Bass tips share many things in common with guitar tips. Check your intonation and neck setup including truss rod setup. A few things to keep in mind for recording:

  • Where you play with your right hand (if you’re right-handed) determines a lot of the tone of the bass. If you play way back by the bridge, the sound will be tinny and thin (not what we usually look for in a bass sound). If you play way up by the neck, the sound will be full and round with not much attack, think the motown sound. Also there is a huge difference in sound if you play with a pick or your fingers, so figure out which sound best suits the band.
  • Bass players seem to be more susceptible to bending strings accidentally. With your fretting hand on the neck, practice placing your fingers down directly on the string and watch to make sure the string doesn’t pull to one side or the other. The more you work on this, the better you will get and eventually it will become natural to you. Also be careful where you are fretting. If you are right on the fret, sometimes the sound will be choked like the note is  “fretting out”. Sometimes this can actually be a fret problem.
  • The most important thing for a bass player to do is play with the drums. That means in general if the snare or kick is playing, you should be hitting a note at the same time. Make sure you are REALLY in time with the kick drum or it will sound like flamming ( two hits). This is what people mean by playing tight. Try asking the engineer to do a run through of the song with the drums only or the other instruments very quiet so you can really hone in on the drum pattern and match it. When you track the song, ask the engineer to crank up the kick and snare for you so you can really lock in.
  • Practice! If you can’t practice with the band, try playing to CDs and even drum loops if you can. Also sit in with other players (it’s easy to find people who need a bass player). First work on simple playing where you really focus on tone and tuning and locking in. Once you master that, you can get a bit fancy.

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