Diy Bass Tones For 3 Genres

Bass guitar tones have always been a subject of confusion and conflict for both studio and live sessions. You are not alone if you’ve felt that the perfectly fine bass tone that you can achieve at home or at practice always felt different on stage or somewhere else. Or, it could be that you know the kind of tone you want but you could never dial it in 100% to your satisfaction. Or maybe, you can dial in your tone when you are playing by yourself but as soon the band or track comes in, it gets muddy and lost.

Dialling in the right amount of low end needs a room that has the “right” acoustics. If your room has a flat low end without any modal problems, standing waves, phase smearing in time domain, right amount of frequency decay — and all this shows up when it is measured with the right tests — you can just create your bass tone here and be 100% sure that your bass guitar’s low end is exactly what you are hearing. And no, neither you, nor the person with the best hearing in the world, can say that your room sounds fine just because your ears say so. The human ear is a fantastic piece of engineering (by God, if you so believe) but a lot of the above acoustic problems cannot be pinpointed to precision without proper measurement. Room acoustics is pure physics and there is no amount of arbitration or subjectivity like in art, where one person’s good is another person’s bad.

Now designing a room with the “right“ acoustics might fit into one line of text on paper but, in reality, it takes a room to have certain dimensions (to start with) and then spending quite some time, effort and money to be considered as having “right” acoustics. Most bedrooms are too small to fall into this category.

I would like to mention here that a lot of you (and me) have DIY acoustic panels made for their home studio that are definitely helping your room sound better. If you don’t have any, and are considering getting it done, do not hesitate. Acoustics, however small or large in number, always help you make better decisions in audio. But having a flat low end adding up in both frequency and time domain is something that only professional mastering houses generally have, amongst other places.

The point I am trying to make is dialling in the right low end is a universal problem and not yours alone. Headphones do help but even different headphones have different low frequency curves. Getting the low end right in less-than-ideal situation can be a topic for another post. But hey, there is more to bass than the low end. So, instead of trying to dial in the perfect low end, let’s explore dialling in 3 kinds of bass tones for 3 different genres of music — all from DI bass tracks, which I am sure is how most musicians are recording their bass at home. A few of you might have a preamp pedal of some kind like a Sansamp or a Darkglass so I will use that for this purpose to show its versatility.

All 3 tracks featured in the video below are from artists that I have worked with.

One is a pop-rock bass track by Abhishek Nona Bhattacharya.

Another is a folk track played by Shamik Chatterjee.

And, lastly, a metal bass tone played by Pradyumna Laskar.

Links for the full songs have been included in the video description, if you are interested.

The main intent of this video is from the point of view of bass players rather than audio engineers. So, I will keep it simple and demonstrate how using just one bass preamp and a compressor you can get a bass tone that sounds more interesting in the context of a song rather than using the plain DI track from your guitar. There is nothing wrong with using the DI track as your tone though, and whether you like the colour from the preamp is completely an artistic choice. You can always get into complicated parallel chains where you use both the DI and the preamp tone blended to your taste. But, for this demonstration, we will just be looking at using a preamp to dial in the main sound. I will be using a free digital simulation of a Sansamp Bass Driver that most bassists seem to own in its hardware pedal format, so it is easier for you to try hands on if you own one. The plugin version is called B.O.D. by TSE. You can Google it to find the download. The compressor in use is also a free plugin by Klanghelm.

So, hopefully the above video demonstrates how just a couple of processors, hardware or software, can be used to create vastly different tones suiting the sound you want. It is always best to start with one or two units so you learn to use it to its full extent. You don’t need a lot. Hence, I suggest not to get into multi-fx processors in the beginning as the plethora of options, and even the presets, can just confuse you more.

Once you are confident of exactly what you need to create your sound, a multi-fx processor is always easier to dial in.

Remember to always spend more time capturing better performances than the perfect low end or perfect compression. And of course, brand new strings when you record 😉

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