How To Create a Reese Bass on the Roland GAIA

How To Create a Reese Bass - Roland Gaia SH-01 Synthesizer

A step by step guide how to create a Reese Bass on the Roland GAIA synthesizer

If you’ve ever wondered how to create a Reese bass, wonder no more….. The Reese Bass is a staple sound in Drum and Bass and Dubstep genres of music. Full, yet with enough modulation to stay interesting, it can really fill huge spaces in a mix. Plus, with the addition of some judicious effects, it can range from very smooth to very aggressive. You can even employ more dramatic modulations and make the sound the central component of a track.

If you’re involved in the production of any electronic music, therefore, it’s worth having this particular sound in your armoury…

Here, we’ll walk through the steps required to create this classic sound on the Roland GAIA. The GAIA is incredibly easy to use, and produces great sounding results with minimal effort (sometimes by accident). Its straightforward, left to right layout makes creating sounds such as this a breeze, but any synth with similar oscillators and features, software or hardware, should do the trick.

How to Create a Reese Bass

1. Select a user patch – press the User Patch button, then select patch number 6. This is only because the sound in user slot 6 is a fairly simple, straightforward sound to begin with.

How to Create a Reese Bass

2. Switch off the effects – press the Effects ON/ OFF button and any other button that is lit within the effects section to the right of the front panel

How to Create a Reese Bass

3. Move the Env Depth slider in the filter section to ‘0’ if it isn’t there already. In the LFO section, make sure that Fade Time is set to zero, as are Pitch Depth, Filter Depth and Amp Depth.

4. Press the ‘MONO’ button to enable monophonic mode (only one note at a time), and switch on portamento by pressing the button next to it (this creates a sliding pitch effect between notes)

How to Create a Reese Bass

5. Select Tone 1 by pressing the Select button next to it. It will light up green, if it isn’t already lit. Ensure that other tones are switched off and not selected. Tone 1 should have both a green and a red button lit, the other two tones should have no lights lit.

How to Create a Reese Bass

6. In the OSC section, press the wave button to select a pulse wave (this is the third from the top, with a dotted line within its icon). Keep pressing the button until the LED next to this icon is lit.

How to Create a Reese Bass

7. Below this are Pulse Width (PW) and Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) controls. These controls are key to the rhythmic interest of the Reese. Adjust the PW to around 30% and the PWM to roughly 60%. The PWM speed is dictated by LFO1. Adjust the LFO according to your taste. If you’re going to use it within a DAW composition, you may want to press the Tempo Sync button.

How to Create a Reese Bass

8. Make sure that the filter is set to Low Pass (LPF), by pressing the mode button in the filter section until the LED is lit next to LPF. Set the cutoff control to the 12 o’clock position, and the resonance to the 9 o’clock position.

How to Create a Reese Bass

9. Select Tone 2. Press the select button next to Tone 2, and it will light green. Press the ‘ON’ button next to it. This should light red. You should have ‘ON’ lit for Tone 1 and 2, with a green select button lit next to Tone 2 only. Now, you will edit Tone 2 only.

10. Adjust the ENV depth control in the filter section to zero.

11. Repeat step 6, and select a pulse wave for Tone 2.

12. With the Detune control to the right, detune by –25 cents.

13. Again, adjust PW and PWM to taste. NOTE – if you wish the modulation on both tones to be the same, select both tones together by pressing both select buttons at the same time (both green lights will be on), tweak the PW and PWM, then select Tone 2 alone by pressing the Tone 2 select button to revert to editing Tone 2.

14. Select Tone 3, by pressing Tone 3 select button. Press the Tone 3 ‘ON’ button.

15. Press the WAVE button until Super Saw is selected

16. Set the Filter Env depth to zero.

17. Set filter cutoff to the 11.55 position – 5 mins before 12 o’clock (yes, those 5 mins really make a difference… 😉 ) – and set resonance to 9 o’clock.

18. Detune the by between –25 and –10 cents.

How to Create a Reese Bass

You should now have a basic, smooth sounding Reese bass. To create your own unique flavour, you can always experiment with LFO pitch depth, different oscillators, and tuning the oscillators differently for a more dissonant effect, using filter sweeps or other modulating effects- the possibilities are endless.

An easy way of adding more of an aggressive edge to the sound is to switch on some distortion in the effects section, and dialling the distortion amount to taste. Voila.

Here’s one of the first ever examples of Reese, ‘Terrorist’ by Renegade. This bassline was sampled from the original, ‘Just Another Chance’ by Reese (hence the name).

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Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.


  1. Jones Voodoo says:

    The Gaia is for sure a excellent Drum n Bass production machine. As far as Reese bass goes, I have the entire E bank on mine dedicated to Neurofunk/Drum n Bass Reese’s. Awesome tutorial, However by definition (I think anyway), a Reese bass is detuned Sawtooth waves, not pulse. However the pulse does give a unique sound. I think Sawtooth does sound better for more NOISIA sounding Reese bass. This type of bass is really all about muodulation though, so waveform can be sort of disregarded, as long as the waveform has a hard edge though (I dont think triangle or sine waves would work well at all for reese bass.) Thanks again though, I definitly love experiment with different bass sounds on the Gaia.

    • Hi Jones,

      Thanks for the comment! Yeah, there are some who see the Reese as a sawtooth only thing. Personally (and I’m not alone), I think of it as being that characteristic, huge modulating bass sound, regardless of how it is achieved. The pulse is great for getting thicker and smoother sounds, I find. But if you’re after the more aggressive sounds, as you say, sawtooth all the way 😀

      As regards the triangle and sine waves- yep, you’re absolutely right. The HF of a triangle wave rolls off a bit too fast to get any interesting modulation. The sinewave is a simple wave with no harmonics at all, so it you try to introduce any modulation, by LFO operated filters, phase, or whatever, the result (if any)tends to be just a modulation in volume.

      Anyhow, thanks again for the comment.
      Oh, nice tunes btw – keep up the good work, sir 😉