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How to Get a Good Sound When Recording With an Acoustic Bass

Hi everyone, welcome back to this months issue! I thank you for your questions, but all the questions have been the same: “How do I get a good sound when recording my bass?”. I am going to give you a few very basic tips here today. I will start with an acoustic bass. We’ll talk about electric basses next time.

When recording an acoustic bass I generally will use a large diaphragm condenser mic. This will give you a nice and open high end, and a good low end response. There are many mics out there and they vary in price, from $59.00 to $20,000.00! Use what you can afford. The Shure KSM line is a very good one for the money. Try a Shure KSM32 or KSM44. I have made many great recordings using inexpensive mics. Yes, a $10,000.00 Neumann M49 would be a nice choice over a $99.00 Marshall XL2003, but the Marshall will work great too. What is most important is that you have a good sounding bass as a sound source. Remember, if there are ‘problems’ with your instrument, the mic will most likely hear these and will reproduce them in your recording.

I usually place the mic about 12″ to 14″ away from the bridge looking directly at the body of the bass. Just a few inches under where your plucking fingers are. If you find the sound a bit ‘boomy’, then move the mic back a few inches until you get a reduction of the ‘boom’. You will find that the closer you are to the sound source, the more the bottom end will build up. I have noticed in my experience that a high end mic preamp can make a difference in bass recording. I must say that my favorite is a Massenberg/GML mic pre, it does wonders with recording low frequencies.

When recording John Pattatuci a few years back, we used the GML mic pre with a Neumann TLM49 and got a fantastic sound! Don’t worry about ‘finger noise’. That is part of the sound. Also, I would advice against recording with EQ or compression, you can add it later. If you record with it, you are stuck with it.

Have fun! Remember… bottom line, it is about the music!

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