How To Make Bass Sound Like Rhythm Guitar

Posted by Mike Schuck

When bass playing, what kind of sound you want to get depends mostly on the genre of music that you are trying to emulate or achieve. If your song is very rhythm-focused, then it may not matter as much which style of bass tone you use, as long as you can play some solid riffs.

For more melodic songs, though, having an appropriate low end tone will help make the song feel richer. This article will go into detail about how to learn how to play bass like a guitarist, which includes learning how to play bass using slap techniques!

Reminder: The best way to learn anything is by practicing frequently. You should spend at least half an hour every day working on lessons and exercises, so continue doing that for a few minutes each time you practice.

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Practice with proper equipment/tools – if you’re struggling to hit certain notes or to read sheet music correctly, then buying the right tools is important. Many guitar companies now offer software programs designed specifically to help beginner players (these usually cost around $10–$20). There are also many free resources available online.

Apply compression

how to make bass sound like rhythm guitar

One of the most important things to know about bass is that you can make it sound much heavier or lighter! This article will go into more detail on how to do this.

The first thing we need to address is what kind of compressor you use. There are two main types, parallel compressors and ratio-based compressors. Both work in the same way but one may be better for your music.

Ratio-based compressors compare some part of the signal before the compressor with another part of the signal after the compressor. For example, if the tone is very low, then the volume of the instrument before the compressor is lower than normal, the compressor will reduce both equally.

This could cause the problem where the bass loses intensity due to them reducing the volume too much. So, instead of using a ratio-based compressor, I would recommend using a parallel compressor.

A parallel compressor only compresses parts of the signal independently of each other. For instance, the treble end of the note gets its own amount of compression while the bass stays the same.

With this type of compressor, there is no risk of overcompression since the bass won’t get reduced as much. You also have more control over the effect of the bass being lost because you can turn up the treble just enough to compensate.

Use a compressor with a fast attack

how to make bass sound like rhythm guitar

A compressor is a tool that adds gain or tone to an audio signal. Compressors come in many forms, but all work by reducing the volume of a sound or element.

A high-pass filter compresses low frequencies, while a notch filter removes higher pitched sounds. Some compressors apply additional gain after the initial reduction, which can be very helpful if you need to reduce volume slightly.

A standard compressor works by taking away some of the intensity of a signal. This way you are not overdoing it on the bass!

Some people like to refer to this as “de-essing” the bass. That is when you hear someone say something like, “The bass really dropped out today,” or “The bass was just missing.”

This does not always make things better though. If the bass drops too much, it could become hard to understand the rest of the music. You also lose the impact of the bass.

There are two ways to use a compressor effectively. You can either hold down the compression button or drag the threshold (the amount needed to activate the compressor) up to reduce the bass more, or you can increase the ratio (how much the compressor reduces the amplitude of the input) to remove less power.

Use a compressor with a slow attack

how to make bass sound like rhythm guitar

When bass playing, you want your tone to stand out! You don’t want it to sound like everyone else’s bandmate’s bass guitar!

That is why when starting out as a bass player, one of the first things you should do is make sure your amplifier has some kind of effector such as a preamp or equalizer. This way you can modify your bass tone anywhere from being bright to dark, rich or dry.

But what if all those changes take away from how strong your bass sounds? That is where compression comes in!

A compressor will reduce the volume of an incoming signal (the bass), which makes its sound weaker but later re-enlarges that sound which makes it more powerful. A compressor with a slow attack time will also retain some of the bass frequency while compressing, creating a richer feeling tone.

These settings may be familiar to experienced users, but let us go into more detail about them.

Add EQ

how to make bass sound like rhythm guitar

An important part of any song is its bass line. The bass can be either tuned or un-tuned, but no matter what type it is, there are equal opportunities for tuning fun!

The easiest way to make a lower pitched sound seem deeper is by adding some high pass (not lowpass) EQ filters. This cuts all higher frequencies off, making the tone darker and more reverberant.

You can also add lowshelf EQ which cut down the lowest end of the note, making your bass drop in pitch slightly. Both of these changes work well if you want to retain the crisp quality of the notes while lowering the volume.

And don’t forget about Mid-range rolloff settings! These filter out middle tones that sometimes get lost when playing very low or very high. This really helps bring out the true depth of the bass!

One last trick is to take one of the filters and move its cutoff frequency up. A standard rule of thumb is to start moving the cutoff around half a semitone higher and see how much effect this has on the bass.

Add a compressor

how to make bass sound like rhythm guitar

A compressor is a tool that adds gain or loss of amplitude (loudness) to an audio signal. Compressors come in different types, but most reduce the volume of a signal proportionally.

A low-pass filter compresses lower frequencies and removes low-frequency content, while a high pass filter only reduces higher frequency amplitudes. The settings for each compressor are typically dependent on the tone of the voice it is working with.

In this case, you can use the compressor to make the bass softer or quieter. It works by taking some of the energy from the bass out of the sound before adding the compressor, creating a smoother transition.

Most people add the compressor after the bass amplifier or instrument, so it will work as intended. However, you could also insert the compressor earlier in the mix process to achieve the same result.

Add EQ

how to make bass sound like rhythm guitar

A bass guitar is more than just lower notes! The low end of your music comes from two main sources: Your voice (lack of tone) and your equipment (ringing). If you want bass that sounds like it’s part of the rhythm guitar, then you need to work on its resonance.

A good starting point is equalization or “EQ.” You can use software programs such as Ableton Live, Pro Tools, or Reaktor to experiment with different settings for the bass.

You can apply boost or cut depending on whether you want the sound to come up slightly or totally drowned out. Settings such as high-pass filter and low-cut filter are very helpful in creating strong bass tones.

What kind of bass?

There are three most common types of basses: tube, solid state, and piezoelectric. All three require different techniques to achieve their unique qualities.

Tube bass uses an amplifier component called a vacuum tube to create the resonant pitch. This could be a preamp stage or a regular amplifier back box.

For solid state basses, capacitors are used to create the resonant effect. For piezo basses, transducers or crystals are needed to produce the bass note.

Which one to pick really depends on what type of music you want to make.

Use a compressor with a fast attack and slow release

how to make bass sound like rhythm guitar

A classic way to make bass sound like rhythm guitar is by using a compressor. There are many different types of compressors, but all work in similar ways- by adding some gain or intensity to incoming signals, they reduce that signal level!

A compander with an fast attack time removes this suppression, allowing the tone to fully develop. This can also be referred to as a “tube compressor” because it uses active components (tubes) to create the compression.

Most people use their headphones when listening to music so if you want to try this out, don't attach any external devices! Simply press play and listen for how each instrument sounds without a compressor attached and then compare them by ear.

Use a compressor with a medium attack and release

how to make bass sound like rhythm guitar

After we get our low end in place, it is time to bring up the bass! The easiest way to do this is by using a compressor. A very common one used for this is called an EQ-Compressor or simply a compressor.

A compressor works by limiting how much of your signal it allows to pass through. More complex versions will also roll off some higher frequencies depending on what mode you select.

The two main modes are frequency dependent gain (FDG) where it will lower the amplitude of only certain parts of the sound, and peak de-emphasis (PDE) which removes just the top part of the waveform. Both are considered compression as they limit the volume of the note.

With music genres that use strong bass sounds like dubstep, hip hop, or even heavy metal, there is usually at least one section where the bass drops completely down in intensity. This creates a nice harmonic balance and feel.

For that reason, PDAs and CDGs are excellent settings to start with when compressing the bass. You can slowly increase the strength as needed later if necessary.

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