As far as metal subgenres go, none have seen more homegrown success than the explosiveness of djent over the last decade. Part progressive metal and part editing mastery, djent is everything we love about aggressive, choppy riff and tight performances. While djent is personified by it’s down-tuned and extended range guitars, there’s no replacement for bass in your mix.
When it comes to djent bass, you’ve got a bit of an uphill battle to fight. The bit of frequency spectrum overlapping between the guitar and bass is already a bit of a challenge for those recording in standard tuning, but when your guitars start to creep further into the lows of your song, the bass needs to cut through somehow.
Fortunately for the thousands of bassists and guitarists recording at home, finding that separation isn’t any more difficult than it might be in a large studio. All of the same recording and editing techniques are available right inside your DAW. You just need to know how to record bass in a way that it can be easily manipulated in your session.
Record Bass Like a Pro
If you’re serious about getting an ideal bass tone for your djent tracks, there are two things I would highly recommend doing for your tracking session:
- Use new strings
- Record with a DI box
The strings might seem like a bit of a hassle, but when you’re looking to edge out huge, distorted guitars for a bit of presence in your song, they’re the perfect solution. Fresh strings tend to have a bit brighter attack to them, regardless of your tuning or playing style. Because there’s no wear and tear on them, they sound crisp and clean. Even if you plan on dirtying them up a bit with your amp, having a bright, clear tone on the way in is going to make the recording that much more usable in practice.
Paired with that fresh set of strings should be your number one home studio tool when it comes to recording electric instruments: your DI box.
With a DI bass signal, you eliminate a lot of the negative aspects of recording at home. You’ve taken the room out of the equation, as well as microphone placement, environment noise, and even the cab you’re recording with. By using a DI, you’re getting a no-nonsense, full-spectrum bass guitar recording that you can easily edit in the box.
Editing Your Djent Bass
Just like djent guitars, djent bass deserves a thorough, extensively detailed editing session. As a genre that prides itself on accuracy and consistency, your bass performance needs to line up perfectly with guitar tracks and the grid. This means stripping any string noise, fret buzz, or unintentional ringing out from your track. Go through each section with a fine-tooth comb approach to get a tight & pocketed performance that reinforces your guitars and fits just right with your drums.
There are some pretty advanced techniques out there for those willing to go the extra mile for consistency. For example, most DAWs today have functionality to allow you to stretch your waveforms to fill time that they didn’t before. You can also use clip gain as a way to even out a performance before you ever reach for a compressor.
No matter how detailed you choose to get with your bass, just know that this is one genre where fans will take notice of the extra effort you’re putting in.
Djent Amp Tones
Once edited, your bass deserves to get a bit of grit to help it fit into the mix even more. Using a virtual bass rig like Bassforge Rex Brown, anyone can dial in a high-gain, overdriven bass tone without pushing hundreds of watts through a speaker. All of the settings are there from the preamp pedal to the amp’s gain and EQ to a dynamic post-processing section that bassists could only dream of in a physical bass rig. Just check out how Giuseppe Colli is recording djent bass in his home setup:
As an alternative, many home recording bassists will also use a re-amp box to send the cleaned & edited bass guitar out to a physical rig, or use an impulse response of their favorite cabinet with a Bassforge plugin for a truly unique tone. There’s a lot of flexibility once you’ve got a properly tracked & edited bass recording.
Finding The Right Tones For Your Songs
One of the main things I hear engineers, producers, and home recording enthusiasts struggle with is their ability to get the same results from their home setups that they hear in professional songs. Because of this, I built the Toneforge Bootcamp course with a specific focus on developing your ear to pick out tones your like and replicating those tones in your DAW.