Rock the Bottom End – Mixing Bass and Drums



Getting the right mix for bass and drums took me forever to learn. This post could save you dozens of hours of trying to figure out why there is no bottom end punch to your mixes.
Mixing is all about balancing frequencies.  The hardest frequency to deal with (IMO) is everything under 300hz.  It’s harder to hear and find tones that are stepping on each other.
Here are some steps to clear the way for a great sounding bottom end. All the magic happens in EQ and Compression. The rule of thumb is that you want to have complimentary frequencies for both bass and kick (i.e. bass at 100hz, kick at 75hz)
Roll off everything under 100hz for most of your other tracks (use hi-pass filter), which will remove the noise in those frequencies. If you have a kick drum track isolated, solo that with your bass track.  This will give you a picture of the bottom. I used to boost freq at 50-100hz, but now I cut since I realized it gets crowded in there.
I use 3 tracks for bass guitar; 1 mic, 1 direct, 1 bus (from direct track) with distortion. You will have to experiment cutting/boosting various frequencies to get the right tone mix for bass and drums. Do this without compression since that will confuse the sound. Your bass and kick sounds will be unique to you, so you will have to experiment.
Once you have the tones dialed in you can add compression. You can either buss those tracks to a compressor or add the compression plugin on kick and bass tracks. Using a fast attack on the compressor will add punch.
It’s going to be a lot of trial and error, but you should get used to listening for combined bass/kick sound. Modern Country music has the best example of a “locked” kick/bass.  You may not like County, but give it a listen and you will see it.
Of course the bottom end is subjective to the type of music you are recording.  However, these frequencies are what people “feel” when they listen to music. I love the bass guitar because it rattles your bones and let’s your body know there’s music going on.
Achieving a killer bottom end mix will provide a stable foundation for your listeners.  If it’s off, they won’t be able to feel your songs. Most dance tracks are 80% bottom end so you can physically feel the beat.