How to create fat/deep bass sound....

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by DiMMaX, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. DiMMaX


    Mar 10, 2006
    Hi there!

    I'm DiMMaX and new on this forum. I looked for an answer to my question in these great forums but I couldn't find the right answer. I hope I'm doing right with posting the message in this section. If not, please redirect me ;)

    I play bass for several years now and I recently joined a new band. This band's focus is Trip-hop / Groovy / Jazzy which was my main motivation to join them.
    However, I'm that kind of player who never needed any effects but now that's catching up with me....

    I now realized I do need some effect to get to what I'm looking for.
    I'm sure some of you will know what I'm talking about when I talk about the phat deep bass sound from Portishead - Massive Attack and such,...

    So, my question is simple: which effect(s) is used to get to that kind of sound?
    The kind of bass you can hear in 'Numb' from Portishead is a very good example (download here).

    So I'm not looking for the playing-techniques or scales etc,.. just wondering which effect(s).... Maybe some tips about equipment?

    Any good tips?

    Many thanks in advance!

  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    My experience has been that effects pedals - especially cheap ones - have the exact opposite effect!!

    That is - they tend to lose bass and warmth and mostly emphasise the high frequencies - they suck bass tone away! :meh:

    If you really want "fat/deep bass sound.... " then you're better off avoiding effects, saving your money and putting it into good quality bass amplification and cabs !
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I know this track quite well (I have the 'Dummy' CD)and there is a few seconds of "real" bass at the beginning - then the main riff is quite clearly a repeating programmed synth - like the old Roland bass synth TB303(?) which was used on a lot of Drum 'n Bass records ,which this borrows from...?

    Anyway - it's not bass guitar - you can hear the continuous envelope and it will have been boosted in the studio.
  4. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    Try the Aphex Bass Xciter or one of the Tech 21 SansAmps (Bass, Para, Acoustic)
  5. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    I agree with Bruce. you gotta start with the basics and have a solid amp that can produce what you are looking for. EQing and effects will be the icing on the cake. :)

    i also prefer the deeper sounding bass. i'll have to check out the Portishead song you mentioned to see if i am on the same page as you.
  6. that's definitely not real bass. but if you're going to try to recreate that, i think the cheapest way would be to slap on a set of flatwounds, play them til' there good and dead, and then turn on an octave pedal.

    if you want a dead on match with the tone, you're in for some pricey gear.
  7. gillento


    Oct 15, 2005
    Luxembourg, Europe
    Nordstrand pickups
    I am playing with different setups. From full pedal board, to mighty full stack, or only a tube channelstrip.

    But I think the mentionned Tech21 SansAmps will help indeed! Just go easy on the gain and the presence pots!

    Another option might be a tube channelstrip. In one of my bands I am using just a tuner and a TLAudio 5051 tube preamp/eq/compressor. This is working just like you want it!

    But I agree, the cheapest way is a SansAmp!!!
  8. DiMMaX


    Mar 10, 2006
    Interesting replies I got here, thanks a lot!

    However, just to set something straight: I used to stick with the 'basics' by playing without any effects or modules for years. I never felt the need for an effect and I searched for the amp and guitar which suited best with my expectations. You know how it goes :) One bass after the other one and never had the satisfied feeling.
    Anyway... I was very 'against' effects and all that but now I realized I couldn't get to the sound which I was talking about earlier without using effects...

    Of course it's a programmed synth in this specific example, but I was trying to give an idea of the sound I ment,...
    There must be some equipment which comes close to this sound, or am I totally of track now?

    Anyway, thanks for all tips!

  9. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    It's pricy and you have to add a pickup to your bass but the Roland V-Bass does excellent synth tones.

    For fat lows there are several toys worth checking out. A subharmonic synth, such as the dbx 120 or PV Kosmos are way cool, if you have a dedicated sub or two. My Trace Elliot SM7 EQ on preshape 1 adds a nice pillowy poof to the lows, and then you can eq to taste w/ the sliders.

    Performing this sound live for more than 20 people all comes down to the PA. Without a quality system (power, subs) and an engineer who knows what he's doing you can't get lows out into the room.
  10. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    No - you can certainly get a similar vibe. I believe the sound on the record you linked is pretty close to a simple sine wave, so relatively-hard compression, along with some kind of steep lowpass filtering should get the feel.

    Also - I've seen both the Xciter (really they're talking about the left-hand 'Big Bottom' side of the Xciter) and the Sansamp mentioned as possibly helpful. I'd say that the Xciter would maybe be more of what you're looking for, and it might be more useful for enhancing your 'regular' sound, when you're not using it for this special special-effect. Remember that the Big Bottom effect itself is essentially a 'low-frequency compressor' (a sort-of unusual 'upward compressor', though). I own and use one my self, but from just playing with one a few times, I'd say that the Sansamp products have a similar lows-compressor thing going on too - I think that's why they're both being suggested for you.

