Plug-in Review— Bass Guitar Plug-ins

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   Dynamics 101




     I decided it would be kind of cool to use only free plug-ins that I had reviewed as instruments for my latest project. So far, I’ve used String Synth by Algo Music, Super Spook Keys by Simple Media, 4front Piano from, tapeworm by Tweakbench, and Mr. Ray by (The links go to my articles on these plug-ins). The only thing missing was the bass guitar. Up until this point I had used Sonar’s included TTS-1 synth plug-in but the bass guitar sound was less than authentic so I went “shopping”


     The first one I came across was from one of the publishers I had already reviewed— Not surprisingly, it’s called 4front Bass and is similarly constructed as their piano vst I reviewed last month. The interface has no controls and the sound is produced by using samples and modeling. The original attack of the note is sampled while the decay and release are modeled. It’s very authentic and doesn’t take up much space, CPU-wise. Click here for a sound sample

     SuperRiff Bass is a simple, sample-based, bass plug–in that gives you the option to play open or palm muted notes either by selecting them via the interface or choosing the full option and playing them via the keyboard. In full mode, the velocity of the note determines whether the note is open or palm-muted. That’s a little clunky in my opinion but authentic sound is what I’m concerned with. The interface also includes controls for volume, pan (?), Envelope (A,D,S,R), and Flanger (Mix, Rate and Feedback). The download is rather large (13mb) and is a zip file. The range of the instrument is from E1 to E4 so you can’t “play” 5-string bass on it. This was a pre-requisite for any of the plug-ins I would use for my project so I decided not to explore any further than reading about it.


     Virtual Bass VB1 was created by Steinberg but is not available for download from their site. I had to really search to find it but you won’t have to since I’ve done all the work for you—click here and scroll down. It is a modeled bass plug-in and there is no documentation other than a small read-me file included with the download. The controls are as follows: Volume (self-explanatory), Pickup position (you can slide the pickup between the bridge and the neck for different sounds), Pick position (similar to the pickup position control), Damper (controls the decay of the string so you can approximate palm muting) and Wave Morph (you can get un-bass-like sounds by playing around with this).


     DSK BassZ is a bass synth plug-in with 24 different bass sounds from acoustic bass to synth bass sounds. The controls are segregated into three sections, Envelope (A,D,S,R), Main (Fine, Pan, Volume) and Filter (Cut, Resonance, High Pass and Low Pass). I don’t have the space to give you an idea of all 24 sounds but suffice it to say that usually devices that try to do many things very rarely do them all well and this is no exception. It probably would be more at home in a project that needed a really interesting bass line but for what I’m doing with this project, I think I’ll pass.


     Virtually all of the rest of the bass vst’s I found were bass synths which certainly have their niche in music production but not in this particular situation since I’m only interested in an electric bass guitar sound right now. I’ll go back and look at those in another newsletter. I decided to go with 4Front’s vst because it really sounds quite authentic. It doesn’t have much in the way of expressive qualities but I didn’t particularly need them in this instance. For the next project I tackle, it might not be at all appropriate but in this case it fit the bill. You’ll hear it in the completed project next newsletter when I finish mixing “Trying Too Hard”.


Next month– Acoustic/Electric Guitar Vst’s