From Demo To Final Mix: (Part 6 - Bass Guitar)
When it comes to recording bass, I like to capture a D.I signal. Why? Because it is flexible.
Now I am not disputing the tonal qualities that at amplifier provides. In fact, as a teenager, I was a traditionalist in this sense, insisting on micing up a bass cab when it came time to record the four string. However, as my knowledge of recording and production has increased over the years, capturing a direct signal is a far more effective and efficient method of recording bass guitar. Here’s why.
Just because you record a D.I. signal does not mean that you can’t get an authentic vintage tone to your bass guitar. Why? Because you can always re-amp the dry signal. This way you spend less time faffing around in the studio, burning a hole in your wallet trying to find a golden tone. Once you have a direct signal recorded, set up an amplifier and a microphone, dial in a tone and play your performance back. Job done.
Recording engineer Glyn Fricker of Spectre Media Group always captures a D.I. signal when recording guitar, providing himself with a tonal “safety net”. It is important to state, however, that this is done in parallel to a live amp recording, as no client wants to hear a dry unprocessed signal of their guitar when tracking heavy metal!
As a bass player, I understand and appreciate the sonic value of the bass guitar. However, placing an emphasis on the tone of an instrument that is rarely in the foreground of a mix seems rather pointless in my opinion. Of course bass tone is important, I'm not denying that, but is it the defining element of a mix, particularly in the genre of rock music?
My point is, a D.I signal with a nice amp simulator on it and some EQ is more than enough 99.9% of the time. Nailing the balance of the bass in the track is more important.
When it came time to record the bass for the project, I took a direct signal from my Modulus FU4 bass guitar, straight into Logic via the Focusrite 18i8. Rather than physically re-amplifying the bass, I went down the virtual route, placing the signal through one of Logic's bass amp simulators. Same concept, different workflow.