Bass level overkill rant. - Music Banter Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The Music Forums > General Music
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-18-2010, 07:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
Music Addict
Daktari's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Originally from Lancashire, England, lived near Largs, Scotland and now live in Rocky Face, Georgia
Posts: 154
Default Bass level overkill rant.

Hi there,

Here's a rant I had to get off my chest. Some out there may agree but I'm sure there are more that will not.

Ok, I have played music, danced to music, listened to and written music for around the last 30 years of my life. I have played bass in jazz bands and a reggae band, I had my own reggae band where I was the vocalist and guitarist and loads of other projects covering all kinds of music from Irish to Blues, etc... I'm just pointing this out first so that whatever I say next does at least have some experience behind it.

Today, the level of the bass in the mix is overkill and waaaay out proportion to the rest of the sounds in the track. I love bass, I'm a bass player and I play reggae music but whilst I know that a good deep solid bass is essential, especially as part of a dance beat, nowadays, it goes so far over the top!

I have always enjoyed the experience of live music and it's such a shame that today so many bands crap up their final sound by over emphasising the bottom end in the mix. I'm talking mainly about the kick drum and the bass. A few months back I saw U2 on their 360 deg tour, a great band, the Edge is one of my favourite guitarists but they were guilty of an absolute crappy live sound. Bono's vocals and Edge's guitar were almost completely lost in the boomy and muddy bass sound. I fail to see with the technology today why loads of bands insist on putting out a bass heavy mix which loses the character of the original sound.

My thinking is that folks have been brainwashed into thinking that excess bass levels is the norm and that is why we see all the kids driving round shaking the doors off their cars playing music with all this bass bias.

I got talking to one young guy on a car park one day who had just driven past with his boom, boom coming from the car and I asked him if it sounded good inside the car. He was keen to show it off and invited me to take a seat. It was very, very powerful, loud but sounded like s**t! This was Usher I believe he was playing and the lyrics and any fine detail had gone. Just the bottom end was taking over.

I might be old fashioned here but surely a song, (music with words), is a waste of time and effort if you can't hear what the vocalist is trying to get across.

This guy told me, he had stopped buying music to listen to himself but he chose his collection based on how the bottom end would sound when turned up to full blast in his car.

Ok, I admit, I'm not as young as I used to be and sometimes I do remind myself of my dad, (who is a jazz saxophonist), when I was a teenager.

I still write, perform and record mainly reggae, Celtic, African influenced music and yes, it does have bass in there, sometimes a strong bass.But one thing for sure, if I have lyrics in there or a guitar solo, I'm gonna make sure folks here it, especially if I'm playing out live otherwise, the meaning is lost.

To sum up. All I'm saying is that so many good bands from local bars to bands like U2 are letting themselves down because of this misplaced passion for overdone bottom end. Come on Mr. mixer guys, let the music breathe and don't stifle and muffle it all under a huge bassy quagmire.

Message delivered, now back to work.

Cheers, Gordon Daktari.
Daktari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2010, 09:03 AM   #2 (permalink)
Antonio's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Are you a cop?
Posts: 3,348

i agree with how some people overdo the bass levels to what they're listening to. i'm a bassist myself, and some of my friends think that because of that i would want the bass levels to be up all the way and have only that sticking out.

in truth it bugs me because while i do love hearing good bass in a song, i don't like it to overpower what's going on in the music. i'd say i like a balanced sound, one where you don't have to labor too hard to hear everything that's going on.
Been making some new music lately, check it out

My MB Journal-I talk about music and stuff!

add me on Steam!

Originally Posted by mr dave
isn't this one of the main reasons for this entire site?

what's next? a thread made specifically to banter about music?
Antonio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2010, 09:13 AM   #3 (permalink)
Violent & Funky's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Midland, MI
Posts: 2,482

I like my rock n roll with the bass turned up! Hells yeah!
Violent & Funky is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2010, 09:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
P A N's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 629

i completely agree, daktari. bass has reached pandemic scale if you ask me. i play a bit of bass myself, but primarily the drums. i play the kick drum a lot of the time as though it were the next drum in sequence to the floor tom, and when the sound guy tweaks the mix i find often that they believe the kick is the focal point of the music.

and if you want to make music where the kick and the bass guitar are playing against each other or in between each other, the kick being out front like that can create a really warbly and crappy sound.

i also played with a bassist who was quite "notey," meaning he wanted everyone to hear everything he did and made sure his gear was set up to deliver. this is a very frustrating experience.

i don't know. i don't wanna offend anyone, but i think the bass is like a cradle that's just supposed to rock, you know? it's supposed to hold everything and give everything a stable working-ground so as everything can coalesce properly. and too much tone from the bass combined with all that volume totally takes any percussive possibility away as well, which i think is an extremely valuable asset.

too much bass... well, it sucks.
P A N is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2010, 09:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
mr dave's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: everywhere
Posts: 4,315

the glory of playing bass is indirect control of the groove. generally speaking, in a band setting the bass is supposed to be the instrument people feel more than they hear. it's when it stops playing that the crowd realizes that something vital is missing from the mix. not when some wannabe guitar player is noodling all over the neck.
i am the universe

Originally Posted by bandteacher1 View Post
I type whicked fast,
mr dave is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2010, 10:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
Music Addict
Daktari's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Originally from Lancashire, England, lived near Largs, Scotland and now live in Rocky Face, Georgia
Posts: 154

Hi there,

Like I said in my original post, bass especially in reggae and dance music is an essential part of the mix. But, it is 'mix' that is the key word. I have heard loads and loads of examples of live bands who honestly sound like crap because the bass drowns out everything else.

