The first step in the mixing process is the EQing which defines the sound of an instrument and the whole track.
And EQing bass guitar is one of the most important parts of mixing because the bass is the foundation of the low end in any song.
So, knowing how to EQ bass guitars is very important for every mixing engineer whether you are a beginner or pro.
How To EQ A Bass Guitar
EQing bass can be done in different ways but in this post, I will show you the general method which will work on all projects. Also, it would be great if you use a bass EQ cheat sheet to know good frequency spots for bass guitars.
1. Record Two Bass Tracks
The first and very important thing in EQing bass is to record it correctly because a bad recording is very hard to EQ or mix.
Of course, creating a good tone is important when recording a bass but also it’s important to record it properly.
And in properly recording I mean to use a DI box to record the DI sound along with the amp sound.
When you use this method, you will have two bass tracks:
- Bass DI Track – Just pure bass tone without any amp or effects.
- Amp Bass Track – Exactly the same recording but with amp sound.
A DI track will be the foundation of the low end and you only use low frequencies of that track. And then you will use the mid and high frequencies of the amp track.
So, as long as you have two exactly the same bass recordings with different tones, it’s time to start to EQ bass guitar.
2. EQ DI Bass Track
Bass guitar mixing starts with EQ and EQing bass guitar starts with the DI bass track.
First, you will create a low-end foundation with it and then you create the mid and high-frequency foundation for your bass tone.
As for plugins go, you can use any VST plugin you like but I recommend using the best EQ plugin you can because it will give you more options and better results.
So, what you need to do is to apply the EQ plugin on the DI bas track and cut everything except the low frequencies.
The exact frequency might vary from bass to bass but in general, for bass DI tracks I cut everything from 200dB.
Also, sometimes I don’t need too low frequencies so I cut everything from 30dB and below. But this is not a mandatory thing to do.
This way what I’m left with is the only low frequency of a bass – approximately from 30dB to 200dB.
You don’t need to do anything else to this track because next you need to EQ amp bass track and then you will EQ both tracks together.
3. EQ Amp Bass Track
Now, as for the amp bass track goes, you need to do the opposite of what you did to the DI track.
Because you already have a low frequency, you don’t need them anymore. So, cut everything from 200dB and below.
You are left with mid and high frequencies of bass guitar and you separated them from low frequencies.
In most cases, I leave everything as they are on this track, but sometimes, I might cut additional frequencies if I don’t the sound but it can be done in the next step too.
The separation allows you to have a clean low end to create the bass foundation of the track and use the other half to add bite and snap to your bass tone.
Also, if you want your bass to cut in the mix, you can add a little saturation to this track if your amp doesn’t have enough.
4. Create And EQ Main Bass Track
In this step, you use the EQ bass guitar in a traditional way where you can cut and boost frequencies.
To do this, you need to create a bass bus track and send both track signals to this track and you will have your main bass track.
And now add the EQ plugin to this track and EQ your bass to your liking – find bad frequencies and cut them and boost good-sounding frequencies.
But because you separated frequencies in previous steps and made mild EQing, you won’t need to do drastic changes here.
Also, remember that after EQing, when you start compressing your bass guitar, you apply a compressor on this track because this becomes your main track for bass.
Tips For EQing Bass Guitars
Although every bass sound and song is different and requires an individual approach, there are some general tips that will work for every song whether it’s pop, blues, rock, or metal song.
Here are some useful tips to EQ bass guitars properly:
- Use Good Gear – Of course, when recording any instrument, you need to use quality gear. So, make sure to use good bass guitar, amp, microphone, etc.
- Create Good Tones – EQing is important but if your tone is not good, you won’t be able to create awesome-sounding songs. Make sure that you dial in the great bass tone you like and also it must fit the song.
- Always Record DI Bass – No matter what type or style of song you are recording, always record a DI track along with amp sound for bass because it gives you more flexibility and better results.
- Separate Low And High Frequencies – Use the DI track for low frequencies and the amp track for the rest. Separating bass frequencies allows you to make better sounds and helps to avoid mixing mistakes.
- Don’t Cut Too Much – Remember that you don’t need to do drastic EQ cuts and boosts. If you have a good sound and separate frequencies, you will need to do only cosmetic changes to EQ.
- Use Mild Compression – And when you go to the compression stage, use it wisely and don’t compress bass too much because it might cause the loss of dynamics.
These tips will help you to create more professional bass mixes which will raise the overall quality of your songs and you will become a more desirable mixing engineer.
So, to EQ bass properly, you need to follow some general guides that are not so hard to master. This method can work with any project and bass sounds so start implementing it. The more you practice the more experience you will become.