A Different Way to Record Bass

A couple of years ago, I read a book called “Guerrilla Home Recording: How to Get Great Sound from Any Studio”. A neat tip that I picked up from the book is to record the signals from both a DI box and a miked bass amp to different tracks. Then you can blend the two tracks together to get a different tone for different songs. You’ll get a very clean tone from the DI box (because it’s coming straight from the bass guitar’s pickups), and depending on how hard the amp is driven, you’ll get some grit and distortion, and more color from the miked amp. I’ve used this technique with some limited success.

I recently came across a YouTube video from Producer/Engineer Ronan Chris Murphy who puts a slightly different spin on this technique. Here are the steps:

  1. Plug your Bass into a DI Box
  2. Connect the XLR Out of the DI to a Mic Preamp and record it to one track on your recorder or DAW
  3. Connect the 1/4″ Out of the DI to a Sans Amp Bass Driver DI input
  4. Connect the XLR Out of the Sans Amp to another Mic Preamp and record it to a different track on your recorder or DAW
  5. Connect the 1/4″ Out of the Sans Amp to your Bass Amp (if using one)

Like the first technique, this provides a very clean signal from the DI and a separate colored (overdriven,gritty, distorted, etc.) signal from the Bass Driver DI. You can blend these two bass tracks together, or use one or the other of them as dictated by whatever sounds best for each song.

If monitoring over headphones, you don’t even have to plug into a bass amp, which will prevent bleed from the bass into any other mics (drums, guitars, etc.). But you can still use the sound from the Bass Driver DI to provide the bass player with more of the tone that he’s come to expect in his headphones. This technique also can also help prevent phase problems that may occur when miking an amp and using a DI, due to the slight delay between the two signals.

I’ll also mention that you wouldn’t necessarily have to use a Bass Driver DI. If you have another bass preamp pedal available, you could just as easily tap the signal from it, or even use the balanced XLR output or an effects send from the bass amp if you have those connections available to you. The trick really amounts to recording two direct signals to two separate tracks–a really clean signal from the DI box and more colored signal from the other source (Bass Driver/Bass Preamp/etc.).

I haven’t gotten to try this out this technique yet, but I’m anxious to. The bass player in my band already uses a SansAmp Bass Driver DI (which is where he gets most of his tone), so connecting it up will be easy. I’ll just have to insert the DI box in front of the Bass Driver. If anyone else tries this technique, feel free to post your results in the comments below.

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