Bassman1

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Hey guys,

I'm new to recording at home, and I've been having a hard time getting the right bass tone. So, I'm wondering what everyone else is doing.

For context, I'm recording math metal/metalcore that's inspired by TesseracT, Architects, ABR, etc. My DAW is Reaper, and I'm using it to also program drums. I've got guitars on my latest song recorded, and I've been working on getting the bass ready.

I'm using an Ibanez SR900 w/ active Bartolinis, going into a Darkglass B7K Ultra and Markbass 1x15 combo amp. I'm loving the tones I can get in the room. Getting that recorded has been a different story though.

I am using a DI from my Darkglass preamp, as well as a DI from my amp. So, two tracks total for bass. The Darkglass has a cab sim on it, and I'm using Wall of Sound plugin for my amp DI.

But, I just can't seem to find a tone I like. My guitars are recorded mid-heavy and have the lows all rolled off. I've tried boosting the lows and low mids on my bass in order for it to cut through the mix and not compete with the guitar. But, it still just sounds... Meh.

What is everyone using to get their bass tones dialed in, especially for a metal context? I'm curious to see what the tricks of the trade are.

Thanks for any and all tips !
 

Sam Hyland

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My current method might be considered a bit of a cop-out by some but I prefer to track (or program if I’m being REALLY lazy) a clean DI for bass and then use an amp sim with the drums playing to dial in the tone.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve spent hours dialling guitar and bass tones in solo only to find they don’t mesh with the other instruments resulting in a very disjointed overall sound.

In your case with your gear I’d track through an amp sim and then reamp if possible through your darkglass/markbass. Always listen to tones in context with the mix otherwise you end up using drastic EQ to get it to fit.

This is just the way I like to do things and I’m still far from getting my productions to sound the way I want them to but this method has improved things for me.
 

Flappydoodle

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The actual bass and the setup is really important, in my experience.

I think the type of metal you mention has that kinda clanky, stringy sound. You can only really get that from having the strings quite low, hitting hard, playing nearer the neck. And obviously you need brand new strings, because the old strings get dull and just never sound the same.

As for the recording, I literally plug into the interface and record a DI. Then apply whatever plugins - usually the Neural B7K, with a cab sim. You've already got a way nicer setup than me, so I'd presume your "problem" is more with the guitar than the amp/plugins/etc.
 
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I recently bought the Mammoth bass plugin and it's been a godsend.

What I would normally do is program/record a track and split it. I'd run the low end (rumble) through one chain and the rest (clang) through another.

Clang: Boost pedal-->amp sim-->chorus-->EQ
Rumble: Amp sim-->EQ

Now I don't have to do any of that. With the Mammoth it does it all and allows you to adjust both of those frequencies without you having to use two channels.

DEFINITELY worth the money. It sounds great on fake bass as well as real bass. You can save presets so you can flip through bass tones. And it has a built in IR loader with IRs which makes things great. As someone who prefers so skip the IRs when it comes to bass, I actually ended up liking the IRs provided which never happens. It works for lots of styles so if you're looking for a specific tone, with some tweaking you can find it.

 

WarMachine

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Recently i've changed things up with how i do it and it's turned out fantastic. I get a good "core" bass tone in my PodGo, something that would sound good on cleans for instance. I have a 2nd track that has a few EQ's/Limiting/Compression and also has Mammoth. No bottom end, just grinding, nasty mids and i just adjust the volume till i can hear the bottom end and clarity but still hear the snarl from Mammoth. I know, i could do all this in Mammoth itself, but i'm lazy and hate switching cables around when i'm going straight DI vs interface + pedal :wallbash:
 

Drew

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I've kinda gone 180 degrees in the opposite direction, since I'm rarely doing anthing THAT heavy, and these days usually hit the front of a Neve-style (hardware) preamp pretty hard and with a bit of EQ to fill out the low end a little. But, the tried-and-true approach of recording a clean DI, duplicating it, running one version with a low-pass somewhere around 250-400hz and smashing the fuck out of it with a compressor, and then high-passing the duplicate track over 65-750hz or so and running through a distorted amp sim (or back through your Darkglass, if you can reamp easily enough) and then bussing them back together, blending to taste, and throwing a bit more compression on the buss as well, IS awfully hard to beat for metal. I'd say this is probably doubly true if you're using a very mid-rangey, high-passed guitar sound that really needs something to fill out the low end below it.

But, to build off Flappydoodle's point, not only does the bass help, but the performance is critical for getting the bass to really lock in and sound huge in the low end. Good, strong attack that's really on top of the beat will both give you a lot of top end growl, as well as really pushing the groove and sounding tight.
 

