:09 (permalink)
To my ears, that bass sound (does sit nicely) isn't direct.
It sounds like an Ampeg B15.
That type of amp will smooth things out, you hear a nice round bottom end... but the signal doesn't go down past about 50Hz.  The top end is also nicely "rolled off" in large part due to the speaker.
 

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sharke
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/02/04 05:58:00 (permalink)
Jim Roseberry
To my ears, that bass sound (does sit nicely) isn't direct.
It sounds like an Ampeg B15.
That type of amp will smooth things out, you hear a nice round bottom end... but the signal doesn't go down past about 50Hz.  The top end is also nicely "rolled off" in large part due to the speaker.
 




Have you tried the IK Multimedia Ampeg SVX by any chance? It has a B15 in it. 

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eph221
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/02/07 19:32:25 (permalink)
bass like this eludes me :D:D  It's a man baby!
 
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JLH2
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/02/08 12:53:30 (permalink)
Do you know which bass he used on that recording? On some songs, he used his Carvin AC40 - that bass had much different timbre and sustain than the solid planks that he normally played.

Jim 

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abacab
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/02/10 04:04:42 (permalink)
Maybe this is an answer? 
 
Designed with Grammy-winning mixer Andrew Scheps (Adele, Jay Z, Metallica), this flexible channel strip delivers Andrew’s time-tested combinations of compression, EQ, saturation colors and more – all crafted to work together beautifully and cohesively.

 
https://www.waves.com/plugins/scheps-omni-channel#creating-the-scheps-omni-channel
 

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#24
Danny Danzi
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/02/11 23:55:29 (permalink)
Sharke, one of the things to remember here....the bass is pretty far away from where the kick drum thrust is accentuating. In today's music, everyone is pushing sub lows that distort and literally ruin mixes if they aren't careful...and most are not careful, due to some of these mastering plugins etc that pull the wool over their eyes.
 
The bass sounds like a felt pick to me also....as it would maybe slap a bit if it were fingers. But the other side of the coin there...the classic rock basses usually didn't send out frequencies over 3k for a little bit of clack. They were low passed pretty well to keep that garbage out. This sits so well because it's pushing the right low end and the kick drum is thrusting up at around 90-110Hz range roughly. (listening through gaming speakers at the moment)
 
There are no sub low kick drums like we hear today.....no sub low bass push....no guitars pushing bass frequencies...keyboards are out of the way....this is why it just works so well and is a good lesson to those wanting to learn how important it is to pick and choose the right frequencies. If they want a kick that thrusts low, the bass has to have a higher thrust point. At some point, they have to determine whether they want the kick drum to be the low end or the bass. Whatever they choose, the other must stay out of the way. Prime example...Metallica. Though they don't have any real bass guitar presence (presence meaning audibly heard in a good way lol) the kick drum is clicky. So if they wanted a Fleetwood Mac bass, it would fit right in as it thrusts out lower notes.
 
Other rock bands are pushing the kick down low at 50-60hz which means the bass better be out of the way or it's mud city. So in that situation, you can have a little more bass clack. One of the issues we run into with rock is the over driven guitars. People add so much low end in them, they mask the kick and the bass. FM doesn't have any of that...clean recordings, or semi-dirty recordings are always easier to get a grasp on because they aren't so sonic and crushed with massive distortion.
 
Bass tones for me...I love a nice low note that sounds like a piano. That new string sound with a little bit of ping/clack at around 2.5k to 3k respectively. I currently use an SVT modeled amp out of the Fractal Axe Fx that I couldn't be happier with. I use an active pup, 5 string bass with Rotosound flatwound strings and a felt pick. The sound is just incredible no matter where I send the signal. Direct, the amp, it's just where I want it. The bass + good strings + good playing just about always sets you up for trouble free bass. The other side of the coin is also having an ear for bass tone and knowing how much low end is too much.
 
Believe it or not, there is a lot less low end in a bass than people think. The sum of the kick and bass literally make the sound of the entire bass spectrum of a song with all the other instruments also adding slightly to the mix. But you can usually get great results high passing your bass to the extreme at first, dialing in your kick to have the thrust you want, and then adding the low end back in your bass while selecting frequencies that accentuate the kick. From there, set the amount of bass clack/high end presence, set up a compressor to keep it tight depending on pick, felt pick or fingers, and it should be a done deal in about 15 minutes or less.
 
If you have a bass that isn't quite set up right, old strings, your technique isn't as good as it should be, you use a heavy pick....it's going to be a bit more challenging. The sims they have today should be able to get you close to that sound. You can definitely tell it's an amp mic'd up for sure because of the open sound and lack of high end transients. Even there though, with the power we have today....low passing can go a long way and the right IR can be an incredible difference. :)
 
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#25
Jim Roseberry
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/02/12 12:27:48 (permalink)
sharke
Have you tried the IK Multimedia Ampeg SVX by any chance? It has a B15 in it. 



