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Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

Lesson 11 of 27

Bass Setup

Sylvia Massy

Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

Sylvia Massy

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Lesson Info

11. Bass Setup


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:01:56
5 Drum Setup & Tuning Duration:18:21
6 Drum Mic Placement Duration:09:21
8 Drum Micing - Room Mics Duration:41:25
9 Drum Micing - Toms Duration:22:10
11 Bass Setup Duration:20:20
12 Guitar Setup Duration:36:13
13 Vocal Setup Duration:17:32
14 Band Mic Check Duration:26:05
15 How Sylvia Plans a Lesson Duration:07:29
17 Recap and Intro Duration:04:17
20 Re-Recording Chorus Duration:13:46
21 Process for Editing Duration:18:42
22 Guitar Solo and Overdubs Duration:52:35
23 Vocal Overdubs Duration:32:12
24 Creative Studio Techniques Duration:1:00:11
25 How to Mix: Drums Duration:43:56
26 How to Mix: Add Bass & Guitar Duration:13:34
27 How to Mix: Add Vocals Duration:36:24

Lesson Info

Bass Setup

Who is my next victim? (laughing) Yes! Bass time. Bass time, we made it. Alright. Bass time. Let's go take a look at what we've got. Sounds good. Well, I would like you to use the pedals that you normally use when you play this song. Okay. We can have you go ahead and go through the tuner. Okay. When we actually record, we might want you to bypass the tuner, but we'll try. Okay. Bypass meaning taking it out of the chain entirely. I usually just have compression on. And at the very end when the song gets crazy I'll turn on a boost. Can you get a mic for her? Oh, for her, yes a mic. I'm mic'd. Oh, are you mic'd? I am. Fantastic, okay. Can you tell me about this amp? Because I'm very curious about it. Yeah, so a friend of mine built it for me. It's very, very loosely based off of a Verellen amp which are made here in Seattle. Verellen. It's 100 watt, all tube, two channels so there's a clean channel and a dirty channel. Okay. And it's just k...

