Bass Tracking with Q&A


Gear Gods presents Studio Pass: Kurt Ballou


Lesson Info

Bass Tracking with Q&A

Most of the same rules of base tracking applied to guitar tracking you now, as I mentioned yesterday with a lot of the lower to music that I record, um, I have tio intentionally to the base quite flat to get it to sound in tune with the rest of the band. Because when you, when you strike something hard, it has a natural tendency to go sharp so sometimes all and obtaining the base as much as thirty cents flat. If it's tuned down to see your b, you're a or something like that in order to get to sound with the guitars. That's that's one of the reasons why I'm typically recording bass after guitar. The the music that I record most often the drummer lakhs in with the guitar player more than I lock in with the bass player you know traditionally, like in rock music or jazz music, the drummer in the bass player really work together the type of music that I recorded it. It tends to be more guitarist and drummer, locked in together, and the type of music that I typically record. The guitar tone ...

is usually. More important or to the character of the record than the bass tone is so not that the base is in any way not important to me it's like the base is sort of the glue that brings the whole record together in great bass playing a great bass sound will just sort of make the whole thing feel solid and pushing forward, so I'm not trying to discount the base at all, but I do want to make sure that it to me with the type music I record it's more important that the bass tone, the bass playing fit around the drums and the guitar rather than the guitar having to fit around the bass player. So when tracking a bassist, I'm keeping all that stuff in mind and I'm also keeping in mind, you know, where is the voice of the song on given moment and sometimes if you're recording like a great bass player, somebody like kenny, who has the ability teo really go off and put a lot of interesting stuff into the song you have to be aware of what the voice is in the song at that moment in time and isn't appropriate for them to be going off I think you only get a couple of pills in the song they certainly didn't conflict with with the vocal or that guitar melody that's the voice in this particular song so all tasteful stuff but keep that keep those issues of taste in mind as you're recording a bass player and you know don't be afraid to ask them to dumb it down or to put it to their bandmates like hey is you think I think those funny note choices air fills or the right thing for the song or do you think you should just dumb it down yeah so much all of you to say about based tracking I want to get into um to some vocal sound stuff now when maybe a question or two about base hit those first love tio have this one from any vh for two one fifty how would you go about getting studio a record like tones with no separate control or performance rooms like recording in a bedroom where the cabinet is not in separate rooms so camp yeah it's a little bit it's a little bit more challenging doing it that way because oh for two reasons number one obviously you don't have any isolation between your your monitor position and the amplifier so you have to I do like a little recording passes and then listen back so it's ah it's a slower process because he's got a you know do a little bit listen listen back to it make adjustments make make make guests do a little bit again keep going back and forth you know maybe you have some of those extreme isolation headphones that can help you he was going on a little bit with the m still in the room there are a number of different isolation cabinet type things and you can use dad was telling me yesterday about a you're like a box that he built that's like a mini mini ice a booth and put the bass cabinet in when he's tracking bass you could consider building something like that you want to talk about that a little bit just explain to people how to make one of those well actually saw it from matt bayliss in the red room he builds those for his aisa bou did he build yours? No I just did ah two by four construction and filled it with rock wool and then had peg poured on ah there's the softer part that's the inside that's the most absorbent than theirs reflective surface on the outside as well and then I just put like a a a ah on office ah cubicle divider on top for a lid and it worked really good cool esse o something you can get a little bit of basic carpentry skills without spending a lot of money you could build yourself a little isolation cabinet that could be even be somewhat portable she planned ahead so that's that's one way to do it the other challenge to recording in the same room as the instruments is that like louder always sounds better so if it can be a bit tough to judge a bass tone if, like, you know, in this moment you're like listening to this super crank base camp right next to you and you might get all up on you record a little pass and then you listen back to it on your wimpy little control room speakers and it's, you know, one tenth the volume, it just does not move in the same air that that the amp itself is so it doesn't seem like his great of a tone, and it can take a long time to get a tone that way, it can be kind of frustrating I actually when I can, I really enjoy sort of dialing in the amp sound as the last thing that I do for the day and then then dialing in sort of like the mikes and queues and all that stuff in my control room the following day, once I've once I've had a night to rest and rest my ear so and my judgment is not is clouded by what it sounds like in the room, like I'm trusting myself from yesterday that I got to sound good in the room and then, you know, myself today needs to get sound good in the control room, and I mean, obviously I'm going back and forth making adjustments, but if my ears heart shot I could make better decisions in my control room that's another challenge of recording something in the same room that you're that you're mixing it but yeah that's it that's the only situation you have then that's that's what you gotta do and it's certainly made playing records that way as well on a quick follow up from from the same person hey said I should have seen cool but I'm not sure how much of the sound is due to the room s so is that going to affect the tone that you're getting and if so, how do you come stay for that? Well, I've actually never recorded with an eye so cab, so I don't know I mean the person who designed my studio told me general general thumb is any too hard surfaces that are less than ten feet from each other suppose a lot of acoustic problems with standing ways and whatnot, so if you build yourself a nice vocab, you really gotta put a ton of base trapping in there tio keep the standing ways from bouncing around yes, the sound of the room definitely matters if you're close mike amplifier it doesn't matter as much as say the sound of the room does with a drum set which has the indian microphones but it does affect it for sure but uh in the case of like a bass or a guitar, you probably want tohave a pretty dry sound from your close microphones, and you may add ambien microphones to kind of back fill that and make it realistic, but you don't really want to get a ton of reflections or at least not close reflections going into the close microphones on a guitar bass rig just for phase reasons. So you touched on this a little bit home record studio would like you to go into a little bit more detail about how to use the subject. Mike yes. Um, okay, so I tend to position that I think it's like a ten jj, it might be a speaker in there kind of can't remember, actually, but if you look like if you look into the subject, michael, it just looks like the driver from an n s ten because that's sort of where this trick began its, you know, all the recording studios in the eighties all had yamaha and as tens because that was like the studio standard of this time. It wasn't a great sounding monitor, but it was a monitor that every studio had on dh, so it allowed engineers to move back and forth between between different studios and always have one constant in every studio, but the hondas ten blew up all the time, so every studio had spare yang aha and his ten drivers kicking around so everybody used to just grab those drivers and stick him in front of bass drums to capture the bottom end. I think I first heard about that trick with paul mccartney actually recording bass guitar through that where he would know he had a basic and then you just put another base cab in front of his base cab because really like the thing about house speaker works you know you're you send an electrical signal to speaker and the electric will signal causes the speaker to move which in physical space which produces a sound wave so speakers blasting sound this way just to imagine another speaker sort of vibrating sympathetically with with the speaker outputting sound and then it converts that physical weight into an electrical signal just a microphone is a speaker in reverse. Esso I tend to position the sub kick sort of lined up perfectly well, sort of co axial with speaker in the bass cabinet I've seen people do it different ways, but the way that I tend to do it is sub kicked co axial with the with one of the speakers in base cab and then into, you know, high head headroom um you know low low noise, low impedance microphone preempt that likes to reproduce deep deep signals, and then I'll even exaggerate that a bit. I often use a manly, massive, passive equalizer with it to remove some low, mid range, remove much top end and sometimes even exaggerates himself base. And sometimes they'll even compress that signal a little bit, just to sort of even out the bottom. And particularly when it's, a bass player like kenny who's playing all over the neck, you wantto have sort of a consistent bottom end. I'll talk a little more about that. During the mix phase of this thing. We're talking about howto handle in the mix. The low signals independently from the rest of the base signal.

