There is no doubt in my mind that bass, whilst often overlooked, is fundamentally one of the most important elements in music. The sheer power that comes from a strong low end, combined with the driving rhythm that it offers is why music makes you want to move. For this, you need a good bass VST. I challenge you to find a song that, with the bass completely removed, still comes across as a convincing and energetic piece of music. Seriously, drop a comment below as I’d love to hear it work!
Bass is important and is often difficult to replicate in a convincing fashion when it comes to VSTs. Today’s article aims to guide you through a few of the many options that are out there. We will look into price range as well as quality whilst also assessing the various types of sounds you might want to have in your arsenal. For a long time, I stuck with the opinion that bass always had to come from a bass guitar, not a bass VST. Let me tell you, the more options you’ve got when it comes to making music, the better your music will be.
The Best Free Bass VST
Before I delve into some of the more pricey and intricate products available, it only seems fair that I offer you my best suggestion for freeware. 4Front Bass is what I believe to be the best free VST for bass available today. A combination of sampling and modelling, this bass VST offers what it says on the box. It might not be the most convincing of sounds and the plugin itself has literally no adjustable parameters. However, getting a relatively convincing bass sound from such a simple plugin is really amazing. If your current setup is lacking a real bass guitar sound, you absolutely want to grab this. At the end of the day, it’ll always be useful as a writing tool even if you move onto something else later on.
The Best Synth Bass VST
Now we move onto some of the best bass VST plugins you can get your hands on. I want to start with the synths and look at three different options, each offering something unique. Hopefully, this wide range of choice will appeal to every reader!
Did somebody say 808 basses? If you’re in need of some speaker shaking 808s to shake things up then look no further than the Dope Kitz Substation. Coming in at a modest $49.99, this simple yet powerful bass VST is going to bring some serious power and rhythm to your music. With a variety of plugin preset tone types, each with adjustable volume, glide and ADSR, this powerhouse bass VST is a one-stop shop for all your 808 bass needs. My favourite thing about this plugin is that it gives you more control. With normal 808 bass samples, you’re pretty much stuck with what you get. Spending too long scrolling through 808 samples is boring and messy. With Substation, you can start with a tone that fits your track and then mould the shape into something that blends perfectly with your track.
So maybe 808s aren’t your thing. Perhaps you’re more interested in a strong, retro analog mono synth sound that you can manipulate to your heart’s content? Enter Monark. This iconic mono synth embodies raw power. Three adjustable oscillators with a dedicated filtering and amplification section, Monark captures the organic sound of analogue synths with ease. Whether you’re making dirty hip-hop, dancefloor filling house music or chart-topping, Daft Punk inspired pop-funk, Monark has you covered. You can seriously tinker with this thing for hours on end, building complex monophonic tones of epic proportions. At only around $115, it’s well worth the purchase.
Hands down one of my favourite synths of all time, Massive is not only the best bass VST but it’s genuinely one of the best VSTs for anything synth related. This marvellously complex polyphonic synth plugin is crammed with so many controls and variations, you could make a sound a day every year for the rest of your life without repeating your ideas. In fact, Massive is so meticulously designed that it’s actually possible to create evolving synth patches that never repeat themselves. For any of you who like to experiment, you could have some serious fun with this.
Used by professional producers and engineers the world over, Massive truly is remarkable. You’re offered so many wave tones, each that can be processed and adjusted through their own oscillator. On top of this, you’ve got various filter types, effects, macro controls, voicing and sequencing controls which can all be used to affect each other. If you’ve ever seen those giant walls of modular synths that look insanely complex, this is basically a compact VST version. At only around $160, this could be the number one thing I recommend anyone invests in.
The Best VSTi Bass Libraries
So maybe you’re not a huge fan of synthesisers? Perhaps you want to keep things real and you’re looking for a way to get a true bass guitar tone without needing to learn to play one? This next list of my favourite Bass VSTi libraries will help you out there.
Continuing my theme of fantastic Native Instruments products, I offer to you the Scarbee Jay-Bass. NI make a variety of Scarbee bass VSTi libraries for Kontakt but my favourite (and the one I think will appeal the most here on MasteringBox) is the Jay-Bass. A beautiful sounding jazz bass available in both a fingered and slap style, this is the best VST library for the hip-hop heads. It’s got that great funky tone reminiscent of 90’s sample-based music and blends into almost any track with very little work required. Equally, it sounds great layered but with a chunky synth sub-bass. The two combined can really help to fill out the low frequencies in anything from hip-hop to dance music. Coming in around $75, it’s the cheapest of the Scarbee libraries and a great introduction into the world of sampled bass. Just remember, you will need Kontakt player to make this work.
I’ve been a fan of Orange Tree Samples for quite some time. You get tremendous quality for the cost and the time spent building these libraries is inspiring. I’m not going to focus on any one particular bass type that they offer as they are all great for their own particular specialities.
The Rickenbaker model gives a mean mid-range as well as punchy low-end for those of you looking for some aggression in your mix. If you’re looking for more of a chilled out vibe, try out the cherry. Similar to the Jay-Bass mentioned before, this is going to be super smooth and funky. The Jaco is similar in style except that it models a fretless jazz bass. This means you can get some awesome slides and real technical playing going on that sounds like your in the studio with Nile Rodgers. Finally, there is the Pear. If you’re in need of an upright bass to complement your library, look no further. Remember that an upright bass VST is a totally different tone to an electric bass VST. It’s great to have choices!
Often regarded as THE BEST VST library for sampled bass, Trilian really is sonic gold. If money is no object and you’re looking for the ultimate bass tone with ultimate control then this is the one for you. Not only does Trilian model some of the most convincing real basses available, but it also offers fantastic quality synth bass. Over sixty different electric basses have been carefully recorded and modelled to provide unparalleled choice. On top of this, the variety of articulations that have been recorded and combined within the round-robin sample selection technology is insane. You can walk around your MIDI keyboard playing note after note like you were really sliding up and down the fretboard of a bass guitar. Truly awe-inspiring sound comes from geniuses at Spectrasonics and it’s worth every cent of it’s $299 price tag!
Bass is important. It makes up so much of all music and really helps to drive a sense of power and rhythm. Overlooking the quality and design of your bass VST could be your undoing. If you’re interested in synths and want to make some crazy, complex sounds, try out Native Instruments Monark or Massive. When you’re crazy for 808 basses, Substation is the best VST for you. If you’re interested in something a little more realistic, there are a few VSTi libraries you can check out. NIs Scarbee line is fantastic, particularly their Jay-Bass. Equally, anything from the team at Orange Tree Samples will provide great quality bass. If you’ve got the funds and you want the best, you’ll want to check out Trilian. With over sixty modelled electric basses, it’s all you’ll ever need!