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Need my bass to sound like a synth/sequenced bass, need help....

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by BassDudeSA, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. Hello, a little background first. So along with a few other guys we created an INXS/Duran Duran tribute band called Notorious Sensation playing around the Seattle area http://www.myspace.com/notorioussensation. Added a chick singer and then went to a full-on 80s tribute band, focusing on 80s pop and new wave. Kept the name since we think it is cool. Typical 5-piece with a keyboard player, the chick singer just plays tambourine, cowbell, etc.

    We do alot of that new wave stuff. However we do not use sequencing or drum machines. Our keyboard player is great, yet we are playing songs that often have up to five keyboard lines, and sometimes no real bass. So I am taking the key-bass lines (fun, but sometimes a challenge on the sequenced stuff).

    Problem is, I am missing that ballsy, up front synth sound. For example, we play Take On Me by Aha, Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Obsession by Animotion, etc. The real bass sounds fine on it's own, but it is definitely missing something.

    I do not want to buy some fancy synth bass guitar, I want to continue using my main basses, a pair of 5-string USA Peavey Cirrus which I love. What kind of effect/pedal thingy can I buy to add a cool variety of key-bass tones to my existing tone? I do not want to replace my bass tone, which is great, but I do want to add a synth-bass tone to it.

    I have been playing bass over 30 years but have avoided effects, so I really do not have much experience with them, but now I need some serious stuff going on. I do have a Line 6 XT live (for bass) but only use that for my one tone, and as a tuner. Maybe there is something in there? I just came up with this idea so I haven't even checked yet. Any advice or suggestions from some of you that may have used synth-bass effects with your regular bass would be great. Thanks.
  2. rnilson


    Mar 8, 2008
    Kansas City, MO
    There are lots of ways to get this sound do a search of synth and you will find a billion posts.
    EHX Bass Micro Synth, Would be the cheapest easiest to get a hold of.
  3. thefruitfarmer


    Feb 25, 2006
    Kent UK
    Is n't part of that sound in the fingers?

    In other words playing in a mechanical way, phrasing each note the same as the last will sound more like a synth driven by a sequencer rather than a more flowing bass guitar sound.
  4. genderblind


    Oct 21, 2004
    Korg G5, a discontinued synth bass processor that will deliver the goods and give you 9 storable patches of your own design. Tracks well too. Usually sells for less than the Akai Deep Impact, which is also great. I picked up a G5 in minty shape last week at a pawn shop in Montreal for $130 Canadian which is quite a steal. Sounds delicious.

    Chunk Systems has a new version of this synth bass pedal approach called Octavius Squeezer.
  5. jruberto


    Dec 23, 2008
    Denver, CO
    Staff Producer / Audio Engineer: Blue Tower Studio, Denver, CO & Mighty Fine Productions, Denver, CO
    if there's an octaver in your line6, try that with 0% dry signal, 100% wet then play an octave higher. that can yield a cool & powerful square waveform sound. you may need to fiddle with the EQ on your instrument to get it to track right (seems backwards but more treble and less bass tends to sound best for this)
  6. Cool, thanks guys you gave me a few ideas. I will check out first the XT Live that I already have, play with the octaver tones and so on, if that doesn't do the trick I will check out some of the effects listed above.

    Regarding the fruit farmers idea regarding technique, there is just so much you can do with technique when trying to come up with sounds that ordinarily do not come from a standard bass guitar setup. Phrasing each note the same may sound more mechanical and sequence-like, but it is not going to sound like a synth bass, at least not the kind you hear on those old 80s tunes, those kinds of tones are just not achievable without electronic help.
  7. 80's synth bass = Akai Deep Impact. Also the Korg G5, mentioned above, has some useful sounds for 80's music - good sawtooth waves and a talk-box effect

    The Octavius Squeezer and Digitech Bass Synth Wah have more modern sounds that may not fit quite as well.
  8. idoru


    Dec 18, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Yep. The ADSR of a picked/plucked bass guitar is nothing like a synth.

    This bass-as-synth thing has been analyzed a million times here, but the gist of the discussion is this:

    (a) invest in the best synth pedal you can find/afford, and deal with the tracking issues & other limitations as best you can; or
    (b) use an octaver like the Boss OC-2 with no clean signal, followed by a dirt pedal of some sort and a filter pedal; or
    (c) bite the bullet and get a real but cheap synth like a MicroKorg.

    For option (b), try picking up one of the Boss SG-1 Slow Gear clones to mess with your attack - Behringer, Guyatone & BYOC do one. Pigtronix make one that costs a bucketload more than any of those.

    As for filters, the Moog low-pass is pretty much at the front of the pack for expression pedal controlled filters here, but there are others. You're going to have difficulty with any envelope followers, as you want the filter after your dirt, which will be clipping a square wave... you won't have any dynamics in your signal :)

  9. jgsbass


    May 28, 2003
    Floral Park, NY
    Don't forget to check out a Digitech bass synthwah. You won't be disappointed: and its <$100 new
  10. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    EHX Bass Micro Synth.
    Octave --> Filter (3Leaf Groove Regulator maybe) --> Dirt of some kind.
  11. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Yeah, Octave down, Fuzz, Filter. In that order. You may be able to create a patch like that in your multi unit.

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