I have... and I think it's pretty decent sounding.
The B15 is more toned down that the SVT.
SVT puts a sonic stamp on anything you run thru it (big/aggressive).
 
 

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sharke
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/02/12 15:48:34 (permalink)
Thanks, I think I'll pick it up. I have Mark Studio which is great but sometimes it doesn't cut it. Could do with some alternatives. 

James
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sharke
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/02/12 15:54:56 (permalink)
Danny Danzi
Sharke, one of the things to remember here....the bass is pretty far away from where the kick drum thrust is accentuating. In today's music, everyone is pushing sub lows that distort and literally ruin mixes if they aren't careful...and most are not careful, due to some of these mastering plugins etc that pull the wool over their eyes.
 
The bass sounds like a felt pick to me also....as it would maybe slap a bit if it were fingers. But the other side of the coin there...the classic rock basses usually didn't send out frequencies over 3k for a little bit of clack. They were low passed pretty well to keep that garbage out. This sits so well because it's pushing the right low end and the kick drum is thrusting up at around 90-110Hz range roughly. (listening through gaming speakers at the moment)
 
There are no sub low kick drums like we hear today.....no sub low bass push....no guitars pushing bass frequencies...keyboards are out of the way....this is why it just works so well and is a good lesson to those wanting to learn how important it is to pick and choose the right frequencies. If they want a kick that thrusts low, the bass has to have a higher thrust point. At some point, they have to determine whether they want the kick drum to be the low end or the bass. Whatever they choose, the other must stay out of the way. Prime example...Metallica. Though they don't have any real bass guitar presence (presence meaning audibly heard in a good way lol) the kick drum is clicky. So if they wanted a Fleetwood Mac bass, it would fit right in as it thrusts out lower notes.
 
Other rock bands are pushing the kick down low at 50-60hz which means the bass better be out of the way or it's mud city. So in that situation, you can have a little more bass clack. One of the issues we run into with rock is the over driven guitars. People add so much low end in them, they mask the kick and the bass. FM doesn't have any of that...clean recordings, or semi-dirty recordings are always easier to get a grasp on because they aren't so sonic and crushed with massive distortion.
 
Bass tones for me...I love a nice low note that sounds like a piano. That new string sound with a little bit of ping/clack at around 2.5k to 3k respectively. I currently use an SVT modeled amp out of the Fractal Axe Fx that I couldn't be happier with. I use an active pup, 5 string bass with Rotosound flatwound strings and a felt pick. The sound is just incredible no matter where I send the signal. Direct, the amp, it's just where I want it. The bass + good strings + good playing just about always sets you up for trouble free bass. The other side of the coin is also having an ear for bass tone and knowing how much low end is too much.
 
Believe it or not, there is a lot less low end in a bass than people think. The sum of the kick and bass literally make the sound of the entire bass spectrum of a song with all the other instruments also adding slightly to the mix. But you can usually get great results high passing your bass to the extreme at first, dialing in your kick to have the thrust you want, and then adding the low end back in your bass while selecting frequencies that accentuate the kick. From there, set the amount of bass clack/high end presence, set up a compressor to keep it tight depending on pick, felt pick or fingers, and it should be a done deal in about 15 minutes or less.
 
If you have a bass that isn't quite set up right, old strings, your technique isn't as good as it should be, you use a heavy pick....it's going to be a bit more challenging. The sims they have today should be able to get you close to that sound. You can definitely tell it's an amp mic'd up for sure because of the open sound and lack of high end transients. Even there though, with the power we have today....low passing can go a long way and the right IR can be an incredible difference. :)
 
-Danny




Great advice Danny and I've always heeded your low kick/high bass/vice versa advice since reading it from you years ago. I also try to avoid the bass and the kick hitting together in my arrangements, mostly because it's so much easier to get them working like that and also because I kind of like that interplay between them. 
 
I use Trilian a lot and to be honest their bass samples have WAY too much low end on them in my opinion - I end up taking a huge amount of it out in a way that has you looking at the EQ display and thinking "no, that can't be right," lol. 
 
I think one of my biggest problems with bass is in figuring out what to do in the 200-300Hz region. Oftentimes I give that area an exploratory boost and really like what's there, but it just interferes with the other instruments too much. And I also like to apply a little light saturation to the mids, but I find I don't like when that's overdone, unless it's for effect (or it's an aggressive synth bass for EDM styles). 

James
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#28
Jeff Evans
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/02/12 18:16:26 (permalink)
There is nothing wrong with carving out bottom end on things that are too bass heavy.  For example I have got a Roland JD800 synth and it has way too much bottom end most of the time.  Floor shaking to be precise.  I have got it going through a mixer with a HPF on it most of the time. It seems to just put things back into perspective nicely.
 