Also anyone who has listened to a lot of reggae, especially dub reggae, will know how effective it is to drift the bass in and out sometimes and not have it set on overkill all the time.

As Mr. Dave mentions above, it can be bad sometimes when a manic lead guitarist is trying to take over. The thing is, the bass sound with it's very low and long sound waves is a lot harder to control and is more non-directional than higher frequencies. That's why we get the 'muddy' effect when the bass is too prominent and it drowns out the higher frequencies. It's usually in the mid to higher frequencies where the guitar solos or vocals live, the detail that makes the music interesting, and all I'm saying is that it's really disapointing as I mentioned above, I went to see U2 hoping to hear Edge playing live and honestly, it was lost in the mud of the kick drum and the bass guitar.

Not just U2 but loads of live music today at all levels is sounding crap because of the excessive bass volume in the mix.

Daktari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2010, 10:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
Certified H00d Classic
Anteater's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Bernie Sanders's yacht
Posts: 6,129

The bass serves different roles depending entirelly on the context of the music. In a lot of jazz, funk and progressive rock for example, an extremely prominent Rickenbacker bass or something along those lines gives the music a lot of kick/power and might as well be considered essential to what hooks people into those genres to begin with.

For a rock band that might be grounded in the guitar or drums however, sometimes its better that the bass gets toned down so that the other instruments get their share of the mix. This is particularly important in live performances, but applies to studio recordings as well.

So, again, I feel context is the most important thing to keep in mind, and a good bass player recognizes this.
Anteater's 21 Fav Albums Of 2020

Anteater's Daily Tune Roulette

Originally Posted by OccultHawk
I was called upon by the muses for greatness.
Originally Posted by Frownland
I'm bald, ja.
Anteater is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2010, 12:33 PM   #8 (permalink)
Music Addict
Daktari's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Originally from Lancashire, England, lived near Largs, Scotland and now live in Rocky Face, Georgia
Posts: 154

I agree Anteater,

I'm not questioning the ability or knowledge of the players, like I said earlier, for years I played bass in a reggae band where the bass needs to be prominent along with the drums also.

I'm just pointing out this almost brainwashed acceptence that the level of the bass in a lot of mixes is way out of proportion to the rest of the music. I know it varies from style to style but when a guitarist like the Edge is drowned out by the kick drum and bass then there's something not right there. I keep using U2 as an example because this is my most recent personal experience of this happening. Bono prides himself on being a deepish, philosophical guy with pretty meaningful lyrics. What a dissapointment when you can't even make out his voice clearly because it's lost in the bassy mudness, let alone the words he's singing.

There again, there's always that weird bunch at concerts who like to situate themselves right in front of the bass bins, I guess so they can hear it better ? That bunch is obviously not that bothered about hearing a good mix anyway....

Daktari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2010, 04:36 PM   #9 (permalink)
Ba and Be.
jackhammer's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Location: This Is England
Posts: 17,331

I would say it's a good thing that both Bono and The Edge are drowned out by bass.

Oddly enough within the Metal scene over the past 10 years (although I appreciate you may not like this scene) the bass guitar seems to be the least important instrument with many bands relying on downtuned guitars and the emphasis on the drum and vocal tracks.

With the advent of the remix in music these days, emphasis is on the Bass a lot to provide an easily digestable sound that appeals to basic human nature. The Bass next to the drum appeals to the most primal aspects of personalities and our link to music and many remixers focus on that.

In fact I dislike a ton of music due to it's lack of bass and with the exception of Post Punk (which can focus on guitar lines) I dislike many albums if the bass levels are not noticed.

Funk, Soul, Reggae and even metal sometimes needs big basslines to ground it and then everything builds around it. I think the predeliction in urban music to focus on the Bass drum and not the Bass guitar makes many songs seem 'empty' and lacking warmth that a Bass guitar gives to music.

“A cynic by experience, a romantic by inclination and now a hero by necessity.”
jackhammer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2010, 06:03 PM   #10 (permalink)
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Middle of Somewhere
Posts: 38

Well, I hate listening to my own music in my car and there being a car behind or next to me with the bass turned up that's completely off beat and at a different tempo. Haha! I don't know. I guess I'm boring because I really don't like the bass to drown out everything else. Plus I want to still be able to listen to music... not become deaf sooner.
almonds is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads

© 2003-2023 Advameg, Inc.