Bass is one element of music that is cardinal.
Without bass, we end up with a record sounding light when it should be sounding heavy.
If you’re a trap hip-hop producer I’m going to teach you how to mix trap bass so you level up your own skills and make better beats.
Bass in general is a tricky subject because not knowing how to use it can result in a bad beat.
Therefore, in this post I’m going to walk you through how to mix trap bass to get that nice low end.
With that said, let’s get right into it.
How do you mix trap bass?
Choose the right bass
The very first step in mixing trap bass is choosing the right bass sample.
Sound selection is important because it sets the tone for the overall mixing process that you’ll carry out.
Some people prefer working with 808 bass, which is okay and others prefer to work with basslines from synths.
Both two options are great.
You need to choose an 808 that fits your particular beat just as you would a baseline.
Not all beats work with 808s and not all beats work with baselines so it’s usually a matter of using both and choosing the one that works better with your track.
I usually use 808s on trap beats that could use the extra low end power and I usually go for baselines when I’m trying to avoid the boom that comes with 808s.
But all in all, its a matter of choosing which one works for the track you’re working on.
All beats are different and the bass treatment also has to differ.
Choose the right kick drum
We have to pair an 808 or bass with the right kick drum.
I generally go for a flat kick that can compliment the 808.
When mixing your 808s or bass, it’s paramount that your kick sample does not conflict with the bass you choose to use.
This is matter of a trying out a bunch of kick drums until you find the right one that works with the particular 808.
When mixing trap bass, it’s essential to apply the right EQ settings.
Bass has to cover the low end frequencies but it should do so without sounding muddy.
Muddy bass will reduce the brightness of your mix.
Which is why you could employ a slight high pass filter to get rid of some of the muddy frequencies.
The human ear can pick up low frequencies from around 20Hz, even then its best to get rid of any mud around that frequency range.
However, not all bass are equal and you should therefore use your ears and get a sense of what sounds good.
This is a good time to also cutoff some mid frequencies that the bass may be covering. This depends on the bass you’re working with.
A good rule is to make sure that your bass drives the beat without overshadowing other elements.
Leveling is simply just getting your trap bass to the right amount of loudness.
It’s good to do this during the mixdown process.
Bring up the kick first and then bass, then bring in your third most important element in your beat.
Your kick should work well with the 808 and these two should work well with your third important element.
All you have to do is get good volume levels among all elements.
Make sure the 808 is in key
There’s nothing more annoying than an out of key 808.
The best way to get an 808 in key is by getting it to a high octave that makes it almost sound like a high pitched pluck.
This way, you can easily get it in key with the beat.
While up on that octave, you could also figure out the 808 pattern, which you can then perfect when you bring the 808 down to the desired octave.
I included getting the 808 in key as part of the mixing process because an out of key 808 is harder to mix and won’t sound great.
Saturation is an effect that you can add to your trap bass to give it some additional top end harmonics.
Stale basses will benefit the most from saturation because it give them more presence in the mix.
I usually use Fab Filter Saturn or Sausage Fatterner or Sound Toys Decapitator to make my bass sound full and large.
Therefore, try adding some saturation so you can enjoy the benefits of harmonic distortion.
Compression can also be an effective effect on bass.
It can get you a consistent low end dynamic range in the 808 while taking care that your bass doesn’t clip.
Its best to use a subtle amount of compression.
Another effective way of mixing trapping bass is to side chain it to your kick so that you give the kick the chance to shine.
It takes some doing though and this isnt always necessarily a requirement.
If you have a good flat kick that’s not conflicting with your 808 or bass then you can ignore sidechaining.
If you want your kick to stand out a lot more, you also clip your kicks to make them louder.
This has become popular in trap music.
It makes the low end even punchier especially if you use a good combination of kick and bass.
Also avoid using a hard limiter on the master channel of your beat.
I usually go for a soft limiter that doesn’t tame my beats too much.
It allows the beat to sound full and loud enough.
There are a lot of different practices out there that people use in mixing their bass.
Choosing the right bass sample is important because with some basses all you may need to do is just get them to a good level and you’ll be good to go.
Without having to worry about adding effects or sidechaning or doing a whole bunch of things.
So, choose your bass wisely.