10. Using ‘Real’ Bass

So far we’ve mainly considered synthesised bass, but what about the real deal?

The big difference with real bass is its unpredictability and sophistication of tone, which in the right hands makes for a compelling combination. However, this can also be its downfall – many types of club music rely on an almost robotic repetition of bass parts to create their signature groove.

If you do want to dive into the world of live bass, then ideally start with a good bass player playing a decent, well-tuned instrument. The easiest way to record it is to use a DI feed from the bass to your mixer or audio interface. This avoids many potential problems, but can lead to a sound that lacks character.

A better approach might be to plug the bass into an amp and speaker cabinet and mic the whole thing up:

In fact, you can even use multiple mics and a DI feed, then mix the various elements to taste (although this is a complex skill in itself).

Another approach is to take the DI recording and process it using an amp simulator plugin:

This adds character, but also allows you to tweak the sound more fully after recording.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping you combining real and synth bass parts. The general rules of bass layering apply here as well. You may also have to think about timing correction if you want both to sit tightly together.

If all this seems too much, then there’s always the possibility of ‘playing’ a high-quality multi-sampled bass. Native Instruments’ Scarbee MM-Bass for Kontakt is a great example, based on the tone of Chic’s Bernard Edwards. Perfect for disco basslines.

46a

Author Bruce Aisher
21st May, 2013

Comments

  • Nice article guys! I’m lovin Attack Magazine, in my opinion it’s the best website about electronic music 😉 thanks a lot! Cheers from Brazil

    Report
  • I am really really enjoying the work you are doing with your articles!
    Keep up the good work.

    Report
  • I love these articles! I noticed that this lesson said it would teach us to make better basslines, but even though in the first page it saya that melody is one of the main things that needs to be considered; but there arent any specific tips in this article about choosing bassline notes! 🙂

    I love you guys, can ya break that part down some more? Or do you just do the melody by ear?

    Report
  • ^ BIlly, I don’t want to be annoying but this article is one of the most complete I’ve ever seen on the internet. It’s kinda ungrateful to ask EVEN more about it… seriously :/

    Report
  • @Billy, @Claudio…

    No problems at all with the request…

    It’s true that, of course, the melody plays a (the?) fundamental part in a successful bassline. This piece wasn’t about programming – but I certainly suggest reading the various Passing Notes pieces (http://www.attackmagazine.com/technique/passing-notes/) which are designed to give a good grounding in music theory, including the disco basslines piece (http://www.attackmagazine.com/technique/passing-notes/passing-notes-disco-house-basslines/) which has a lot of insights – even if you hate disco!

    And, as ever, keep watching this space!

    Dave@Attack

    Report
  • Really helpful stuff, muchas gracias amigos!

    Report
  • holycow. its difficult
    on one dark-hand side i hope this page stays my my my own sweet little secret…. anyhow thanks for ur great work!!!

    Report
  • This is a great article, thanks! However, the bass player plugin shows that there is no substitute for a real practiced human! Or a sample of one: but then of course you have to spend three months slicing and dicing ala Justice to keep the lawyers off your tail!

    Report
  • hi, I own the tal u no lx but i cant find the mrs digit preset, does it come with it or is named something else?

    Thanks!

    Report
  • Luke – well spotted. We’re pretty sure the Mrs Digit patch is a Mr Fingers-inspired bass sound the writer created for the audio example. U-NO-LX is so simple that you should be able to copy the patch from the screengrab (although we had to increase the filter cutoff slightly to get the same sound).

    If you’re looking for an even more accurate version of the classic Larry Heard sound, try the sub-oscillator on its own. Or you could use the pulse oscillator and set the pulse width manually to get a variety of slightly fuller or hollower sounds.

    U-NO-LX is excellent for those 80s analogue bass sounds. We’re big fans.

    http://www.attackmagazine.com/reviews/gear-software/tal-u-no-lx/

    Report
  • Attack WE LOVE YOU.

    Report
  • Thanks so much for this. Learning so much through your tutorials.

    Report
  • very hot magazine! keep it coming

    Report
  • this tutorial came in very handy for me, thank you attack people..very well written and it reminded me of some stuff i (probably) already had forgotten to consider again. big ups from vienna

    Report
  • attack magazine thank you very much. very useful article .

    Report
  • Awesome article. Thanks

    Report
  • Another incredible article. Informative and clearly explained.

    Attack is rapidly becoming my number one resource for production tips.

    Report
  • Just got wind of this site. I will definitely be here more than ever. Really enlightening

    Report
  • Just found this magazine, excellent well written articles. This one was excellent and covered lots of stuff. Ill be trying that notch on my bass eq real soon. Keep it up guys, great stuff

    Report
  • If you’re using reverb on your bass, put the EQ before the reverb. It won’t matter so much for bass as for other instruments, but it will sound somewhat unnatural to have the reverb filtered.

    Report
  • How have I missed this article? Great read as ever guys and very informative!

    Report
  • great article but please for the love of god fix or change the sound player, its freezes after 2 seconds and never starts playing again, i have to refresh couple of times to even hear the whole soundclip

    Report
  • I am new to this site and I must say the few articles I’ve read are quite good.
    keep up the good work

    Report
  • The best articles I’ve read in my life. Great work guys. Keep it up!

    Report
  • Awesome tips—could u possibly provide the readers with a PDF version of the articles?

    Report
  • amazing stuff guys……..really great content!

    Report
  • Does this work on 808 bass?

    Report
  • THIS IS SHIT

    Report
  • Thanks for all of your excellent tutorials

    Report
  • Nice article. I have just released a free youtube series on how to write bass lines too. Check it out!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHIHncaNaDw

    Report
  • Any other software alternatives for the VOG plug-in you mentioned for boosting low-end?

    Boz ‘Bark Of Dog’ resonant filter?

    Tone2 Bifilter?

    Any EQ like the Logic EQ or Pro-Q with a resonant low-shelf?

    Report
  • oh, and great article btw. Attack Mag is fast becoming my favourite site for these tips and walkthroughs!

    Report
  • Thanks! Best tutorial

    Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You currently have an ad blocker installed

Attack Magazine is funded by advertising revenue. To help support our original content, please consider whitelisting Attack in your ad blocker software.

Find out how

x

A WEEKLY SELECTION OF OUR BEST ARTICLES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX