Advanced Sculpture Tutorial:  Programming Electric Basses

This section concentrates on a single instrument type—the electric bass, including all of its important variations and articulations. The physical nature of electric basses is not as complex as their acoustic counterparts. This instrument is therefore an excellent choice for the sound programming tutorial, the goal of which is to acquaint you with the art of using Sculpture to accurately reproduce detailed sounds.

To build a bass and all its components in Sculpture, you need to understand the basic, physical process of sound production within the instrument. Before looking at the practical programming process within Sculpture, you’ll find detailed information on the construction of electric basses in the next section.

Note: To see the settings for these tutorials in the Sculpture window, open the Settings menu and choose Tutorial Settings.

The Most Important Aspects of Electric Basses in Sculpture

In general, the electric bass has four strings. The lowest string is usually tuned to E 0 or E (MIDI note number 28). The strings above the low E are tuned in fourths—thus A, D, and G. You can, of course, find basses that have five, six, and even more strings. As Sculpture has no tonal limits, this is of little concern.

What is much more important for sound programming is the overtone content of the bass sound, which depends primarily on the qualities of the strings.

  • Round wound strings: A very fine wire is wound around a steel cable core, which results in a wiry, metallic sound that’s full of overtones.
  • Flat wound strings: The fine wire wrapping is ground down or polished smooth, and the sound has far fewer overtones in comparison. (These are much less popular today.)

In contrast to guitar strings, the structure and workmanship are the same for all strings in a set. Sets combining wound and nonwound strings do not exist.

The relationship between string length and string tension has a significant impact on the overtone content. Disregarding basses that can be adjusted to different scale lengths (different vibrating string lengths), the actual playing position that is used plays an important role. When you play D at the tenth fret on the low E string, it sounds more muffled than the same pitch played on the open D string.

The number of frets differs from bass to bass and depends on the scale length. Don’t worry about pitches higher than a single ledger line C; the actual functional range of this instrument is primarily in its two lower octaves—between E 0 and E 2.

Also worth mentioning is the fretless electric bass. Like all instruments of this type, it is freely tunable and possesses a distinctive, individual sound. Over the course of this tutorial you will discover how to program this type of instrument sound in Sculpture.

There are three types of articulations that will be discussed:

  • Fingered: The strings are played with the alternating index and middle fingers.
  • Picked: The strings are played with a pick.
  • Thumbed/Slapped: The strings are either played with the side of the thumb on the fingerboard or plucked strongly with the fingers.

The vibration of the strings is captured by an electromagnetic pickup. When the string is vibrating, its steel core affects the magnetic field. The pickups are almost always found some distance to the side, nearer to the bridge and stop tailpiece. There are different pickup concepts for electric basses, and often two or more pickups are combined to make the sound. To avoid getting into too much detail at this point, there is a rule of thumb that applies:

The farther you move the pickup toward the middle of the string, the bassier the sound will be and the more hollow it will sound. The farther you move the pickup toward the end of the string, the more the sound’s overtone content will increase, becoming more dense and compact. The sound will have more mid-range frequencies, or buzz, and less bass. If the pickup is positioned at the very end of the string, the sound becomes very thin. This behavior mirrors the actual playing position of a real string:  If you play more toward the middle of the string, you get a smooth, even, and powerful sound that contains limited harmonic denseness (overtones). If the string is played at the bridge, the sound develops a nasal twang and features more buzz and more overtones.

Now to the body of the instrument, and its resonant properties. Almost all electric basses have a steel rod running through the neck, to strengthen it, and a body made of solid wood. This construction allows the strings to vibrate relatively freely (sustain), even though very little direct sound is generated. The pickups and the amplifier and speaker systems are responsible for the actual sound of the instrument.

The acoustic interaction between body, strings, and external sound sources is much less complex than with pure acoustic instruments.

The vibration of the strings is, of course, naturally hampered by several physical factors: the radius of motion of the string (the antinode) is impeded by the left bridge or by the first fret that’s pressed down upon, and the frets in between. This can lead to the development of overtones that can take the form of anything from a slight humming or buzzing to a strong scraping or scratching sound.

