Double bass lost in mix

Mastiff

Senior Member
I'm still new to double bass, but getting better... I'm working on a recording with a single pedal part at the beginning and then at the end a double bass part, fast for me at 180 bpm (actually 32nds at 90bpm). What I notice is that at the beginning of the song, in the single bass parts, the bass sounds fine, but the double bass section just sort of turns into a rumble where the individual hits can't really be made out. It sounds marginal in isolation, then lost in the mix when the guitars are added in.

I caveat all this with the fact that my technique could be better, so maybe more power could help. I'm not asking for my problem to be solved here, but just for general comments on whether I should expect to be able to get a good bass sound at 180 bpm without extra help, like a trigger or click pad or heroic measures in terms of gating and EQ? I have tried a number of things in Studio One and gotten some improvement, but it's nothing close to what I'm used to hearing on records. I've also made pretty good improvements by switching to wood beaters and putting my mic way inside the drum aimed at the impact point.

If I just need to go out and get a trigger to do this right, I'd rather do that than beat my head against the wall trying to get my current setup to work.
 

K Chez

Member
It's all in the tuning, my friend! Keep in mind, that what it sounds like in the room isn't exactly what it sounds like in the mics. By what your describing, is your bass drum ringy? It sounds like everything might be close to the same frequency range also if it's getting even more lost when your adding instruments in the mix. With the "open" bass drum sound, your double kick has to be as powerful and consistent as your single kick all the time, or that change in dynamics will give you the result you're describing. I used to always have no muffling in my bass drum and it worked great for what I was playing at the time (stoner/doom metal) but when I starting playing fast thrash/punk style stuff, I dropped a feather pillow in my bass and tuned it up a bit higher than I normally would and have all the punch and cut through in the mix I could want. The thing is, it doesn't sound all that great in the room, but the sound going through the mic is better to work with in the mix, adding eq and so on. Personally, I would start experimenting with different sounds & tunings before spending money on triggers, modules, etc.. IMO using a trigger in this type of situation is just a band aid for something that could be solved cheaper elsewhere and the end result will be more "your" sound than a sample that's been used by anyone who bought the same sample library.
 

J-W

Well-known member
^THIS^

Big open bass drums sounds don't work with fast double bass. It just gets muddy in the mix. That's why, before triggering, etc..., people would muffle the hell out of the head and tape quarters as impact patches to give it that definition (click sound). They sound like crap soloed, but great in the mix.

Like K Chez said, before you give up and start triggering, try a few old-school methods.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
What you're hearing on records is certainly sample enhancement. That's the way it's done nowadays, I'm afraid. So you may never get to that point, in terms of sonic quality or consistency.

But, you might be able to mix your way into a sound you're happy with. Leave the EQ and faders alone for the whole tune, but automate the faders so that they move up only during the fast 32nd note parts, and then go back down for the rest of the tune. You can also automate your EQ, to give more high end only during those fast parts.

When a record is being mixed, it's very, very rare that the faders just sit there and stay perfectly still throughout the whole tune. They're meant to be moved!
 

SYMBOLIC DEATH

Senior Member
The bass drum tone, or really any drum tone, you are hearing on a recording has been so altered that it practically doesn't exist in reality. There can be 3 mics, eq, compression, and gate, etc. This is without any triggers/sound replacement being added.
Have you tried some compression on the kick track?
You may have a look at Glen Fricker's recording stuff on YouTube, as he's all about recording acoustic drums and not using samples.
Also please keep in mind that I am no recording expert. I just know enough to be dangerous.
 

Mastiff

Senior Member
Thanks for the ideas everyone. I do have a pillow in there, but I will experiment more along those lines and see what I can do. I have also been experimenting quite a bit with compression, gating and eq, but there's always more to try. Automations for the bass was on my mind too, so I'll add that to my list now that it has been "validated" by a second opinion.

I'm thinking about the click pads like the Danmar ones too, but I'm hesitant since it sort of locks you in to the metal sound all the time.
 

Ransan

Senior Member
Aside from triggering.

I’ll add to Symbolic Death’s beater action point.

You tried wooden beaters, with those, maybe try the hard surface route:
In a drum magazine during the late 90s, I read that Mike ‘Bug’ Cox of Coal Chamber taped quarters on his attack spot on the bass drum.

He did this to emulate the bass drum sound from David Silveria of Korn. If you notice their music along with clicking bass guitar, you can definitely hear something additional on bass drum. But none of them were frequent double kick players either, they used more for fills and expression.

Again as you stated above, Danmar makes those hard double kick pads, but they do break off really shortly, so it’s up to you to spend $10 or just tape $.50.
Used the Danmars when I was young. I would be drumming and then the beater pads would be stuck to my beaters as the were pulled off the surface pad. ?
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Another old school trick is a milk jug. Cut patches out of one and duct tape it to the head. It gives you more attack without being as clicky as quarters. Its also not as bouncy as quarters.
 

iCe

Senior Member
Since april last year i finally have the bassdrum sound that i want and that they're more audible. I struggled with the same problems for years.
I used coated EMAD with a pillow on my bassdrum and in person it sounded amazing, but on recordings or when playing with the band the bassdrum wasn't that audible. Even when i started using 2 bass drums (instead of one with a double pedal) it was sometimes hard to hear what i played.

