The Basics: Recording bass guitar help

Hello everyone,

I am very new to this whole realm (recording) and I was wondering if anyone has any tips for me on how to get started! I pretty much need advice from the ground up. What kind of equipment should I invest in to get decent quality? Do I hook my bass directly into my computer or should I get an exterior mic to record on? I’ve tried just plugging my bass directly into my line on my sound card but that produced an awful quality (and practicably unlistenable)

I am running Windows 7 and have the newest version on audacity, 2.0.

I am, to be honest, completely clueless, but any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Don’t be bashful about details. Which laptop? Model numbers? Which bass? Which Pickups?

I’m going to extend the question a little. You want to play bass along with other sound tracks and record the performance, right?


I have a Schecter Stilleto Custom 4- string bass with EMGhz Pickups, not sure about what the actually model of pick ups.
I made my computer so there really isn’t a “brand” to it and as of right now I’m looking to just record myself playing and maybe try and do some looping work. Everything I’ve tried so far (through my crappy web cam mic and plugging straight into the audio in on my mother board) hasn’t worked at all (The sound quality has been crap). I’m not sure if I need better equiptment or of I’m not setting it up right!

Thanks for any help,


The recording sound quality of an on-board sound card is likely to be bad.
You probably need a better sound card.
There are several inexpensive models of USB sound card with 1/4" jack inputs available.
I wouldn’t recommend a “USB guitar lead” because they don’t have a headphone socket so you can’t monitor properly.
Something like the Behringer: Guitar Link UCG102 is likely to be better. I don’t know if they do one specifically for bass.
Alternatively a sound card with a decent microphone input and mic up your bass cab.

There is a split between picking up your bass cabinet with a live microphone and plugging the guitar pickup directly into a digitizer/computer. The direct pickup cable is likely to be very clean and pure and relatively easy to connect, but isn’t going to sound right if you like listening to your cabinet/speakers.

The live microphone way will capture the sound of the music plus the cabinet plus the room. That’s probably what you have now. Any echoes the room has or metro buses or air conditioners or dogs barking will go onto your recording.

Post a short portion of what you have now. Sometimes we can recommend something instantly once we hear the problem. Webcam music capture doesn’t have to be awful.

Another quick note. You’re playing the worst guitar. Bass guitars have thick, heavy strings and when you smack them hard, the pickup can make a very seriously powerful signal. It’s easy to overload or damage a capture from too much signal. That’s what we’re going to find out when you post the clip.


Thanks again for the responses,
Either options would work for me (IE Micing the cab or direct input) , I’m just trying to get a recording that isn’t constantly clipping and sounds relatively nice, nothing professional grade.
Ill record one of me playing with my webcam mic recording and post it along with one of me playing with the input jack into the sound card.
What would be the best way to post the files?

If they’re short, you can do them right here on the forum.


(Sorry for joining in, ten days later!)

What amplifier do you have - does it have a “Preamp Output” or a “Line Output” jack? If it has either of those, use it! Plug that output into your computer. That will let you use the tone controls in your amp, plus whatever other controls it has (for example, some amps have built-in compressors). You won’t get the speaker sound, but it will probably be an improvement over going directly from your bass to your computer, and it’ll let you use the familiar controls of your amp.