Bass is kind of a generic term for “the lower parts” of the song. A bass can be a singer, a guitar, or several types of instruments (like a ukulele or clarinet). You may also hear people ask to “bring the bass up” or down. These are general things to know before heading into your session!
Why should I care about the bass?
Well, you should care about every aspect of your song (plus, there’s a reason Meghan Trainor is all about it). If every track doesn’t sound great on its own, it shouldn’t be in the song. The only time you shouldn’t care is if you’re not using it. If you’re doing an acoustic guitar/piano and voice, there’s no need. Any other time though, you should care!
Can’t my producer just handle it?
Sure, and if you don’t know much about individual instruments, it’s probably best to just let them do what they do. However, having an opinion will make the production a little easier on your producer and session musicians going into it.
Alright, you’ve convinced me. So what do I do?
When going into the studio to record your song, take a minute to envision the outcome you want. What song do you want to use as inspiration? Shape your bass line from there. Here are 4 steps to getting the best bass for your track:
1). Bring a list of song ideas to the session
This will help your producer and players know what you’re going for. You might not have any idea what “kind” or “style” of bass is on a song. That’s totally okay! We can take your sample songs and go from there.
2). Allow your producer to choose what is best
This is only recommended if you trust the producer’s decision and don’t want to be that involved in the process. This can be tricky, though. You might hear what they chose and hate it. You’ll want to be sure that a). you’re open to their direction, and b). you don’t really have any opinions on how it should sound.
3). Communicate with your bass player
This goes for all of your session musicians, but often it’s easiest if you just talk to us yourself! When we are speaking to the producer, we’re relying on them to tell us exactly what you want. If the producer isn’t clear on what you want, we will get the wrong information. If you have the ability to speak with us directly, please do. It will save us all a lot of time!
4). Consider using my hiring and editing sheets
These are free in my resource library. They will help you hone in on what you’re looking for and how to ask for it.
I think a lot of people are scared of asking questions in a studio because they don’t want to seem “like they don’t know anything,” which is not possible! We don’t judge people when they come in, and we work with all levels of music ability. So, when someone asks, “what if we use an acoustic bass instead of an electric bass?” it’s totally fine. Everyone is always learning in the music business so please, ask! The only thing I would caution you about is that it could get costly to experiment. We might have to hire someone else to come in and play a specific instrument, and you might not like how it sounds in the end. But if you can afford to experiment, you might just come up with something really cool!