A song’s sub-bass frequency and bass frequencies are crucial. You’ll be praised for doing it correctly. You’ll lose your whole mix if you mess it up. Solid foundation is essential.
Many discussions surround the various ways that a song can have a rock-solid groove that propels it to the top. It covers everything from equipment and playing technique to recording, mixing and other tricks. It’s because most people don’t know the basics of bass guitarEQ.
Yes, volumes matter. It is important to make room for the kick drum. You can use compression and tricks with chorus or flangers to help. The parametric equalizer is the best tool for the job.
Today, we will show you how to create a bass guitar track with a clear EQ that does not compromise. I will also warn you about the dangers of mixing their perfectly crafted EQ and other signal processing tools.
You’ll still have the punch and harmonics at the end. This track will sound great on any system.
Setting the Bass Guitar EQ – Some Things You Need to Know Before
You should always reach for the equalizer before doing anything else, except cleaning up quiet regions. This applies to any instrument or track. It makes sense to first hone the tone.
Each Track is Unique – Every bass guitar recording will need unique EQ settings, regardless of whether it was recorded using a microphone, an amplifier, or a direct injected into an interface. Even the same bass guitar recorded 15 mins later will require slightly different adjustments.
Mix with Your Ears I emphasize that while these tips are generally useful, specific details will vary. Nobody can tell you what to do at this level of detail. To make the right decisions, you will need to focus with your ears!
Solo and in Context When you are trying to create the perfect bass tone, it is best to listen to the music in solo mode. This will allow you to hear only the bass guitar. Listen to the whole mix when making large decisions. You can play the bass solo, or any other instrument, to balance them.
Use Headphones and a Subwoofer If you have acoustic treatment, especially bass traps, in your mixing area, and the best subwoofer available, you should use them. You will need studio headphones that have a frequency response as low as possible. You won’t be able to hear the low-end clearly if you don’t have the right headphones.
Let’s begin with the basics. These are the things you will be doing immediately before any other type EQ work. I prefer to use one parametric EQ plug for all of it, then I can always go back and get another one if necessary.
Sub Bass Roll Off: High Pass Filter
Although it may seem strange, I set up a high-pass filter as my first step. Its name will tell you what it does. It blocks out low frequencies and allows for high frequencies to pass through. But why would I do that to my bass guitar? This is a good idea for two reasons.
Control Sub-Bass Frequencies First, you must control your sub-bass frequencies. They may not be audible through your headphones or other cruddy speakers, but they will be heard by anyone who has a subwoofer. You don’t have to be able to hear them well enough to use them.
Sub-bass is a tricky instrument. If you don’t have it right, you should not be providing too much. You’ll lose headroom, create distortion for listeners, and ruin the balance of your mix.
Make Space for the Kick Drum In most music today, the kick drum will have a lower frequency range than the actual bass line. Although I said “own”, the truth is that the kick and the bass must share this area, but the kick will dominate.
You can reduce the sub-bass gradually to 20 Hz in your track’s bass track. This will allow the kick to be more felt than just an extra “smear” in the region. This is a critical balance and I have many more tips to share with you.
A general starting point – I recommend that the main frequency be set at 50 Hz. You can then reduce the volume gradually, but steadily, as you get closer to 20 Hz. This will allow you to add sub-bass, but it won’t cause a rattling of the speakers.
This will result in a more coherent mix in the low-end. It will also provide clarity to the kick drum as well as the bass, and reduce the muddy sound that can be caused by them clashing. The kick is a contrast to the bass’ intelligence and clarity.
You can also add a low pass filter (High Roll Off).
The energy and power of bass comes around 60 Hz to 140 Hz. The clarity and harmonics come from overtones and harmonics that can occur up to 5 kHz and possibly higher. These harmonics are what our ear is most focused on while the energy is felt.
Keep the Harmonics and Kill the Noise There is no sound or information above 5 kHz for bass tracks. However, you will likely have room for reverb and digital noise as well as hiss and crackle and string noise. A low pass filter can either eliminate them completely or reduce their volume.
Make Space for Hats and Cymbals and Vocals, etc. – When mixing is dense, getting rid any additional sound will allow for more instruments, especially if their fundamental frequencies or harmonics are within that range. These upper frequencies are essential for chimes, hi-hats and vocals as well as cymbals and hi-hats and guitars and pianos.
We now have the high-end and sub-bass cleaned up. The sub-bass will be addressed again later. However, we are done with the higher frequencies. Now, it’s time for the overall sound of the bass to be sculpted.
