Learn how to sonically identify the clicky component of a bass track. Hear examples of different levels of compression being applied to the same track and how compressors affect the brighter tones of the bass in the mix. In iZotope RX, visually see the click component of the sound, and learn how to tame it with a De-click plugin. Explore ways to record electric bass at the source, such as tone knob settings, pick selection, amp settings, and DI box settings.
- [Instructor] Sometimes I'll track electric bass in a way that might not be desirable by the time I'm mixing or I might get sent a bass track to mix that isn't quite working with the drums. A lot of times that problem is related to how much clickiness there is in the bass and how that's working with the whole mix, working with the drums, and if it's jutting out in the mix in an inappropriate way. (heavy bass music) In this example, I've recorded four different electric bases.
The same track, same bass, everything, against the drum set. The one we just heard has the worst example of the clickiness. Like this, if we solo it. (heavy bass) You can hear that hard edge on every attack. You know its an electric base being played with a pick. A lot of people do this with rock music and all kinds of stuff. But it gives you that attack and being able to figure out how much attack you want to work with and use in your mixes and your tracking is an important thing to figure out.
Here we're going to listen to the same bass line, played with the same equipment, but no compression at all, and see how that sounds different. You're still going to hear the pick. (heavy bass music) So you get a good tone of it but you can even visually see that these notes don't sustain as much. If you look at this right there, the first note, it decays down a little bit whereas the tracks below, which are compressed, have a nicer sustain.
Here we'll hear a medium compression. (heavy bass music) You can hear that sustains out a little better. It does accent the clicking a little bit more, if we go back and hear it against the uncompressed. (bass) And then compressed. (bass) So that compression setting is adding a little bit of clickiness. If we try a faster attack, we get this.
(heavy bass music) Now compare that to the previous track. (bass) Faster attack. (bass) The clicking is getting a little sharper. Now the worst example I came up with and the one we heard first is a slower attack. And the reason being, that the compressor is taking a little bit longer to grab onto the note with the slow attack setting and then its grabbing on and pulling the volume of the body of the tone down, leaving the click as the loudest component at the beginning of the hit.
You can hear it. (heavy bass music) That clicking is very pronounced. Go back to the faster attack before this. (bass) It's similar but different. Listen again. (bass) The initial little thwack of the pick hitting the string is definitely more pronounced with that slower attack.
This could be a good way to actually add some definition to bass that needs it. And in some cases a a darker bass might need a little more bite to sit in the mix. Keep that in mind as a technique to use. Now we're going to go look at this in RX. Heres the waveform view that we always see. But when we see spectral view, we see the energy going from high frequencies down to low and left to right through time and the brighter we see it is the actual volume of the frequency and the energy in time.
Listen to this here. (bass) This is that bottom example we were looking at. The first one we heard. Now you can really zoom in and listen to the components here. This is the treble component. (treble sound) And you notice as you get closer to around one kilohertz, you start to get into the part that adds articulation to the bass. But the clickiness up here is really the part that sticks out and is causing some of the problems.
(bass) The bass articulation area. (bass) Like around there, just above one kilohertz. That adds a lot of information that tells us how the bass is moving in the mix. If I'm dealing with a track that has a lot of issues like this, and I'm trying to mix with it, maybe someone else tracked it, like I mentioned earlier, I'll use a declicking plugin here in RX that really works great. It's called declick. The Multi-band periodic click preset is really excellent.
And there I can just tone it down a little. (bass) it takes the harsh part of the clicking out. It's really an excellent device. I can also apply just a simple EQ shelf and take some of the high end down. And those kind of techniques can work a track that's already preexisting into the mix. If you're tracking and having some of these issues, first of all think about the pick, the bass itself, you know if you can put a softer pick on it that has a little less of a bite to it. Or you can also use a felt pick I've even used, a ukulele pick.
If a player wants to play with their fingers, of course that's going to change everything. And then setting the tone knob on the bass, or setting amplifier settings, or DI settings if you're using those, for brightness and treble, those kind of components can help just kind of tone it down and find a nice spot where you still get articulation or, you know, it works in the mix better. Or it works with the drums better and everything in the mix. So setting this up, understanding how these components all work in the bass guitar, and paying attention to them in tracking and mixing can really help all of your work sound a lot better and help the bass stay articulate but not be obnoxious.