Bass Guitar Recording Techniques Tutorial: DI, Amp/cabinet and Microphones

Bass cabinets outputs strong sound pressure levels, so its recommended to shift the microphone somewhere upward but still near to the speaker cabinet. Since condenser microphones are very sensitive, it can still pickup the signal pretty well.

4.) Plug the XLR output of the microphone to the audio interface preamp input. Make sure to turn on the phantom power of your audio interface and adjust for optimal recording level (refer to the guide illustrated in the previous section).

5.) Hit the recording button of your digital audio workstation software to track the bass.

This is a sample recording of the bass done using the above procedure:

Using bass amplifier cabinet and SM 58 dynamic microphones

What happens to the bass guitar recording quality if you use a dynamic microphone instead of a condenser microphone? To set up; follow the steps in the previous section, except if you will be using dynamic microphone this time. You can use other great dynamic microphones such as SM57 which are very common in recording guitars using amplifier cabinets. You should setup your dynamic microphone closer to the guitar amplifier cone this time, because dynamic microphones can withstand high sound pressure levels. Take a look at the screenshot below:

SM 58 used in recording bass guitar

SM 58 used in recording bass guitar

Make sure the microphone is perfectly parallel to the floor so that maximum signal would be recorded. In this recording, same EQ and settings are used like in the previous section. This is a sample recording of bass using bass amplifier and SM 58 dynamic microphones:

Conclusions and Recommendations

Based on the above recording quality, I can say that recording the bass guitar with a condenser microphone and an amp yields with the best bottom end response. Probably because Rode NT1A has a good bass response so it can pickup bass frequencies very well.

On the other hand, SM58 dynamic microphone has much tighter bass because its position nearer to the cabinet. However the bass response is not as deep as those recorded with a condenser microphone. The primary reason is that SM58 (like SM57) rolls off the bass frequencies based on their frequency response chart below:

Frequency response of SM 58 and Rode NT1A

Frequency response of SM 58 and Rode NT1A

Direct injection (DI) quality is not as good as those recorded using a bass amplifier cabinet. But the tone of the bass DI is funky and with emphasis on mid-tones. This can have recording applications like in jazz bass solo or funky music. Other than Rode NT1A, you can shop for microphones with deep bass response for a much stronger bass recording.

Content last updated on June 19, 2012