In addition, factors such as the material properties of the strings and the instrument, as well as the softness of your fingertips, also serve to dampen the vibration of the string.

Programming a Basic Bass Sound with Sculpture

This section covers programming of a basic bass sound, which will serve as the foundation for the different bass sounds you will be creating.

To create the proper working environment for design of your own homemade bass
  1. Make sure the range from C 0 to C 3 is available on your keyboard by either transposing your master keyboard, or by using the Transpose function in the Region parameters of your host application.

    Note: You can, of course, transpose sounds within Sculpture, but this isn’t the best solution in this case, for the following reason:  Sounds would not be compatible with MIDI regions in which note number 60 as middle C is considered to be the measure of all things.

  2. Open the Settings menu in Sculpture and choose the default setting.

To recreate the sound characteristics of a typical bass instrument
  1. Set the Attack value of the amplitude envelope to its minimum value (0.00 ms). The A(ttack) slider is just to the right of the Material Pad.

  2. Shorten the Release time of the amplitude envelope to a value between 4 and 5 ms. Play a key on your keyboard. The note should stop abruptly when you release the key and should be free of artifacts (a digital crackle or snap). If you encounter any artifacts during this tutorial, carefully increase the Release time.

  3. Play some sustained notes in the range above E 0. These will die away too quickly. Correct this quick die-out with the Media Loss parameter by dragging the slider to the left of the Material Pad almost all the way down to the bottom. Note that the low E string on a high-quality bass can sound for over a minute!

    Your basic bass should simulate a fingered articulation, which means that the sound is created by striking the strings with fingers.

  4. Choose Pick from the Type pop-up menu of Object 1.

    Don’t be confused by the name of the object type; despite the namepick, this model is appropriate for simulating the playing of strings with your fingers.

    Play some notes in the lower range. You’ll hear that the sound is very muffled, hollow, and distorted. Before you adjust further parameters in Object 1, you need to set the position of the pickup.

    This is accomplished in Sculpture’s Pickup display located to the left of the Material Pad. You’ll find three arrow-shaped sliders, representing Objects 1 to 3. The two transparent bell-shaped curves help you to visualize the position and width of Pickup A and Pickup B.

    On electric basses the pickups are found quite a way off to the side and near the bridge. This particular bass has only a single pickup.

    The behavior of a single pickup is simulated by placing both pickups at exactly the same position.

  5. Keep an eye on the help tag, and drag Pickup B to the exact position of Pickup A. The two thin orange lines should overlap perfectly. As a suitable value for the example, set both pickups to 0.10.


    Note: Make sure the Invert switch to the lower left of the pickup display isn’t turned on, because this would cause the pickups to completely cancel each other out.

    It’s now time to determine the playing position:

  6. Drag the Object 1 slider in the pickup display in a horizontal direction. Play the keyboard while doing so, to hear the changes it makes.

  7. You’ll quickly realize that you can achieve a precise, crisp sound only when you drag the slider relatively far away from the middle of the string. Move Object 1 closer to the pickup (position 0.15 in the figure below).

  8. The low notes are still distorted. You can remedy this by adjusting the Level knob to the right of the amplitude envelope. Set a value of −10 dB.

Changing the String Properties of the Basic Bass Sound

Although you can already recognize the sound of an electric bass, it doesn’t sound wiry enough yet. Now it’s time to focus on the bass strings themselves.

To recreate the material properties of a set of round wound strings
  1. Drag the ball in the Material Pad up and down at the left edge. Pay attention to how the overtones react. Drag the ball to the lower-left corner. The sound should vaguely remind you of the sound of a low piano string. Because the overtones sustain too long, the tone sounds somewhat unnatural.

  2. Drag the ball upward until you hear an acceptable sound. Try the position shown in the figure:


    Note: In general, a splaying of the overtones in low wound strings is typical. You can recognize it by the slightly impure, metallic sound. This occurs because the partials (overtones) are not exact whole number multiples of the fundamental frequency, but rather are shifted somewhat higher. An example of this effect in the real world of electro-acoustic instruments is the low strings on a Yamaha CP70. This is overkill, but your bass model will benefit from a small amount of this effect.

