MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

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MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby anderton » Mon Jul 23, 2018 9:15 pm

If you’ve played with MODO bass, then you already know it sounds incredibly realistic, and has a tiny RAM footprint due to modeling instead of sampling. Okay...so IK has done their part in creating a superb bass instrument, but we have to do our part in creating superb—as well as expressive and realistic—bass parts.

Superficially, MODO Bass can appear intimidating. The number of options involving keyswitching, tonal changes, pickup types and positions, even the age of the strings can be daunting. However, you don’t have to learn or use everything. Even just leaving the presets “as is” covers what most people need. Still, let’s go a little further than the presets—so the following tips give the “greatest hits” of what you need to know to obtain realistic, satisfying bass parts with MODO Bass.

Touch

One factor that separates pro bass players from amateurs is their touch—how consistently they apply dynamics when they play. MODO may not have real strings, but its modeled strings respond to touch via MIDI velocity.

The instrument itself has several touch-oriented options, accessed via the Play Style tab (Fig. 1).

Image

Fig. 1: The Play Style tab offers controls, which are fairly self-explanatory, for touch. For more information on these, refer to the documentation located in the MODO Bass program folder.

However, don’t overlook the Velocity Curve option, which you access through the system settings (Fig. 2). This helps ensure that whether you have a heavy or light touch, the MODO Bass touch settings will respond as expected to your specific touch.

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Fig. 2: Click on the Settings button (circled in red) to adjust the Velocity curve to your touch.

An easy way to fake a consistent touch is to compress the MODO Bass audio output, but then it sounds compressed and the string tones will be inconsistent. It’s better to get touch right at the source, which you can do in your sequencer program.

To do the equivalent of limiting for a more uniform touch, add a constant to all velocity values. The high velocity values can’t exceed 127, but “limiting” the MIDI data will bring up lower velocity levels and give a more consistent output (Fig. 3). Some programs also include ways to compress the MIDI values, but I find limiting to be more appropriate in most cases.

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Fig. 3: The notes in white are a copy of the notes in blue, but with 25 added to all velocity values. Note that the levels are more consistent.

Space

A real bass line has a pause, no matter how slight, between plucked notes. This is because you need to move your finger to the note, then pluck it. If you look over a bass part for overlapping notes and pull back note durations that extend over other notes, you’ll hear a more realistic bass line (Fig. 4).

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Fig. 4: The right measure of notes is a copy of the left measure, but the notes in white have been shortened so they don’t overlap subsequent notes.

Slides

Slides are a crucial part of playing bass, and there are two ways to do slides with MODO bass.

Pitch Bend wheel. This produces a slide, but IK had the forethought to quantize slides to semitones and make it sound like you’re sliding over frets. (I used to spend hours sampling bass slides for sampled bass instruments so they’d sound realistic. I’m glad I don’t have to do that any more.) Set the maximum range with the Slide Range knob toward the top of the Control page; I like 12 semitones. However, note that downward bends are limited by the position in which you’re playing—you can’t slide lower than where the nut would be, which makes sense.

Legato Slide. You choose the trigger for this on the Control page, using either a keyswitch or a MIDI controller. If you play in legato mode (i.e., you hit a new note while another note is held down), the bass slides up to the new note and stays there for as long as the note’s held down. If you release the new note while the original note is still held down, the bass slides back down to the original note. There are few points to keep in mind:

• This works only for sliding up and down, not down and then up. In other words if you hit a new note that’s lower in pitch than the note being held down, there’s no slide.
• The harder you hit the new note, the faster the slide—the slide’s speed corresponds to velocity.
• It’s easier to hit the end note of a slide precisely compared to using the pitch bend wheel, because you play the actual target note for the slide’s end.
• Many players set the pitch bend Slide Range to a relatively small value, like two semitones, because it’s easier to hit pitches precisely with the pitch bend wheel. Legato Slide can override this—you can slide, for example, an octave with Legato Slide even if the Slide Range knob for the pitch wheel is set to something like 2 semitones.
• It takes some practice to master legato slides, but once you get good at it, you might leave it on all the time to take advantage of doing not just dramatic, long slides, but those little slides up a few semitones to the next note. For this application, a momentary footswitch sending out the MIDI controller you use as a trigger is ideal.

The Idealized Bass

Although I play electric bass, I often prefer playing keyboard bass using basses I’ve sampled and edited. This is because I want more of an “idealized” bass sound—sort of like the difference between CGI computer graphics and real life objects. Although an obvious advantage of MODO bass’s modeling technique is realism, it’s possible to remove all the variables, and create an idealized bass sound. Here’s how:

Play Style Tab: Set Detach Noise and Slide Noise to 0.0.
Strings: Set Action to High and Gauge to Heavy so there’s no buzzing or fretting out.

