One thing common to most electronic music producers is definitely the daunting quest for the perfect bassline. It’s unsurprising, given the number of factors to consider: choosing or designing the right sound, writing the melody itself, dynamic processing, keeping in mind the relationship with the kick, and many other things. No wonder most producers spend a lot of time working on it. With that in mind, in our next tutorial, we will share five essential tips which will help you make that bassline sound tight.
Begin with the right sound for your bassline
Starting with a low-quality sound can just complicate your life. You will spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out why this wrong sound doesn’t fit in with the overall mix and vibe. It may seem obvious, but this is one of the most crucial tips we can provide you with. You should consider whether you need something aggressive that dominates the mix or something subtle based on the genre and feel you want on your track or anything in between. By understanding this, you will be more aware as you find, choose or design the basic bassline sound.
The Kick & Bassline Balance
The bassline and the kick drum are two of the most important elements in most genres of electronic music. The challenge is to make sure they don’t conflict as they interact. To ensure that each element is prominent, it is generally helpful to think in terms of their frequencies. As a general rule, don’t mix sub-based kicks with sub basslines because the frequencies can clash. On the other hand, it’s also possible to make room for the kick by ensuring that it doesn’t interfere with the bass’ timing. Make bass notes shorter and avoid playing them simultaneously with the kick. This will result in more headroom, which further allows for further dynamic processing, a louder overall mix, and a better-sounding bassline.
EQ is your best friend
First of all, cutting is often more beneficial than boosting when it comes to EQ-ing. Specifically in the low-end, it’s very easy to overdue boosting of frequencies, especially when listening on small monitors or rooms with poor acoustic treatment. Now, a good starting point for the EQ would be to cut the kick drum’s intense low end with a high-pass filter. Also, applying a hard notch cut to the bass around 250-300 Hz will help separate mid-and low-frequency elements, making it easier for the kick and bass to coexist. If you really need to boost, dedicate some time to experiment with various EQs, since they work based on different algorithms and emulations.
Layer the bassline
If you’re aiming for a fat bassline, layer it, but don’t use layers that occupy the same frequency bands. Instead, it’s better to use layers that differ from each other in this respect. In other words, one layer for the sub-bass, another for the mids, and possibly one for higher frequency presence. Also, experiment shifting each layer an octave up or down to hear what sounds better. Finally, you can use some group compression which will help glue everything together.
Compression is often thought of as a process for smoothing dynamics, but it can be also thought of as a tonal shaping device for adding punch and definition. As we know, the attack and release are two of the main controls of a compressor. These are essential when processing your bassline. For instance, the denser you wish the bass notes to be, the faster the release necessary. On the other hand, the attack time can be used as a way to emphasize or de-emphasize the initial onset of each note. As with EQ, don’t forget that different compressorss sound different and therefore will deliver varying results. Don’t hesitate to experiment.