Recording Bass: How To Better Prepare For Bass Tracking Day
I haven’t figured out why yet, but over the years, I always seem to have the least pre-production phone calls with bass players. I have a lot of discussions with drummers and guitar players before they walk in the studio. We talk about their setup, their dream sound, how we can prepare ahead of time. However, bass players tend to just walk in fresh and haven’t thought much about the session besides packing their bass.
However, all of my favorite albums have a distinct bass tone throughout. That is not because they just winged it on bass tracking day. Bassists need to take the same preparation tactics ahead of time. Here are some tips you can use to end up with a better tracking day, a better bass tone you’ll be happy with, and a more efficient session!
Know The Sound You Want
You probably have a favorite bass tone out there. This is good to tell your producer ahead of time. Give them a head start to prepare for the session. If you want a round sound, or an aggressive distorted sound, or a clean smooth sound. These are things your producer should know before the session. This will allow them to work on a game plan with you before you ever start tracking. Maybe you don’t have the gear to produce the tone you’re looking for? If that’s the case, it’ll give your producer a chance to set up a rig beforehand that will have that tone. Either way, have a goal in mind before you enter the studio. If possible, talk with your producer before the session about this goal. You’ll be better off, and most likely end up with the sound you’re looking for.
Get Your Bass Setup
This is a must! A day or two before the session, take your bass into your local trusted guitar or luthier shop and have them set up your bass. It’s good to get fresh strings on, but it’s even more critical that the intonation is right. You don’t want to be fighting the tuning the whole session. It won’t sound as good, plus it will put you in the wrong mindset the whole session. You should be thinking about playing great, not worrying about if I press too hard or soft on this note will it go out of tune? This is a requirement for bassists that I produce beforehand. We don’t want to take the chance, and then have to pause the session to go get a bass set up at the last minute.
Work Out The Kinks
This falls in the same category as getting your bass setup. If you have a buzz in your sound somewhere, it’s best to address this ahead of time. Maybe you have an issue with your amp? This should be addressed ahead of time also. If you need to have something in the shop to be fixed, or maybe even a replacement, this is the time to do it. It’s highly unlikely your producer won’t notice this and want to have it fixed or replaced. If you can address these issues ahead of time, there won’t be any need to put a halt on the session!
Practice With A Click
If you aren’t already practicing with a metronome, now is the time to start! If anything, it’ll make you a better all-around player. That will show in the studio! If possible, practice as a band with the click. That will best prepare you for your time in the studio. However, control what you can control. That would be practicing with a metronome while playing alone.