2. Bass vs Kick

In the realm of club-oriented music, there’s no getting away from the fact that the two most important elements in a track inhabit the low frequencies: the bassline and the kick drum. The challenge is to ensure they interact without clashing.

It usually helps to think in terms of the frequencies each element will occupy in order to ensure each sits in its own space. As a rule, avoid combining sub-based kicks with subby basslines as the frequencies are likely to clash:

However, a fuller, higher frequency kick can work with a tonally stripped-down bassline:

If you’re not sure which frequencies each element of your track occupies, use a spectrum analyser to check where the core energy of each lies:

kick spectrum analyser

The kick drum can sometimes be made to fit better with a little judicious retuning:

8a

Some tracks do away with a conventional bassline altogether and merely use a kick drum playing different notes across the keyboard to achieve the same effect.

Space can also be created for the kick by ensuring that it doesn’t overlap with the timing of the bass. Try making bass notes shorter and avoid playing them at the same time as the kick. This creates more space, opening up more potential headroom, which in turn means more scope for dynamic processing across the track to create a louder, punchier mix.

EQ can also be useful, as we’ll see in tip number 5.

Author Bruce Aisher
21st May, 2013

Comments

  • Nice article guys! I’m lovin Attack Magazine, in my opinion it’s the best website about electronic music 😉 thanks a lot! Cheers from Brazil

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  • I am really really enjoying the work you are doing with your articles!
    Keep up the good work.

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  • I love these articles! I noticed that this lesson said it would teach us to make better basslines, but even though in the first page it saya that melody is one of the main things that needs to be considered; but there arent any specific tips in this article about choosing bassline notes! 🙂

    I love you guys, can ya break that part down some more? Or do you just do the melody by ear?

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  • ^ BIlly, I don’t want to be annoying but this article is one of the most complete I’ve ever seen on the internet. It’s kinda ungrateful to ask EVEN more about it… seriously :/

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  • @Billy, @Claudio…

    No problems at all with the request…

    It’s true that, of course, the melody plays a (the?) fundamental part in a successful bassline. This piece wasn’t about programming – but I certainly suggest reading the various Passing Notes pieces (http://www.attackmagazine.com/technique/passing-notes/) which are designed to give a good grounding in music theory, including the disco basslines piece (http://www.attackmagazine.com/technique/passing-notes/passing-notes-disco-house-basslines/) which has a lot of insights – even if you hate disco!

    And, as ever, keep watching this space!

    Dave@Attack

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  • Really helpful stuff, muchas gracias amigos!

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  • holycow. its difficult
    on one dark-hand side i hope this page stays my my my own sweet little secret…. anyhow thanks for ur great work!!!

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  • This is a great article, thanks! However, the bass player plugin shows that there is no substitute for a real practiced human! Or a sample of one: but then of course you have to spend three months slicing and dicing ala Justice to keep the lawyers off your tail!

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  • hi, I own the tal u no lx but i cant find the mrs digit preset, does it come with it or is named something else?

    Thanks!

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  • Luke – well spotted. We’re pretty sure the Mrs Digit patch is a Mr Fingers-inspired bass sound the writer created for the audio example. U-NO-LX is so simple that you should be able to copy the patch from the screengrab (although we had to increase the filter cutoff slightly to get the same sound).

    If you’re looking for an even more accurate version of the classic Larry Heard sound, try the sub-oscillator on its own. Or you could use the pulse oscillator and set the pulse width manually to get a variety of slightly fuller or hollower sounds.

    U-NO-LX is excellent for those 80s analogue bass sounds. We’re big fans.

    http://www.attackmagazine.com/reviews/gear-software/tal-u-no-lx/

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  • Attack WE LOVE YOU.

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  • Thanks so much for this. Learning so much through your tutorials.

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  • very hot magazine! keep it coming

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  • this tutorial came in very handy for me, thank you attack people..very well written and it reminded me of some stuff i (probably) already had forgotten to consider again. big ups from vienna

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  • attack magazine thank you very much. very useful article .

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  • Awesome article. Thanks

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  • Another incredible article. Informative and clearly explained.

    Attack is rapidly becoming my number one resource for production tips.

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  • Just got wind of this site. I will definitely be here more than ever. Really enlightening

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  • Just found this magazine, excellent well written articles. This one was excellent and covered lots of stuff. Ill be trying that notch on my bass eq real soon. Keep it up guys, great stuff

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  • If you’re using reverb on your bass, put the EQ before the reverb. It won’t matter so much for bass as for other instruments, but it will sound somewhat unnatural to have the reverb filtered.

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  • How have I missed this article? Great read as ever guys and very informative!

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  • great article but please for the love of god fix or change the sound player, its freezes after 2 seconds and never starts playing again, i have to refresh couple of times to even hear the whole soundclip

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  • I am new to this site and I must say the few articles I’ve read are quite good.
    keep up the good work

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  • The best articles I’ve read in my life. Great work guys. Keep it up!

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  • Awesome tips—could u possibly provide the readers with a PDF version of the articles?

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  • amazing stuff guys……..really great content!

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  • Does this work on 808 bass?

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  • THIS IS SHIT

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  • Thanks for all of your excellent tutorials

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  • Nice article. I have just released a free youtube series on how to write bass lines too. Check it out!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHIHncaNaDw

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  • Any other software alternatives for the VOG plug-in you mentioned for boosting low-end?

    Boz ‘Bark Of Dog’ resonant filter?

    Tone2 Bifilter?

    Any EQ like the Logic EQ or Pro-Q with a resonant low-shelf?

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  • oh, and great article btw. Attack Mag is fast becoming my favourite site for these tips and walkthroughs!

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  • Thanks! Best tutorial

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