Recording Slugbait: Day 2 – Double bass.

Posted: July 19, 2012 in Recording
Tags: , ,

So, about a week after the first drum & bass session, Costello got in touch with me asking if he could come out to add a bit more to the basslines he’d already laid down. Of course I said yes – he’d mentioned a few ideas the previous week and I was curious as to how they’d sound.
First of all he wanted to double track the bassline on each song, which is something I had never done before, but I could understand the need for it in this case: since Seb is normally playing lead lines all over the place, it couldn’t hurt to add some extra weight to the rhythm section (as long as I could avoid any phase problems that might crop up).
The second, and more important thing he wanted to do was to add some harmonies to the bass at the end of FDR, during the part where the guitar is pretty much fading out and all 3 vocalists are screaming away to their hearts’ content. This all sounded good to me 😎
On the day in question, he couldn’t get his hands on his own bass, so he had to borrow one (I’m pretty sure it was Mini’s), which had some pretty old strings on it. This had me worried for a moment, but once we started tracking it I figured I could actually use that sound to our advantage – Costello has a deep-seated hatred of high frequencies in his bass sound anyway, so blending the cleaner bass tracks from the previous day with the dirty sound we were getting now actually worked out OK. Especially after we added just the tiniest amount of distortion (I don’t like to use too much on bass, otherwise it gets messy in a hurry).
And so we got to work running through the songs. The double tracking was done in fairly short order, then it was time to get to grips with the harmonies on FDR. It was pretty much a case of sit back and let him play through it a few times – he already had some ideas worked out anyway which sounded great alongside the main bassline, then just for good measure he threw down a couple more little flourishes. In the end we had what was basically a big bass chord and it sounded great! Have a listen:

After that it was time for pizza and beer \m/

  1. spiderjazz says:

    That’s an interesting way of filling out the rhythm section on it, sounds good. Did you high pass out all the low end from the second track before blending it in? Is the second track going down the middle, or did you pan it?

    I like duplicating the bass track, hi passing everything below 500hz and putting some chorus on it then, gives its a bit more presence in the mix and fills it out.. Also, I’m far too lazy to go tracking the bass twice, so duplicating the original works the finest for me haha

    • Ah shit! I had a long reply written and I just lost it 😦
      Anyway, what it boiled down to was that I will be discussing the full mix in a later post (once I’ve gone through all my notes and tried to remember everything again :P), but I did want to point out that on all the clips in the “Recording Slugbait” posts I have bypassed the inserts (apart from the bass amp sim), sends and EQs. Of course there is a certain amount of EQing happening to the bass tracks on the amps (Ampeg SVX).
      Bearing in mind that I’m writing from memory here, but I think this is how I worked things out: for the second bass track, since the strings were so old, there was pretty much no high end, so I added a little distortion to this track just to make it growl a bit, then blended it with the original track at a lower level (but panned down the middle with the main track). The only place where I decided to spread things out a bit was on the harmonies that make up the big chord that you hear in the clip. As you say, I probably should have hi-passed one of them to avoid any low end mush, but I think I managed to get away with it somehow (although the kick did get a little buried at times until I stuck a sidechain compressor on the group track for the bass – but that wasn’t until later in the process…).
      As for the extra effort needed to record everything twice, it was Costello’s own idea, so I figured “why not?” 🙂

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