Having analysed to death the way in which I’m going to voice the drums, the decision as to how the bass will be voiced was easy. Over the last couple of years, I’ve auditioned all sorts of VSTi bass players and kept coming back to a very old plugin, Broomstick Bass. To get it to run in Cubase 7, I have to run Cubase in Windows administrator mode and bridge it using the jBridge, (Broomstick Bass is 32bit and doesn’t look like it will ever be otherwise). It has a great DI Jazz Bass sample, either picked or fingered, and it sounds like a bass guitar should. Now, I haven’t tried the specialised Kontakt bass guitar VSTis, such as their Scarbee Jay-Bass, but I have tried the bass guitars in the Kontakt 5 factory library and they just don’t do it for me.
Likewise, I’ve tried a lot of amp simulators, including Cubase’s own VST Amp Rack as well as NI Guitar Rig and IK Multimedia’s Amplitude. And I’ve notice a funny thing – you get a nice, well rounded bass sample and once you put it through these plugins, all the low end vanishes. At first, I thought it was my ears, but I tried it with a frequency analyser in line and my suspicions were confirmed. The only bass amp VST I found that didn’t sound like there was a high-pass filter in there somewhere was the Virtual Bass Amp from Studio Devil.
Now, this might all sound a bit esoteric to some, but about the only thing I don’t usually put a HPF on is the bass guitar. Back in the days of Freeway, we routinely used a Roland U220 to provide the “character” of our bass guitar sound, but the real low end came from a patch I programmed on my Roland Alpha Juno 2. As they both played the same MIDI part, the end result was a nice sounding bass with some serious low-end. Even though the bass on this project will also be MIDI driven, I don’t really want to get into the realms of adding a parallel sub-bass to give it body if there’s body there in the first place. I want to keep the body when I’m adding character and don’t want to have to trade one for the other. So it’s [Broomstick] Jazz Bass though the Studio Devil as the bass player on the album. It ticks the box of a consistent sound from track to track and adds to the feel of the album being a band album. Nice & simple – time to move on.