Most common frequency range of bass tracks in rock and pop?

Hi!
In rock and pop music, what’s generally the standard frequency range of the bass track?
Does it much depends on the specific songs and instruments used?

I’m asking this because I’m mixing my first song project and I just can’t seem to decide which bass track to use on it: the higher-pitched one or the lower-pitched one? I’ve written those two bass tracks on Trilian (a virtual instrument you probably all know well) in Cubase choosing a bass guitar preset, and they both are almost exactly the same except one is one octave lower than the other. The song is a slow rock (70 BPM) in the key of A with acoustic rhythm guitar (strummed and very present throughout), synths, vocals (rather high-pitched), drums, and of course the bass guitar (done in Trilian) which has a bit of a melody quality or function to it.

1ST POSSIBLE BASS TRACK (the higher-pitched one)
The dominant frequencies of the first potential bass track range from 80 Hz to 140 Hz, with 110 Hz being very frequent (it is the A note).

With this bass track, the song seems to be more bonded together and the melody of the bass track is more discernible, but I’m afraid the lower notes don’t go deep enough, and we kind of miss a deal of the physical quality of the bass, I mean the physical vibratory sensation we can feel in the body (in the chest) when a bass is playing loudly enough (on good speakers…).

2ND POSSIBLE BASS TRACK (the lower-pitched one, one octave lower)
The dominant frequencies of the second potential bass track (the one which is one octave lower) range from 40 Hz to about 75 Hz, with 55 Hz being very frequent (again this is the A note).

With this bass track, I kind of feel the bass goes maybe too deep, and thus it seems the bass is alienated from the rest of the mix, but maybe it’s just an impression… and maybe bass tracks are meant to sound like that…! In fact, the welcome vibratory sensation I was talking about earlier is present in it. However, we less distinctively hear the melody quality of the bass track (maybe that doesn’t matter much…).


Overall, what could help me to solve the question is if I knew the standard frequency range of bass tracks used in rock and pop music. I just want my bass track to sound like bass tracks of songs I love!

One last point I could consider: the lowest frequency a bass guitar can produce, when playing the lower E string, seems to be 41 Hz (E1, according to scientific pitch notation system)… Consequently, that could make a strong argument for choosing my lower-pitched bass-track, the one which uses the range 40 to 75 Hz, since it seems to be more plausible, closer to the tones played by a real bass guitar…??? But what if bass players rarely play that open E string and more usually choose the higher-pitched E on the 2nd string 2nd fret, or on 3rd string 7th fret…???

Please can you shed some light on the most frequently used bass guitar frequency range in rock and pop!

Stevo8

Either mix pieces of both together or use the high for one chorus/ verse and the high for the next, etc… .

Also, they make 5 string basses these days so low E isn’t the lowest.

There are no set rules, use what sounds best to you.

Aloha and +1.

Use the best plug ever made.

Your ears.

If you like it, it is OK.
If you don’t like it, it is not OK.
If you are not sure, ask a few folks (which you have done)
and then move on to another song (and come back later to that one).

HTH
{’-’}

Earplugs?

A bassist using a standard bass would be happy to use that open low E where it fits. But I would second what the others have said; you’re the composer, and you tell the bass what to play per what seems right to you. You will sometimes hear a bass line being raised up an octave in a section of the song that is reaching a certain frenzy.

I think its a ‘feel thing’ too. I went through this process recently where a lower bass-line better suited the song in question, it felt darker and broodier. On a different song it may well be that playing in a higher register is more suitable. Also, I suspect at higher-tempos, 1/8-notes say, played low can get pretty muddy so in those situations going up an octave may also be appropriate, and of course it’s unlikely to be a dark, broody song played at a high tempo anyway, so playing higher up is probably more likely and more suited!

So generally, I think it totally depends on the song and the vibe you want to convey. :sunglasses:
And as suggested above it may be that different parts of the song require a different range to be covered by the bass.

The one that sounds best is the ‘right’ one :smiley:

I go with all the above, you seem to be over analysing the situation somewhat!
Making what should be an artistic decision into a scientific one, go for your gut instinct.

curteye

(and come back later to that one)

+1 this very useful advice! That, and Split’s comment about over-analysis (who put the “anal” into analysis? :laughing: ). Some of my favourite recordings are ones I did on my old 8 track tape recorder, I’m sure I never considered frequency bands etc. in those days.

And the best advice - if it sounds good, it IS good! :sunglasses:

Well thanks everybody for your valuable input! I appreciate it and read them carefully.

The reason I’m nourrishing scientific worries over the right bass track frequency range has a lot to do with wanting to have a sound that’s as close as possible to what we can call a “professionnal sounding mix”… I would like to be able to throw my song in a playlist that includes commercial (professional) songs and, when arriving to my song, not thinking “gosh there’s something weird in the low-range, some kind of a tonal balance or something seems to be lacking or sounds defective”… I would have no problem relying completely on my ears to undergo the mixing process, if when listening to my final song right after listening to some professionally-made songs, my same ears wouldn’t tell me there’s something wrong with the sound of the bass…! :unamused:

Of course I can do test-mixdowns of my song and do a listening test in comparison to commercial tracks, but if then I find something weird with the bass, that would mean I would have to go through possibly a lot of trial and error, since I’m a newbie in song mixing. So I guess I just wanted to know if there were common practices in regards to the bass register, before I do all sorts of laborious listening tests…!

I think I’ll do what mashedmitten has proposed: use one for one chorus/verse and the other for the next chorus/verse".
But I still need some lights on one last thing:
I have not yet laid down the drum track. I’m intuiting that that could possibly be a determining factor in deciding the frequency range of my bass track? Should the bass drum find his place below or above the bass guitar? If the lowest note of my bass track is 40Hz, do I have to squeeze the bass drum frequency range between 30 and 40 Hz? If I choose my higher-pitched bass track (which doesn’t go below 80Hz), I would then have more room for the bass drum… Or perhaps the bass drum can cohabit with the bass guitar in the same register?

What’s your take on this new element in my (newbie) decision-making process: the bass drum!..? Where does the bass drum usually reside, frequency-wise, in rock or pop music? How are the bass drum and the bass guitar related?

Ok thanks again!

Stevo8

Stevo8

before I do all sorts of laborious listening tests

But that’s what you have to do! If that’s laborious you’re in the wrong game. :unamused:

Stevo8

There really is no shortcut to becoming good at this game. You can read as much as you want and plonk spectrum analysis on everything in sight and still end up with a pile of poo :laughing:

The name of the game is experience, experience, experience… (and good monitoring)

Lucky for you that some people here have decades of that :open_mouth: and are willing to share :stuck_out_tongue:

:laughing:

I don’t know if this helps, and I feel sorta guilty for posting a link to a thread I created because I’m nobody when it comes to mixing, but here’s a thread I created some time ago outlining my process for recording. I include some discussion of EQ in there including the use of spectrum analysis.

http://www.steinberg.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=91&t=10476

I’ve always like this interpretation of frequency distribution. It combines a lot of elements in a concise format
http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://solomonsmusic.net/musrange.gif&imgrefurl=http://solomonsmusic.net/insrange.htm&h=778&w=900&sz=32&tbnid=OFdddrLp50IxiM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=104&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dinstrument%2Brange%2Bchart%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=instrument+range+chart&docid=OhkH-sTbMSTJHM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2WbjTvX3H5KbtweSmJGGBA&sqi=2&ved=0CEYQ9QEwAg&dur=957