Mixing metal bass guitar tone with just one knob
Mixing bass doesn’t need to require a slew of plugins and tech tricks. Just because a bass tone is sophisticated, robust, responsive—perfect, basically—doesn’t mean it has to take ages to build. Today I’ll show you how to mix bass guitar instantly with BassKnob STD on both DI and MIDI bass.
We’ll be working in Pro Tools with “Driven”, an original song by world-class bassist and songwriter Felipe Andreoli. It features elements of metal, jazz, and experimental music, so we’ll need to build bass tones that can handle the song’s complexities in both the low end and the high end frequency range of the bass guitar.
BassKnob STD Overview
- Power: enables and bypasses the plugin.
- Channel switch: toggles between clean and dirty channels.
- Gain: dials in a mix-ready bass tone inspired by the gorgeous Ampeg SVT.
- Tuning fork: you guessed it… it’s a tuner.
- Cab off: bypasses the built-in speaker emulation,
so you can use an external impulse response loader and craft your own tone.
- Settings: lets you view and configure various mechanics.
- In/out: displays your input and output levels.
Stupid simple, right? If you haven’t tried it yet, start your free trial now!
The most unique thing about this plugin is, naturally, the knob. Traditionally, gain control adds or reduces distortion and volume; pretty one-dimensional. With BassKnob, we were able to accurately model the breakup and saturation that changes with the gain setting on a real bass amp, all with one knob.
In conjunction with the Input slider, these two controls produce a surprising amount of tonal characteristics. Even though BassKnob STD sports few controls, it still offers an array of versatile tones to mix bass guitar in any musical scenario.
Using BassKnob STD on DI bass
Anyway, right—let’s get to it. Dropping BassKnob on the DI bass track, you immediately get a sense of the variety of tones available—all of them gorgeous. Starting with a strong bass tone foundation is essential to crafting a final tone that sits in the mix just right. We can then use a few basic techniques for mixing bass to refine the sound and the mix. More on that in a bit.
Using BassKnob STD on MIDI bass
With the availability of high-quality bass VIs and often prohibitive costs and logistics of bass guitars, we know a lot of our community will be working with MIDI bass.
I’m using two top-class bass libraries here: Submission Audio’s Umanskybass and Groove Bass for this demonstration. Starting at 12:07 in the video, you can hear the nuances of these two libraries when run through BassKnob STD. The difference is subtle, but it’s enough to illustrate how BassKnob adds an amazing amp tone without compromising the original bass’s character and timbre.
EQ-ing the bass and master tracks
To that end, a bit of pre and post-BassKnob equalization can quickly spotlight the bass within the mix. As you can see in the screenshot below, emphasizing the high-mid frequencies while slightly attenuating the low-mids increases the percussive hits and articulates the higher pitches in Felipe’s playing.
In this mix, the general EQ curve is great for increasing clarity and managing muddy low-mids on an instrument—or an entire mix! Here’s a subtler version of this EQ curve to the overall mix:
This delicate EQ curve on the master channel performs basically the same thing that the more dramatic version does to the bass: it emphasizes the high-mid frequencies to add more brightness and clarity. It also tames the low-mids to reduce muddy mix clutter. Throw a limiter after that for safe measure, and you’re good!
Another one of my favorite techniques for mixing bass is parallel processing. I like to use CLA Bass by Waves to add some gentle parallel compression, distortion, and chorus to widen the bass signal. This is a very subtle effect but audibly gives the bass added depth, width, and power. This is a trick I use in almost every mix, so try it in your own session and get your bass exactly where you need it in the mix.
Whether you’re working with DI or MIDI bass, mixing bass guitar is easy with BassKnob STD. I hope this demonstration has given you some inspiration to craft your own bass sound with BassKnob and your favorite production tools. After all, BassKnob does play well with others.
Try BassKnob STD in your productions and deliver a pristine bass tone with your own fingerprint stamped on it. Cheers and happy mixing! \m/ \m/