7 ways to get a great bass sound in music production.
Want to create deep, fat, exciting basslines? Get inspired with these tips to improve the bass sound in your music production.
There’s nothing like a big clean bassline to create a groove. Whether you like to start off your music producing by writing a clever bassline to build the rest of the track around, or you prefer to add bass afterwards as solid grounding to compliment the rest of your instruments, bass is a fundamental part of any song.
To get you thinking about the best ways to use bass in your producing, here are seven ideas to help improve your bass sound.
Variation is key
Keep things interesting for the listener by changing up your bassline, just slightly, every so often. Small variations in the MIDI, like a little run here and there, inject a bit of creativity, because even if you’re loving your solid, funky bass loop repetition gets boring fast.
Fight the muddy bass
Recording live bass? Amplified bass can sound muddy, so try using a touch of compression to counteract it. Uneven levels from an enthusiastic bass player can be tamed with compression, too.
Use panning to open up the sound of your bassline. Although bass is typically panned in the dead centre for grounding, playing about with panning can lend spaciousness to the mix. Try duplicating your bass part into two tracks, panning each to the far left and right.
Then think about using the EQ plugins in your DAW – use a low-pass filter to bring out the lowest frequencies and a high-pass filter for a wide sound.
It might seem obvious, but an easy way to make your bass sound deeper is to play about with pitch, with surprisingly creative results. If you’ve got a synth bassline, tune your oscillator down, or move your bass sample down an octave. Get creative and see what works best with the other instruments you’ve got going on.
Pitching the bass up a few octaves is also vital for sub-bass to check everything’s in the right key.
How low can you go?
Give your track some body by providing a sub-bass line with a deep sound that vibrates your very bones. The sub bass can play the same line as your main bass as backup, or act as the only bass part.
If you don’t have professional speakers or a subwoofer it can be hard to hear the frequencies especially for mixing, but there are some good tutorials kicking about to help solve that issue.
Create a slide effect
Want a smooth bassline? You need the pitch of the notes to slide into each other in a flowing way. Try using your synth’s slide control. It can also help the bassline sound less robotic.
The bass and kick are best friends – until they’re not
The kick and the bass parts anchor the whole track, and should blend together and work in harmony. Make sure your bassline times beautifully with your kick, accentuating it.
Problems arise however from the similar frequencies of the kick and bass, which can cause clashing in the mix. EQing can help with this issue, making room for both sounds. If adding a frequency to a kick, try cutting the same from the bass.
Panning, as previously noted, can also help with separation to make room for the kick. Keep the kick central and pan two tracks of bass to either side.