Looking for ressources on metal bass playing / recording

Discussion in 'Bass Guitar Discussion' started by Scarlett, Aug 25, 2019.

  1. Scarlett

    Scarlett SS.org Regular

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    Hi :)

    Long story short, i've been a guitar player mainly into heavy metal for about 15 years and i've played the bass "for fun" for about 7-8 years. By "for fun", i mean that i never really tried to get any good or have proper technique, i'd just put a tab and play along, mostly rock, blues, old prog rock or pop.

    But now i'm recording a power metal album with an old friend and it was decided that i'd do the bass parts. So i've started learning to play more seriously and i've achieved decent precision and speed, but i must admit i'm still pretty lost when it comes to make a bass sound "right" in a metal mix.

    So i'm looking for as much ressources i can find on the subject: How and how hard to attack the string (i play with fingers), how to set the eq, where to place the hand, what kind of amp (plugin) to use, distorsion or no distorsion, etc... Does anything come to mind?

    Thanks
     
  2. cardinal

    cardinal F# Dive Bomber

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    Talk-Bass is a good community; I would try searching through there for tips and such.

    I'm not sure there's any particular "right" way to do it. It just kinda depends on what you like.

    Plenty of metal guys use a pick and lots use their fingers. I would attack hard if you like that tone; just vary your dynamics to fit the mood of the riff etc. And hand placement is the same kinda of deal. It just sounds different depending on where you are, so just try moving your hand around. Striking towards the bridge is twangier and the strings don't rattle as much; works better for some things but sounds anemic for other stuff.

    Most people like the idea of a high pass and a low pass to tame rumbling and zing; Broughton Audio has a popular high pass/low pass pedal, and you can look at how people set it to give you an idea of what might work. Just as with guitar, if you scoop the midrange, it might sound really cool by itself but get lost once the distorted guitars kick in.

    Amps often fall into one of two categories: there's the vintages types that lop off some top end, and then there are the hi-fi types that keep all the top end. Just kinda depends on what you're going for. Safe bets for rock or metal are going to be anything that resembles the Ampeg SVT, the Gallien Kruger 800rb, or the Sans Amp preamp.

    Clean or distortion: maybe both? Someone like Justin Chancellor always has a bit of "grind" or overdrive to his tone but emphasizes certain riffs with heavy fuzz/distortion, and I think that's really cool. Tim Commerford has gone from a relatively clean tone from the early RATM days to very heavily overdriven tone, maybe give some of that a listen and see what you think and how it works.
     
  3. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula A series of interconnected fortune cookies.

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    ^Some excellent advice from Cardinal. Covers all the most important considerations.

    The only thing I'll add is that if you want to go heavily distorted, consider using a clean blend and/or multiband setup. Some higher-gain sounds will zap your lows and it's nice to have a way to dial them back in. Mids are indeed what give you presence and definition in the mix, but I'd imagine in power metal context you'll also want some lower-end rumble to hold things together.

    Since you haven't mentioned playing live, you could very well get away with just using a plugin. Check out the Parallax plugin from Neural DSP - it has 3 independent bands of distortion/compression and pretty flexible IR capabilities. I bet it could do everything you need. If you decide you don't need very heavy distortion, there are several Ampeg-style plugins that would probably be sufficient.
     
  4. Scarlett

    Scarlett SS.org Regular

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    Thanks, that's helpfull :)

    I made several tests and listened to isolated bass from several bands and realized that indeed, a bass that sounds in the mix doesn't always sound great by itself.
    So for now i'm going with a very heavy sound on the bottom end, while attacking the strings with a lot a strenght (which isn't easy with tiny girl arms x)). I put the volume way down because i'm quite a sloppy player but it seems to me like it sounds ok in the mix. Maybe i'll put on some demos later.

    Also i tried recording with both my Fender Precision and my Warwick Proline. I like the Fender sound better but i find it hard to play for fast riff, especially on the fifth string because the mic is quite uncomfortable to rest the thumb on in my opinion.

    I don't plan on playing live, i'm a singer and guitarist in my bands, but still i'll practice to make better recordings, and because playing the bass is a lot of fun of course! I have the Overloud Markbass simulation and got an Ampeg SVT in Amplitube 4. The Mark bass is really hard to mix because it's really bassy, and the Warwick also has a very heavy bottom and. In fact i had to set the bass pre-amp setting to the middle, otherwise it was impossible to hear the attack in the mix. But i have higher gauge strings made for larger scales and i think it probably wasn't a good choice.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  5. cardinal

    cardinal F# Dive Bomber

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    Yeah, like @LordIronSpatula said, with overdriven/distorted bass, most pros are not just plugging in through an old school OD pedal, which invariably cut low end. Guys that use the old school overdrive pedals (like Justin Chancellor, who uses a Turbo Rat; or Tim Commerford, who at one point used a Marshall Gov'nor) use multi-amp setups where at least one amp is clean and another amp is distorted with the pedal.

    Modern overdrive pedals made specifically for bass often are built to maintain the low end with a clean blend built in: that way some undistorted signal is still passing through to preserve the low end. And there are plenty of stand-alone pedals out there that can blend in the clean signal (Boss LS and the Xotic Xblender are to common ones), so you could really use any OD pedal you wanted with one of these.

    If you're using software, maybe try to figure out how to run a parallel path to simultaneously get a clean sound to blend in with the distorted sound.

