Recording Bass Guitar with Spire Studio

By Ben Andre, Spire Contributor | November 28, 2018

RecordingBassWithSpireStudio

When it’s time to lay down some low end, we all know how important it is to nail the bass sound that’s in our heads. Bass can be a fundamental part of a recording, and sets the sonic and rhythmic foundation of your music.

Let’s check out a few ways for recording bass guitar with Spire Studio.

Plug in

This technique makes bass one of the quickest and easiest instruments to record. Unlike electric guitar, where it’s most common to mic up an amplifier or use an amp simulator, bass is often captured simply plugged directly into your recorder (or “straight into the board,” as many say). This may be because (for a clean bass sound) the sound of a bass is defined proportionally more by the instrument than by the amplifier it’s played through. Consequentially, many of the classic bass sounds we all know and love were recorded without an amp.

Here’s how to record bass guitar direct:

1. Create a new project (if you don’t already have one going)

2. Plug in your bass to Spire Studio’s ¼” input

3. Hit Soundcheck to have Spire Studio automatically set your level

4. Record your track!

Here’s a clip of a p-bass plugged straight into Spire Studio:

In many cases, if you’re looking for a clean bass sound, recording direct can be just what the doctor ordered; clean, punchy, and super easy. Let’s check out some other techniques for different sounds.

Add an amp sim or effect

If you’ve tried recording your bass direct but feel like it might need some extra spice (like some overdrive or other effects), then it can be great to turn to one of Spire Studio’s amp effects to get closer to the sound in your head.

Left to right: Verb ‘65 amp effect | Tube 30 amp effect | Bass amp effect
Left to right: Verb ‘65 amp effect | Tube 30 amp effect | Bass amp effect

Here’s a clip of the same p-bass instrument as above, but with Spire Studio’s Bass Amp effect for some added grit. The drive is dialed slightly back with the tone and presence knobs adjusted to hone in the timbre.

Mic up your bass amp

If you love the sound of your bass through your amp, then a great technique for recording bass guitar is by mic’ing up your amp. This way you don’t have to try to recreate the sound you’re familiar with; you just have to capture it! Luckily Spire Studio’s omnidirectional condenser microphone is great for picking up the low end and presence of your amp, so there’s no need to set up external microphones.

Here’s how to mic up your amp with Spire Studio:

1. Create a new project (if you don’t already have one going)

2. Place your spire studio 6” or so in front of your bass amp’s speaker

3. Hit Soundcheck to have Spire Studio automatically set your level

4. Record your track!

Here’s a clip:

Not unlike mic’ing up a guitar amp, you can subtly change the position of your microphone (in this case Spire Studio) to change the timbre of your bass’ sound. By placing your microphone closer to the edge of the speaker, you’ll find a deeper and warmer tone; by placing the mic closer to the center, you’ll find a more present tone. You can also experiment with the distance between your mic and the amp as well—move the mic further from the speaker for a livelier sound (with reverb from your room), and closer for a tighter, dryer sound (less reverb from your room).

You can experiment with these placements to get closer to the sound that fits your recording. If you want your sound deeper and tighter, try placing your spire close up and to the edge of the speaker; if you want your sound brighter and livelier, try placing the mic at the center of the speaker and further away.

Conclusion

With bass guitar (and pretty much everything with recording), there’s more than one way to get a great sound; it’s up to us to choose what makes the most sense for our project. Many times these decisions may even be dictated by circumstance (perhaps you love to record with your amp, but your roommate’s asleep), but being knowledgeable about multiple techniques can help us be ready to lay it down whenever the inspiration strikes.

So try these out for yourself and lay down some bass lines!