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acoustic bass direct


aleos

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A bit of a recording question here.

I need to go direct in with my upright bass while recording my trio.

Direct into my MOTU traveler>logic.

 

I did it a few days ago and the sound was so nasty I thought about quiting forever and becoming a banker.

Is there any tips, regarding logic, or third party plugins that anyone could recommend? No external gear.

 

thanks

 

(edit) whoops I think I might have posted this in the wrong section, sorry :oops:

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A bit of a recording question here.

I need to go direct in with my upright bass while recording my trio.

Direct into my MOTU traveler>logic.

 

I did it a few days ago and the sound was so nasty I thought about quiting forever and becoming a banker.

Is there any tips, regarding logic, or third party plugins that anyone could recommend? No external gear.

 

thanks

 

(edit) whoops I think I might have posted this in the wrong section, sorry :oops:

 

Well I am sorry but plug-ins are probably not the answer to your problem. If you want this to sound really good AFAIK you will need to use a good quality DI box or mic the upright bass well with a good mic and know how to set it up properly.

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In the meanwhile, if you want to make do with what you have, try Logic's Bass Amp, it's really good. I would also experiment with the Channel EQ and the compressor.

 

But Jay is right in that no amount of plug-ins will turn a nasty sound into a good one.

 

I say experiment with the plug-ins, and if you still don't get what you want, start researching the topic of recording a stand-up bass properly (I've always done it with a microphone).

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Hi,

If you really want to get serious about recording your bass, you'll have to put as much time and energy it as you may have already put into amplifying it.

 

So, are are you obsessed with getting a good amplified sound? What pick up are you using? Or are you a "plug and play" kind of guy?

 

Here are some thoughts:

You will probably never be able to use a mic on an acoustic bass if you are near drums. You would have to be at least 10' away and/or have some kind of separation, physically. Personally, I always insist on being isolated with my bass, and I use a mic, along with one or even 2 pickups.

 

If all of this is seeming like a big drag, then consider this: You set up next to your drummer just like your live set up. Use your bass amp, as you normally do, and mic the entire drumset and bass as one stereo instrument, using 2 mics. You'll have to move them around a bit until you find the sound, and you won't be able to mix the individual drums or the bass/drums balance, all of this will have to be figured out before you record, but you may get a great sound.

 

If you want to see to what level bass players obsess over this stuff, go visit the talkbasshttp://www.talkbass.com forum and see the 1,000's of posts on this subject.

 

Hey, you asked!

 

By the way, most important thing - to move forward both in your development as a recordist, as a musician, and as a good forum poster, try and be as descriptive as you can with your language - try "thin, tinnny, brittle, or boomy, indistinct, muddy, etc.." instead of "nasty" see the difference?

 

bassically yours,

 

John

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thanks guys, good stuff.

 

That's exactly right, we can't mic the bass cause the drums are right beside us. We are a jazz trio (i'm actually the guitarist) and I simply want to put together a nice demo for some gigs around town. Of course a more serious recording will include isolation etc.

But I want to do this in my rehersal space on my laptop and motu traveler (which has great preamps).

And yeah, I'm sure it's the bassists pick up's that sound like doodoo, I was just hoping there was a certain compressor or something else that could "warm" it up a bit. Just give it some life.

 

alex

www.peopleforaudio.com

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By the way, most important thing - to move forward both in your development as a recordist, as a musician, and as a good forum poster, try and be as descriptive as you can with your language - try "thin, tinnny, brittle, or boomy, indistinct, muddy, etc.." instead of "nasty" see the difference?

 

 

 

haha, thanks for the great advice john.

But seriously, only in the intimate, scary and small world of recording geekdom would brittle, indistinct and thin be more descriptive than nasty.

 

This is an interesting topic, the only truly descriptive terminology if one were to be harsh about it would be the vocabulary you aquire (and can actually auraly recognize) from working as an engineer for thirty years. Which in the end is very limited 'cause there simply ain't that many people on your level.

If I look at your examples, I can probably make a good guess on what you mean by muddy and tinny. but brittle? Never heard a brittle bass no matter how much low end was rolled off. indistinct? hhmmm do you mean to low a signal, to much bass, signal to noise ratio not so good.

 

I liked NASTY, that's musician talk. :wink:

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Aleos:

 

I think there is a fundamental issue with your original position of wanting a solution that used 'no external gear'. Without an initial recording that is at least close to what you want to hear, especially with something as characteristic as upright bass in a jazz trio, you will probably never get what you want. And the initial recording is all about the external gear (input signal path) you use...

 

Does the bass player normally amplify when you play live? If so, you may get what you want to hear by placing the amp in some sort of isolation and micing that, allowing the bass player and drummer to work close®.

 

Or you could overdub the bass in a second pass? You would have to make sure you didn't get too much of it in the drum mics during the basic pass, but the bass could be clean. Can you and the drummer get through the material without the bass? (I know, a lot to ask in a jazz trio arrangement)

 

Welcome to audio engineering, man. This is what it's all about!

