Recreate Illiterate Light's Faux Bass Sound

 

 

 

Unless you have four arms, it’s pretty tough to play guitar and bass simultaneously. But you can do what Illiterate Light guitarist Jeff Gorman does and use a pitch shifter on your guitar to create a pretty convincing faux-bass sound. In this excerpt from the video “Vance Powell - Episode 2 - Tracking Room Rundown,” Jeff shows how his pedal setup lets him play either guitar, bass or a combination of the two. He uses this setup when tracking the song “Sweat Beast,” with Vance producing, which you can watch in the full video if you’re a pureMix Pro member.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PATH

Jeff talks about how his setup gives him the sound of three different instruments: guitar, bass, and both together. He can switch between them using the footswitches on his Fulltone ABY-HT pedal. With the pedal he can switch between the A output, the B output and the two together.

The Fulltone ABY-HT is the centerpiece of Jeff’s hybrid guitar/bass setup.

Path A, Jeff explains, sends his guitar through a couple of effects pedals and into a guitar amp. Path B sends it into a DigiTech Whammy pedal set to shift the signal down by -12 semitones to make it equivalent to a bass. (A 4-string electric bass is tuned exactly one octave lower than a guitar.) From the Whammy pedal, the pitched-down tone then goes into a Tech-21 Sans Amp pedal to fatten it up.

When he wants a huge sound, he steps on the switch, which gives him both his guitar and “bass” sounds together. He demonstrates it, and it sounds quite impressive. Vance mentions that it’s particularly effective for playing riffs.

Jeff points out that in his live setup, the output of the Sans Amp, at the end of the “B” signal path, feeds a separate bass amp. Vance says that for recording, he’s treating Jeff’s bass path output like he would a bass, in that he’s recording it DI (coming out of the Sans Amp) but will reamp it later.

Besides the ABY-HT, only the Whammy Pedal and Sans Amp are part of the B output path. The rest of Jeff’s pedals are for the A path feeding the guitar amp.

DO TRY THIS AT HOME

As Jeff demonstrates, playing melody lines on a guitar through processing that shifts it down an octave can give you a powerful lead sound when you combine the shifted and unshifted audio. Using a guitar recorded direct and plug-ins, you can create a similar effect for recording, with no amps necessary.

You’ll need an amp modeler and a pitch shifter to do this. Many amp modeling plug-ins, such as Line 6 Helix Native, which we used for the examples in this article, have a built-in pitch shifter. But if yours doesn’t, insert a separate pitch-shifting plug-in after the modeler. As long as you can vary the wet/dry mix on it, you’ll be good to go.

EX 1: Here’s an example with a guitar part going through Helix Native and then Waves Scheps Omni Channel. The latter is providing compression and high-pass filtering. The Mix control on the pitch shifter is set at close to 60%. First, you’ll hear the dual-octave sound in the context of the full band, and then at bar five, the rest of the instruments will be briefly muted so you can check out the shifted guitar sound on its own.

The settings on the Line 6 Helix Native plug-in used for the guitar-with-octave-down sound in Example 1.

THE UPSIDE DOWN

If you have a bass, you can invert this whole technique by recording guitar-like lines on the bass, and then shifting it up an octave. It’s harder to do successfully—particularly if you want to bend strings—but it can work. While not as practical as shifting down a guitar, it can give you a unique, guitar-like sound. Here’s an example:

EX 2: You’ll hear a Fender P-Bass recorded playing lead lines and shifted up. Like in Example 1, the lead instrument is soloed for two measures after bar 4. In addition to Helix Native providing the pitch shifting, it’s also got Plugin Alliance’s Lindell Channel X for compression and a little high-end boost. A high-pass filter is employed to reduce muddiness at the bottom. The last plug-in in the chain is Auto-Tune Pro, which is used to mitigate some pitchiness that resulted from shifting it up an octave.

As Jeff did in the excerpt, you can also create a pretty credible sounding pseudo-bass from a guitar by pitching it down and setting the mix control to 100% wet. The bass you heard in examples 1 and 2 was actually a guitar shifted down.

EX. 3: Here’s the bass part from Examples 1 and 2 by itself. It's played on a guitar and shifted down with Helix Native. The signal then goes through Waves CLA Bass, which is a bass-specific multi-effects plug-in. It’s compressed further with PSP’s 1176 emulation, FETpressor.

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