Bass Guitar Frequency Ranges
We now need to define the basic characteristics of the bass track. This can be done in two steps. To create a pleasing sound, first listen to the solo mode. Then, you can go into the full mix and add or subtract ranges as needed.
This instrument is simpler than most. There are only four frequencies that you should be concerned with.
- 80 Hz – 200 Hz: Energy & Fullness
- 200Hz – 500Hz: Muddiness and Boxiness
- 500 Hz – 1 kHz: Punch & Intelligibility
- 1kHz – 5 kHz: Harmonics, Clarity, Attack
Ask yourself questions about the descriptive jargon terms, both in single mode and in the whole mix. These ranges can help you identify the problem if you suspect it.
You have two options when EQing bass. One is to boost, the other is to cut. This means that you can increase or decrease its volume. You don’t have to be “surgical” when using your EQ, unlike other instruments.
How To EQ Bass Guitar: Stick to adjustments between 2 and 5 dB. You may need more, or you might have problems with your signal chain or recording process. Record dry without any reverb, distortion or other effects and then add them to the mix.
You should not use large boosts, cuts or curves. This is the opposite to “surgical EQ”, and it sounds natural, transparent, musical, and musical. To make space for the kick drum, you don’t need to have tight Q’s.
The Most Common Problem. If the bass is not clear, you don’t need to increase the low-end. It is not necessary. To make it easier to understand, play with large boosts of 700 Hz to 2 KHz. You will find more tips below.
Locate the Pocket. While you don’t have to do it every time, sometimes you need to find the “pocket”, where the bass guitar and kick drum live. These frequencies are the most fundamental of each. You can increase or decrease these frequencies to make room for one another.
The Jargon – Energy is the opposite of a weak, lifeless track. Bad acoustics can cause muddiness or boxiness when recording in small rooms. However, these effects will spread to all your tracks.
Intelligibility and punch provide “oomph”, which is essential in getting the listener’s attention to the bass line. Attack is part of punch. This is the volume peak when the pick or fingers hit the strings. This is what you want to keep.
Other bass guitar EQ tricks
Although none of these functions are equalizer functions, all have some connection to EQ. They will be needed to finish your mix, particularly with the low-end. This will be a short summary. You’ll need more information on your end to get a deeper dive.
Compression– You will compress the bass tracks more than you think. Because the sub-bass is the place where the majority of the energy in a track’s tracks resides, this ensures consistency.
This is where the key is to use the compressor’s attack control to let the note’s initial attack shine through. This is crucial for the listener to be able to hear and latch onto. You can make the attack whatever you like, but it shouldn’t be squashed.
Distortion/Saturation/Layering – Sometimes your bass recording lacks harmonics, clarity, and therefore intelligibility. One of the three options, or a combination of them, can be used to add it. You can either add saturation to create subtle, warm, pleasing distortion or use distortion (less recommended).
The addition of harmonic content to the mix can be enhanced by saturation and distortion. You can also layer your bass track with another melody by turning up the tone knob, or playing it at a higher octave.
Sidechain Compression – Rather than destroying your beautiful EQ by using surgical moves to make room for the kick drums, the best move to take is sidechain compression. This compresses the bass track, but only when it sounds off.
Ducking to the bass is a way to reduce its volume temporarily to allow the kick drum’s body and attack to be heard. The volume will then return during the decay tail portion of the kick. Your listeners will notice a marked improvement in the sound quality of the kick drum when it is done correctly.
Phase Issues You may experience phase cancellations for stereo synth bass tracks and stereo effects. For the most part, I recommend mixing in mono. Always check in mono. This issue is too complex to cover here.
Chorus to Spread Stereo – This is a final trick that I love, especially in pop and rap. An auxiliary bus can be used to only target the higher frequencies of the bass track, and to add chorus. It will spread the sound across the stereo field, making it sound big and keeping the real energy of your bass in mono.
These final tricks will make it easy to create the perfect low-end in your mix. You can then add a high pass filter to the master bus, which will ignore the bass and only add it in at the end.
It’s never been easier to EQ bass guitar!
That’s all. The main tasks are to clean up the sub-bass and roll off the top end. Next, you need to shape the overall sound with wide EQ curves. Finally, make room for the kick drum. This is all there is to it.
People use all sorts of tricks and techniques to avoid the hard work they don’t know how. Bass guitar EQ can be very simple if one takes the time to understand the principles and uses their ears. Enjoy making better mixes.