I'd like to transcribe a song that I couldn't find a proper version of on the Internet. Transcribing the guitar and drums (I'm a guitarist and beginner bassist) was not really difficult but I find that working on the bass line is quite complicated, especially for metal songs where drum kick is used A LOT, and instruments are tuned quite low.

I'm already using some tools to slow the tempo (Reaper), but it doesn't really help much if I can't hear the bass guitar properly. I tried to EQ it but the drums are always in the way.

So I'm looking for specific tips or tools that could help me hear the bass and help me transcribe it.

  • If you can't hear what note it is in the original, does it matter which note you transcribe? ;)
    – slim
    Nov 20, 2012 at 9:55
  • Then I would have to get some bass composing skills so that it sounds correctly :)
    – Julien N
    Nov 20, 2012 at 15:09
  • @slim I was going to make that joke but there's some truth to it. There's a difference between not being able to tell the note and it not being important but you could just play something sensible and if it doesn't sound wrong use it? Maybe go a more improvisational route?
    – Mr. Boy
    Dec 18, 2014 at 13:44
  • @Mr.Boy it honestly wasn't intended as a joke.
    – slim
    Dec 18, 2014 at 15:08
  • Fair enough - as I said it is a valid point but doesn't mean the bass can be omitted, was my main point!
    – Mr. Boy
    Dec 18, 2014 at 15:09

3 Answers 3


I haven't used it but I've heard that the software 'Transcribe!' can be used to pitch a song up by an octave and thusly make it easier to hear the bass notes.

For slowing down there is also the 'Amazing Slow Downer'. I haven't used that either.

Besides technical aids, the more you transcribe the better you will become at not only transcribing but also at musical hearing in general.

  • 1
    Almost exactly what I was about to post- get it up into an easier frequency range and slow it down at the same time.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Nov 19, 2012 at 17:49
  • Oh, changing the pitch is a very good idea !
    – Julien N
    Nov 20, 2012 at 15:08
  • 1
    I've used 'Transcribe!' quite a bit, and can totally vouch for it's awesomeness. Super useful bit of software.
    – Kitchi
    Nov 23, 2012 at 13:43

I like using a software called “song surgeon”. It's super helpful if you turn the bass up on your stereo system and turn down the treble. That will help a lot with your bass transcriptions.


Answering my own question because I found an awesome tool : Riffstation (saddly, not cheap).
It can slow down the music (and does it much better than Reaper), you isolate frequencies and you can isolate parts of the stereo field !
Usually the guitars are panned left / right and bass, drums & vocals are on the center of the stereo field. Although the drums might still be in the way when trying to listen to the bass, removing some instruments helps a lot.

Moreover, for tabbing guitars, it works really well.

  • Nice to see old questions get updated. Did you try the trial first? It says everything is open except for file saving. Not sure how big of a PITA that will be while testing it out.
    – TyCobb
    Dec 15, 2014 at 23:21
  • Yep, tried the demo (saving is only useful if you want to create a backing track, so for testing it's fine) & finally bought it.
    – Julien N
    Dec 16, 2014 at 23:58

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