Tips for playing bass guitar over electronic music (Hiphop, EDM etc.)

Hey guys! :smiley:

I’ve been producing bass heavy electronic music for 20 years with synths, samplers, drum machines etc. Lately I got bitten by the funk bug, bought a J-bass (Fender Player series), found Josh on youtube and now here I am. I have my own sound, I know production, recording and mixing well enough to teach it professionally, I know what I wanna get out of my new instrument. It’s time to be creative :nerd_face:

From a musicians perspective, what should I think of as a beginner when playing bass guitar over electronic music?

I will definitely combine synth bass with my Fender, both regular dub’s and where the synths will lay a repeating sub foundation and the guitar (high passed from 120-140ish Hz) as a second bass line with lots of ghost notes etc. From a musicians perspective, what should I think about when writing/playing the second bass line? Tricks and traps?

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For EDM I probably wouldn’t use the bass guitar for the bassline at all. Instead I would do something like Peter Hook does in New Order, and play a lead or melody with the bass over the EDM synth bassline.

Between the typical EDM kick and bass it’s going to be tough to stand out in the mix with a bass guitar bassline as well. Not impossible of course but challenging. Especially if you’re playing over things like Reese basses and risers.

You’ll want to EQ it mids and treble heavy most likely, regardless.

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This is a real fun idea, but I can’t really give any good advice, as I can’t imagine this sound and soundscape from the post. Maybe if you post a recording that you want to add bass to, or a recording of an artist that is doing something similar?

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I find it really hard to make the bass as it is to be useful in an electronic track. After a little bit of messing around I found out that without a s/c compressor from drum track because of typical sonic properties of electronic drums it will simply cover the song in a muffled blanket. Atm. I am using bass hooked to my modular setup with the bass going to preamp - compressor which is making the sound more level and also it triggers my old PRO1 synth (basic 2 osc box) for additional sound - then I go to mix where I mix both the bass and the synth - vc amp controlled by the envelope shaper and triggered by the compressor vc - output compressor hooked to my DAW for a slight side chain. After this little bit of designing it’s actually useful as an edm instrument. I tried it also with all major virtual modulars but the delay is atrocious. Pedals like Monobass can help but if you have a modular rack at home I would recommend to play around with it.

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One thing you are going to find is there is a lot of crap from the bass, synths, and drums that ends up really muddying things up below about 50Hz.

The way I deal with this is I end up using HPF’s to selectively trim it away and the easiest place to start is eliminating all the bass subharmonics below about 40Hz. This is Low B on a 5-string so while purists may scream about losing their lows, it’s really a lie and sounds a whole lot better in the mix.

Another place you’ll see a ton of frequency competition is in the mids, around C2. This one is tougher and you just need to play with the mix a lot and pick what you want to stand out.

In general the Peter Hook approach is a good one too - play the bass more like a lead in the higher registers, getting sharper attacks with a pick, and use an aggressive chorus or phaser on it to make it modulate a bit and stand out.

But yeah it’s tough to mix bass and electronica. I’m still working on it myself.

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Damn! The C2 thing is so cool of a mention. I, in general, I am low cutting all sub-80 Hz frequencies from anything other than kick and bass, but electronic drums with their long release have a lot of harmonics which an acoustic kick drum in general doesn’t have, so I will try to take a look on this area next time I am fiddling around with “edm bass”. Thanks, Howard.

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That’s the most challenging area for me to mix. Everything is there - bass, guitar, keys, vocals, drums, all fighting for around that range.

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I think for that music people tend to get a 5-string for the Low-B or use an octave pedal, but I’m no expert. :slight_smile:

I personally love Trance and EDM and would love to play Bass with it, but I’ve never actually tried or had the itch too yet.

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Funny that this just showed up in my YouTube recommendations today :slight_smile:

Love that song and it’s pretty easy too. Obviously was done electronically originally (pretty sure anyway!).

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