(good thing to do is use a HPF but with a gradual slope e.g. 6 dB/oct and just move that cutoff up slowly until things start to sound right again.  The slow slope ensures you are just easing off the deep stuff but not messing with the sound too much)
 
Bass levels are also often way too loud in a mix as well.  It is so easy to overdo it.  I find getting the bass to where you think it is right is a good idea first. (in your main speakers) Then I switch to a small mono speaker down at low volume and remove the bass completely and listen to the mix for 10 minutes without any bass.  Then slowly bring it back in until it just becomes present in the mix again in the small speaker.  Often it is about 6 dB lower than where you had it before.

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#29
Danny Danzi
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Re: Bass like this still eludes me 2018/02/12 18:49:02 (permalink)
sharke
Danny Danzi
Sharke, one of the things to remember here....the bass is pretty far away from where the kick drum thrust is accentuating. In today's music, everyone is pushing sub lows that distort and literally ruin mixes if they aren't careful...and most are not careful, due to some of these mastering plugins etc that pull the wool over their eyes.
 
The bass sounds like a felt pick to me also....as it would maybe slap a bit if it were fingers. But the other side of the coin there...the classic rock basses usually didn't send out frequencies over 3k for a little bit of clack. They were low passed pretty well to keep that garbage out. This sits so well because it's pushing the right low end and the kick drum is thrusting up at around 90-110Hz range roughly. (listening through gaming speakers at the moment)
 
There are no sub low kick drums like we hear today.....no sub low bass push....no guitars pushing bass frequencies...keyboards are out of the way....this is why it just works so well and is a good lesson to those wanting to learn how important it is to pick and choose the right frequencies. If they want a kick that thrusts low, the bass has to have a higher thrust point. At some point, they have to determine whether they want the kick drum to be the low end or the bass. Whatever they choose, the other must stay out of the way. Prime example...Metallica. Though they don't have any real bass guitar presence (presence meaning audibly heard in a good way lol) the kick drum is clicky. So if they wanted a Fleetwood Mac bass, it would fit right in as it thrusts out lower notes.
 
Other rock bands are pushing the kick down low at 50-60hz which means the bass better be out of the way or it's mud city. So in that situation, you can have a little more bass clack. One of the issues we run into with rock is the over driven guitars. People add so much low end in them, they mask the kick and the bass. FM doesn't have any of that...clean recordings, or semi-dirty recordings are always easier to get a grasp on because they aren't so sonic and crushed with massive distortion.
 
Bass tones for me...I love a nice low note that sounds like a piano. That new string sound with a little bit of ping/clack at around 2.5k to 3k respectively. I currently use an SVT modeled amp out of the Fractal Axe Fx that I couldn't be happier with. I use an active pup, 5 string bass with Rotosound flatwound strings and a felt pick. The sound is just incredible no matter where I send the signal. Direct, the amp, it's just where I want it. The bass + good strings + good playing just about always sets you up for trouble free bass. The other side of the coin is also having an ear for bass tone and knowing how much low end is too much.
 
Believe it or not, there is a lot less low end in a bass than people think. The sum of the kick and bass literally make the sound of the entire bass spectrum of a song with all the other instruments also adding slightly to the mix. But you can usually get great results high passing your bass to the extreme at first, dialing in your kick to have the thrust you want, and then adding the low end back in your bass while selecting frequencies that accentuate the kick. From there, set the amount of bass clack/high end presence, set up a compressor to keep it tight depending on pick, felt pick or fingers, and it should be a done deal in about 15 minutes or less.
 
If you have a bass that isn't quite set up right, old strings, your technique isn't as good as it should be, you use a heavy pick....it's going to be a bit more challenging. The sims they have today should be able to get you close to that sound. You can definitely tell it's an amp mic'd up for sure because of the open sound and lack of high end transients. Even there though, with the power we have today....low passing can go a long way and the right IR can be an incredible difference. :)
 
-Danny




Great advice Danny and I've always heeded your low kick/high bass/vice versa advice since reading it from you years ago. I also try to avoid the bass and the kick hitting together in my arrangements, mostly because it's so much easier to get them working like that and also because I kind of like that interplay between them. 
 
I use Trilian a lot and to be honest their bass samples have WAY too much low end on them in my opinion - I end up taking a huge amount of it out in a way that has you looking at the EQ display and thinking "no, that can't be right," lol. 
 
I think one of my biggest problems with bass is in figuring out what to do in the 200-300Hz region. Oftentimes I give that area an exploratory boost and really like what's there, but it just interferes with the other instruments too much. And I also like to apply a little light saturation to the mids, but I find I don't like when that's overdone, unless it's for effect (or it's an aggressive synth bass for EDM styles). 




Yep, Trillian is definitely one of those bottom heavy bass modules. I have a few clients that use it....we have to tweak it relentlessly at times. The 200-300 range you're talking about, is where you pick up low mid congestion if you're not careful. It sounds good to the ears when solo'd up, but man, it can hose a mix in seconds if you're not careful there.
 
For what it's worth, another +1 for the IK SVX. What's cool about it...you can run your Trillian through it. Just get a basic Trillian sound that isn't too over the top and process it with SVT. :) Good luck brother James!
 
-Danny

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