GunpointMetal

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Step 1 is to make sure your bass and kick are locked in, especially for that syncopated tesseract-type thing. In Reaper look for the MPL Align Takes script and run it on your kick and bass (you'll have to print a kick track for it to work) and see how far it moves stuff to see where you need to tighten things up.
I wouldn't even worry about the amp, just record your Darkglass and and a DI. The dual-channel method is usually the way to go for the music you're working on. I highly recommend dialing in the bass with the drums playing so you can pay attention to how they interact rather than trying to dial in an awesome bass tone then just push it at your drums. Bartolini pickups, IME, aren't really made for that modern metal clank sound, so you may want to EQ your DI signal ahead of any other processing.
 

Drew

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I highly recommend dialing in the bass with the drums playing so you can pay attention to how they interact rather than trying to dial in an awesome bass tone then just push it at your drums.
Also, maybe this is kind of an overly simple thing to be observing at this point...

...but I always record my bass before my guitars, for exactly this reason. I'm a guitarist. I care TREMENDOUSLY about the guitar parts. At the end of the day, I don't really give a shit about bass. So, recording bass before guitars does two things that IU fund helpful - one, it makes me focus on how my guitar sound is going to work in the mix, rather than just focusing on making it as bigh and beautiful as possible. And two, more importantly... it makes me really focus on the bass performance and how tightly it locks in with the drums, and makes any slight hesitations or weak notes REALLY obvious, so that I'm forced to really hone in on the bass and make sure that the bass tracks are pretty solid before I even pick up a guitar. If I record them in the other order, I'll never listen to them nearly as closely. It's subtle, but it helps.
 

Bassman1

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This is all really helpful. Thanks everyone! Since we last spoke, I've definitely gotten some better tones between a track with my Darkglass and my amp line out with the wall of sound plugin. Though, I'm also really interested in the Mammoth plugin too. How does it compare to the Neural DSP Parallax plugin ? Any thoughts?

I'm wondering about getting a line splitter to record a DI into the interface, alongside a DI going out from my Darkglass. Then, i could blend it with the first DI with a plugin on it. Now that I say that, I kinda want to try this crazy setup out...

DI > Mammoth
Amp Line out > Wall of Sound 8x10 cab sim
Darkglass DI
 

Bassman1

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Step 1 is to make sure your bass and kick are locked in, especially for that syncopated tesseract-type thing. In Reaper look for the MPL Align Takes script and run it on your kick and bass (you'll have to print a kick track for it to work) and see how far it moves stuff to see where you need to tighten things up.
I wouldn't even worry about the amp, just record your Darkglass and and a DI. The dual-channel method is usually the way to go for the music you're working on. I highly recommend dialing in the bass with the drums playing so you can pay attention to how they interact rather than trying to dial in an awesome bass tone then just push it at your drums. Bartolini pickups, IME, aren't really made for that modern metal clank sound, so you may want to EQ your DI signal ahead of any other processing.
This is super interesting. I've never heard of this ! Granted I'm relatively new to home recording. Is this kind of like quantizing your bass to the kick midi?
 

GunpointMetal

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This is super interesting. I've never heard of this ! Granted I'm relatively new to home recording. Is this kind of like quantizing your bass to the kick midi?
That's exactly what it is. I'd suggest using it more as a guide to figuring out if the playing is tight enough, but if it sounds good it sounds good.
 

cGoEcYk

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I play stuff in B mainly (guitar in drop B). There is a huge difference between room tone and mix tone. Room tone is... pleasant. The way I dial in for the mix sounds almost thin, fast, harsh, too midrangey... but in the mix it somehow sounds perfect. Having a little extra overdrive is a thing too, I find it smooths out in the mix but overall makes you more audible (like if the bass is solo'd it sounds hairy but in the mix it somehow sounds clean and right... listen to Metallica - Orion solo'd bass and it's surprisingly dirty yet sounds clean in the mix).

Because of the lower tunings I like to cut lowest lows a little, bump low mids (like 180-220 hz), tiny bumps at 500hz and 2k, tiny cut above 5k. I cut the bass knob on my bass a bit (it seems blasphemous but this makes the overall sound faster, but it's like how we might cut lows on guitar with a boost or modern pickups), pickup selector also a hair towards bridge. I stage my gains for overdrive around touch sensitive level so when it slams it gets crustier. I use a Mesa Bass 400 and run it loud enough the power section gets involved and helps squash fretboard transients (making them more musical and overdriving instead of pinging with they hit). I like 50/50 DI from amp head and a mic on cab. For mic SM57 to emphasize mids and roll of lows. The DI will have cleaner low end, the mic will have more interesting midrange.

