In this synth tutorial, Joe Hanley, the creator of Syntorial, will take you step-by-step as he creates an analog-style bass patch. Don’t forget to download the Monark patch below:
Native Instruments’ Monark – Download
Hi, I’m Joe Hanley, creator of Syntorial, and welcome to a quick synth tutorial on how to create a fat analog-style bass. Here’s what it sounds like. It’s a really simple patch, doesn’t require a ton of programming. But it’s a collection of very subtle changes, and some changes that not many people even think about. And it’s kind of a sought-after tone, how do we get that fat, warm analog bass particularly from a soft synth?
This isn’t your ordinary synth tutorial. This is Syntorial. Making programming synths easy. With videogame-like training, teaching you how to program synth patches by ear. Each lesson starts with a demonstration, then an interactive challenge with over 200 lessons. Once you complete the program, you’ll be able to create the sounds you hear using almost any synthesizer. Try the award winning Syntorial today.
Now this is a soft synth modeled after a analog synth the Moog. This is called Monark by Native Instruments, but there’s tons of synths like this. And really, to get this sound, all you need is a synth that has an analog style filter with a filter drive option, which I’ll talk about in a second. All right.
First, I’m gonna initialize this, so you have a plain… Sound. And I’m gonna increase our range up one octave. And I could have just played up higher on the keyboard but I had to do this because later on, we’re gonna get into key-tracking and it’s dependent upon this setting. Now, we have a square wave right now. But I wanna go with a saw. A square would work as well, but after all the settings are done, you’ll see how this saw really gives us that kinda true, warm, classic synth sound.
Now, to get our bass sound, we need to take some highs off so that our sound is more focused on the low end, so… Let’s bring our cut-off down. And now we have a simple round bass. This is fine. This is good for just like a subtle low end. It’s great for layering in with other bass sounds. Let’s say you’ve created a bass sound that’s got way more personality. It’s brighter, but it’s missing bottom end. Sometimes a simple analog style synth with a saw, cutoff turned down layered in just gives you that nice bottom.
But we want this sound itself, to be a bit more noticeable and a lot fatter and that’s where our filter drive comes in. Now this synth they call it load, but it’s the same idea. We are increasing the level of sound going into our filter. So listen. You hear this overdrive. A little bit of a warm distortions that’s coming out of the filter. Analog style filters love to be overdriven. Oh, such a nice sound.
This is really the key to getting an analog character out of an analog filter. It’s all about this filter drive. And you see this on other synths, so then our example would be Sylenth1. It has a really nice analog style filter, and its filter drive gives you the same distortion, same overdrive. So that’s really the key to getting that analog tone.
But there’s other subtle things we could do to get a fatter sound. One is increasing our amp release by just a little bit. So, in this synth, we have attack, decay, sustain, but there’s no release option, which, yeah, it’s a bit odd right? Well, there is a release option it’s hidden. And if I enable these switches, our decay knob controls it. So whatever our decay knob is set to, also sets a release time.
So right now, when I let go of a key… It cuts off very abruptly. If I increase it just a little bit. It just gets rid of that awkward cut-off. If I increase it a lot. You hear the note fade over time. Zero. It’s kind of unnatural, but also it makes the sound a bit smaller. With this tiny tail, it just creates a bit more sound, and it actually creates fatter notes.
It’s one of those really subtle things you’d never think to do when you’re going for kind of a fat sound. It also mimics an actual electric bass a little bit more. You know, when you stop a note, it’s not zero milliseconds, it’s the real world right? The string stops vibrating quickly, but there’s a tiny tail. So we get just a bit more of a kind of a human real sound here.
Next. Again, to get a bit of a sort of a real sound to this give it some subtle character, we want the note to start a bit brighter, and then get darker. We wanna add a subtle attack transient. We could do that with our filter envelope. So I’m gonna turn up our decay first. Nothing’s gonna happen yet. But if I increase the contour, I’m gonna do it a lot so you can really hear what happens.
What happens is our contour, sets a higher cut-off point, for our sound to start at. And our decay takes it from that brighter point, down to our cut-off. If I increase our decay, it’ll take longer But we want pretty quick, so it’s just at the beginning of our sound. Let’s do around here. And, we don’t want it to get so bright. It’s just that tiny little transient at the beginning. Now that’s just a little bit more playable. It’s not so static, it’s not so stiff. It just feels better.
Now, remember what I said before it was actually starting as a square. Well, let’s try square let’s see what it sounds like. It sounds pretty good. A little bit of a heavier feel to it, but… There’s something about how the saw interacts with the cut-off. It just gives us a nicer bottom end. That’s why I went with the saw. All right, so here we have a nice fat analog bass. It’s got a bit more of a playability to it because of our filter and our amp. Sounds nice.
But let’s say we wanna take it a step further, we wanna do some kinda little bass fills with it. We want to be a bit more noticeable, but we don’t wanna lose that bottom. Key-tracking. Key-tracking when we enable both of these switches, will make higher notes significantly brighter than lower notes. So here’s my lower note without key-tracking. It’s a little brighter. But this change is pretty subtle. Now let’s compare the higher note. Way brighter. So now I still have these low notes. When I jump up there, the note really sticks out. And since I got a little bit of extra brightness on that low and I’m gonna back off on the cutoff. So now I get both my low end for that bottom, fat bass and then these nice… Fat fills up top.
And then I’m gonna boost the resonance a little bit. And what this does is, it kinda does two things. It actually makes the low note a bit boomier, a bit bottom endy-er, and it makes the higher notes a bit more shaped and pointed, so let’s, first let’s listen to the bottom. I’ll crank it so you could really hear. It’s subtle but it almost kind of adds this boom underneath. So that’s nice, now what about the high note. You hear that? It kinda just shapes ’em a little bit. Makes them a little pointier. We just want a subtle.
Why is this happening? Well, our resonance boosts our sound at our cut-off point. So if your cut-off is turned down, you’ll get a boost in the lows. If your cut-off is in the middle, you’ll get a boost in the mids etcetera. But we have key-tracking enabled, right? So even though our knob is set to here, the higher we play the higher our cut-off actually is. So when I play that low note. I’m getting a boost in the low end. When I play the higher note. I’m getting a bit more of a boost in the mids, so it’s giving it shape instead of bottom end.
Again, a simple change but really subtle. It’s these kind of things that separate you know, okay patches from great patches, these tiny little finishing touches. And last, we want to add a little bit of kinda swagger on those top higher notes. Let’s increase our glide so that the notes bend between each other. That’s a little too much. Compare.
They just kinda bend between each other, they get a little bit of attitude. Problem is when when I wanna go back down. it takes a while. So if I enabled legato. When I play notes separately, space between them. No bend. But when I connect ’em. They bend. So now with my playing, I can choose when the glide kicks in and when it doesn’t. So I can… I can connect the upper notes to get that bend, and separate the lower notes so I could jump back down to that heavy bass. So there you have it, a nice fat analog playable bass.
This isn’t your ordinary synth tutorial. This is Syntorial. Making programming synths easy. With video game like training, teaching you how to program synth patches by ear. Each lesson starts with a demonstration, then an interactive challenge with over 200 lessons. Once you complete the program, you’ll be able to create the sounds you hear using almost any synthesizer. Try the award winning Syntorial today.