Bass, the low end theory, everybody’s at it. Here’s a brief walkthrough on the subject.

Many types of bass are similar; Wobble, Reese and Neurofunk in essence, share many features. This tutorial could be used as fundamental ideas to any of these types.

Firstly, if possible, turn on Mono retrig and set the Polyphony and Release Polyphony to one (1) on the synth. You may add some Portamento or Glide if you wish.

Now set up some oscillators, separate ‘em a few octaves apart. Any old (virtual or real) analog oscillator with a Saw waveform will do. E.g. set up three Saws, spread them apart with Unison effect, add two voices and a little Resonance. There you go.

Have ‘em run trough a Low Pass filter, or use a Band Pass to get a different effect. Turn down the filter’s cutoff a bit. Connect a LFO to alter the cutoff. (Some producers change volume instead by routing the LFO to the Amplitude Gain or such.) Tempo sync the LFO and Key sync so it retriggers the start of the sinus waveform.

You could assign knobs on your keyboard/controller to influence the LFO Rate, or use a Step Sequencer to automate the wobble speed. (Eight note triplets are nice.)

On the Amplitude Envelope, set the Sustain level to full so the sound doesn’t lose volume over time. Adjust the Attack, Decay and Release as you see fit your sound.

Of course you can replace the Saws to other types of oscillators, like or Square or a Triangle pulsewave, or even a sample based Wavetable. (With a Wavetable, you can have a LFO controlling the sample position.)

In Neurofunk there’s usually a lot of movement and change in timbre along with the beat. You can achieve this by adding a couple of EQ notches and automate them with different LFOs at different (usually quite slow) speeds. Depending on your DAW, you might have to route the LFOs to the EQ via CV (Control Voltage). 

Sometime you wanna control the opening and closing of frequencies not by a LFO, but by an Envelope, for example on a Growl bass. Then connect a Modulation Envelope to the filter cutoff and try to have a longer Attack to open the frequencies, making it talk.

Experiment with different distortion effects to saturate your sound, like a Tube or a Waveshaper. Use Tape saturation to fatten and to warm up the sound, as well as to cut some harsh frequencies at the top. Also try some Flanger effects if you wanna.

As for every bass, put a Compressor on, to keep the transients and shit tight.

FM

A FM (Frequency Modulation) synthesis could be really nice for your mid-range bass. FM makes distorted, complex sounds.

FM works in a way that an oscillator’s pitch (carrier) is controlled by another oscillator’s frequency (modulator). Modulators and carriers are called operators, and most FM synths include a number of fixed structures or algorithms.

An envelope can be used to determine how the FM is applied to the first oscillator.

FM doesn’t use filters per se, so a technique is to automate an EQ band (notch) for texture and modulation.

Sub

Put a High Pass filter on your main bass to filter out the lowest frequencies, and layer it with a standalone Sub-bass. (Remember that you can route the LFOs on your bass to work the same way on the Sub.)

Resample

A trick for sound design as well as for songwriting is to resample the bass.

Compose a funky bassline – and don’t be afraid of jumping between different octaves. Bounce the MIDI track to Audio, cut it up, and rearrange it. Put the sliced up samples on different Audio tracks with different filters and EQ.

Note: Soon after I started to put down notes for this text, I realized it could turn out long as hell, therefore I made the decision just to scratch the surface. Please feel free to ask me any questions on this, or to fill in the blanks.

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