To splay overtones in Sculpture
  1. Drag the ball in the Material Pad gradually to the right. The sound takes on a more pure, bell-like character.

  2. To realistically simulate the splaying of overtones, try the following example setting:


Emulating String and Fret Vibrations in the Basic Bass Sound

The vibration of a bass string does not occur in a vacuum. The antinode of the string frequently encounters the natural, physical limitations of the instrument. This is heard as the typical buzzing and rattling that occurs when the strings touch the frets.

To simulate these disturbing elements with Object 2
  1. Activate Object 2, and choose Bouncing from the Type pop-up menu. The sound should now vaguely remind you of a mandolin tremolo. This is far too strong an effect for this kind of sound.

  2. Move Object 2 all the way to the right (a value of 1.00).

  3. Experiment with Object 2’s parameters. A discrete and realistic result can be achieved with the following parameter values:  Strength 0.33, Timbre −1.00, and Variation −0.69.

    Play some low notes, and you’ll find that once again the overtones sustain a little too long—somewhat like the lowest notes or strings on a piano.

To use Object 3 to dampen these overtones
  1. Activate Object 3 and choose Damp from the Type pop-up menu.

  2. Move Object 3 all the way to the right (value 1.00).

  3. Set the Strength parameter to 0.18.

    Note: Experiment with how the Strength parameter of Object 3 interacts with the Inner Loss Material Pad parameter. The higher the Inner Loss value, the smaller the Strength value can be, and vice versa.

Setting the Range for the Basic Bass Sound

To more realistically replicate the different tonal ranges of the bass, use Sculpture’s scaling function.

To activate the scaling function display
  • Click the Keyscale button at the bottom of the Material Pad. The key scale below C3 is displayed in green, the range above in light blue. The Material Pad with its Keyscale parameters activated is shown here:


Note: The most relevant performance range for basses is found exclusively below C3. For this reason, you should make use of the green sliders to set the actual timbre of the sound. The primary sliders found around the ring determine the timbre of the sound above C3. For the moment, ignore the blue sliders (which control high key scaling) and simply set them to the same positions as the main sliders.

When activated, the key-scaling function is used to adjust the timbre of the sound, independent of pitch. Before using the blue sliders to do this, try the Resolution parameter.

Controlling Overtones in the Basic Bass Sound

The Resolution parameter is normally used to set the balance between DSP load and sound quality. It can, however, also be used to shape the sound.

To use the Resolution parameter to control the timbre, independent of pitch
  1. Play some notes at the higher end of the bass’s range (around C2), then drag the Resolution slider all the way to the right and then gradually back toward the left.

  2. You can hear how the sound loses overtones yet simultaneously becomes louder. At low Resolution values, an inharmonic metallic rattling is heard in the sound.

  3. Increase the Resolution value until the metallic rattling disappears. Set the slider to the following position:

  4. Play some notes in the bottom range (around E 0). You’ll note that the sound is quite muffled and vintage-like. Move the green Low Keyscale slider (found below the main Resolution slider) all the way to the right; the low range should now sound a little more wiry.

    With most stringed instruments, the overtone content decreases as the pitch becomes higher. Strictly speaking, this is true only of open strings, and even then in a limited sense. If the strings are fingered, the length of the string is shortened, especially in the high register, and the effect becomes more significant.

To use the Inner Loss parameter to scale the overtone content, dependent on pitch
  1. Move the Material Pad ball above the wordsInner Loss. Try to move the ball solely in a vertical direction in order to maintain a constant Stiffness value.

  2. Drag the green line next to the ball toward the bottom until the small green diamond is located directly above the wordSteel.