For example, a sampled Rickenbacker bass often includes the “character” of slide noise and buzzes for realism. The MODO Bass Rickenbacker models these same elements, but you can remove them. Try the above settings, and now you have a cross between a Rickenbacker and a sound that’s more like a synthesizer bass.

And of course this is a forum, so if you have any tips on how to get great bass sounds, comments on the above, or even good bass player jokes...clue us in!
The first 3 books in "The Musician's Guide to Home Recording" series are available from Hal Leonard and http://www.reverb.com. Listen to my music on http://www.YouTube.com/thecraiganderton, and visit http://www.craiganderton.com. Thanks!
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Re: MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby anderton » Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:28 pm

Hey - question for you MODO users. Do you have a favorite, go-to bass among the collection of basses? I'm pretty partial toward the Ric, because I always wanted one but never could afford it :D . I'd be curious what others use the most.
The first 3 books in "The Musician's Guide to Home Recording" series are available from Hal Leonard and http://www.reverb.com. Listen to my music on http://www.YouTube.com/thecraiganderton, and visit http://www.craiganderton.com. Thanks!
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Re: MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby chlady » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:16 pm

Thanks for all the tips . My only wish for Modo would be to add a fretless bass in an update. That is the only one I am missing from Modo. Otherwise it seems pretty complete .
Last edited by chlady on Sat Nov 17, 2018 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby don-howatt » Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:58 pm

Is it possible to split the pickups into separate outputs?
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Re: MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby Doopion » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:24 pm

Thank you for the tips, it's really useful
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Re: MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby arionas » Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:41 am

Great, thanks!
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Re: MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby Lohena05 » Thu Jul 29, 2021 5:31 am

Thanks for these tips, very helpful!

I'm liking the 70's P-bass for deep funk. Any other set-ups people recommend for a P-Funk sound?
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Re: MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby Drundfunk » Sat Aug 28, 2021 3:41 am

Great tips. Thank you!
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Re: MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby Winograd17 » Wed Oct 27, 2021 5:41 pm

Why can't you do a legato slide down as well as up? This is a normal thing to do but strangely not supported.
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Re: MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby Peter_IK » Wed Oct 27, 2021 6:01 pm

Winograd17 wrote:Why can't you do a legato slide down as well as up? This is a normal thing to do but strangely not supported.

It does work up or down, as per the original post. If you follow the steps in the manual it will work either way.
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Re: MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby Winograd17 » Wed Oct 27, 2021 6:42 pm

Thanks, Peter, for your response.

To clarify, I would like to do legato slides using the "note overlap" method rather than the "pitch bend" method. This allows me to smoothly glide to the exact destination note without having to do a bunch of instrument configuration and MIDI value math.

The original post in this thread says:
This works only for sliding up and down, not down and then up. In other words if you hit a new note that’s lower in pitch than the note being held down, there’s no slide.


I have tested this and the quoted text from the original post is accurate. Note overlaps will only produce an upward slide, not a downward slide. I don't understand why the product would be designed this way when players can easily slide both directions.
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Re: MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby Peter_IK » Wed Oct 27, 2021 7:24 pm

But you could create two separate slides is what I was saying. Seems like you might want to contact IK Support if something that should be possible isn't working, or to clarify your needs and request a fix or feature if something isn't working
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Re: MODO Bass: Tips, Tricks—and Touch

Postby The_Ogre » Wed Oct 27, 2021 8:20 pm

I'll take advantage of this thread, instead of opening a new one...

Guys, a question about MIDI in Reaper...

As a good guitarist that I am, I'm trying to program some bass lines here (I could use the trick of lowering the guitar one octave down, but it still doesn't feel the same as a bass, and I don't have a bass available here at the moment).

However, in MODO BASS, I'm running into an apparent limitation (on my side, probably): some of its functions (such as vibrato, hammer-on and slide) are available in the plugin settings only assignable to some specific MIDI keyswitches (CC) or to being adjusted via the controller's sweep (pitch) wheel, but I'm programming my MIDI stuff in the forced way (using the mouse) or using a digital piano (which doesn't have a sweep wheel). So, these functions, which would help me to humanize the bass play, are somewhat inaccessible here for me... perhaps, very likely, due to a lack of deeper knowledge in the use of MIDI in Reaper itself.

So, does anyone here have any idea how to proceed to be able to use these controls?

Thanks in advance.
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