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Topic: OT: Sub Bass from 5 String basses

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  1. #1

    OT: Sub Bass from 5 String basses

    Forgive this off topic post, but the musicians and composers in this forum have superior mixing knowledge to alot of the other forums. My question is, how much of a role do 5 string basses play in modern rock and pop music. I see a lot of players using the low B string in church and Gospel environments, but do the major label mixing and mastering professionals (in rock and pop) incorporate the low bass into the mixes or do they roll it off below a certain point? I know that 75% of the commercial stereos don't reproduce lower frequencies, but is there a way to record rock and pop songs using the low B on a 5 string bass and make it play well in crappy sound systems as well as superior ones. If it's a big hassle to finnagle these sub bass frequencies into the mix, I'd rather just avoid them all together. Thanks for any input you can provide.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: OT: Sub Bass from 5 String basses

    Hi,

    This is always a hard issue in the mix. One of the problems can be how hard the bass player is actually leaning on the low B string. Most of the players I know keep the ultra-lows in their back pocket, in order to get the biggest musical impact...they save them for the moment where they really want the sky to open up.

    If that's the case in your situation, it's easiest to mix the track as you always would, and treat the ultra-low notes individually.

    One trick that works is to use Waves Renaissance Bass or MaxxBass. It fools the ear into thinking the low fundamental is present by enhancing the overtones which will imply that fundamental as a Tartini or difference tone. So, you reduce the amount of the original track that is being heard, and you increase the output of the affected overtones. It works very well, but you have to be judicious, because the bass can run away and get overbearing very easily with that plugin.

    If you're getting really good results with four-string tracks, and you have a method that's working for you consistently, you might consider just cutting the low-b string notes out of the track, pasting them to another track, and either EQ'ing them differently, tailoring each of their amplitudes, using the plugin suggested above, or a combination of all of the above.

    If the bass player is leaning on that low string all the time, you'll just have to come up with some ideal combination of the above that will get the entire track in line.

    It's no wonder that bass is the hardest thing to get right. I can totally relate to the question...once you've done enough mixing, and finally know how to get the bass really slamming in the mix, somebody shows up with a 5-string and puts you right back into a quandry!! A friend of mine actually has a six-string (eek) but luckily it's one up and one down, so it's no more inherent problem than the 5-string (except when he starts strumming the *&$$#^ thing, at which point, all bets are off).

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tom Crowning's Avatar
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    Re: OT: Sub Bass from 5 String basses

    Quote Originally Posted by Tbarnes
    Forgive this off topic post, but the musicians and composers in this forum have superior mixing knowledge to alot of the other forums. My question is, how much of a role do 5 string basses play in modern rock and pop music. I see a lot of players using the low B string in church and Gospel environments, but do the major label mixing and mastering professionals (in rock and pop) incorporate the low bass into the mixes or do they roll it off below a certain point? I know that 75% of the commercial stereos don't reproduce lower frequencies, but is there a way to record rock and pop songs using the low B on a 5 string bass and make it play well in crappy sound systems as well as superior ones. If it's a big hassle to finnagle these sub bass frequencies into the mix, I'd rather just avoid them all together. Thanks for any input you can provide.
    I think that question has a deductive answer: normally rock/pop is mastered
    loud (or, to be more accurate, WAY TOO LOUD ).
    You can't make a mix loud with a dominant low B, therefore they will
    eq it away.

    Tom

    PS: mixing/pre-mastering is a hobby for me, so the professionals might disagree

  4. #4

    Re: OT: Sub Bass from 5 String basses

    Thanks Bruce and Tom,
    I must admit, that's a good idea to process the low B stuff on another track with a crossfade or something. I had always thought of the RenBass and MaxBass as a way of compensating for the lack of bass in a mix. But you bring up a side of it, Bruce, that I hadn't thought of. Shifting the perception that the fundamental frequency is still there.
    I have always been a bit puzzled at the premise of the MaxBass line of plugins simply from an EQ'ing standpoint. If these harmonics are actually mimicking the fundamental frequency, do you not end up in a situation where the "real-estate" in your low-mid frequencies is more scarce to the other instruments? Also, at what point in the chain would you use subtractive EQ to get rid of nastiness......before or after the MaxxBass?
    The experience that you guys bring to this forum is priceless!
    Thanks Travis

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