Along with recording good drum tracks, bass is one of the biggest challenges in the studio. Which is why you need to get obsessive about learning to record it.
If you think about it, all those great guitar tracks and glowing vocals are going to suffer if the bass and drums don’t hold it all together. So, in a way, your overall recordings are going to sound better just by focusing on a few tracks.
What’s the solution? First of all, you might need to get over the idea of a super clean bass sound. A little distortion, a little more high end or just some meaty mids can help the bass stand out in the mix later.
Here is what Joe Gilder from Home Studio Corner has to say about it:
I first saw this watching someone mix a (believe it or not) country song. He duplicated the bass track and added a distortion plug-in to the second track. He dialed in a fair amount of distortion and blended it with the original bass track. The end result is a bass that seems to cut through more. You don’t necessarily hear the distortion, but the distortion helps draw the ear’s attention to the bass. If your bass track tends to hide in the mix and you can’t seem to bring it out without overwhelming the mix with bass, try duplicating it and adding distortion.
Joe also talks about getting wild with the EQ which can be very effective if you do some complimentary EQing with a match EQ that includes your bass drum signal. These two instruments can’t have their greatest concentration in the same area. Hyping the bass drum somewhere around 100 Hz and the bass somewhere else, and not necessarily lower. Higher can work too. It all depends on the part in question.
If you’re using a VST bass instrument, you might be faced with an enormous sound, in which case you should consider trimming it down a little. EQ helps with that but sub-harmonic exciters can help, too. They’ll quickly concentrate the weight of the bass right where you want it. Then EQ moves can help you sculpt the rest of the signal.
But it all starts with solid recording. Give yourself some flexibility down the line by recording the bass amp with a microphone and getting a direct signal. This will give you the option to blend the two together or do some processing trickery to get that bass to sit just right in the mix.