In this video we take a look at Side-Chaining, particularly with kick and bass.

Thoughts? Please leave a comment!

  • I realize this post is 3 years old, but i’m curious as to what order you put your compressors in? do you put the side-chain compressor in first and then put the normal bass compressor. or do you compress the bass track first and then add in the side-chain compression. The latter seems more logical. Thanks.

    • Yeah I think the latter…but I rarely use this technique anymore to be honest. 🙂

      • David Rodrigues

        Would you mind elaborating on how you do this now since you no longer use this method? I’ve been trying to get a handle on side-chaining bass and drums but haven’t been getting great results. Thanks.

        • I’ve just found that I don’t ever seem to need to use side-chaining. Sorry!

  • Hi Joe,

    Why did you use the Pre button? And do you have to leave it on all the time?


    • Using pre makes sure you send the same level to the send regardless of the level of the channel’s fader.

  • adam

    Any tips on a good free compressor with side chain capability? The Cubase 4 LE stock compressor doesn’t support side chaining (come on, Steinberg!). Thanks!

  • Great info! I don’t want to be a curmudgeon but I do want to mention that this technique seems to be taking hold as a popular “fix it in the mix” crutch. I think it’s great if you treat it as an “effect” but don’t use it as a cop out for accepting sloppy performances. The sound of a bass player and drummer locking in on a groove is a beautiful thing. While tracking take the time to get it right, don’t just say “we’ll fix it in the mix by gating the bass”. Call me old school but unless you’re *really* strapped for time I find this technique to be the weakest of all possible solutions. Track it right, or if you’re using midi then play it right and edit your performance. If your synth bass has a non-complimentary attack then edit the patch or choose a different one. IMO all of these approaches will yield a more musical result than using a side chained gate.

    Now…. if your priority is to place speed over musicality or to create some crazy effect…. then more power to you. I offer this opinion primarily in the hope that new home recordists will try out *all* the aforementioned approaches and choose what works best for them. To me side chained bass is the groove equivalent of fast food and you can probably guess my feelings about fast food. 😉

    • I can definitely see where this could be used to get rid of some sloppy playing. I agree with you, getting a good performance should rank above this, even if it can hide pocket issues. I would probably only employ this on an “out of the pocket” groove if it’s a time crunch situation AND I don’t have other options AND it can somehow salvage the groove/timing issues. Basically only if it serves the song and there wasn’t a chance to re-record.
      I recently tried my hand at bass for the first time on a really simple cover of an AA Bondy song, and I can see where getting a good take the 1st time is sooo much easier than having to sit for an hour and pocket and and/or use side-chaining just to keep the groove intact.
      I love the idea of using this as an effect to trigger a synth pad or something too.

    • Seems like maybe you didn’t watch the video? The video is about side chaining kick and bass using compression – not gate. I agree that side chaining with gate is a quick and dirty approach to fixing a sloppy bass track in the mix. or it could be a great tool for locking in a long synth bass to a well played bass track.

      But again, the video above is about ducking the bass by – x dB every time the kick is hit. If you know a bass player that can confidently play a bass line but also play -3dB quieter every single time the drummer hits his kick, let me know if he is available for session work.

  • Do you recommend side chaining a compressor on the bass usually? I’ve seen it done using a gate too. Any reason to use one or the other?


    I have a question :
    should I keep the PRE button on all the time ?

  • carlisle

    great another lesson on plugins and how they work….. keep it coming. thanks

  • Liking the track Joe! Need a guitar solo for it? 🙂

  • Ryan

    Another use for side-chaining is to use an oscillator to have a low frequency come through only when your kick hits, to add a little “beef” to it.

  • This was a cool walk-through of an effect/mixing concept that I (as a noob) wanted to learn more about and wasn’t having a lot of luck w/ various article & forum posts on this. Now I understand it a LOT better. Great job & another great video. Thx Joe!