What’s the first thing to do when you want more of that big bass sound? “Boost the bass!” with a low shelf EQ filter.
OK, don’t lie. We’ve all done it!
Unfortunately, that’s not the best way to get the full and rich bass sound you want – and it can actually make the bass sound really muddy.
Instead of boosting the bass, try these three counterintuitive tips.
The lowest note on the bass guitar (low E) only goes down to 41 Hz, so filtering frequencies below that note just helps remove any extra rumble and clear up the lows.
Mid frequencies in the 400-900 Hz range will have a lot of tone and punch from the harmonic frequencies of the bass strings.
Applying a modest boost of select frequencies in this range can help clear up a muddy sounding bass, add more defined musical tone, and could provide some of that extra punch you’re looking for.
If your bass player uses a pick or likes to play with a slap-bass style, then making a small boost in the 1-4 kHz range will really make the string sound stand out.
While using EQ to cut frequencies is always the preferred method, don’t be afraid to boost a few frequencies here and there. It can really be effective in making things pop in your mix.
What to do with 5-string bass? I prefer this type of instrument. And I'm not alone 🙂
Just cut frequency below 31Hz?
Hey Serge, the 5-string bass is definitely a great instrument and can add a lot of texture and tone to the low end. You are correct that you could filter the lows up to about 31 Hz (the low B string). That being said, you may want to experiment with filtering up a little higher if you are getting too much rumble from the low end. The interesting thing is that even if you filter out some lows in the root frequency, you'll still get the benefit of the higher overtones from that string. Some sound systems, sub woofers, and rooms don't always do well with certain frequencies, so it's best to experiment and listen for what sounds best - even if the settings look wrong! If your EQ settings end up truly sounding good in your room, then that's great, regardless of what the "experts" tell you 🙂
Thanks for the helpful tips! I will apply them next show.
Currently at Praise Band practice and am experimenting with is
That's great Ken! Let us know how it goes.
Has anyone ever split the signal of the bass into 2 DI boxes in series, sending each signal to a different channel on the board? One of the guys at our church has done that. Not knowing the exact split, he uses one box to control everything from about 250 Hz and down and the other one to control everything above (cutting completely above or below respectively using the EQ) We run two boards every morning - one for front of house (FOH) and one for broadcast. I understand this is supposed provide better control of the tone - probably mostly for the benefit of our broadcast audience but that's only if the person running that board takes full advantage of the split. I may be able to hear slightly better tone on FOH but guessing most people sitting in the audience don't know the difference. Anyone play around with something like this and if so, any thoughts (good, bad or otherwise).
That's a really interesting method. I haven't personally done that. The one thing I'll say about splitting signals at a DI is that the second DI may receive a slightly weaker signal, especially if you are using a passive DI. It really just depends on how the DI electronics are designed though. Another alternative to this approach would be to use one signal input and then create a crossover split with a matrix or virtual pair of channels - sending low frequencies to one channel and high frequencies to the other. That's essentially what this split DI scenario is used for. Again, I haven't done this personally, but you should easily be able to do a crossover configuration in a digital console, then assign the outputs back to your bass channel(s).
I like the idea of clearing up the mud of the lowest frequencies but my preference on a bass amp as a bassist is to always cut mids. I doubt that I would enjoy that timbre.
That's a great point Greg - especially for a local sound at the bass amp or monitors. Most of the tips we're talking about here are for the main mix, which can require a much different approach than what a local on-stage mix might have. It often just depends on the room and what is happening with acoustics or other instruments/vocals in the mix. Getting the best sound for the instrument like you mention is always the best place to start, then the front of house sound tech can adjust it from there if needed. Thanks for sharing Greg!
I would appreciate suggestions of how much to cut or boost. When you say things like "a modest boost", what does that mean? How many db? It would be helpful to give examples.
Hi Jordan, good question. A modest boost (or cut) would be somewhere around 2-5 dB. Once you get beyond 6 dB, the sound characteristics can change for frequencies surrounding your selected frequency, especially with a lower Q (wider bandwidth).