Today I would like to share with you the best bass guitar EQ cheat sheet that you can use whenever you're mixing music, no matter the genre.
It's very important to get your bass well-balanced in a mix because the low-end is the foundation of a song.
Especially if you're mixing bass-heavy music such as Hip Hop, EDM, Pop, etc.
This EQ chart will also help you eliminate a lot of guesswork when trying to get a bass to sit well in a mix. By using the guidelines I'm about to share you'll be able to finish your mixes a lot faster.
From now on you'll be confident when you're equalizing a bass guitar sound. This will help you get the perfect settings for both 4 and 5 strings bass.
Let's get straight into it.
The Best Bass Guitar EQ Cheat Sheet
A good starting point when mixing bass is to first remove any problematic frequencies to clean up your bass sound.
So, I'll start by sharing the cheat sheet for surgical EQ and then go into tonal EQ later on in the post.
One thing I can't cover in the following chart is resonance frequencies because those can occur anywhere in the spectrum. You'll need to use an analyzer to locate them and eliminate them if necessary.
By the way, not all recordings will have resonances but this is the first thing you always have to check. You can check out my previous post about how to eq bass guitar to learn more about dealing with resonances.
Once you have the resonances dealt with then you can move on to doing surgical EQ.
Surgical EQ Chart
Low-end Rumble: The first thing that you need to do to clean a bass guitar is to get rid of all the low-end rumble. By doing this you'll be able to make space for the kick and create more headroom so that you can get your mixes to sound louder during mastering.
You can remove any rumble by using a high pass filter from around 31Hz to 40Hz. Going above 41.2Hz can make the bass sound too thin and wimpy.
Boominess: The next problematic part of the bass is the boominess. If you find yourself mixing a bass that's too boomy then you can fix that by reducing the frequencies between 80Hz to 200Hz.
Be careful not to cut too much because you could make the bass sound small in the mix. Also, make sure that you're using a wide Q-factor so that you don't only affect one note of the bass, but affect all the notes that are causing the problem.
Mud & Boxiness: If your mix lacks clarity, the problem is usually the muddy or boxy frequencies. Ever listened to your mix and thought it's not sounding open? The issue is most likely in the lower midrange area.
To fix muddiness and boxiness you'll need to sweep around 200Hz to 500Hz till you find the sweet spot. Remember, a bass guitar is normally dynamic so because the notes keep changing you'll need to create a wide-cut instead of a narrow one.
The best way to reduce mud on bass is to use a dynamic equalizer instead of a static EQ. This will keep the bass performance sounding natural and musical. A static EQ can make the bass sound overly controlled.
High-Frequency Noise: The meat of a bass guitar is found between 60Hz up to 1kHz, with some overtones up to 5kHz. Anything above that is just unwanted noise.
To create space for the rest of the other sounds that are in the mix then you'll need to create a low pass filter to remove anything that's above 6kHz to 8kHz.
This will help the bass dominate its own space in the mix. So, don't be afraid of cutting out anything above the overtones. This will also reduce any clutter in the higher frequencies and create more headroom.
Tonal EQ Cheat Sheet
Body & Fullness: In rare cases, you could find yourself mixing a thin-sounding bass guitar. This usually happens when a beat maker tries to replicate a real bass using VST instruments.
When recording a real bass you’ll most likely hear if the sound is too thin and do some adjustments to fix the problem.
But for whatever reason, if the bass guitar you’re mixing is sounding too thin you can fix that with a small wide boost around 80Hz to 200Hz.
Another neat trick is to use the Pultec EQP-1A, this approach can also yield better results because the Pultec also adds some color to the sound.
Punch & Intelligibility: When your bass is getting masked and struggling to poke through a mix. You might need to bring up some punch and precision by boosting the midrange.
Increasing the midrange will help the bass sound beefy and add some power to help it stand out in a dense mix.
To increase the intelligibility of the bass sweep from around 500Hz to 1.5kHz to find the sweet spot and use a wide boost to make the bass sound punchy.
Attack & Clarity: If the notes of the bass guitar are not being audible in louder parts of the mix and lack clarity then you can fix that issue by boosting the higher midrange frequencies.
Boosting the upper midrange will bring up the snap and string noise to help the notes become more audible.
This will make the bass cut through the mix and become audible throughout the entire song. Just make sure that this doesn’t sound too much during the quieter parts of the song (unless that’s the sound you’re going for).
You can boost the attack and bring out the clarity by boosting frequencies between 1kHz to 5kHz.
Using a saturation plugin can also help increase these upper midrange frequencies, and add some color, harmonic information, and character to help the bass sit well in the mix.
You can even use both saturation and a transparent EQ if that sounds good and works in the mix. This will also help the bass become audible in small speakers and headphones.
To get the most out of this bass guitar eq cheat sheet you’ll need to listen, diagnose the problem, and fix/enhance.
From now on you shouldn’t get stuck or get confused about where to cut or boost a bass sound. You might need to save or bookmark this page so that you can keep referring to it every time you mix a song.
Leave a comment below to ask me any questions or if you would like to share what you’ve learned today.
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