a quick and dirty guide to 'getting the bass right'
My biggest piece of advice is to use what you have, trust your ears. To get really great at mixing takes time and practice. Focus on geting the best sound you can from the tools and knowledge you've got. Trust that as you do more and more, your skillset will improve, and so will your mixes
let's say you're looking for a deep-warm tone. It sounds great on a good sound-system, but it doesn't show up on small speakers.
what do you do?
What do you do is not a question that can be directly answered yet; that is, unless you already know what your options are, and in that case, you probably already have your problem solved.
what are you trying to achieve?
let's start here instead. Okay, so lets say your genre is indie rock. It's a song that's driven by the guitars and the vocals.
great, now which instruments live in the low-end. commonly this will be drums and bass (kick, toms, Bassline, the bottom of the guitar, and the deepest part of the vocal. The bass doesn't cut through? ask yourself which instrument and why?
what is happening in the low-end?
The kick drum sounds good, the guitar/vocal sounds fine. the bassline doesn't cut. It doesn't always need to be front and center, It can act as the glue to hold the song together. When you move away from your good sound-system to your laptop/earbuds/car stereo/mobile. it seems to disappear completely.
how can you approach this
A few areas to consider.
Imagine your low-end in 3 bands. you've got sub-frequencies, Low-frequencies, and precieved low-frequencies (low-mids and above)
Check for trouble areas in the context of these three 'bands'
EQ is your most powerful tool! try to find the frequency range you're looking for using your solo function to listen for which tracks might be competing for 'space',
for example, the bass if it's most present at 80Hz, but the guitar is 'masking' the bass up between 160- 300Hz. You might also have low-frequency energy competing in tracks where it has no business being. here, a hi-pass filter would be your friend.
For example, The bass is warm and present between 60-160hz, but adds nothing above that. because it's being covered up by another instrument,
A small set of laptop/phone speakers may lack clarity at frequencies below (approximately) 200-300Hz. They have the most presence between 1-5kHz. if you can let the bass through within these ranges (again these numbers are guestimates, every mix is different) you can achieve a more consistant tone across sound-systems.