Wednesday, July 30

Tips in Mixing Bass Guitar like a PRO

Bass Guitar is very hard to mix. It is always the main reason why the mix sounds either dull, thin or mud. The major problem is that all instruments have bass frequencies, but not so heavy as bass guitar and a kick drum. In a mix, all instruments are played together and the primary problem lies in the bass frequencies, it is why every time you heard tracks that are not mix, it sounds mud.

I have been mixing for years and I love to present these two techniques I learned from experience in mixing. Basically you can only apply one technique per song. But you will have two choices how to approach mixing bass guitar in the mix:

a. The Rock Bass Guitar Sound Mix- in this mix, the objective of the bass guitar is to sound heavy and partly dominant in the mix. As a rock producer, I like the bass guitar to sound aggressive and up front in the mix. Did you notice that once you hear rock tracks today such as Trapt, Green day, Simple Plan, their bass guitar is very dominant? It is a secret of sound engineers in how to make bass guitar loud while avoiding mud.

As a guide, we will designate 45 Hz to 250 Hz as the bass frequencies where kick drums and bass guitar mainly reside. The problem is how to blend those two together.

Since the bass guitar needs to sound heavy and dominant, it should occupy mainly the bottom 45 Hz to 250 Hz. But....

We will dip 100 Hz for the kick drum spikes to shine through. I usually dip the bass guitar around 100 Hz with Q settings of around 2.0 and -9dB reduction.

To balance, I will boost kick drum at around 100 Hz with Q settings of around 2.0 and 9dB~12 boost.

To sound better, I will apply high pass filter (so it will attenuate frequencies lower than 50Hz) on kick drum around 50 Hz -3dB reduction, for the deep bass guitar frequencies to dominate the sub woofer, making it sound heavy.

But I will not apply boosting to bass guitar at any frequencies between 45Hz and 200 Hz.

I finally boost 250 Hz for bass guitar to make those notes more audible, I use Q of 2.0, and boost at 3dB.

As a rule the kick drum needs to be dip at around 250Hz to 400Hz with Q of 2~3, to remove those card board sound, this makes the bass guitar notes more audible as well as the distortion guitar.

What about other instruments??? It is simple. All instruments are to be applied with high pass filter at around 250Hz -6dB reduction. This will make the bass frequencies 45Hz to 250Hz, a place just for bass guitar and kick drums.

What is the result? A heavy bass guitar sound typical for rock music.

b. The Pop Bass Guitar Sound Mix - this is very easy and simple to do. The principle is to avoid heavy bass sound to emphasize clarity, punch and elegance of vocals and guitar instruments. This is mostly applicable in pop music as well as country music.

The Principle:

The kick drum solely occupies the 45 to 150 Hz spectrum, this will make the kick drum sounds so fat and strong very catchy for pop music.

The bass guitar will rest at 200 Hz, it wont produce strong bass but the bass guitar notes is highly audible and it will be there to support the song "groove".

Specifically, the kick drum is boosted 6dB at 80Hz with Q of around 1.0. To prevent heavy muddiness which can affect clarity and airness of pop music, both the kick and bass guitar are applied with high pass filter around 3dB reduction at 50Hz.

Also the bass guitar is applied with high pass filter starting at 200 Hz, so it will attenuate frequencies below 200 Hz, making the sub woofer and the bass frequencies mainly composed of kick sound.

What about other instruments? Again a simple high pass filter will be applied in all, as we do not need their bass frequencies to shine (such as electric guitar, acoustic guitar and vocals). I will set it at 250Hz, so below that frequencies, it will be attenuated.

The result? A very clear and defined mix for bass, ideally for pop and country music.

If you need to hear samples of my work, contact me. Thank you.