 

Hope that helps.

 

Best, Marcel

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Good ideas... try recording the bass all by itself, then add the drums...

 

Ok, ok, bad joke!

 

Seriously, although the above suggestions are probably not practical for a jazz trio, the use of the amp, in the same room, with the drums and all the "'bleed" is probably going to be the best solution.

 

And by the way, I've been a bass player for 30+ years, NOT a recording engineer - and that's why I sometimes get a great sound on recorded acoustic bass! If we left this kind of thing up to the engineers of the world... everything would sound "nasty". You can definitely use open language like that, but if you want results, both in this forum and in a studio, try and home in on descriptions of sound. To your point, "brittle and thin" are most likely to mean something specific to people, as opposed to "nasty" which is not a description, but a subjective "judgement" word.. which, in my musician world, could actually hurt someone's feelings. Remember, one bass player's nasty is another's sublime.

 

Scary thought!

 

J

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If we left this kind of thing up to the engineers of the world... everything would sound "nasty".

 

The engineer part of me wants to hate you for saying this, but the bass player part is laughing too hard...

 

I've seen the same stuff you're talking about, but sometimes from a different perspective...

 

The frustration of trying to engineer the recording of someone who doesn't know what they want to sound like, and is looking for you as an engineer to do some sort of magic trick or other to make them 'sound good'...

 

Man, if you can just describe to me what 'sounds good', we'll be most of the way there.

 

LOL.

 

Best, Marcel

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Aleos:

 

If you asked me to record the arrangement you are describing, I would probably look first at making a good stereo room recording of the band. Turn your guitar amp down a bit, have the bass player go acoustic, and then walk around the room as you play. There should be a 'sweet' spot where you can stand and hear the band as you would like to hear it recorded.

 

A coulple LDC mics pointed towards the band a couple feet to the left and right of where you are standing would be a good place to start. Record a pass. Listen to it. Experiment with adjusting the microphones' and / or the players' (your guitar amp is the 'player', BTW) locations until you get something you are happy with.

 

I would probably add some spot mics into this setup, and you could too, but things can get complicated (phase, balance and such) pretty fast when you do this.

 

Lots of great recordings have been made this way. It's a good place to start.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Best, Marcel

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great discussion going on here. Thank you marcel, I might just make a decent room recording. There's an energy, especially for jazz, that comes from a room sound. infact coincidently I was listening today to two bootlegs, a hendrix and then later miles. Both where hot has napalm and sure beat out some "perfectly" mastered/engineered stuff I heard on the radio later.

 

What are "spot" mics? Do you mean a snare or kick mic?

 

But guys, with all due respect to the invaluable wisdom, my first question was; Say you were on a desert island, and you had this bass recording, and it sounded nasty (or not so good), and all you had was logic and a powerbook and a few choice plugins, which plugs would you choose? AND how would you apply them. That's what I was trying to say. (ie add some reverb. ok which reverb plug? ok space designer. Ok which setting? halls and cathedrals. Ok now with the parameters.) Know what I mean guys?

 

It's easy to take the audio engineering highroad and say "aleos, son the first thing you need is a good recording. So go back to your isolation booth and buy a nice preamp to power your neuman, make sure the bassists pick up have have good low response and don't buzz...etc."

 

thanks

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the first thing you need is a good recording.

 

I respect what your original question was, and I would say that you likely have a problem that no amount or quality of plugins can fix (without hearing it I'm making a bit of educated guess)...

 

The arrangement and material you describe is a very 'critical' scenario. There are not waves of distorted guitar or some such to hide behind, and you, and many others, know exactly what a stand-up bass 'should' sound like in this scenario, so it's not like some DI synth part that can just be mutilated until it fits. You see where I'm going here...

 

I did not mean to be patronising. I'm trying to encourage you to start from scratch, keep 'engineering' and equipment to a minimum, and just make it sound like the listener is standing there listening. I bet you will be very successful.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Best, Marcel

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i didn't mean to incinuate (sp?) that you were patronizing

sorry.

 

:D

 

hey marcel, I'm originally from vancouver, born and mostly raised, now I'm in montreal. How is the wet coast these days? I kinda longed for it in the last week 'cause it was MINUS 30 here a few days ago! It's march for christs sake! No wonder my bass won't sound good.

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great discussion going on here. Thank you marcel, I might just make a decent room recording. There's an energy, especially for jazz, that comes from a room sound. infact coincidently I was listening today to two bootlegs, a hendrix and then later miles. Both where hot has napalm and sure beat out some "perfectly" mastered/engineered stuff I heard on the radio later.

 

What are "spot" mics? Do you mean a snare or kick mic?

