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How to get an piano sound on bass

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by woodsideh, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. woodsideh


    Feb 19, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    I have looked at the GS-55 and GS-20 threads and I can't seem to find what I am looking for. I play bass for the modern country band Dixie Still. We will be doing a full tour next year to support our new CD. In the studio we used a piano to blend with the bass on several songs. We do not plan to take a keyboard player on the tour so I want to replicate the piano/bass lines. It looks as if a synth may work but I am just not sure. This link is an example of the piano/bass mix at the first of the song.

  2. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    A) Do you mean the GR-55?

    B) The Piano parts in the recording are voiced in chords, not just single notes. That will make things more difficult.

    C) You also have what sounds like a Hammond organ in the chorus. If you are hoping to duplicate both of those easily while maintaining a traditional bass line underneath, you will have a great deal of difficulty.

    Realistically, I'd recommend either picking up a cheap keyboard or playing to backing tracks. You'll pay less for the equipment, you'll get a more convincing sound, and it'll be less hassle.
  3. woodsideh


    Feb 19, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Yes I meant GR-55. I'm not looking to replicate the Hammond. The pedal steel player has that covered with effects. I am looking for single note replication of the piano. There are several other songs on the cd where the single note will do just fine. I am hoping there is s pedal of some sort that I can use and not spend the money on the Roland.
  4. Phagor


    Mar 26, 2002
    London, UK
    I think your only option is a pitch to MIDI converter like the GR55, or as a cheaper alternative:


    It's monophonic, so it will only do single notes. You will probably need to work with it (or the GR 55) to get used to the tracking - low notes have more delay before the MIDI note plays, and you need to play cleanly to avoid triggering extra notes.

    The GR 55 needs a special pickup (GK-3B) on your bass, whereas the B2M works with your normal bass output. The GR 55 has a piano sound built in, but the B2M will need to be connected to a synth to give you the piano sound.
  5. mccartneyman


    Dec 22, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Managing Editor, Bass Guitars Editor, MusicGearReview.com
    I would not recommend the B2M exactly because it tracks badly and you must make major changes in your plucking technique to have it track even moderately well. There are several synth pedals available but I have no experience with them. If you choose one, I'd suggests splitting the feed so you have one channel of unaffected bass and one of synth bass.
  6. woodsideh


    Feb 19, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    I definitely agree with splitting the feed. I want to blend the sounds, however, if there is a tracking delay how would I accomplish this?
  7. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    If you're converting one side from pitch to midi you'll have delay. The amount of delay is determined by the software/hardware you use and the quality of the sound you're having that software/hardware analyze. The lower the note = the longer the waveform = the longer your processing waveform = the longer the delay.

    Those big, rich left hand chords you're looking to double will be delayed. You can play them higher on the neck, but you'll then lose that big, rich bass tone underneath.

    Splitting your signal isn't an issue since pitch to midi conversion has a separate pathway it needs to travel, adding conversion won't in theory impact your normal bass sound at all-- even when engaged unless you want it to.
  8. zwkoch

    zwkoch You can't do that on bass enthusiast Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2012
    Twin Cities, MN
    Why not record the keys parts into Abelton Live and cue them up as loops with a soft touch midi pedal? I have used this setup for lead guitar and keys parts for our church when musicians call in sick.
  9. gastric

    gastric Professional product tester for hire

    Jun 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Source Audio BETA tester
    GR-55 is the only retail product I can think of that can immediately cut a piano sound.

    If you were really clever you could use a modeled GK bass tone instead of your normal bass pickup sound. The advantage there is you could then assign the modeled bass sound to only occur on specific strings, then do the same with the piano. You could then finger chords, have the bass and piano on the root, but only the piano on the remainder of the chorded notes as heard around the 2:47 mark in your track, though I couldn't personally ever attempt that crazy piano lead while also thumbing the bass line. Or even without thumbing the bass line. :p

    If you just want to have a monophonic piano follow your bass you can do that, too.

    Lots of assigns on Roland / BOSS multieffects so you can easily turn the piano on/off, adjust the blends, and whatever else you want to do.

