How to record bass guitar with the help of a microphone

Nowadays there are a lot of vst-instruments that perfectly simulate bass guitar. But all of them are not perfect in terms of control and quality of the sound itself. No experienced arranger shall argue that nothing can replace live bass! Though not everyone can use live instruments in their arrangements, many people long for that.

In this article we will try to cover the subject of high-quality record of bass guitar at a home studio.

There are two ways to record a bass guitar:

The 1st way is in-line. Guitar cord is connected directly to sound card input.

This way is simple, but it has some defects. As a rule, sound of bass record in line is “rough” and “echoing”. Such sound is difficult to process and is badly read in mixes, but still it is much better than any vst-instrument, even the best one. Of course, if the musician himself is good at playing. Section will be interesting and dynamic.

The 2nd way is recording via combo in microphone. This method is much more interesting than the first one. Sound of a bass guitar recorded in microphone will be consistent, it will be right the sound which is called “beef”. But here we should note that quality of guitar, combo and, of course, microphone used for recording is of great importance.

For our record we used Fender Jazz Bass Guitar, Ampeg combo and two microphones.

Microphones should be considered separately.

We took two microphones on purpose to choose the one that will record sound better. The first microphone was Shure PG52-01. This microphone has been designed specifically for bass instruments, e.g. bass drum and bass guitar. The second microphone was Oktava MK-219. It is a condenser vocal microphone, which is quite good for vocal, and we should admit, it records vocal perfectly. It could be easily used at home studios. But it has never been stated that it is good in bass recording. We have taken it just in case for comparison, but the main stress is made on Shure bass microphone.

When the first sample was made and we compared the sound, we were very surprised. A track recorded in Oktava turned to be “grosser” and the section was clearer and more readable in mix. In any case, it seemed to us.

Oktava MK-219 microphone is of condenser type, but we cannot claim with confidence that any condenser vocal microphone will be as good for bass. Most likely it would be vice versa. In our case we could use vocal microphone to record bass guitar due to pad available, and practically no vocal microphones have it.

This test proves that there is a great space for experiments in music to look for your own unique sound. The sound that you’ll like.

By the way, electrical guitar can also be recorded via combo in microphone. If you have such a possibility, try it. You will be pleased with the result, that’s for sure!