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Recording Electric Bass: Recording Tips Q&A With Dennis Moody

Hi everyone. Time to talk more about recording bass. Last month I detailed recording an acoustic bass. I hope that everyone was able to get some incite into that process. I will now give you a few pointers about recording electric bass.

The most important thing when recording a bass is to start with a bass that will give you the sound you are looking for on a particular song. Is it a 5 string? An old Fender? A fretless? See what you think will be the best for your tune and start with that. Be creative, try a few different basses and see what works best. You may be surprised!

I always record an electric bass using a “direct box”. This is a transformer that converts the output of the instrument from unbalanced to balanced. The inputs of most recording or audio consoles are balanced and usually have a cleaner signal path. So get a decent direct box at your local music supply store. You don’t have to spend a lot of money at first. Just get something that will work and start with that. I personally prefer a ‘passive’ direct box. This is a box that needs no power to operate. An ‘active’ direct boxes uses power to work and I usually notice a change or coloration of the sound of the instrument. I do not get this so prevalently with a passive direct box. Some people prefer the sound of the active DI. Use your ears and see what works best for you. You will generally get more output gain out of an active DI.

I like to use very little if any equalization when recording a bass. Just try to get a sound that fits the track. You can add EQ at the mixing stage to get the bass to cut through or add more punch to a track. Just plug it into your preamp, get a decent recording level and play away! I do not use a limiter or compressor very often when ‘tracking’ a bass. I prefer to use it in the mix stage so that I am not locked into it for good at the recording stage. Remember, any effects, EQ or compression that you use at the recording stage is not undoable! Use it only as a tool to help you get your desired sound. You can always add it later. That’s about it.

Have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment! Next month we will talk about recording bass cabinets using a microphone. See you then!

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