The Music Espionage

Recording Bass Guitar

Recording Bass Guitar and capturing the desired tone of the bass can prove to be quite difficult. A good player and a decent bass will make this a lot easier. Make sure the instrument is in tune before you start, this seems a simple idea but it’s surprising how often people forget the simple things.

Recording Bass Guitar Through an amplifier:

Check the amplifiers equaliser before recording; just because it’s a bass guitar doesn’t mean the bass knob on the equaliser has to be on max and the treble turned all the way down!

Start by placing a large diaphragm dynamic microphone close to the speaker cone and off axis (away from the centre). Moving the microphone further to the side of the speaker will give more boom and moving closer to the centre will add more colour. A good start point is to place the microphone about an inch or two away from the centre and adjust to suit your needs.

Recording Bass Guitar

Adding another mic to the mix can often give the Bass a boost in presence. Try breaking out a small diaphragm dynamic like the Shure SM57, it will give the bass a brighter tone but will also loose a bit of low end. You could mix a bit of the small diaphragm with the large and have the best of both worlds.

As always experiment with the placement of the microphone, every amplifier is different and will produce different sounds in different spaces. The picture shows two microphones, An AKG D112 (1) placed just off the edge of the speaker and an SM57 (2) aimed directly at the centre of the cone.

(Microphone 1) – AKG D112 recording:

[audio:|titles=Bass D112]

(Microphone 2) – Shure SM57 recording:

[audio:|titles=Bass SM57]

AKG D112 and Shure SM57 recording:

[audio:|titles=Bass SM57 & D112]

Recording through a DI box (Direct Input) will produce a drier crisp sound that can give the bass more presence within the recording. Most bass guitar amplifiers will have a direct out that will allow you to still use the amplifier without having to mic up a speaker.

Recording Bass Guitar – Direct Input:

[audio:|titles=Bass DI]

 Recording Bass Guitar

It is probably a good idea to mix a DI track with a microphone, although you can produce a good sound with just a DI you tend to loose some feeling and boom which can be added by a microphone on the amplifier.

AKG D112 and DI recording:

[audio:|titles=Bass DI & AKG D112]

As with any recording, experiment to get the sound that will suit your needs. These are just starting points for you to build on.

You can find more help on the Bass Guitar here.