 

But guys, with all due respect to the invaluable wisdom, my first question was; Say you were on a desert island, and you had this bass recording, and it sounded nasty (or not so good), and all you had was logic and a powerbook and a few choice plugins, which plugs would you choose? AND how would you apply them. That's what I was trying to say. (ie add some reverb. ok which reverb plug? ok space designer. Ok which setting? halls and cathedrals. Ok now with the parameters.) Know what I mean guys?

 

It's easy to take the audio engineering highroad and say "aleos, son the first thing you need is a good recording. So go back to your isolation booth and buy a nice preamp to power your neuman, make sure the bassists pick up have have good low response and don't buzz...etc."

 

thanks

 

Aleos - No disrespect to the cook, but if he burns my meal, there ain't nothin I'm going to put on it to make it taste good again. :cry: It has got to sound good before it goes in.

 

I hate to ask this, but can you .zip the bass audio file for us to dissect? It's hard to see what we can't hear. :roll:

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Aleos - No disrespect to the cook, but if he burns my meal, there ain't nothin I'm going to put on it to make it taste good again. :cry: It has got to sound good before it goes in.

 

Okok, I give in. I will retract my staunch support of the word nasty.

 

To utilize the perfect metaphor above;

 

If I am starving, I want a burger and I hit a little resto. I order a burger, it looks pretty normal, it's definatley not burnt, but it is a little DULL, and lacking in FLAVOUR. (those words aren't much better than nasty haha). It dosen't have any condements on it either. But low and behold there are plugins located directly on the table in the form of a salt and pepper shaker. The salt will heighten the unami flavour of your beef and the pepper will add some character. If I am feeling a little adventerous and I really want to bring this burger to life I might ask for some mustard and mayonaise, some relish and ketchup. Put the mayo with the lettuce and tomato, as it blends better with the veggies as it acts like a dressing. The ketchup, mustard (different kinds) and relish while all great, should probably not all be used together as one looses the distinction of each effect. etc etc

 

there we go. In about 30 seconds I just told you how to make a dull, boring lack lusture burger taste better.

 

I'm sure someone can do the same in regards to a direct in upright bass and a warm jazz sound. :wink:

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I hate to ask this, but can you .zip the bass audio file for us to dissect? It's hard to see what we can't hear. :roll:

 

Great idea. Here's 12 seconds.

 

You guys complaining about the winter, it was minus 30 here last week.

 

March.....minus 30....march minus 30

 

just say that to yourself a few times.

 

(edit)

I know I'm really peskering to get a specific answer here, you gotta understand that I have a marvelous performance from my bass player that I want to use. It would be a crime to rerecord it and toss that take. These type of performances don't get duplicated.

Edited by aleos
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I'm sure someone can do the same in regards to a direct in upright bass and a warm jazz sound. :wink:

 

Since you're asking...

 

Stand up bass is by definition an acoustic instrument, so the 'pickup' you are talking about is actually a microphone anyways... And I would question the extent to which such a limited (in the acoustic sense) device (small transducer, low output, relatively limited circuit design) could capture all of the things that make acoustic jazz bass so characteristic - the low end resonance, the finger sounds, the varied attack transients, the warm buzz and vibe.

 

If you really want to go direct, you may be better off with an electric bass? This would produce a signal that would be much more easily manipulated once recorded.

 

Like others have said, please describe the setup you are using and / or provide some samples, and lots of people here can probably give you some more than general direction...

 

Why does everyone want to move to California?

 

Because it's closer than Montreal...

 

LOL

 

Best, Marcel

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why does everyone want to move to california :?:

 

because living somewhere that doesn't get above 48 degrees with pissy, drizzly rain from Halloween til early may just kinda sucks :)

 

(not that I could AFFORD to live in CA...although, Seattle is running a close second in the affordability dept...)

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aleos,

 

I extended the regions to 26 measure (I think) so I could loop it.

I copied the sample to 7 more tracks.

In the track menu I left track 1 unprocessed for comparison.

Tracks 2 thru 6 have some kind of effect insert.

I muted the tracks so that you could mute and unmute individual tracks or combinations. The are many, many combinations of toys to use.

One thing to remember is that what sounds good by itself may or may not sound good with the other instruments so things may need adjusted in the mix.

These examples aren't by any means the best way to do things, but an example of a way to compare different sounds. You can hurt or mess up the mix by experimenting.

 

The order (top to bottom) of the inserts matters too. for example, a noise gate in the first slot could be used to cut off any unwanted sound like touching the string when there should be silence Where as if it were placed last, it would possibly cut out everything (All effects like reverb, etc.)

 

Have fun and play around. I hope you find the right mix of 'ingredients.'

 

Mark

 

p.s. watch the volume if some sounds get combined as you could get some clipping.

BassSample.lso.zip

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thanks timbers!

just what I was hoping for. Just some different combinations, and other people's ideas on bass.

 

got a nice "accidental" by forgeting to re-mute track 2 (without chorus) as I unmuted track 6.

played with the volume a bit.

 

thanks tons for your effort!

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