Heavy bass sound with layered bass

Disclaimer - UPDATE 13/11/2020
This post is really old. Times change and techniques improve, if you want to have more up to date information on how to get an aggressive metal tone for your bass just head over this more recent post

As a bass player I have to make an acknowledgement: getting the right bass sound after a recording session is not as easy as it might seem. Someone could say: “Buy yourself a better bass guitar!” but I can guarantee that it’s not my case 😉

Keeping in mind that the most important thing is the performance, the starting point is a good DI track. Then you can start building your sound using layers that will remark the best different properties of your bass track.

Layering bass tracks is a common techinque, it helps the bass tracks sit better in the mix, simply using some EQ during the process.

I recorded a quick clip with my 5 strings Jackson C5MJ, it’s a quick recording so don’t mind the errors!

Here what I have done: I selected the bass track and duplicated it, then I adjusted the volumes to mantain the right overall gain. Now I have a DI track and a copy that I renamed “Bass Drive”. In the drive track I added a bass overdrive. I really love free plugins, there are a lot of really good ones out there. I added the B.O.D. bass overdrive by TSE, it’s great for this purpose. I set the parameter as I like (not too much overdrive to be honest, there was some annoying fry, probably because my strings are a bit old, so I decided to not overdo) and then I played both tracks. There’s still something to fix. I need some EQ.

A low-pass on the DI track up to 200Hz/300Hz.
An high-pass on the Drive track from 500Hz/700Hz.

As you can see there’s a complete frequency range missing (between 300Hz and 500Hz) and that’s exactly what I wanted. That range is typically the source of mudd in some cases, I noticed that cut it away helped a lot the final result. Now you can listen how much better the track sounds, on the low-end above all:

These are the parameters I used on EQ and B.O.D. plugin

If you can’t get enough, you can make another copy of the DI track (don’t duplicate plugins!) and insert an amp simulator with some heavy distortion. If your purpose is to make it heavier, then make it heavier! Apply some EQ after the amp simulatr: cut everything before 700Hz and after 4kHz/5Khz, then blend the levels of the 3 layers as you like: here you have your great heavy bass track!

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