    Note the GR-55 requires some good playing technique, and on bass doesn't trigger down on the E string very well.
  10. woodsideh


    Feb 19, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    What I am looking for is a monophonic piano to follow the bass. You pretty much nailed it. Any suggestions of what effect I should use. I really don't need a pedal that replicates hundreds of sounds.
  11. whack it's strings with a piano hammer
  12. gastric

    gastric Professional product tester for hire

    Jun 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Source Audio BETA tester
    Consider a patent application, then rake in the millions. Unsure how you'd trigger it, but it'd make an awesome YouTube video for sure. :)
  13. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    This. You can use Levin's sticks on a finger thing he does. And use fresh rounds. Instant piano.
  14. I use a digitech jamman as a sampler. I record stuff in my home studio using a cheap midi controller i got at best buy and some nice virtual instrument software (i use east west quantum leap) then change it to mono in my recording software and just copy the files for each little part to a different patch on the jamman with a USB cable. It's fun I'm actually working on some stuff now that uses east west virtual instruments along with slate drums and guitars i record with my pod HD so i can go do the whole one man band thing at some open mic nights.

    The hardest thing about using the jamman is all the guys in the band staying in time with it. It needs to be decently loud onstage so everyone in the band can hear it and play along with it at the right tempo.

    I use the mono twin pedal size jamman with the option footswitch which lets you scroll through patches. . It's cd quality sound. I didn't bother getting the stereo version because I'd run it mono live anyways as most of the PAs i run through are mono and i wouldn't have to ask for 2 channels for it in the board. I have the parts in stereo on my computer for recording purposes. The memory on mine is expandable and i would definetly make sure you get one with expandable memory. Mine also doesn't have an xlr out so i use a cheap little whirlwind imp2 DI with it.
  15. gastric

    gastric Professional product tester for hire

    Jun 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Source Audio BETA tester
    Uploaded a piano-following-bass track to my Roland GR-55 page. It's at the top of the page. Check my signature below. Or click here: http://www.cgraham.com/chris/music/bass/gr-55/

    It runs through most of the acoustic piano sounds. Of particular note is the silly "honky tonk" voice that needs a good tuning. :p

    Trick to the triggered PCM voices is to play your bass like you want the virtual instruments to sound like. You'll hear some audible slides up the fretboard on my bass, the piano will often follow that if the bass is not muted enough. Of course, there's tons of parameters you can set on the GR-55, including overall sensitivity, as well as per-voice velocity sensitivity settings so the virtual instruments ONLY trigger on particularly loud envelopes.

    I'm a merely average player, so assume that if you have awesome technique the triggering will only be better.

    Sorry, I mixed the piano voice too high on the GR-55, kind of overpowers the normal bass tone. Probably could've panned them L/R, too. Piano would probably sound way more awesome with some reverb on it, which you can do without adding verb to the normal bass sound. Lots and lots (and LOTS) of options.
  16. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Your link did not decrease my GAS for a GR-55.
  17. gastric

    gastric Professional product tester for hire

    Jun 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Source Audio BETA tester
    Honestly, it's sat in it's case for the past 18+ months unused. I'm a sucker for synth sounds and it's great for that. I recently found a drummer that's rekindled my interested in electronica so I've pulled it back out. I'll likely update my GR-55 page with a bunch of new sound samples and an updated review soon. For example, I'm currently playing it with regular EADG bass strings instead of piccolo strings, and finger style instead of a pick. I think most importantly to it's performance is that I've improved as a player over that time, thus the GR-55 seems to work better. :p

    In a mix you'd be hard pressed to tell they're not real humans playing real instruments. As long as you play into the voices.
  18. Darknut


    Apr 4, 2009
    A simpler way is to use a micro pog ... I do it all the time.
  19. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I Grow Organic Carrots
    Hey ... you guys do good music!!!

    If you want to make your bass sound more like a piano then 1st you need to get that attack that the felt hammer gets when it hits the piano strings. Practice making your index and middle fingers hit the strings like a piano hammer. This is sort of a cross between the Entwistle typwritter method and Tony Levin's funk fingers. You might also try using a pick and picking back by the bridge.

    Another thought is try an 8 or 10 or 12 string bass. The root and octave together can help with the piano tone. Maybe an 8 tuned BEAD or DGCF.

  20. I feel like fresh rounds on certain active basses + reverb can get a very piano like sound. A few of the pickup settings on my HH ray definitely sound like a piano the second I kick on my hall of fame/space at least. This in conjunction with some of the afore mentioned effects/techniques could probably give you a whole palette of piano type sounds on bass.

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