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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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