Last year i switched to clear Pinstripes on the bass and bamm... they cut through, more volume and also each note was more audible.
Few weeks back i got the wooden Iron Cobra beaters and that further enhanced the sound; much more audible, more kick and better to hear everything when playing double bass grooves. I don't recommend this for a big open sound, but i want my bass drums to have a lot punch, quick decay and not much boom. That works for the progressive metal i play, but nog for Led Zeppelin stuff ;)

Used a Danmar double kick pad as well on my Vision kit in 2013ish. Not too fond of it, the sticker let loose fairly quick and didn't like the overall feel of the metal plate.
 

Mastiff

Senior Member
Interesting. I'm using coated EMAD too. I guess it makes sense the clear would have a little more attack.

One thing I've noticed is that with all this effort to bring out the attack, when I solo the bass drum I can hear every little tap against the head. When doing something challenging, I tend to sometimes bury the beater a bit with my left foot, so sometimes I'll get a weak second tap/bounce out of it. I can't tell while playing, but it's right there in the recording. The light beaters don't help either probably. It's a technique issue for sure, but the "metal" micing really draws attention to it.
 

Ransan

Senior Member
Here is a vid from a forum member @beyondbetrayal. He does use longboard, but I’m sure he has a vid where he does without.

This is THE BEST and comprehensive doubles series I’ve found on YT.

It is understandable and I am picking up the concept, though nothing near as fast and clear as he is. It’s actually reinvigorated my playing and I can get consistent doubles on the kick.

 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Interesting. I'm using coated EMAD too. I guess it makes sense the clear would have a little more attack.

One thing I've noticed is that with all this effort to bring out the attack, when I solo the bass drum I can hear every little tap against the head. When doing something challenging, I tend to sometimes bury the beater a bit with my left foot, so sometimes I'll get a weak second tap/bounce out of it. I can't tell while playing, but it's right there in the recording. The light beaters don't help either probably. It's a technique issue for sure, but the "metal" micing really draws attention to it.

Dang microphones, always exposing flaws in our playing! And heavy beaters will probably make this habit more noticeable, not less.

Instead of burying the left beater, try to stay centered and balanced. If you absolutely must lean to one side, see if you can get into the habit of leaning a bit onto your left heel, instead of your whole foot, without pressing down the left pedal, of course.
 

Pass.of.E.r.a.

Gold Member
If you're going to be getting it mixed professionally, it's most likely going to be sample replaced anyway, so I wouldn't worry about it. As long as they can see some transients it should be fine. The main thing IMO is to continue practicing your consistency so that live you won't have the same problems. (Which it sounds like you're already doing, so keep it up! :) )

Another idea could be to record the kick drums separately from your hands in that section. This will allow you to manipulate the dynamics of the kicks without bleed/interference from other mics. If you do this, make sure your overheads/room mics are recording the kick-only take as well though, so it blends better. If all else fails, stuff your kick full of blankets/pillows so that it's super quiet and trigger it.

-Jonathan
 

Mastiff

Senior Member
Dang microphones, always exposing flaws in our playing! And heavy beaters will probably make this habit more noticeable, not less.

Instead of burying the left beater, try to stay centered and balanced. If you absolutely must lean to one side, see if you can get into the habit of leaning a bit onto your left heel, instead of your whole foot, without pressing down the left pedal, of course.

Yeah, I'm definitely working on it. My balance is pretty good when going steady, and I don't generally bury the beater, but more complex patterns sometimes push me into bad form. Recording myself has been great for helping me focus on problems I might have not noticed, or swept under the rug just listening to myself in real time.
 

johnjssmith

Junior Member
Same as the other thread - a number of issues might be causing that, and it's really impossible to tell you what to address/correct (first) if you don't post a recording.
Unless you do we might talk at length about the merits of a certain comp setting or EQ setting or anything else only to then discover that the bass drum sounded fine and the overpowering bass guitar track was the issue.
 

Skinslapper

New member
I recommend listening to the double bass section and mute each of the other instruments, one at a time until you find the one that makes the kick disappear. Then, apply an eq to the end of that instruments chain and notch out a little of the frequency where your bass drums' smack is (somewhere from 1k to 6k). I also love the drum leveler vst from Sound radix. It always helps me sort out kick dynamics. Transient boosters can also help you with hearing the attack.
 

BonsaiMagpie

Junior Member
The pro double pedal players seem to use triggers, and players such as 66Samus and Krimh have documented their setups on YouTube pretty extensively.
You could also try something like the Remo Falam Slam patches to put it a bit more attack on, though I have heard wooden beaters can crack these and the shards can then cut your head. I use one but I use felt beaters.
 
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