Bass guitar levels are low

Hello, I need some help. I have become the “sound man” for our band and I am having trouble getting the bass guitar levels high enough. The signal coming in is pretty low compared to my guitar. To be fair, I use an effects pedal and I know that helps my instrument. We have tried coming out of the bass players amp di as well as an actual di. We have also put a compressor on it with Ardour, but I don’t think it is correct to keep adding compressors to boost the signal. Are we missing something? Keep in mind, this is not what I do.


If it is a bass with active pickups it is a possibility that the battery that powers the pickup circuits is getting low… If it is a bass with passive pickups then this is not the problem.

Just to suggest the obvious: have you tried using a boost pedal? And are all other factors the same, including settings on the audio interface. It’s easy to have the pad engaged without realising it, on some models.

It’s also possible that a compressor pedal could help. In addition to levelling out the signal, they usually have a “make-up gain” control; this is a post-compression boost function to bring the level back up.

Not enough info to tell what is going on. What audio interface? Does the interface have an instrument input, and are you using that instead of a line or mic input? What gain settings?


The interface is a Tascam US- 16x08. The bass is currently coming in through an instrument input. The front of the interface has 10 channels (8 XLR and 2 - 1/4"). Should we try the bass in one of these inputs? They do have their own physical gain knobs.

It looks like you should be connecting the bass to one of the 1/4" jacks, IN 9 or 10 (labelled 4 in the diagram below).

The switch should be set to “INST” and it should be possible to change the input gain using the associated control (in the group of knobs labelled 5 in the diagram).

Is this what you are currently doing?



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I’m confused why you are asking about the front inputs, since the instruments inputs are only on the front and you already stated you are using an instrument input. Connect to input 9 or 10 which the manual describes as “including direct input of guitars” and make sure you set the switch to “INST” and not “LINE.”

When you set the gain control all the way clockwise for the input you are using, and turn your bass volume knob all the way up, what peak levels do you get in the Ardour meters?

We currently have the drum mics running to the XLR’s in the front. Everything else is coming into the back(both guitars, bass, and vocal mics). Are we doing this wrong? Again, not my area of expertise. We only use the kick and snare for practice, but we have the spaces available for a live show. Thanks for the responses, anymore advice is definitely appreciated!

I should also add that the bass and rhythm guitar (both coming in from the back) have the lowest levels. Neither one has any pedals to help boost their signal. I use a digitech RP500 and I have no issues with my signal ( also coming into a “line in” on the back).

on your interface the back entries seem to all be low-Z, for a passive guitar or bass you’ll need an hi-Z input, so are the front inputs In9 and In10, go for it and play loud and happy :wink:


Guitars need a high impedance (“Hi-Z” as @Loki_Harfagr describes) instrument input. You are connecting them to a line-in device which is expecting a low-impedance (“Low-Z”) input.

Basically, guitar pickups generate a tiny signal and you need a special input to allow that tiny signal to be properly handled. That is an input with an INST setting or a dedicated instrument input.

Actually, no it is not. You are currently connecting it through a LINE input. You need to to connect it to an INSTRUMENT input. That is one of inputs 9 or 10, as I said (and set the switch to INST).

The alternative is to put some sort of unit between the guitar and the input to boost the level and allow it to work into a low impedance Line-level input.

That’ll do it.

I suspect you have the output set to “mixer” on the RP500 as well?



WOW! You guys are awesome and I feel like an idiot. The levels for the other guitar player and the bass player have never been this high! Thanks for all of the advice! However I do have another question. We were using the 9/10 inputs for the lead singer as well as my vocal mic. We switched those to the back inputs and definitely lost some power. Should we take a couple of the drum mic (XLR’s) and run the vocals through the front to have the extra gain control to boost? If so, what drum mics should we put in the back?

The drum mics are microphones too, so they will also suffer from low volume if you put them in the back.

Here’s a good explanation of what the INST, MIC and LINE mean

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That was a quick response. I assumed the drum mics would suffer, but my thinking is that may be less noticable than the low vocals. If we go this route, do you have any suggestions what would be the best drum mics to have the lower signal? Maybe hihat and snare? Or should we try a compressor type plug-in on the vocals as they are now, to boost those signals?

It depends on what you’re using the mixed audio for; is it just for rehersal, is it live recording or live performance?
If it’s just for rehersal or live performance it may be better do take the mics of one of the lesser used drums, like the floor tom or the cowbell :slight_smile:

Generally I would recommend getting another mixer, and make a submix of a few instruments into two of the LINE inputs.
Something like this

The drawback with using a submix for recording is of course that you don’t get access to the individual instruments inside of the DAW.
You can use two USB mixers as input into Ardour, from what I understand, but it’s finicky and not exactly recommended.

Or, assuming I am following the thread correctly, just external preamps for those two channels would work if that is all the channels you need. Of course a cheap mixer may be a lesser expensive way to handle this compared to standalone preamps just because often times those standalone preamps are either boutique or mixed with other functionality you may not need or want to pay for.


Yeah, something like two of these will set you back as much as the mixer I linked to.

OTOH it’s quite possible that even though they’re fairly cheap those preamps may be of higher quality than the ones in the mixer.

The vocal mics do not have XLR outputs?

Microphones need to connect to microphone inputs (I think the back inputs have a pretty clear “LINE IN” label).

Do you really need 8 drum microphones? Perhaps a more old school approach with kick, snare, and one or two overhead microphones would suit your needs.
How big is the drum kit? The stage setup I work with has snare, kick, two overhead, and two tom mics. That is still just 6, which would leave you two inputs for your two vocal mics.

The best approach would be to make friends with an experienced sound tech who could show you some things hands on, and give you some advice about what works and what doesn’t after seeing your actual band setup.

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