ind of a beast. And the outside is hardwood flooring. Fantastic, okay. Yeah, it doesn't have a direct out, which sometimes can be an issue. But not usually. Okay. Let's see what we've got going on in the room here. So we have an old cab. It's a Soldano cab. It's a two by ten, two by 12. It's a guitar cab, huh? No, it was a prototype that Soldano made that they never ended up making. For bass. They made two prototypes for bass. Okay. So it has two 12 inch Eminence speakers in it. Alright, we'll try that. So, I just got word from Jay that our patient died on the table. I'm sorry. No boombox? No boombox. Aw. Yeah, okay. What else can we do? Come on. Do you want this dead center? You good with that? Ah, yeah, that's good, we'll just put it over here. Thank you. Yeah, no problem. Yeah. Alright, so, if you wanna take a look at this. To see how we have the mic positioned, that would be great. You wanna use your phone to show? Yeah. I don't know how well it'll actually be seen, but you can see where the speaker coil is in there. There's the cone right there. Yeah. And it's just a slightly off axis right between the cone and the dust cover here. I like to put the mic right on the seam actually. I don't know if you can see, but it's right here on the seem of the dust cover and the paper of the woofer, so. We'll try that and it's a Synheiser 421 mic. We'll try it. Alright, let's see, we got all that. Boom bom boom, boom bom. And we're gonna be working on the bass, DI. First of all, let's make sure we got the DI working. And then we'll listen to the. Here's DI is hot here. There's pre's there. I hear it in the room. I see it in the compressor. Oh, we have it in here, right? It looks like we have the return here, yep. Our compressor might need to come up a bit. Let me see where the (bass booming) That looks good. I'm gonna mute the drums because they're I think it's that-- Room. Room that's making it oh. Actually it's only one side of the room, so that's weird. Suspect. Alright. Okay. So, let's see, what do we got here? Bass. And they all bass CI here, okay. Turn on the, turn up the input of the distresser. And get a good level, that looks good. Okay, and now. (bass booming) Let's see what the mic is doing. I don't know if the head's on. Let me double-check. I hear it. Oh, it is? Yeah. I didn't know if she just had to crank up the pre? (bass booming) Okay. I see it in Protools. Listen to the output I need to go to. (bass booming) Boomy, it's like really boomy but without ... An edge. Yeah. Alright, so this is it right here, right? Yep. Okay, I'm gonna ask her about the sound. Because, is this her typical sound? It's round and warm. Yes. Not a lot of edge? No growl? She doesn't like the growl? No. Okay. She's got a pedal for the growl. Yeah, she usually uses that, so. Oh, is that the? There's the growl. There we go. I was like, she definitely brings some edge. Okay, okay. Alright. (bass booming) Okay. That does sound a little flat. It does, doesn't it? (bass booming) Hmm. What if we don't wanna be heroes? (laughing) Ouch. Alright, we're gonna find out what her sound is. I think it needs a little more aggression. Just a little more edge, maybe not aggression, but a little more edge. Yeah, make it mean, very noisy. (bass booming) So, let's flip the-- Ground, on the DI? Yes, on the DI, because I think that might help with our noise problem. There we go, ah, much better. (bass booming) Yeah, give it some edge, a little bit. (bass booming) Drive it. Let's hear that. That's a little better. That, now we're talking. (bass booming) I have a compressor on, too. You gonna take that off? Oh, leave it on. Okay. And let me take a listen in here now. Okay. Alright, much better. Right, is this her sound? Little bit better? (bass booming) Now that sounds like a (bass booming) Yeah, that's too much. What's going on here? It's that guy, right? What's our level like? (bass booming) It's good, matches the other one. Okay. (bass booming) Alright, I'm gonna go talk to her. We got a good level. I wanna make sure that this is the sound. (bass booming) (door clatters) Okay, will you play again? And pop that distortion pedal in and out? (bass booming) (pedal clicking) Okay, I'm gonna go back in the control room. Mm hmm. Play a phrase without, and then a phrase with. Got it. Alright. (bass booming) Think we can leave that door open for this. (bass booming) Alright. It's booming. The DI level jumps a decent amount when she clicks it in. (bass booming) Is that right? Yeah, not too bad. Like, it doesn't peak it, but it impact it and jump it up in the volume. Well, that might be alright. Okay. (bass booming) I'm gonna add some EQ in the mid-range here. Just, oh. (bass booming) Give it a little more character. (bass booming) (laughs) (bass booming) Yeah, a little more mid-range. That could help us. Could help the bass poke through in the mix later. (bass booming) Boy, that bass DI is ugly, though. (bass booming) I'm gonna try reversing phase on it. (bass booming) That thing is ugly. (bass booming) Okay, ugly. Ugly it is. Are we not, are we gonna, did we have the SDT or is that later? This is the Verellen. Okay. Copy. With the Verellen copy? Verellen copy right? Do we wanna try the SVT? I don't wanna take her, I don't wanna force her into something that's not her sound. Do we even know that we have that, though? I don't know, I'll go tell her. I don't know if she's been informed that that's an option. Okay. Okay, I will talk to her about that. 