[Shell vent] Let's prime our basses! 😎
Sorry guys but after having thought this one through for quite a while I came to the conclusion that the 'vents' are coming back in. Yah, we talked about this on the "other place" but.. I suppose I enjoy being the underdog? 😉
I'm a huge fan of guitars and thus the "session guitarist" series really hit a soft spot with me, where "Electric Sunburst" is a huge all time favorite of mine. And I still think that NI played a very fair game by providing the later released 'deluxe' version with a solid discount for those who already had bought the original 'Sunburst'. Hey, a small courtesy goes a long way IMO!
But percussion (Maschine FTW!) and guitars only get you so far... any metalhead can tell you that a true metal setup consists of: percussion (hi there Mr Ulrich & Lombardo!), leads (Electric Sunburst FTW!) and... bass. "uh oh" 🤗 Seriously, one of the reasons why I got drawn into metal as a teen was the "down to Earth" setup which I enjoyed so much: guitars + drums = metal 🤘
Don't worry though: this instrument (and review!) goes way beyond just metal, but I do hope you guys can forgive me for obviously mentioning my personal favorites.
Playing and Melodies
So one of the reasons why I think Native Instruments plays a fair game when it comes to their line of instruments is because it becomes quite obvious that they try to seek a fine balance between their revenue and products. At least to me. And the reason I say this is because I once bought into a melodic only Sunburst which didn't allow to play it yourself and then I also grabbed the deluxe version which did allow us to set up our own melodies.
Fast forward to here and now... Prime bass gives you both options out of the box. And so much more...
Song presets and sound presets
So the first thing which caught my attention was this weird "link to song" option. Kontakt is a VSTi, not an effect. What song would it try to link to?
Hovering taught me that there are actually two presets to cope with within this instrument: the melody or pattern ("song") preset and the sound preset shown above. The option "Link to Song" basically ensures that if you load a song preset then this will also set up the corresponding (or intended) sound preset for you.
So what's a sound preset?
Well, this all focusses on the Amp & FX tab so let's take a look:
Now just wait a frickin' minute here! Those names look familiar somehow.. 🤔
Could it be?!
Ayups! Straight outta
Compton, errr: Guitar Rig!
In case you're wondering: that's Guitar Rig 5 up there, for some reason GR6 never managed to click with me, one of the reasons being the browser. I prefer this cut out setup where I can expand both, say, Dynamics & EQ at the same time and still clearly see which is what. GR6 doesn't have that anymore. Nothing bad here though, the sound is fully on-par, no arguments there; this is just me.
But yah, you're not only buying into awesome bass sounds and melodies here, you're also buying into parts of Guitar Rig!
Going beyond Prime Bass!
So here I am jamming with "Hard Rock". No, no no... no personal bias here (for now 😏) but just mentioning song preset 18: "Hard Rock".
Thing is... with all due respect to Native Instruments 🙏 I think that Ableton's Operator might do better! 😮 no, no, no... I meant better to fit into my non-existing score! 😶
Errr... let's just get to the point:
See.. if you hear a predefined melody you enjoy and want to build onto it or maybe use it as a starting point for another kind of melody... well: just drag it into your DAW and get to work:
Here I copied the generated MIDI clip from "Hard Rock" pattern C#1 onto both my Operator and Prime Bass tracks and each to their own but... this sounds pretty solid to me. Sure: no ready to produce material here just yet, but the basis is there nonetheless.
From my point of view bass lines have been seriously underappreciated within the world of digital audio so far. Before we had 'Prime Bass' we got Scarbee for this: Jay-bass, Rickenbacker-bass, Pre-bass (+ amplified) and so on but while these are all impressive sounds on their own (please don't underestimate this stuff!) it's also fair to say that.. adding Guitar Rig into the mix and allowing us to export and re-use the MIDI data also adds more to the whole thing.
Not to mention that once again - from my pov - bass instruments have been seriously underappreciated so far.
What's this weird stuff on the left you ask? Those are instruments from "Reason", a DAW which I used to favor. The instruments you see here roughly do the same as some of the NI instruments of the Session Guitarist series: they play pre-defined melodies which you can use in your own tracks.
Here you see the originals but these aren't for sale anymore; it's all UJAM now.
But do you notice anything specific here by any chance? No? Fair enough but: bass anyone? 🤨
For the record: I'm not trying to talk down on Reason, I'm paying homage to them because as far as I can tell (but I could be wrong!) these instruments were one of the first to pull this off: automated melodies.
But even they never bothered with bass lines even though a simple but fitting cut&dry bass can honestly make a huge difference for your scores. For one thing it can add that "extra volume" for example.
Which is exactly what Prime Bass delivers.
So basically you get... high quality bass samples + GR6 effects to spice it up + automated melodies + the option to play stuff yourself and... the ability to export the MIDI data out of the instrument.
Yes, the samples are protected ("NKC") but seriously: who cares anymore?! Especially considering that you can export MIDI, set up the melodic version and just feed whatever you need back into Prime Bass?
And yah... With all due respect to both Metallica and Native Instruments: this isn't insta Cliff Burton out of the box so to speak (each to their own but that guy was a bass legend in my book!!).
BUT... it's getting close. Do with that as you will.
Thanks for reading, I hope this was useful for some of you!
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