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When making metal music, having a strong and steady bass tone is very important. It's no secret that pros can tell a beginner mix by how the low end sounds.

Compression helps shape that tone, making sure the bass fits well in the mix and gives a solid base for the other instruments. Compressing the bass correctly helps create a consistent low end which gives a solid foundation for the rest of the instruments.

So, with that being said, let's go over four quick tips for compressing bass guitar in your metal productions!

Tip 1: Set the Right Attack and Release Times

The attack and release settings of a compressor determine how quickly it responds to the DI. For bass guitar, it's important to find the right balance to maintain the bass's presence without losing its initial attack.

  • Attack Time: A slower attack allows the initial transients of the bass to pass through before the compression kicks in, preserving the punch and clarity. Start with an attack time of around 20-40 milliseconds and adjust to taste.
  • Release Time: A faster release can help maintain the sustain of the bass notes, but if set too fast, it can cause pumping. Usually a good starting point for a release time is around 50-100 milliseconds, and then fine-tune as needed depending on the part and tempo.

In our Seismic Bass Suite plugin, we included two different ways to use compression. First, a compression pedal that will allow you to set your attack and release time, change between ratios, use parallel compression, and also switch between different styles of compression depending on what you need for your DI!

And then we also included 3 different bands of compression with the following fixed settings within the amp itself:

  • Attack 0ms
  • Release 50ms
  • Ratio: infinity:1

Tip 2: Compress the Low End

Focusing compression on the low end of the bass can help achieve a consistent and powerful low-frequency response without affecting the higher frequencies.

  • Use a Multiband Compressor: A multiband compressor allows you to compress only the low frequencies while leaving the mids and highs untouched. Set the crossover point around 50-200 Hz to target the low end.
    • Pro Tip: Find the fundamental of your bass (may change depending on your tuning or key of the song) and try to only compress that area.
  • Adjust Threshold and Ratio: Lower the threshold until you see about 3-6 dB of gain reduction on the low frequencies. Use a higher ratio of around 4:1 to 10:1 to maintain control without over-compressing.
  • Note: You can easily set your crossover point in Seismic and compress just the low end.

Tip 3: Apply Parallel Compression for Added Punch

Parallel compression involves blending a heavily compressed signal with the original dry signal. This technique adds punch and sustain to the bass without squashing its dynamics.

You can do this easily by using a mix/blend knob on a compressor plugin (such as the Compressor pedal in our Seismic Bass Suite) or if you don't have a mix/blend knob, here's how to set it up manually:

  • Create a Parallel Track: Duplicate the bass track and apply heavy compression to the duplicate. Use a high ratio (10:1 or higher), fast attack, and medium-fast release.
  • Blend the Signals: Mix the heavily compressed track with the original bass track to taste. Start with the compressed track at a lower volume and gradually increase it until you achieve the desired punch and presence.

Tip 4: Utilize Sidechain Compression for Clarity

Sidechain compression is a powerful technique to create space in a dense mix, ensuring the bass guitar doesn't clash with other elements like the kick drum.

  • Set Up Sidechain Compression: Route the kick drum signal to the sidechain input of the bass compressor. This way, every time the kick hits, it momentarily reduces the bass volume, allowing the kick to cut through.
  • Adjust Settings: Use a fast attack and release time on the sidechain compressor. Set the threshold so that the bass dips slightly when the kick hits, typically around 2-4 dB of gain reduction.


Compressing bass guitar effectively is a great way to create a tight and powerful low end in metal productions. By setting the right attack and release times, focusing compression on the low end, applying parallel compression, and utilizing sidechain compression, you can achieve a bass tone that really holds your mix together.

For more tips and to connect with fellow musicians, join the free Modern Metal Songwriter Facebook Group. Additionally, explore our range of plugins and production packs designed to help you achieve a modern metal sound. Happy songwriting!

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