If you keep up with modern rock music, there’s almost no doubt that you’re familiar with Paramore’s “Riot” album. Not only is the music great, the recordings and productions are insanely tight.
Drums get brought up quite a bit, as they sound incredible on this record. But the guitar tone is equally impressive.
What is going to be shocking is that we’re not going to be discussing the guitars, amps, pedals, or effects used on the guitars, today. Rather, we’re going to talk about how another element of the recording plays into the guitar tone. And this may be the most important element of the guitar tone.
And that element is the bass tone.
Take a listen here to the single “Misery Business.” The most impressive part of the guitar tone is that it is like a “smooth wall of sound” that is full and spread across all of the frequencies.
But how can you get a guitar tone to sound like that? The first step is to record a great guitar part and to choose the right amount of overdrive. But you’ve probably been there before – with just one missing piece.
And that is the overdrive on the bass. Yep – listen carefully again…do you know why it sounds so smooth? Because the guitars and the bass are glued together with bass overdrive.
When we talk about gluing the tracks together, we basically mean that it is produced and mixed in such a way that makes it difficult to distinguish between what tone is the guitars and which is the bass. Sometimes this can be bad – in certain genres or styles – but if you’re going for the pristine Paramore sound, its a great way to build your tracks.
To experiment with overdrive on the bass, the first step is to record a track (or snippet of a track). Get your rhythm guitars sounding good and lay down a solid bass part.
Then, use a bass amp modeler (or reamp your bass if you’re feeling adventurous), to add some subtle distortion. Keep the low end in the recording, but experiment with what amount of distortion sounds best.
It might be different for different songs, sometimes being very little at all. But you’ll be amazed what happens once you mute the amp model plug-in and hear where you started. It will sound hollow, separated, and nowhere near as “glued.” Try it for yourself and tell us how it goes!