    When playing, you’ll recognize the smooth transition that takes place between the wiry, overtone-rich sound at the bottom end and the extremely dampened sound in the upper register. This exaggerated setting was chosen to clearly demonstrate the scaling principle in stringed instruments. To achieve an authentic sound and timbre, try the following setting:


Setting Sustain Levels for the Basic Bass Sound

In basses in particular, low notes sustain far longer than high notes. Sculpture allows you to authentically and convincingly simulate this behavior with the Media Loss parameter.

To use the Media Loss parameter to scale the fading phase of the note, dependent on pitch
  1. Play a few held notes in the range around C2 and above. You’ll hear that these notes die out much too slowly. Drag the Media Loss slider up until this range begins to fade out quickly enough. The downside is that the lower notes now die out too quickly!

  2. Drag the green Media Loss Key Scale slider down until the fade-out phase of the lower range is sufficiently long.

  3. Compare your results with these recommended values:


    You’ve now completed this section and created a basic bass that’s articulated with your fingers. Save this asE-Bass Fingered Basic. In the following sections, you’ll be using this basic bass as a foundation for the construction of further bass sounds.

Modifying the Spectrum of Your Basic Bass in Sculpture

The scope for sound design, by altering the frequency spectrum of electromagnetic instruments, is far more flexible than that offered by acoustic instruments. In addition to the number of pickups, a major role is also played by the choice of amplifier, the equalization setting within the amplifier, and—last but not least—the physical properties of the speakers and their enclosing cabinet.

The central features of your electric bass sound are complete, but the sound can be improved by paying close attention to some details. Here are a few general suggestions:

  • Vary the position of the pickups. Try placing each of them in different positions. This will cancel out certain frequencies, and others will be summed together.

  • Try turning on the Invert switch, even though this effect is not typical for electric basses.

  • What is typical for bass sounds is the placement of the pickups in the outer-left third of the string model. The farther you move them to the left, the thinner and more nasal the sound will become.

  • Shifting Object 1 will have a similar effect. Try different combinations here as well.

The Body EQ is ideal for giving the bass sound that final, finishing touch. Your electric bass sound could be a little less smooth, and a bit more precise in its attack phase. Bassists like to use the termsdrier andmore bite to describe this phenomenon.

To alter the frequency spectrum of your basic bass with the Body EQ
  1. Load the E-Bass Fingered Basic setting.

  2. Choose the standard Lo Mid Hi model from the Model pop-up menu in the Body EQ section.

  3. Reduce the low bass frequencies by setting the Low knob to a value of −0.30.

  4. Boost the mid-range frequencies substantially by setting the Mid knob to a value of 0.50. Drag the Mid Frequency slider to a value of 0.26.

  5. You’ll probably find that the boosting of the low mid frequencies is a little too strong at this point, so return the Mid value to 0.30.

  6. The sound could stand to be a little more wiry, so set the High knob to a value of 0.30.

  7. To finish off, set the Level knob (to the right of the amplitude envelope) to a value of −3 dB. The sound is now as loud as possible, without the low notes distorting.

  8. Save this sound setting, which you’ll need for further modifications later, asE-Bass Fingered Basic EQ1.

Programming a Picked-Bass Sound with Sculpture

The basic bass is played with the fingers. In the following example you will simulate playing the strings with a pick, using the Pick object type. The Timbre parameter will be used to adjust the relationship between the speed and intensity at which the string is struck. The Variation parameter will be used to define the virtual material density, or hardness, of the pick.

If you imagine the fingers to be very soft picks, it makes sense to alter the Pick parameters so that a hard plastic pick is the outcome.

To simulate playing with a pick
  1. Load the E-Bass Fingered Basic setting.

  2. Set the Timbre parameter of Object 1 to its maximum value of 1.00. You’ll note that the attack is now stronger.

  3. Try several different Variation settings to get a feel for the material qualities of the pick.

    Note: Not all positions will deliver usable results for the entire range of the instrument.

  4. You’ll get a consistent, working setting for the two octaves above E 0 with the following parameter settings:  Position 0.17 (Pickup display), Strength 1.00 (maximum), Timbre 0.90, and Variation 0.56.

When these settings are used, you’ll find that the sound has become softer and very thin. In fact, it’s somewhat reminiscent of a clavinet.

