Picture this: You got the gig and you’re excited about the music. You get to your first rehearsal and the bandleader wants you to play “bass” on a couple of things. You panic because you’ve never had to be the bass player and cover your keyboard parts at the same time. I’ve been fortunate to play with some of the baddest bass players on the planet, and all of them have asked me to play bass at one time or another. To help be your own bassist, here are a few examples that will strengthen your hand independence as well as add some spice to your left hand. Always remember that as a keyboardist, you already use your left hand more than you know.
In the world of rock music, being ridiculous and flashy can get you a long way. For decades, rock has been propelled by bombastic lead singers, drummers, and guitar players. Despite the revelry often attached to the job description of “rock musician,” bass players hold the distinct challenge of having to blend in. While the bass in rock music has long served as a humble anchor underneath the cacophony, don’t be fooled—there are more possibilities for rock bass lines besides another unexciting eighth note cadence on the root note.
Most of the time the problem comes from misunderstanding exactly what frequencies affect the bass instrument. Too many times we think that it’s the frequencies below 100Hz (especially 60Hz) that provide the bass we need. While it’s quite true that those frequencies are important for what we might call the girth of the sound, they won’t reproduce well on small speakers, and that’s where the problem lies. In other words, EQing too low.
Below 100Hz Girth
120Hz to 200Hz Bottom
250Hz to 320Hz Low-end definition
1kHz to 1.5kHz High-end definition
2.5kHz to 3kHz String noise/buzz
In parts one, two, and three of this four-part series, we focused on using Neutron 2 for mixing vocals, mixing guitars, and mixing drums. Now, it’s time to bring on the bass, which can be a tricky bugger. Too much of it can swallow up the mix, but too little of it leaves a mix lacking power and warmth.
So how do we as recordists and mixers possibly do justice to the greatest instrument of all time throughout the universe? How do we capture its pure glorious majesty? And why is the bass player still out of time?
This week I will go through this guide before I tackle my mixing projects for “Dueling Mixes” and “Produce Like a Pro”.
Discovered on my own the joys of running guitar DI through amp simulators last week. Thought the track was doomed – my bad – the track was OK (not great, just OK). Now I know.