Friday, December 30, 2016

IK Multimedia MODO BASS Plug-in Review

Howdy!

As a bass player I am skeptical of any electronic device that wants to replace me, but I was still excited to try out IK Multimedia’s new MODO BASS modeling software. You see, I have used their amplifier modeling programs before and was blown away, so I expected them to do a fine job with this plug-in too. I was not disappointed!

IK Multimedia touts a total bass experience, with the ability of the user to choose their own bass, amplifier and effects, but it goes much further than this, with options for different fingerstyles, and even choices for how fresh you want the strings to be. It is hard to find anything that their engineers missed, really. This goes way beyond what other companies have provided for the bass modeling software. Way beyond.

To get started, I downloaded MODO BASS onto my 2014 MacBook Pro, and it installed without a hitch, with the program taking up less than 200 megs of memory. From there it was time to mess around with the program and see what I could make it do. There is not much in the way of a help function, but you will not need one. This program is like using a smart phone – you can figure it out by yourself. If you cannot figure it out on your own then you are going to have way bigger problems with the rest of the process for making your electronic music.

Let’s see what MODO BASS can do!

First off, you get to choose a bass, and there are a dozen popular models to choose from: two P Basses, two Jazz Basses, Hofner Beatle Bass, EB-O, Warwick, Rickenbacker, Music Man SR5, Yamaha RB5, Gibson Thunderbird, and Ibanez Soundgear. Some of the names have been changed, probably due to licensing issues. Surely there will be some people out there who will say, “Why isn't there a _____ bass?” Well, maybe because whatever you are looking for isn't terribly popular. Maybe those really picky people will need to practice and play their Steinberger, Dingwall, or Wal straight into the board…

But you do not have to be done once you choose your bass. You can add active electronics and do unholy things with pickup selections. Do you want a Piezo or two P-bass pickups in your Jazz Bass? No problem! Maybe you want to throw a Musicman pickup in that Hofner bass – why not? This program will make it fit! Then you can choose the number of strings (4, 4 drop D, or 5), flat or round-wound strings, old or new strings, and even your reference pitch. You might also want to set your action: High, low or standard are available. I do not see a setting for eBay purchase with nasty fret buzz or broken trussrod. Thank goodness!

There are also options for how you would like to play this bass, and you can pick it, pluck it, or slap it. From there you can dial in how much muting you want, how aggressively you want to strike the strings, and how much you want them to ring. There are even choices for whether you want to use open strings and if you want to add in that roundwound zing when you slide from note to note.

Then you can add in effects. After going through the bass selection process, you might be a little disappointed, as there are only seven effects to choose from (compressor, distortion, octave, chorus, envelope filter, graphic EQ, and delay) and only four slots to put them in. You do not get to choose different brand of effects, but there are full controls for each one. The amp choices are also a bit more slim, but this plug-in is obviously more about the bass that the rest of the equipment. You can choose from solid state or tube. Fair enough.

Once again – all of this is really easy to accomplish as the interface is really intuitive. When seeing it all written out it may seem daunting, but it practice it is really cool.

When it comes time to pay, there are a few choices of how you want to input the note. You can simply click on the strings between the frets, or you can use the piano keyboard at the bottom of the screen. My preferred method is the keyboard but you experience may vary – that why it is neat that the designers provided a couple of choices.

I have owned almost every bass that they modeled in this software, and I agree that instruments sound like the real deal, even with subtleties such as the difference in tone between the ash and alder Fender basses. The sounds are universally warm and live, and do not sound the least bit contrived. Of course there are basses I would like to see added (making me just like the people I ranted about a couple of paragraphs ago), but there is more than enough variety, and there are sounds for every type of music you will want to record.

As far as fitting this program into my life, I do still love having a bass in my hands, but there is definitely a place in my world for this plug in. I dig MODO BASS because I don't always have an analog bass on hand. This program allows me to experiment and put together bass lines in airports, hotels, and endless overseas flights.

Overall, I think IK Multimedia’s MODO BASS is a winner: the company delivered on all it promised, with a clean interface that ensures that great bass sounds are just a click away. And it is not super expensive, coming in at $299, or $199 with crossgrade pricing if you are one of their loyal customers. Check out their free trial – I think you will dig it too! You can find more information at www.modobass.com

Mahalo!

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