Stu Mahan

Remote Mixing & Session Bass

Stu Mahan on SoundBetter

Having worked with Taj Mahal, Derek Trucks, Eric Krasno, Lettuce, and the London Souls, Stu Mahan is a bass player’s bass player. With one of the deepest pockets around, he gives every song what it needs to both lay the foundation and brings life to every feel. In addition to his superb bass playing, he mixes songs from his studio in Maine.

Stu Mahan offers pristine bass lines and mixes for your songs. Building out a professional studio in his hometown of Damariscotta, Stu can give your songs that extra flavor and feel you’re looking for. He is known for his laid back, easy-to-work-with, and warm nature as well as his professional attitude and ‘quick ears’. Having toured extensively both nationally and internationally, Stu has refocused his attention to the studio after the pandemic. He has had the humble fortune of working with The London Souls, Taj Mahal, Gov’t Mule, Derek Trucks, Lettuce, Eric Krasno, John Stirratt, Celisse, North Mississippi All-Stars, Samantha Fish, Maurice Brown, and many other greats.

Send me an email through 'Contact' button above and I'll get back to you asap.

Credits

Discogs verified credits for Stu Mahan
  • North Blood
  • North Blood
  • Lettuce (3)
  • Bass Box (2)
  • Bass Box (2)
  • Zach Jones
  • Bass Box (2)
  • The Kenya Hall Band
  • Zach Jones
  • Nat Osborn Band
  • Sugarbush
  • Aimee Bayles
  • Dominic Lavoie
  • North Blood
  • Dominic Lavoie

Interview with Stu Mahan

  1. Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?

  2. A: I played bass on Eric Krasno's 'Blood From A Stone' record and I really enjoyed making that record. I knew everyone in the rhythm section well and the chemistry was beautiful. We gave each other the gift of brutal honesty and I think the songs came out super well. I played bass, sang some back up vox, offered some arrangement suggestions, and helped with the production.

  3. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  4. A: Mixing a record a produced and played on for my friend Eric Green. I finished up recording an audio book today and have a track to mix for a big band next week.

  5. Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?

  6. A: Hamilton Belk is a phenomenal pedal steel and electric guitar player.

  7. Q: Analog or digital and why?

  8. A: Honestly, both. I like analog sounds, but the convenience of digital.

  9. Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?

  10. A: That I will keep it 100% honest with them and not put one over on them just to get 'the job'. Sometimes honesty stings, but if it serves the song, we both need to respect that.

  11. Q: What do you like most about your job?

  12. A: Working with new people. I really like meeting new people and helping their creations come to life. It is rewarding when we nail a take and get the 'I never imagined my songs sounding this good!' feedback.

  13. Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

  14. A: Do you like my music? Which I have always found to be such a strange question because it doesn't really matter if I like it or not. I try to approach people's music in a way that represents their vision clearly, whether I 'like it' or not has no bearing on the result. That being said, I pretty much like everyone's music and can find good things in whatever I'm working on. Fortunately, I haven't been in any scenarios where someone's lyrics were mean or something, but I pretty much give my stock answer which is, 'Do YOU like your music?!'

  15. Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?

  16. A: That music is not work. I have had multiple folks diminish music work as 'not work' and while I understand its not a common 'job', it still takes a tremendous amount of work to be skilled at it.

  17. Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?

  18. A: First and foremost, what is the end goal? Then...do we have a deadline? Are you open to suggestions or do you have a clear vision for your project?

  19. Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

  20. A: Go with your gut. When making a decision, make sure you feel good about it. If you have reservations, ask questions to clarify or move on. In the interest and service to one's music, the feeling should be right.

  21. Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?

  22. A: Well from a practical standpoint, a desert island doesn't have electricity, so I would just take a bass (probably an electric so I could sustain humidity better than my upright haha), maybe a guitar, a melodica, something to drum with, and shaker.

  23. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  24. A: I started playing bass when I was 15, but cycled thru other instruments before my adolescence. I attended college and got a degree in Jazz and Contemporary Music, then moved to Portland, Maine, where I began playing in bands and recording with folks. I lived there until 2010, when I moved to New York to learn and experience more. I got married in 2016 and my wife and I moved back to Maine in 2017. I have been a professional for 20 years this year.