To compensate for this side effect with the Body EQ
  1. Activate the Body EQ and add a healthy portion of bottom end to the sound by setting the Low parameter to 0.60. Mid should be set to 0.33.

  2. Set the High knob to −0.45 as the sound is now so bright that rolling off a few of the highs can’t hurt.

  3. Now bring the volume into line. If you adjust the Level knob to 2.5 dB, nothing should be distorting. If this isn’t the case, try reducing some more of the bottom end with the Low knob.

  4. Save this setting asPick Open Roundwound.

Emulating Bass Guitar Damping in Sculpture

Playing with a pick is often combined with a damping technique that employs the ball of the thumb. The right hand, which also holds the pick, should physically lie on top of the strings at the bridge. This technique results in the sound having less overtone content but becoming more percussive and punchy at the same time. You can variably control the timbre of the sound through the angle and pressure of your hand while playing.

Object 3 will be used to emulate the virtual ball of the thumb in this example. The Timbre parameter determines the kind of damping that occurs, and Variation dictates the length of the string section that is being dampened.

To emulate bass guitar damping
  1. Set the Object 3 type to Damp.

  2. Set Object 3’s Strength parameter to 0.50.

  3. Move Object 3 a little bit to the right in the Pickup display (to position 0.95) to simulate the width and position of the ball of the thumb lying on the bridge.

  4. Set Timbre to its minimum value (−1.00) to achieve a very soft damping effect.

  5. Set the Variation parameter to its maximum value of 1.00.

    You’ll note a metallic ringing that occurs during the attack phase and still can be heard in the octave above E0.

  6. To suppress the ringing, move the small green diamond on the Material Pad to a position directly under the ball. In doing so, you’ve just increased the Inner Loss value for the low key range.

    Note: To place the diamond exactly under the ball, you can click it while pressing the Option key.

  7. Save this setting asPick Bass Half Muted.

Emulating Guitar Harmonics with Sculpture

Harmonics are single partials (overtones) of the overall sound. They can be heard by damping certain points along the string. This is done by lightly laying the fingers of the left hand (assuming a right-handed bass player) on the string—not pressing down—before the note is articulated. The first overtone, the octave, is achieved by placing your finger at the exact middle of the string—in effect separating the string into two halves. The next overtone is the fifth above the octave, and the position of your finger should divide the string into a ratio of one-third to two-thirds. The next overtone separates the string into proportions of one-quarter to three-quarters, and so on.

To simulate fingers lightly touching the strings
  1. Object 3 is used as a damper. Choose the Damp type.

  2. Adjust Object 3’s Timbre parameter to its maximum value of 1.00.

  3. Adjust Variation to its initial value of 0.00 by clicking the Variation slider while holding down the Option key.

  4. Move Object 3 to the exact middle (0.50) of the Pickup display. Play the keyboard, and you’ll hear the first overtone as a harmonic.

  5. While playing, very slowly move Object 3 toward the left of the Pickup display. In doing this, you are effectively scrolling through the overtone series, so to speak.

  6. Save this setting asFlageolet Xmple.

Emulating a Vintage Flat Wound Pick Bass with Sculpture

Now in just a few easy steps you can transform the pick bass into a vintage pick bass with flat wound strings. This bass sound is typical for the funk and soul music of the 1970s, but you’ll also find it in many easy listening arrangements.

To emulate a vintage flat wound pick bass
  1. First load the Pick Bass Half Muted setting.

  2. Drag the Material Pad ball upward and the sound becomes more muffled.

  3. Increase the Object 3 Strength parameter to 0.70. The result is a muted pick bass with flat wound strings.

    Tip: If you turn Object 3 off, you’ll hear a sound that is reminiscent of a 1970s Fender Precision Bass.

  4. Save this setting asFlatwound Pick Damped.

To get a nice percussive sound à la Bert Kaempfert
  1. Turn Object 3 back on.

