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Bass EQ and Compression Recipes

posted on #1
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Joined: 11.07.15
Hello all,

Enclosed are some notations Ive made on bass recording techniques. Bass as you know is one of the hardest things to get right in a mix. My problems are large , cluttered mixes with lots of instruments. The bass usually gets lost in there , right? Or what about older tracks not recorded properly?
I have had ALOT of really bad mixes and until I discovered these, no amount of "doctoring" "tweaking" or "magical VST plugins" will help you improve your bass and the overall sound of a properly recorded track.

So how does one cut thru so your playing is highlighted without turning up the volume?


3.THE BEST RECORDINGS ARE MIXED CORRECTLY AS IT IS RECORDED!!!!! The better your recording setup initially the less work you need to do!
4. The way you monitor your mixes is the most important aspect of mixing. There is a reason people use STUDIO monitors and STUDIO headphones. PC speakers or earbuds arent worth crap and the source of most mixing problems.

PC speakers "color" the sound and offer images that arent really there.

So Work SMART not HARD and be honest your equipment may suck and need upgrading.

These settings will in general, work for individual bass tracks although you may have to tweak depending on vocalist, instruments, genre....but generally...they will get you in the right area.


The biggest thing is removing the frequencies under 50 -60 hz that are just mud on the track you work with.These are generally low sub harmonic bass frequencies that generally do more harm to your sound then good.

Just get rid of them on both the track you are working with and your bass track. If its a rap song you may want them, but try it first and you can always undo it. Unfortunatley , some older recordings don’t quite hold up and sound “tinny” when this is done. So play around.


On the TRack you are working with:
Cut -6 to -24 db @ 50 hz for starters to "make an opening" for your bass.
Listen back to determine if the cut compromised the integrity of the original recording.

For your bass track:
Cut -6 to 12 db off 40-50 hz off your bass track. You can undo this if the subharmonic boominess is desired but unless its rap music , you really wont miss it and it makes your bass very clean and punchy immediatley.Listen back and see if it improved anything.

Now listen both together and you should notice your bass "fits" and is "clear" in the mix. Maybe not perfect, but you should see "room " for you.

THE BASS BIG THREE---------girth, definition, attack

GIRTH is a good description for the lowest fundamental frequencies of your bass track. These frequencies give your bass most of its low end energy and sustain. Too much girth will make your mix muddy while not enough will leave a thin sound or give an unnatural relationship as you try to make other instruments fill in these key frequencies. Start your search in the 80-100Hz range while looking for girth. A low to moderate boost will typically do the trick if your bass needs some help in this range. If you find yourself needing to use a more extreme boost to enhance girth then you would do well to also use a high pass filter to keep from adding too much in the sub-bass frequencies.

DEFINITION helps the listener to pick out the melodic structure of the bass line. Our ears have a difficult time determining pitch at low frequencies. While the girth allows the listener to feel the power of the bass line, definition allows the shape of the bass line to come forward. The midrange frequencies are most important while trying to define a bass sound. A good start is a healthy boost aound 800Hz, but sweep around to find the sweet spot.

ATTACK is the result of either the pick or the fingers plucking each note. A strong attack will provide your bass track with its rhythmic percussiveness. The attack helps draw the ear to the beginning of each note. Dense mixes where the bass lacks attack tend to give the bass a sound of sliding around from note to note without any real rhythmic excitement. This might be fine if you are specifically going for that effect but is generally not what we want. Look in the 3-5kHz area to find your attack. Your bass track will cut through your mix more as you boost this range. Be careful not to boost too much unless you want your bass to come right to the front of the mix.

There are a few frequency ranges you can work on if you find your bass taking up too much sonic space in your mix. Some gentle cutting in the 200-500Hz window can work wonders for cleaning up the track. Be very careful though because the on the low side you could affect the important girth of your instrument while the high side gets perilously close to hurting your track’s definition.

Bass BIG 3 EQ Recipes:

More girth +6dB at 80Hz
More definition +8dB at 800Hz
More attack +4dB at 3.0kHz
Less mud -3dB at 220Hz


Start here for a modern slap and pop type sound

Band 1: +8dB at 60Hz
Band 2: -3dB at 350Hz
Band 3: +9dB at 850Hz
Band 4: +8dB at 5kHz shelf

Start here for a vintage R&B sound

Band 1: +9dB at 100Hz
Band 2: +6dB at 1.6kHz (narrow)
Band 3: +5dB at 2.5kHz
Band 4: 4kHz low pass

Start here for a very punchy low end with plenty of cut

Band 1: 60Hz high pass
Band 2: +6dB at 80Hz
Band 3: +8dB at 900Hz
Band 4: +7dB at 3.4kHz

Bass compression

Compressing a bass is not always necessary but it can really help to smooth out the dynamics on an otherwise uneven track. It is very important to listen closely to the attack of your instrument after compression. A carelessly tuned compressor can do a lot of harm to the important first transients of your bass sound. This will leave you with a bass track that seems to lack all ability to be heard above other instruments. The attack setting on your compressor is the control to focus on while you are tuning the attack of the compressed bass sound.