  25. Q: How would you describe your style?

  26. A: Technical but slinky, fundamental but swampy, y'know...groovy!

  27. Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?

  28. A: I think working with Kevin Parker would be fun. He appears to have an interesting, philosophical perspective, can play multiple instruments really well, and writes great songs.

  29. Q: Can you share one music production tip?

  30. A: Record with plenty of head room!

  31. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  32. A: Being a bass player, I have had the opportunity to explore many genres and feel I can fit in most pretty well. I really love playing any style and love the challenge of creating cool stuff with new people. That being said, a lot of rock, reggae, hip-hop, and country artists have been hitting me up lately. Quite a spread!

  33. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  34. A: Curiosity. I love diving in and exploring possibilities to see what best serves the music. I do my best to check my ego at the door and I throw out a lot of ideas to see what sticks, but try not to be married to anything. I wonder what this bass will sound like? I wonder if I should try playing this up an octave? I wonder if I should sit out for two bars? I love the creative process and staying curious is essential.

  35. Q: What do you bring to a song?

  36. A: Playing I strive to offer what the song itself wants. If you stop and listen, the song will tell me and I just follow my instincts. I try to craft basslines that glue everything together, support the melody, and lock in with the drums. If the song calls for me to poke out a little more with something more melodic, I will, but tend to lean on a more supportive role first.

  37. Q: What's your typical work process?

  38. A: Playing wise, when I arrive in a studio, I find myself coming in having heard nothing, but I have trained my ears so I can chart out songs in one to three passes depending on difficulty level. If its something extremely complex, I have been lucky with artists coming in with charts. I will do a 'simple pass' typically playing long tones and getting a feel for the music and lyrics, then do more passes as I get more comfortable. I try to be conscious of the 'point of diminishing return' and step away from recording if we are fatiguing or the music is starting to sound stale. I try to record a full take in as few times as possible. With recording, I like to have a sense of the songs before we hit record as I like to commit sounds. Getting good gain/level structures, committing compression, guitar tones, things like that so I can level things out easily when things are done. Mixing I like to get everything balanced before I start coloring. I have been lucky in that I haven't had to mix much stuff with 'damage control' in mind, but that's ok and I have found myself getting creative with that process. I like to work from the bottom up; drums, bass, gtr, keys, horns?, and leave vocals last before I balance everything out. Then once everything is sounding good, start adding colors like delay, reverb etc. Every mix is different, but if I'm working from nothing to something, that's how I prefer to do things.

  39. Q: Tell us about your studio setup.

  40. A: It is small, but powerful. I run everything through an Allen and Heath GL2400 before heading into my UAD Apollo setup. After that, I can run through my UA tube mic pre's, Distressors, UA compressors, Space Echo 201, or any number of vintage amps and other colorful gear I have amassed over the years. I tend to record medium-low signal wise, so I have incredible amounts of headroom on the back end.

  41. Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

  42. A: Playing-wise, I am inspired by legends like Berry Oakley, John Paul Jones, James Jamerson, Robbie Shakespeare, Chuck Rainey, and Paul McCartney. Current legends are Pino Palladino, Tim Lefebvre, Thundercat, John Stirratt, and Solomon Dorsey. Producers and mixing engineers I'm inspired by include Tchad Blake, Mitchell Froom, Kevin Parker, Scientist, Jonathan Wyman, and Shawn Everett.

  43. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  44. A: I am currently on a 60/40 split of mixing songs/recording bass. Ratio often reverses in the summer months.

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North Blood

I was the Producer, Song writer, Bass Player, Mixing Engineer, Mastering Engineer in this production

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GenresSounds Like
  • Chuck Rainey
  • John Paul Jones
  • Robbie Shakespear
Gear Highlights
  • 1969 Precision Bass
  • 1968 Hofner
  • Rickenbacker 4003
  • 1974 Jazz Bass
  • '62 Reissue Jazz Bass
  • Moollon P-Classic
  • Moollon Tele bass
  • Upright
  • Ampeg B-15
  • Neumann U87
  • Yamaha sk-30
  • Roland Juno-60
  • UAD LA-610
  • UAD 6176
  • Distressors
  • H3000B Harmonizer
More Photos
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