We will consider two ways to record bass. Most engineers will use a combination of both of these techniques, blending the two recording takes, to achieve the desired sound.
DI- (Direct Injection)
This simple method directly plugs the bass guitar into your interface or preamp. If you don’t have access to a bass amplifier this method will work just as well.
Some bass guitars have active pick-ups, meaning that their output is high enough to be plugged directly into your interface. However, some bass guitars feature a passive pickup, which generally has a low level signal and needs a DI box or a high quality mic pre to boost a low level signal.
An important step to consider is whether the bass will be recorded at the same time with other instruments, such as drums and guitars or as an overdub. If you’re recording other instruments in the same room as the bass, it’s highly likely that the spill from the bass amp will be picked up by the other microphones. This is where using a DI can be useful and is more often than not, the better option.
Although the sound recorded through a DI can be dry and lack the body and punch from a bass amp, there are a lot of options in post where you could re-amp the DI signal through a bass amp later or by using plugins to bring back a richer and fuller sound.
Micing Bass Amp CAB-
The sound of a good bass amplifier, particularly a tube model, is hard to emulate with a DI technique. Although some results can get close, it is argued that the real amp tone is tough to replicate. It can be a little tricky to record a bass amp, especially if you’re in an untreated space like your home. A quick and simple tip is to throw thick blankets over the amp and microphone stand to help deaden any reflections or alternatively, place your amp in a closet.
When you mic up a bass amp most engineers will choose a dynamic mic such as an AKG D112 or a large diaphragm condenser like a Neumann U47FET. Using a combination of these two microphones will give the engineer the ability to blend the characteristics of the two microphones in the mixing process.