Class Description

In this two-day course, prolific producer Kurt Ballou will take you behind-the-scenes of GodCity Studios to show you exactly how the magic happens. This all-access studio pass will immerse you in every aspect of Kurt’s distinctive sound — from choosing and setting up gear, to tracking and mixing.

Kurt will show you the basic and advanced techniques he uses in his studio every day, and teach you how to apply them to your own recording — regardless of whether you’re working in a studio or at home with a DIY setup. Using anecdotes from his years behind the board, Kurt will also teach you his best practices for working with bands to extract the best and most inventive sounds.


Keith Foster

First off, even though I'm neither a beginner nor a recording professional, this class is absolutely worth the money you spend on it - especially if you plan on making heavy music. There are enough tips, tricks and guidance in here to get your money's worth many times over. That said, as an indie artist who goes to a studio to record drum tracks, then does the rest ina home studio I found some of the things disheartening. Much of the class follows a "I do this thing using item / amp / microphone / plugin (X), it's pretty cool" vibe, and it sounds cool.... until you check the price. As an example, the 'stereo buss processing' section sounds fun to try, except for the part where the three pieces of gear cost about $8K. As a result I found myself figuring out how to incorporate the essence of what he was saying without the gear budget to do so. Maybe I'm not the intended audience but a little more concept and less gearhead would have been even better. That said you should totally get it, it's a low price for so many hours of great content.