'Cause we might wanna change it out. The SVT is a fantastic beast. (bass booming) Can she hear us? Does she have headphones? I put headphones up there, but I don't think she put 'em on. Alright, I'll go talk to her then. (bass booming) Okay. Yeah? I think it's a pretty good sound. Okay. I'm wondering if it wouldn't be better to try the SVT. We have an SVT, a vintage-- Love to. Really? Yes. Are you good with that? I mean, I don't wanna make you do-- No, I-- Something that you-- I love those. Is not your sound. No, love to give it a shot. Let's do that. Okay. We're gonna swap it out. I like this, though, I don't wanna tear this apart. Mm hmm. So we'll just bring the SVT in and we'll set it up and just compare. Sounds great. Great. Okay, so, it looks like Scott is going to go get the SVT head which is a vintage, late-70's head. It will also need to be paired with the Ampeg eight by 10 cab, which is a refrigerator. This is a huge, heavy rig. And he's gonna actually roll the whole thing around the outside of the building to access the side door in the drum room because we don't wanna roll it through here. And we don't wanna roll it over all the cables and through all those mics. So, this is gonna take a few minutes. So, Sylvia, I have a question just about when you're in the studio, if this was a real session. And it is a real session. Yes. Are you, how often do you take breaks with the band? If you're doing this, like the drummer, you have drummer playing for a long time. Do you find that drummers get tired? Have somebody else sit in? Hang on a second. Ah, yeah, I would definitely try to pace the players so that they don't get tired. Unfortunately, we had to have the the drums go a little longer than I woulda liked. Typically, I'll use someone else. I'll have an assistant or someone play the drums. Or a friend or someone play the drums so as not to wear you out, right? Oh, no, not at all. (laughs) But, but yeah, Wilt, you know, for some reason, I could just keep going on and on. And we'll take a break. Everyone else will go leave and do something, but I'll stay and keep working. I usually grab a sandwich and eat while I'm working, you know? And sometimes I don't eat, and that's a problem. But I really like to keep things going. It's hard to pull away when you're in the-- In the zone. When you're in the zone. Yeah. At least to a point where, okay, everything is set, we're ready to record, now let's take a break. Take a break, okay. And we'll come back and we'll start recording. Cool. That's always a good time to take a break. Okay. Ah, yeah. I have another question. Yes. Do you ever run simultaneous clean and effected tracks recording bass, or is it always a mix? I usually will take a direct bass-- Okay. And keep it relatively clean. And then have the amp with the effects. Here, I think she's got her pedals before the DI. So, what's happening with the DI is effected by the pedals. You know what, that's actually a good point and we might actually want to move that pedal so it's after the DI, so it only effects the amp. We can effect the DI later if we want to. It's really good to have a clean bass signal to effect later. So you keep it just in case you need to do it later? Or do you actually plan to do it later? No, I keep it in case. In case, okay. I always try to get finished tracks when I'm recording. So you commit to the amp sound? Exactly. And then you have that as just a backup. Yeah, take a little extra time. Get things right to begin with. And hopefully, you know, because there's that initial performance, there may be magic that you lose and it's hard to get it back when you're doing overdubs. Because everyone in a room, it's a whole different thing. Like, you can imagine sitting in a rehearsal room or at a show and there's that magic interaction that happens between people when they're playing music. And that's what we wanna capture. If we can keep it, we'll go a little extra, we'll take a little extra time to get those final sounds-- Cool. Before we start recording. Sounds good. Yeah. Oh, already? You already did it? Yeah! That was fast! Thank you. Dude, alright. It should be plugged in and-- Okay. Hopefully stuff's working now. Oh, you made it again, it looks like? Yes. Why is the DI not there anymore? There's no DI? Oh no, it's there. It's there. Okay. Oh, yeah. Oh, well, that's the DI, great. And then her amp. (bass booming) You know, it just sounds better already even though she hasn't really stepped on the pedal yet. Alright. (bass booming) I'm gonna turn down the pre a little bit to compensate. (bass booming) That sounds good. Fender with the SVT, you just can't miss. Classic. Alright, I'm gonna ask her to do the pedal thing. We're gonna swap the pedals. Yeah, we're gonna have her pedals after the DI. That was a very good idea. (bass booming) Scott? Yeah? Can you mute those channels please? No problem, you got it. Okay. Let's do something a little different here. Okay. Sounds great. Yeah it sounds real good. We have to use this. Yeah, I agree. But I'd like the pedals to happen after After the DI? Yeah. Okay, sure. So, let's swap these cables around. Okay. So now this will be out, can we go out? We need the out of that to go, okay, now I'm getting myself confused. Can you go out of the pedal board? Yeah, that's right. There we go. I brought us a longer cord if you needed it, too. Oh, are you good? I think we're good. Let me see, so, you're, now let me have the output there. Oh, actually, I'm sorry, the, there that one. Clean in. Great and-- Oops, sorry. And then that one will go in here. And then out of the DI. Then we do that. Out and that goes in there. Is that alright? Now that should work. (bass booming) Yup. Great, so this time, let's have you play again. Does it sound good at all with this thing clicked on? 'Cause it doesn't sound very good out here. Well, maybe now it will. Okay. It wasn't sounding so good before. But let's try it. Okay. So, like a phrase without, and then a phrase with. And then a phrase without, and we'll listen. (bass booming) Also, if you like, think that I should turn on my tone knob, let me know. Okay. So I can like, treble in it. Okay. I'm interested in whatever, trying whatever. Do it the way that you normally do it. Okay. We'll start there. There's some interesting sounds going on in there (laughs). Alright. Okay. Where are we? Bass, here we go. Go ahead. (bass booming) Yeah, keep playing. She's putting her headphones on. Ah. So she can hear you now. Hello, can you hear me? (bass booming) That sounds nice. Our level is good, right? It even sounds better. I mean, it's kinda shitty, but awesome at the same time. That's like, it's an awesome shitty. Rounder than before, right? The shitty is less, is like, less bad shitty, now it's like more good shitty. (laughing) Shitty meter's pushing it. (laughing) (bass booming) Tight! Just wait till you get the guitar in there, and it'll sound like, extra shitty. (laughing) Psyche! I think we have success then. Great. We have just enough shit to get started. (laughing) Alright. I think that's a great way to you know, to leave it, right? I mean, we've got the drums. We've got the bass. Next, we'll be working on guitar.