Reduction level is the amount your bass track is being compressed. All good compressors have some kind of meter or way to gauge your signal reduction. This will sometimes be labeled gain reduction or will just be a meter that seems to work backwards, going down or showing negative values on each drum hit. You should be able to see the reduction increase (more into the negative range) as you lower the threshold of the compressor. I like to get 3-6dB of gain reduction for when compressing a bass track. Reduction level is not adjusted directly. It is adjusted by lowering the threshold control until you are getting your desired reduction level.


Punchy bass compression

Ratio: 4:1
Attack: 50ms
Release: 50ms
Threshold: adjust for 3-6dB gain reduction

Smoothing out dynamics

Ratio: 6:1
Attack: 0.3ms
Release: 660ms
Threshold: adjust for 3-6dB gain reduction

Try it out and again...these are just to get you started in the right areas...

Happy jamming!!
Edited by LeftTheLoops9-18 on September 24 2015 16:48
posted on #2
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Posts: 374
Joined: 25.03.12
Just a note about high pass filtering the bass. A E1 (lowest note on a 4 string) has a fundamental frequency of 41,2 Hz And a B0 (a fourth below, common on 5 string) is 30,85.
As long as the equipment used for playing back the the mix can handle these frequencies without distorsion they do not need to be HPF. But then again, most equipment (even so called HiFi) has difficulties with this, at least at higher volumes.
Pure fingerstyle
posted on #3
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Joined: 20.02.15
Thank you R
I have printed this and will work with it.
Does the offer still stand if I need some extra help?
posted on #4
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Joined: 16.10.11
Very informative thanks for sharing
posted on #5
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Joined: 27.02.15
All very useful information! When mixing tracks which already have bass on, I do similarly to you and Hi-Pass the bass around 50-100hz mark but that's mainly to prevent its frequencies clashing with my kick drum.

Which is the point I should make - if doing bass to a track which already has drums on, have a play with the hi-pass or EQ to see where it needs to happen. If the bass guitar and the kick clash, both will lose definition. If the bass guitar loses its punch because of the hi-pass, experiment with dropping the drums around the 180hz mark instead - this is the frequency area where many kick drums sound 'boxy'.
posted on #6
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Joined: 20.01.14
Very good info here guys, thanks for sharing, I'll try this out next time I'm mixing bass.
posted on #7
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Thanks for all the infos, I will try to put it into use. It's a miracle that a few of my mixes sound ok, considering I don't know anything about mixing and mastering it it seems!
posted on #8
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TG_Strat wrote:
Thanks for all the infos, I will try to put it into use. It's a miracle that a few of my mixes sound ok, considering I don't know anything about mixing and mastering it it seems!

You and me both! My mixing is 90% ears and a bit of information I've picked up over the years!

I did a charity single a few years ago which was produced by the guy who did Westlife's early albums (ssshhhh!!). He gave me two bits of advice:

1) Although mathematically impossible, to get 100% out of a recording, you have to put 110% in. i.e. belt the living hell out of your drums. Mics will always lose a bit of the energy. He's right. 99% of my 'Loops uploads I'm belting the hell out of my kit and it does not sound like it.

2) Production. You *can* polish a turd (to coin an English phrase!).
Edited by mpointon on December 16 2015 23:25
posted on #9
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Joined: 18.03.12
I know almost nothing about the technicalities of mixing bass, and generally only really use a compressor, never any EQ. And even then, I just randomly fiddle with the controls until it works. So this is a really interesting read! :)
posted on #10
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Thanks to to all of you. This is good info. I've never mixed bass in an intelligent way---just by feel. This will help a great deal. -- Gator
posted on #11
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Joined: 31.10.15
Thanks this is great advice and as my mixing was completely random interested where it will take my next few mixes sound wise .. I still need to practice the playing bit, may take a bit longer to master! ;)

Just tried my first recording. May be obvious to others but I have an active Sire Markus Miller J bass with way to many knobs. I initially over cooked the bass end on the e-string (loud and fuzzy), as I had set the bass too high on the guitar. Once I dialled it down and set everything else to centre apart from the pick up balance to get the sound I wanted, I managed a cleaner sound on the e-string then using Relativity's EQ settings in Cubase.
:| May have been simpler to use the P bass!
Edited by BossHen on January 05 2016 13:49
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