One of the first professionals mix engineers I ever met showed me something that I thought was pretty cool (and honestly, kind of shocking).

He worked primarily on country music here in Nashville, and he showed me a trick that a lot of country mixers will use on bass.

See, on a typical country tracking session in Nashville, they’ll book the musicians for a 3-hour session in a tracking room in town. The musicians will run through the song a few times, and then they’ll lay it down live, all at once.

Since all the musicians are playing together, the bass guitar almost always gets recorded direct. (To prevent bleed from a big ol’ bass cabinet into the other mics in the studio.)

A direct bass sound, by itself, can sound okay…but it’s sometimes hard to get it to cut through a mix, unless…

You add distortion.

What? Distorted bass on a country song? Blasphemy!

That’s what I thought, at least.

As it turns out, the bass doesn’t sound distorted in the mix, but the distortion adds just enough “bite” to the track to get it to cut through the mix without overwhelming the mix.

The key is parallel processing.

If you want to see this in action, head over to the VIP members area and check out last week’s video. It’s all about parallel distortion, and how I regularly use it as a part of my mixing workflow.

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Joe Gilder
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