    One thing I haven't seen brought up yet is the effect of using an envelope filter set for real low envelope triggering sensitvity. The filters in most of these followers are that classic type of steep-cutoff resonant filters that'll get that kind of sound.

    Anyway - I can tell you this: You'll get very close to that sound by putting a compressor BEFORE an envelope filter (assuming that it's hard-compression, and the filter is the classic 'steep-cutoff with resonance', low pass type). Now keep in-mind that the general rule is that one doesn't want to put hard-compression (high-ratio, low-threshold) before an envelope follower because it wrecks the bass' dynamic envelope, drastically limiting the 'swing' of the filter - but that's what you'd WANT for this effect - you'd be limiting the low-pass filter swing so that it only 'opens-up' a little; like maybe out to 100Hz or-so. I can get very close to this sound by putting my CS-3 compressor just before the E.F. that's built-in to my Tascam Bass Trainer (I don't have a regular, 'professional' follower), and turning the sensitivity (or the input level) way-down. The effect would surely be even more dramatic if I also had the Xciter's Big Bottom in there somewhere.

    Give it a try, if you get a chance. I'm not saying that just-any E.F. would work; I'm not familiar with all of them. I can tell you that the CS-3 would work for the compression, though (I love my CS-3!).

    Hope I've been of some help -

  11. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    ...And another thing: Everyone's talking about how you'd need special subs or whatnot to reproduce the sound off that record. I don't know if it's all that critical - We're all so used to hearing 'normal' sounds that contain a prominant harmonic structure to them, that when we hear a fifty-two Hertz sine wave, we think we're listening to twelve Hertz or something. I listened to your example recording through my regular, medium-quality, non-subwoofered home computer speakers, and I could certainly hear the sound you're talking about; I didn't need a Cerwin-Vega Earthquake horn to get the effect...

  12. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    A compressor and neck through bass also help. Neck through basses usually have a lot more sustain and will give you a thick, even sound on long notes. A compressor can add to that.
  13. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    It would be helpful if you could tell us what bass, amp and cabs you are using. It's hard to know how to change your sound if we don't know where you are starting.
  14. geeyza


    Apr 6, 2004
    Have you tried the good old DOD FX25 ?(the older model , the one without the blend knob) just keep the sensitivity all the way down,and use a compressor after it,that might be the fat (drum n bass style) sound you are looking for.
  15. I don't know the Portishead track but I have a copy of the Massive Attack - Protection album and thats got some pretty phat (synthesized - I assume) bass.
    The way that I get a 'dance music/synth' type sound, is to use a whammy set to an octave down, some lo-fuzzy muff distortion and a touch of chorus.
  16. DiMMaX


    Mar 10, 2006
    Thanks for all these usefull tips! It's very much appreciated :)

    The equipment I'm using is an OLP MM2 Bass (see here) with a Behringer BX1200 for rehearsals and that's where I want to get the sound on,...
    If I can get it on that gear, I will surely get in on my gig-gear.

    Anyway, basically since I know nothing about effect and what they're used for I have to go for the specific names and such.

    Joe, is the CS-3 you use thisone?

    And is the DOD FX25thisone geeyza?

    By having these 2 I should be able to get close to the sound, right?


  17. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI

    ..Wouldn't be without it!

  18. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    The older model DOD FX25 is a great way to get super low fat synth bass tones for CHEAP. I picked up my acid-green original one for $25, and they show up on ebay all the time. Even if you end up using other tools or techniques instead, you can't lose by trying this one.
  19. geeyza


    Apr 6, 2004
    yes these are the older DOD FX25s,shouldnt be expensive in ebay.around 20-30 US dollars probably.give it a go,you wont be dissapointed.
  20. I _love_ Portished.

    I can dial in pretty close with a bit of octave, even less square, the slightest attack swell, some eq shape on both my bass and amp, and most importantly a clean blend going around the effects.

    Play way up on the neck where you get that soft n' fat string movement. The slightest bit of chorus could probably help round out the wall. I have found my finger dynamics to be the most helpful in playing this, I really concentrate on getting the exact same attack and decay/mute every time, and tweak your throw and catch of the string to get that organ feel. I have not heard the aphex 204/1204, but from what people tell me, it helps with dub and electronica sounds, so either (aphex or sansamp) would probably help fatten it up.

    I was also able to dial it in with slightly disharmonic tuning, but I have given up the practice of alternate tunings until I run out of stuff to do with standard tunings.