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How to Fix a Lifeless Bass Guitar

Dec 24, 2019

A bass guitar that sounds thin and dull in the mix is usually the result of a poor performance or recording. Use these 3 tips to improve the quality of the bass sound in your productions.

How to Fix a Lifeless Bass Guitar

A bass guitar that sounds thin and dull in the mix is usually the result of a poor performance or recording. Luckily, there are a couple of tricks you can use to prevent and fix a lifeless bass guitar.

1. Replace the Strings

One of the simplest things you can do to prevent lifeless bass guitar recordings is to use fresh bass guitar strings. Change strings at the beginning of your bass guitar sessions, and you’ll see a significant improvement in bass guitar tone.

Strings that have been played heavily sound “dead,” which means they won’t sound as “crisp” and “brilliant” as new strings. Dead strings lack clarity, so if you’re looking to infuse your bass recording with more definition, a simple string replacement may be what’s needed.

2. Apply a Sonic Enhancer

Vitamin is a multiband sonic enhancer and tone-shaping plugin that allows you to achieve results similar to that of a parallel chain that includes EQ, compression and saturation. This plugin lets you accentuate punchiness and dynamics, two crucial characteristics of a lively bass guitar.

Reduce the direct signal level to zero, and then increase the level of the LO, LOMID, MID, HIMID, and HI bands until you strike a level balance that sounds balanced. Next, adjust the stereo width of each band; for bass guitar, keep your low end below 300 Hz tight, and gently widen the top end.

Pull down the master level to decrease the level of the parallel processing you just dialed in, and then increase the direct signal to 100%. Slowly blend the parallel signal into the direct signal by increasing the master level; the goal is to strike a healthy balance between the two.

3. Replace/Double Your Bass Recording with a VI

Sometimes you’re handed a bass recording that’s completely unsalvageable; these could be home recordings that someone has done their best to record, but the amp, mic or room just wasn’t up to scratch. Instead of spending hours hashing away at something that will yield mediocre results at best, use a virtual bass guitar to re-capture the client’s bass arrangement.

You should always discuss the matter with your client before replacing their recordings and offer them to program the virtual instrument themselves. For professional productions in which results are what matter most, a virtual bass guitar like Bass Fingers is your best option.

When you’re attempting to re-create your client’s bass recording, start by transcribing the notes they’ve used, and then focus on modifying velocity values and articulations. Bass Fingers lets you perform hammer-ons and pull-offs, sampled slides, percussive playing, and more; make use of these features to create convincing bass arrangements.

Want more quick mix fixes? Get tips on how to fix a boxy snare here.

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