How Did You Get That Bass Tone?
I've been asked by a couple people how I got my bass tone in my EP, Spiders In My Eyes, so here's a quick rundown.
My bass is a 5 string Steinberger with two humbuckers. I have the tone set as bright as possible with the bridge pickup at max volume and the neck somewhere around half volume. I play aggressively close to the bridge, somewhat over the bridge pickup. The pick is nylon DAVA pick, probably about 1mm. They have an aggressive tip and are heavy and the nylon prevents it from chirping too much on the strings.
I run the bass directly into my interface (a Scarlett 18i8) and record it dry.
All the effects on the track are stock Logic Pro plugins, but similar things are likely found in other DAWs. The important thing is to highlight as much attack as possible without losing too much of the bottom end.
Set the EQ
The first step is EQ. I like to flip through the presets until I find one close to what I'm looking for, sort of a "I'll know what I like when I hear it" kind of thing. Once I find something I like, I'll tweak it and adjust it to get it right.
Use an amp sim
Logic has some guitar amp simulations that are pretty decent. I grab one of three presets in the library, my favorite being "Modern Stack". I like it well enough that I don't tweak it much.
The important thing about this amp is that it really pushes the brightness. When I'm defining the bass sound, I want to hear all the stuff that isn't the pitch being played, like the pick on the strings or the strings smacking into a fret when I'm doing a big slide.
It's important that it's clean and bright with as little mud as possible. The bass is a feature, not just a foundation. Any distortion should be used sparingly. It's all about clarity.
I do something called parallel compression. Which I do with two identical bass tracks, except one is significantly more compressed. The main track, which is where most of the volume comes from, is usually left uncompressed. The second track is extremely compressed. Beyond any reasonable amount. I'm talking super squashed. So much that it's unpleasant on its own.
Again, I flip through a bunch of presets until I find something I like. A lot of times it's a drum preset. Then I max out the ratio.
Reduce the volume of the compressed track to zero. Put the main track at the volume that feels best for the track as a whole. From there, slowly increase the volume of the compressed track until you get the definition you want.