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Bass basics

To quote a hit from a few years ago: “It’s all about the bass…” And actually, a good bass sound can make or break a track. Dave Gale takes out a patch cable and gets heavy with the bottom end, with this guide for the bass novice…

MT Modular Monthly

“It’s all about the… sub!” Actually, it’s all about the Saw, with the sub below it! The SE Oscillation offers both…

If you think about it, the bassline within any track is probably the most important aspect, in line with the drums. You can do without chords, you can even do without melody up to a point (if it’s minimal and techno-like), but miss a trick with your bass sound, up against a good set of drums, and your track will definitely be lacking. So, this month, we take a little look at bass sounds and how to get them to sound great with some basic patching.

A very good friend of mine often ribs me, in that playful way that friends do, when I state that my preferred starting point for many an analogue bass sound is a Sawtooth. Why does he rib me? Because he likes Square waves, and actually, I get that (but he’s obviously wrong). Although, in some respects, we are both right – and in considering why, perhaps we should take a moment to reflect on what has been so popular in the past, starting with a look at one of the most ubiquitous synths of the 80s and 90s (and some would also say the present day), the Roland SH-101. The DCO-based oscillator on this original machine offered a mix of Saw and Square waves, with a sub oscillator, which was Square based, and could play either one or two octaves below the main pitched note. There is good reason why this works so well. The richness of the main Saw, with the slightly hollower-sounding Square beneath it, makes for a very rich texture, but not one that’s so thick in the bottom end that it will muddy the mix. So, in this format, many people have followed the tradition of placing a sub in Square waveform on their synths and modules. The Studio Electronics Oscillation and Tonestar 2600 modules are a case in point, both having a Square wave sub, built right in. So if you’ve been struggling to get that bass sound to work, let’s look at the most basic way we can take on this 101-style sound in modular form.

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About MusicTech

The new issue of MusicTech Magazine is on sale Thursday 16th February and this issue we reveal the studio gear and production trends for 2017. Also this issue we have part 2 of our studio to release guide detailing the process your music needs to undertake to get in the charts. We review Orchestral Tools Metropolis Ark 2, plus new gear from Nord, Rob Papen, Spitfire Audio and more, we’ve also got tutorials covering Roland mimicking in Modular, how to use two Macs with Logic and continue the lazy guide to Live. Plus a huge DVD featuring 1.1GB of samples…
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