    While I do prefer having the option for a clean blend, it's not totally necessary depending on what you're doing. Some pedals preserve a reasonable amount of low end by themselves (Turbo Rat, OCD), and if you run the gain up very high, the increased output often ends up boosting the low end.

    And I feel you with playing the low B. I rest my thumb on that string too, so once in a blue moon when I actually want to play it, I always end up panicking for a moment wondering "but where does my thumb go now?!?!?! oh no"
     
  6. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula A series of interconnected fortune cookies.

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    I could be wrong, but it sounds like you're trying to create the aggressive attack where the strings bounce off the frets when you strike each note, a la Alex Webster. If so, try to pluck more "downward" into the pickups, like you're drumming your fingers on a table, rather than sideways into the next string. That's the most efficient way to get that sound. Don't be afraid to use lighter strings and lower the action either, as that could certainly help. With the right plucking technique and setup, it shouldn't be very hard to do, girl or not. :)
     
  7. Scarlett

    Scarlett SS.org Regular

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    If you do know of a software solution that provides a good modern bass distorsion that offers a heavy bottom end while keeping a good attack on the trebbles i'd be very interested. I tried all the ones from Amplitube 4 and... meh...

    Yes, that's exactly what i'm doing :)

    I'm not skilled enough to keep a consistent light attack, so might as well make it heavy all the time, much easier to mix. Anyway, the guitars are pretty heavy and a light attack doesn't come out in the mix.

    Only problem is... right arms get tired really really fast :'(
     
  8. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula A series of interconnected fortune cookies.

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  9. Scarlett

    Scarlett SS.org Regular

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    Thansk, looks like exactly what i need, testing it right now :D
     
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  10. GenghisCoyne

    GenghisCoyne im here to party

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    that looks like exactly what we all need to be honest
     
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  11. Scarlett

    Scarlett SS.org Regular

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    There's a free trial, you can check it out ;)
    I bought it, it's far superior to all i've tried so far and not that expensive.
     
  12. jephjacques

    jephjacques BUTTS LOL

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    especially for recording, don't be afraid to get super aggressive with your EQ! I like to do a big boost around 80hz, a big cut between 500-700, and another big boost around 1.2k, with a HPF on everything higher than 4k.
     
  13. Descent

    Descent SS.org Regular

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    People care about bass in metal???? That's been unheard of since the passing of Cliff Burton.

    In my book - just pick a Rush discography and focus on Geddy's technique and you're golden :)
     
  14. Scarlett

    Scarlett SS.org Regular

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    Well i like bass, what can i say, altough i do enjoy it in 70's progressive rock a lot more, like Rush indeed.
     
  15. cGoEcYk

    cGoEcYk SS.org Regular

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    I think there is an Alex Webster tutorial of some sort, for power metal I'd look into Steve Harris. Basically you want a lot of low mids (180Hz is my sweet spot) and upper mids, less low lows (dial in a tight quick sound instead of a boomy subwoofer). Play aggressively so that the strings rattle a little.
     
  16. Scarlett

    Scarlett SS.org Regular

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    Color me heretic but i'm not a huge fan of Steve Harris' bass lines. It does the job well but i can't say much more about them.

    One power metal bassist i really like is Felipe Andreoli from Angra.

     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  17. Avedas

    Avedas SS.org Regular

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    I also ended up buying Parallax after using the trial. It's a one stop shop to easy good bass tones. Simple to use and relatively inexpensive.
     
  18. Scarlett

    Scarlett SS.org Regular

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    I have a problem with my Warwick tough (6 strings corvette proline), i can't get any attack and punch out of it, the sound is just ultra-bassy and weak. I think the string gauche is too strong, altough it's the same as on my Precision. I'll try to bring it to the... how do you say that in english... well the guitar fixer, next week
     
  19. Merrekof

    Merrekof SS.org Regular

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    He's cheating! :p
    No but in all seriousness, even though I didn't watch the video, he's playing a Dingwall NG2 loaded with a Darkglass tone capsule, that is what you're hearing. I've never heard a bass guitar sound so good for this style of music. For me, buying a Dingwall, was a huge step up. So I don't think you'll get this sound out of a Fender. I tried several different basses before and none sounded like this. With that Dingwall, you can plug straight into your interface and get this sound.

    Amps aren't that important, in comparison to guitar that is. You don't need a big tube amp, a small class D amp is more than adequate. Your back will thank you. And if you don't plan on gigging, there are some great combo's out there for a fair price. Ashdown and Orange come to mind.

    And if you think about throwing a drive or dist pedal in front of the amp, buy a Boss LS2 (or similar pedal) so you can retain the clean track along with the distorted track. Distortion compresses your signal and sucks all life out of it so keep the clean track!!

    Don't ask me about eq's though. I mainly use the bass mid treble knobs on my bass and even then I tweak from time to time.
     
  20. LordIronSpatula

    LordIronSpatula A series of interconnected fortune cookies.

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    He doesn't play the Dingwall exclusively in the video. Maybe you should watch it after all... :p

    The Dingwall sound is certainly distinctive and contributes significantly to his tone when he's using it. No argument there. Most of that comes from the voicing of the pickups and the scale length and will still be apparent when running the bass passive. The tone capsule is good but is basically just an EQ with well-selected parameters that can be imitated.

    I agree that a Fender isn't going to sound just like a Dingwall, but I think that saying you can get "this sound" going straight into the interface, unprocessed, is a stretch. Speaking as a fellow Dingwall NG user... :)
     

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