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Tips for Mixing Bass Guitar

Hi, it’s Warren Huart here. I hope you’re doing marvelously well.

I’d like to talk to you today about mixing bass.

Now, in previous videos I’ve shown you how I record just with a straight DI, and also a DI combined with an amp. A couple of people asked me what DI I use. I like a Radial DI. I’ve been — I’ve used them for quite a few years. I’ve had other DIs. I’ve had tube ones, etcetera over the years, but the Radial works great.

Also, you know, if you have a pre like the DMP, which I use quite a lot, the BAE DMP, that has a DI input on it as well. So sometimes, I’ll just go straight into the DI on that, but in this instance, I’m using it for my mic input on my amp.

Okay, so let’s talk about, you know, different things you can do while mixing the bass.

So, let’s go over to our Pro Tools session here. This is Chase’s song “Gone,” which we’ve used a couple of times before. If we zoom in on the front of this — we talked about this on recording — you’ll see that the waveforms are very slightly out from each other.

I have found an average here with the waveforms. This one says 92, 96, here we’re looking at 120… So I made it about 115. It just brings these transients here back in phase of each other. You can see the front of that waveform and the front of this waveform. It’s just finding an average to give us good phase and good polarity.

Okay, so on my DI, after I’ve time adjusted it — and you can physically move it, I just time adjust it, because if you’ve done a lot of editing, there is less likelihood of there being any mistakes by just time adjusting the whole track.

Anyway, so it’s back at 115 samples, in phase with our bass mic. Here’s our bass mic underneath.

Now, what I like to do on the bass DI, especially in this instance, is I actually use it to create all of the bottom end, because the DI is very clean. It doesn’t have, you know, potential distortion that you get from an amp or a mic and stuff. So I’ve kept it super clean. I have gone up to 156 here, and a very, very slow slope. Nice, easy slope.

So basically, you know, that’s all the bottom end. Super low mids and down. Everything else is wiped off. So if we just listen to that only, you’ll have this.

[Bass DI, filtered]

So it’s a really clean, even bottom end. What I like to do is add my McDSP MC4. What this is is a multiband compressor, and as you see, I’ve got it enabled, but it was bypassed, so let’s un-bypass it. I’m soloing it, because it just saves me having to turn down all of the gain. I mean, I could do that. I could go and I could turn down all of the gain on the top here, but I’m just soloing it so it’s just the bottom end. I’ve gone to about 200Hz and below, and I’m just compressing that.

[Bass DI]

What I like about that is it keeps that 200 and below really even. It almost — it provides almost the bottom end you would get from a bass that’s just “boom, boom.” Every single note is just nice and even. So even if I go high on the neck — because this is me playing, if I go high on the neck, it still has a lot of bottom end.

Okay, so my bass mic, I’m doing the opposite EQ wise. I’ve gone here and I’ve gone to about 200 and created a nice gentle slope the other way. So that will give us all the personality.

[Bass amp, filtered]

You hear my picking on my finger. I don’t mind that.

[bass amp, filtered]

It gives it some definition. Put the two together…

[bass, group]

What’s lacking in one is made up for by the other.

But the reason why I do that trick with the bottom end on one of the sources — sometimes I use the amp, sometimes I use the DI — I’ve been favoring the DI recently, because it’s cleaner. The reason I do that trick is because no matter how well I get the phase alignment between the two sources, between the DI and the mic, it’s never quite perfect. There’s nothing you can do. If it’s two different sources, they’re always going to be slightly out from each other, and if you want good, round, solid bottom end, it’s better to take it from one source, not from two.

A lot of mixers I know do that. I don’t know if they’ll tell you that, but that’s what they do.

And then I used the bass mic — I have the same EQ setting on it, but I’m also running into distortion.

[bass guitar, distorted]

I just don’t want the bass mic to be that clean — the bass sound to be that clean, so I’m overdriving it slightly.

So I’m just blending those three elements together. The bass mic with distortion with the same EQ as the standard bass mic and the DI. Here’s what we’ve got.

[bass guitar, everything in]

Now, I have a buss here. A bass master buss. I’ve done a little 110 boost. I’m rolling off about 58 and below gently. That’s keeping it out of the way of the kick, so that the kick and the bass guitar can breathe. You know, it’s not completely out of the way, but it’s out of the way enough, and if I throw in all my kick sounds here, you’ll see what I mean.

[bass guitar and kick]

Cool. So keeping those two from each other, I’m also running a C4. I might use the C4 or the McDSP MC4. And again, doing the same thing. I’ve bypassed it all here, 250 and below, nice and even.

So what I’ve done is I’ve taken my bass DI and I’ve made that nice and fat. Then I’ve combined the three sounds, and then I’m using another compressor just to combine those three — once those three sounds are combined, then even up the bottom end as well. So it sits beautifully in the track.

After I’ve done that, I’m adding a little top end boost, just for a little bit of high end personality. I’m also putting an API plugin here, and I’m doing some 800, which gives me that kind of woodiness. I don’t know, that sort of piano-y sound of a Precision. This is my Peavey T40, which is my favorite recording bass. And just because I can, I’m doing a little tiny boost using the R-Bass.

[kick and bass guitar]

I like it. It’s at 80, which is actually where it defaults to. And that just kind of — like I said, I’ve got my kick here at 60, and the bass isn’t completely wiped off at 60, but it’s gently crossing over here, and then a little 80 bump just to say, “Hey, here’s my nose sticking out.” I just like to do that.

I’m also running an L1, which in this instance, because I’ve got a lot of bottom end going on in the signal, it’s really helping me control the mix.

[bass and kicks]

So you see, it’s letting quite a few notes go through, but every now and again when it goes over, it’s just stopping my mix — my bass from just kind of sticking it’s head too far out of the mix.

Then last but no means least, I put another little mid-range boost, because I felt like, you know, that extra finger tone could’ve been exaggerated a little bit more.

The frequency I like to boost on bass are 350 — we’re not doing it here, because I want a little more of a rounded tone, but a little 350 is really nice because I’ll pull that out of drums. 750-800 for a little bit of that Precision-y kind of woody sound, and then there’s sometimes 1 to 1.5kHz if I want some more hardness, like, “dong,” a harder tone in my bass.

So that’s basically the frequencies I boost and cut on bass. Let’s just throw it into the mix.


So hopefully I’ve helped you there with some mixing tips. Please leave some questions down below. This is not how I do it every time, it’s just what suited this song, but definitely these ideas work. I think the multiband compressor is probably one of the biggest helps to me when mixing bass to keep that low end nice and even.

You know, the R-Bass is a great tool, but the multi-band itself can probably provide a lot of what you need, and if you’ve got multiple sources, you know, you can really control the bottom end, but if you just have a DI only, you can do all of these tricks and you can modify how you do that.

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Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at
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