Class Description

Over the last 30+ years, Sylvia Massy has built a career as one of the gutsiest and most innovative recording engineers and producers. She has worked with legends like Prince and Johnny Cash, and won awards for her work with bands like Tool, System of a Down and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you will get a peek inside the recording process of one of rock’s legendary engineers. 

While she is a proficient master of vintage gear, Sylvia stresses that great records come not from having the right gear, but from capturing great performances. Join Sylvia as she records a song in the studio with Seattle alt-rock band Thunderpussy, and learn how to work with an artist to capture that magical take in your own work.

Pulling from her years of experience and sharing stories from her newly published book Recording UnHinged, Sylvia will show you:

  • How to get interesting and vibrant drum sounds, using the room and the drummer to your advantage
  • Capturing great sounding guitars at the source, without editing and reamping
  • Pushing vocalists to deliver their best vocal takes 
  • Mixing both in the box and through a console using outboard gear

Sylvia is also known as a prolific educator, speaking and teaching at some of the best recording schools around the world. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the industry’s most celebrated A-list producers. 


Jimmy Foot

This Studio Pass episode with Sylvia Massey covers a lot of ground. From fundamentals like correct mic placement and phase to experimentation with amps, cell phone delay and a few extra parts, Sylvia makes it fun! I have been lucky enough in my career to work with a number of great engineers and producers. I haven't had the opportunity to work with her, but Sylvia is certainly in that category, and anyone who gets a chance to work with her would be a lucky person. This broadcast is the next best thing. Great job there at Avast Studio and fantastic camera work! And as for Thunderpussy; you guys rock!

Marc Felish

Wow, that was such a blast. Thanks so much Sylvia and everyone else for making this such a fun experience. I picked up so many new ideas that I can't wait to try out! Sylvia is such a creative producer, it was so much fun to be a fly on the wall watching everything. Loved it!!

Marcus Soares

Awesome! A great opportunity to pick into the creative mind of one of the greatest and get that kind of knowledge that you can't acquire otherwise. Highly recommended!