Recording Bass Guitar – Capturing The Low End With Ease

Recording bass guitar is a much easier task than recording guitar.

Drawing of Female Bassist - Recording Bass Guitar Page

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Accurately capturing the sound of a guitar amplifier is almost a science of its own. Selecting the right microphone and the proper placement for them requires patience, which is something I have little of. The combination of microphone and possible placement means there are numerous possible recording setups. Options are great, but too many options can often lead to a lot of excessive experimenting, tweaking, tinkering, etc. And then there is the room. If using an ambient microphone to capture the room sound of the guitar amp, then you must make sure you are working in a good-sounding room. Otherwise, why bother?

With recording bass guitar, it is a much easier process. You can still mic the amp, yes. But with a good direct box and the right amount of compression and equalization, you do not necessarily have to bother with a full bass rig anymore. VST Plugins can take the sound a bit further. There are plenty to choose from, and many are free. But if you still do not like the sound of the lone direct signal, it is always possible to record the bass to two separate tracks, one for the direct signal and one for the close mic’d amplifier signal. A good ‘ole Shure SM-57 is fine for the job, but there are other suitable alternatives available. I most often use my GLS-ES57, which is a great SM-57 alternative. You may want something tailored more for the thick, bottom bass frequencies, but I have not found this necessary. I have tried, but with unsatisfactory results. Experiment. What works for me might be disastrous for you. I don’t know. But I do know that by recording bass guitar to two separate signals, you can mix the two tracks together to get the right blend of the mic’d sound and the direct sound. I usually record this way. Even if I do not end up using both in the final mix, at least I have the option if needed. But most of the time, I find that I like the sound of the direct signal by itself. Maybe I’m wrong and like a bass sound that is not good. But so far it has seemed to work with no complaints form anyone else. Below are two bass direct boxes that are good for recording. The first one is the SansAmp Bass Driver (very expensive) and the second one is the Behringer BDI-1 (not expensive). Both are good. Check out the following videos and have a listen for yourself. Hopefully I will have a comparison video of my own up soon.

For some additional sound-manipulation tools for the low end, go to Free VST Plugins For Bass.