Play and Record Like the Mixing Stage Doesn’t Exist and Get a Great Sound From All Your Instruments : I was recording a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Breath” the other night with a few buddies of mine. I was on bass for this one. On verses of the song I wanted a really picky mid range sound on the bass, and then for the breakdown of each verse I wanted to have a smoother more low passy sound to the bass.
On the first take, I just played the same way throughout the whole song and knew in my head that I was gonna just get the bass sound idea I had during the mixing stage. (The bass was DI’d straight into Pro Tools by the way)
Great idea right?!
No actually not really.
When I processed the bass inside Pro Tools, I threw on an amp simulator. This alone felt a bit ‘meh’. It felt kinda fake and lifeless, but I proceeded nonetheless. I then pronounced the mid range at the verses, and then automated a low pass filter at the breakdowns.
Damn, did this sound bad. Everything about it sounded extremely lifeless and really overprocessed. So I said “screw it, let’s do this again a better way,”
This time around I knew in my head that I should be recording this bass sound as if the mixing stage isn’t an option. So instead of directly injecting my bass into my interface, I decided I should mic up my bass amp instead. Oh god when I did that it sounded so beautiful.
So when micing up the amp, at first I didn’t really take much care on where on the amp I should put my microphone, I mean all that can just be done with an EQ later. But then I remembered, it’s always better just to get the sound at the source instead of processing the crap out of it later. Same went for dialing in the settings on the amp, I didn’t leave everything on default, I tried to get as close as I could to the bass sound I wanted so I had the bass knob at 4, the mid knob at 3.5 and the treble knob at 0.
Another big contribution to the final bass sound is how I played it. I wanted a more picky sound at the verses, so I mean, it’s a no brainer, I’ll use a guitar pick this time around! And so I did, and I plucked it good when I needed that plucky sound. And as I wanted that smoother low passy fingered bass sound at the break down, I simply put the pick on my lap and played the bass closer to the neck then before and gently plucked it to get the exact sound I needed.
The end bass sound was amazing. 1 million times better than the original DI’d sound that I had, and that’s all because I got the sound the way I wanted at the source, before I touched an EQ.
So in conclusion, play and record as if there is no mixing stage, it’ll work wonders as to how good your song will sound and the emotion your song will convey.