Now that you got your baritone, even if you your guitar tone is totally sorted, you notice the bass guitar is all muddy and floppy.

You were hoping that in going super low, you’d have an epic, sub-bass, wall of sonic destruction... But.. in reality it sounds like a skid of wet cardboard. 

Try to look at a bass tone with 3 points of focus. 
• The bass itself  

• Controlling the bass tone  

• Shaping the bass tone 

The Bass / Sound Source  

You can address the bass for your super low tuning 3 different ways 
• An actual bass tuned an octave below (Dingwall, ESP/LTD, Brice)  

• Octave down FX on a regular bass / guitar (The Drop, Octave pedal, VST)  
• MIDI virtual bass (Eurobass) 

I use an actual bass tuned an octave below for both recording and live. And that’s what we’ll be focusing on today. 

Using an actual bass tuned an octave below an already low baritone can be tough when you are in G, F# or F.. As we know with 7 and 8 string guitars, adding more and bigger strings to a regular bass isn’t going to help us. We need more scale length. 

Just the same as guitar, the bigger the strings, the duller the tone and less sustain. Unlike guitar, we have wayyyy fewer options for extended scale basses to match our super low guitars. If you watched the “Bass for Baritone” video, you already know most of the options. 

Our goal is to get enough scale without having to have super insane strings to get as “piano” of a low note as possible. 

I’m using the Dingwall Combustion 5 String. I really don’t need the 5 strings, but the fan on this fretboard goes to 37” on the low side. For my preference, it’s not quite long enough, but it’s all I can muster. I use Kalium .176 to .059 Stainless Steel strings. I can’t recommend these strings enough. They help immensely in the tone and tension. And while they are very expensive, they last FOREVER. 

I tune to G Standard. The main reason I don’t tune to F# or F is because I am very unhappy with the bass performance an octave down that step and a half or full step lower. It makes a massive difference. I do make music in Bass IV E, but for that I use a bass guitar in unison. 

Controlling the Bass Tone 
Bass is generally a tumultuous instrument in a mix (recorded or live). This is the case for almost EVERYONE. But when the tuning is way lower, the tension a bit sloppier, and the strings are slightly too huge, it triples the challenge in getting a solid, clear “piano-like” bass tone. The main points of that challenge being - sustain, even note dynamics and clear low-end that doesn’t eat your whole mix with hungry sub-bass. 

My pal Nick Hill, runs a channel about mixing metal and the magic of the Helix. His mixes are SLICK! you can listen to what I'm talking about on his new EP - Ample Chattels. Nick doesn’t tune SUPER LOW... (C or B usually), but the challenges with bass are VERY similar. I asked Nick about working with bass and what drives him nuts about it 

Check out Nick's channel, grab his EP, there's a ton of gold in what he does.

Bass Control Philosophy 
We can control the bass (a.) before we hit the amps (b.) in the amps (c.) after the amps. I find it best to do a little at each stage rather than doing a lot in a single place. But sometimes, we’ll still do a lot... It’s a tricky instrument. 

Shaping the Bass Tone 
I go for a tone that is dirty in the higher frequencies and clean in the lows. No matter if I’m in the DAW, or on a stage with real amps, the concept will be the same. I don’t always use 2 amps to get there though. In the past, for live, I’ve used a dual amp rig, a single modeler, dual path patch rig, the DarkGlass, the ODB-3, and currently use the Wounded Paw Bass701 for live. 

There are TONS of ways to achieve a similar sound to this one. For this example I’m using a dual amp tone that I build in the DAW with 2 amp VSTs, 2 IRs, and then a few dynamics and EQ VSTs 

Right off the top, make sure both tracks are 100% mono 

Walk-through / build - Clean side 
Cut subs / shape mids / cut top 
Tame dynamics 
Amp and amp settings 
Cab and mic IR 
Cut amped subs / smooth mids / cut top 

Walk-through / build - Dirty side 
Cut all lows / specify mids / cut all top again 
Amp and amp settings 
Cab and mic IR 
Cut all lows / specify mids / cut all top again 

The focus in all of this is the idea that drives the process. More importantly, I hope you are inspired and motivated to develop your own process.


Leave a comment

Please or register to post.

Add comment