The main thing I would have to say about playing metal bass is how you attack the instrument. This will produce more midrange and grindy noise than anything you can dial in. Some bassists use a light touch (talking fingerstyle) but I like a percussive attack with fretboard impact. In the mix it ends up sounding like overdrive but you cant get that same coarse grindy sound with an overdrive. I often slap on the B string notes cuz it's the loudest punchiest way for me to produce a sound on the instrument.

https://soundcloud.com/dr_thunda/kali-emanations-doomy-part
 
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BMFan30

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I use Nembrini - Beta Gamma Bass which happens to be on sale at 70% making it $41 instead of $137.
https://www.nembriniaudio.com/products/blackice-beta-gamma-bass-amplifier

I also love AuroraDSP - Mammoth Bass.
https://auroradsp.com/en/plugins/25-mammoth-the-monumental-bass-plugin.html

My only gripe with them is the IR sections could be more useful on them both. It would be nice to have a text window large enough to display the name of your IR & it wouldn't hurt to have left and right arrows to cycle through the IR cabs in each folder to speed up workflow.
 

WarMachine

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Last night i made a patch in my PodGo that was just a compressor followed by the darkglass sim with no amp, no IR, and an EQ to carve out some low mids and ho-lee-fuck. I've watched lots of videos on the GO/Helix where people are adding the darkglass in front of an amp sim + IR but leaving it dry by itself is sound much better to my ears. You get that low end from the DI signal and can still blend in the grind on midrange. Im fucking stoked on how well it sounds.
 

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Neural DSP Parallax. You can control the distortion over low, mid, and high EQ ranges (which are moveable). Also has moveable mic sim. I find it super easy to get a good tone for metal, and you can use presets to get started.
 

BMFan30

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Neural DSP Parallax. You can control the distortion over low, mid, and high EQ ranges (which are moveable). Also has moveable mic sim. I find it super easy to get a good tone for metal, and you can use presets to get started.
I forgot to mention I heavily use Parallax as well. It's great for synths, guitars & bass. It's actually a very versatile multiband distortion.
 

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I also have the B7k Ultra. I have found that the best sounds I get out of it are from really cranking the gain, then adjusting the distortion level with the blend control. Also, use the DarkGlass Suite software to swap cab sims. I really like the Forrester's 4x10 for my bass sounds.

Finally, I have a Hyperluminal compressor before the B7k, so I get my compression in, blend to taste, add the EQ from the B7k, kick in the distortion, max the gain, dial blend to taste.
 

Bassman1

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I also have the B7k Ultra. I have found that the best sounds I get out of it are from really cranking the gain, then adjusting the distortion level with the blend control. Also, use the DarkGlass Suite software to swap cab sims. I really like the Forrester's 4x10 for my bass sounds.

Finally, I have a Hyperluminal compressor before the B7k, so I get my compression in, blend to taste, add the EQ from the B7k, kick in the distortion, max the gain, dial blend to taste.
That's really cool. I also have the B7K Ultra and Hyper Luminal compressor. I run it the same way as you!

Do you just use that ? Or, do you also pair it with another signal ?
 

Bassman1

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I forgot to mention I heavily use Parallax as well. It's great for synths, guitars & bass. It's actually a very versatile multiband distortion.
I'm planning on getting either Mammoth or Parallax... How do the two compare in your opinion? I've seen reviews favoring mammoth, especially for versatility. Would you disagree?
 

BMFan30

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I'm planning on getting either Mammoth or Parallax... How do the two compare in your opinion? I've seen reviews favoring mammoth, especially for versatility. Would you disagree?
Personally they are both great and vaguely similar to each other but I would say Parallax gives you multiband control while Mammoth doesn't because you can't split the bands in parallel with Mammoth. Both let you load your own IR cabs so they are plenty flexible.

Mammoth gives you more distortion options but Parallax lets you actually split the EQ bands because it's a multiband distortion which is slightly a different beast than Mammoth. Basically you get more flavor with Mammoth but Parallax lets you be more precise & clinical. I use them both in different situations.

I grabbed them on sale so it would be hard for me to just choose one. But I did have to choose between NeuralDSP Darklgass & Nembrini's Darkglass when I demoed them both side by side then decided to go with Nembrini Beta Gamma Bass instead. So I would demo Parallax & Mammoth both in the same session to make a solid decision out of the two but if I was you I'd get both on sale.
 


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