Note: Keywords printed italic refer to parameter or section names you will also find elsewhere in this manual.
If you’re pressed for time or if you already know the basic concepts behind Virtual Guitarists, then this Walkthrough may be all you need for now, and you can come back later to look up deeper explanations as you need them.
We will take a quick tour across all controls of the Virtual Bassist Series. After this, you will have a good basic understanding of the instrument and how to use it.
We assume you have a Virtual Bassist plug-in opened in your DAW. Ideally, you have a MIDI controller connected, otherwise use the interactive keyboard.
Make A Sound And Learn About Chords
- Play C3 or a higher note. Your bassist will start playing. It will display the current chord above the interactive keyboard in the right half of the Virtual Bassist plug-in window.
The interactive keyboard also doubles as a display for the MIDI notes the Virtual Bassist plug-in is receiving. The keyboard is divided and properly labeled with the functions of the corresponding note ranges.
- By playing more than one note, you activate the Virtual Bassist chord recognition. Depending on the selected style and phrase, melodic figures will match the current chord. Play C-G-B for example to play a Cmaj7 chord, or C-F for a Csus4. The current chord is always visible in the CHORD display above the keyboard.
- If you just want the rhythmic phrasing of a real player but play the actual notes yourself, switch off Melodic mode using the selector in the top right area.
- Click the menu icon in the top right corner to open a menu that lets you adjust various timing aspects of the player’s performance!
Try The Presets
- At the very top of the Virtual Bassist plug-in window, you can load presets. A preset is always a complete setting of the Virtual Bassist plug-in, i.e. it will change the performance as well as the bass and effects.
The Preset will note change between Player mode and Instrument mode, simply because that’s really not what you’d want. Also, Latch is not saved or changed with Presets.
- At this point, just go through different presets to get an impression of the musical and sonic palette of the Virtual Bassist plug-in.
- Optionally, while in Player Mode, try different style phrases by additionally selecting keys in the C♯2– B♭2 range.
Tell Your Player What You Want
- In Player mode, activate the latch button on the far left above the interactive keyboard. Now the Virtual Bassist plug-in will keep playing even if you don’t hold a note. Let it keep playing.
- Now play a note in the correspondingly labeled style phrases range of the keyboard, C2 – Bb2. Go from C2 upwards and notice how the phrasing gets more intense. These are the phrases you can exchange by loading different Styles. Let’s do just that now:
- Load different styles by clicking a Style name or the arrows above the interactive keyboard. You will notice that your bass player masters a vast range of playing techniques and musical genres.
- Now try keys in the C♯0 – B1 range labeled Common Phrases. These phrases will always be there no matter which style you’ve loaded and can be freely combined with the Style Phrases.
- Interrupt your player temporarily by holding the silence key (C0). Playing will continue when you play another note. Now stop your player by pressing or clicking the stop key (B2).
You can use the Silence key in Latch off mode too to mute your phrase but keep it running. This is different from lifting the key and playing it again as that will restart the phrase.
Staying In KEY
Let’s try out the musical intelligence in the Virtual Bassist Series.
- Play a simple C chord by holding the note C (optionally E and G). Choose a style and select the style phrase on the key A2. You’ll hear a melodic figure involving several passage notes that are part of the C scale.
- Open the KEY menu by clicking the Clef icon in the top left corner. Go through the choices there and notice how the melodic figure changes depending on the KEY you’ve selected.
When relying on Melodic Mode and encountering a clash between the bass and your other tracks, always make sure to use the KEY parameter to even things out. If the key of your song changes underway, you can automate the KEY parameter to follow suit!
More Performance Tweaking Fun
- Have the Virtual Bassist plug-in keep playing. Open the timing menu by clicking the menu icon in the top right corner.
- The speed switch lets you set to half time or double time – this comes in extremely handy when you like a particular style that plays half- or double-time relative to your existing arrangement.
- Now experiment with the Feel slider right next to the Swing control. It makes subtle changes to the timing, creating a rushed or relaxed feel. Maybe play a drum loop along for better comparison.
- Slowly turn up the Swing control right next to the interactive keyboard. As you will notice, this will delay the off-beats until the phrasing resembles a ternary feel that is common in Swing music (hence the name), often also called Shuffle or Groove depending on your DAW.
- Activate the Drop D button in the lower left. It tunes the low E string of the bass (not your actual notes played) down by two semitones, making notes on that string sound slightly different and extending the note range of the bass to D3.
Play The Bass Yourself
If you’re a prolific keyboard player, you might as well play the entire bass yourself:
- Switch Virtual Bassist to Instrument mode – close the timing menu first if still open – using the top center switch.
- Note how the Interactive Keyboard reflects the new mode – here, all keys from C1 upwards play notes, while the octave below lets you play dead notes, full stops, and slides (hold a slide key and play notes) and switch legato mode on and off.
Find Your Bass Sound
Let’s look at the bottom half of the Virtual Bassist plug-in window. Here you set up the bass and the amp, and you can shape the sound character using controls you’d typically find in a mixer channel.
- Activate Player mode and Latch and keep playing while you tweak controls.
- First, play with the FUZZ knob. Notice how it changes the character of the bass sound by adding a fat, crisp transistor distortion.
- Now experiment with the CHARACTER rotary switch. It does exactly what the name says: Changing the overall character of the bass sound and response.
- The AMP knob lets you choose three different combinations of bass amps and speakers, each with its distinct sound character, plus a direct setting if you want to use external amplification gear or plug-ins.
- The DRIVE knob finally lets you overdrive the amps for a crunchier sound – therefore it only works for the three AMP settings.
- Play with different combinations of the PICKUP, CHARACTER, AMP and DRIVE controls. This way you get a good impression of the sonic range of Virtual Bassist Dandy before we even look at the mixer channel options.
- In the Finisher section at the bottom center, select various Modes by clicking the little Arrows or the names of the Modes.
- In every Mode, play with the Finisher knob. You’re encouraged to not just set this knob to a certain value, but play with it during a performance to add interestingness!
- The Virtual Bassist Series comes with a built-in mixer channel, so while you’re certainly free to use them, you won’t require any external plugins or gear to create a mix-ready bass sound. Let’s try a few controls:
- Turn up the Compressor knob and notice how the sound becomes punchier, and more attack-y towards the maximum position.
- The Equalizer offers a range of EQ curves optimized for bass. In the leftmost position, the EQ adds a lot of low-end and attenuates the treble range, in the rightmost position it’s exactly the opposite.
- The Octaver is an effect adding an audio signal one octave above the bass. It can create some really powerful sounds, particularly in combination with amp drive, and when used with care, you can use it to bring out the melodic aspect of higher bass notes without turning up the volume.