  2. Move both pickups a little to the left (position 0.08).

  3. Move the virtual pick (Object 1) a little farther to the outside (position 0.10).

  4. Add the icing to the cake with the Body EQ by turning the Low knob to its maximum value (1.00).

  5. To remove the smacking in the attack phase, use the graphical display to choose a value of 0.48 for the Body EQ Mid frequency, then use the knob to increase this value to 0.51. Option-click the Body EQ High parameter to set it to a value of 0.00.

  6. Save this setting asEasy Listening Pick Bass.

Emulating a Slap Bass Sound with Sculpture

You’re actually dealing with two different articulations here. The low notes originate when the thumb literally slaps the strings on the upper part of the fingerboard. The high notes are produced when the strings are strongly plucked or popped with the fingers. This is achieved by hooking a finger under the string, pulling it away from the instrument, and then allowing it to slap back onto the fingerboard. In conjunction, these articulation methods make up the typically aggressive and overtone-rich slap bass sound.

To emulate a slap bass sound
  1. Load the E-Bass Fingered Basic EQ1 setting.

  2. Turn off the Body EQ.

  3. Also turn off Object 2 and Object 3, for now.

    Because the basic sound of a slap bass is brighter than a standard fingered bass, you need to adjust some Material Pad settings:

  4. Return the Low Keyscale parameter to its initial value by clicking the little green triangle (found below the main Resolution slider), while holding down the Option key.

  5. Drag the ball down a little, and the sound becomes more wiry. The ball should now be directly above the word Steel on the horizontal axis.


    From the models at your disposal, Strike is the most suitable for simulating a thumb physically striking the strings from above. This model is not, however, as appropriate for the slapped (popped) strings. It makes the most sense to choose the Pick model for this purpose.

  6. To be safe, turn the Level knob to −25 dB.

  7. Choose the Pick model for Object 1.

  8. Drag Object 1 to position 0.90 in the Pickup display. This position corresponds to a playing position above or on the fingerboard.

Note: Given its universal concept, Sculpture will not react exactly like a bass, where one would tend to play in the middle of the string on the upper part of the fingerboard. Try moving Object 1 to this position and see how it sounds. You’ll find that the sound is a little too smooth.

To set the parameters for Object 1
  1. Set Timbre to a value of 0.38, which corresponds to a rapid attack.

  2. Set the Strength parameter to 0.53.

  3. Set the Variation parameter to −0.69; this defines the softer material that constitutes the fleshy part on the side of your slapping thumb.

You’re probably familiar with the sound of low notes when played with your thumb. What’s missing, thus far, is the typical bright rattling that is created when the string strikes the fingerboard. Use Object 2 to this end, and choose the Bound type menu item. Bound limits the antinode of the string in exactly the same way as the fingerboard on a real electric bass.

To review the functions of these parameters:  Timbre determines the angle of the obstacle to the string, whereas Variation defines the type and degree of reflection.

To adjust Object 2’s parameters
  1. Set Timbre to 0.39. This corresponds to a fingerboard that runs almost parallel to the string.

  2. Set the Strength parameter to 0.33.

    Note: Try some higher values as well. You’ll see that the sound becomes softer and softer until it’s completely dampened by the obstacle.

  3. Set Variation to 0.64. Despite the overtone-rich reflection, the string can still vibrate freely.

    Note: Try some negative values—you’ll see that the reflections can no longer develop in an unhindered fashion.

  4. Set the Level knob to −3 dB; the Bound obstacle has made the sound softer.

  5. Notice that the sound is still too smooth for a real slap bass, so try using the Body EQ again. Switch on the Body EQ, and adjust the parameters as follows:  Low 0.25, Mid 0.43, High 0.51, and drag the Mid Frequency slider to 0.59.

  6. Save this sound asSlap Bass Basic#1.

Emulating a Fretless Bass Sound with Sculpture

With the exception of shared playing techniques, the fretless bass differs from a normal bass through its buzzing, singing sound. As the frets on the fingerboard of a standard bass function as a collection of mini-bridges and allow the string to vibrate in an unobstructed fashion, the direct collision of the string’s antinode with the fingerboard on a fretless bass is responsible for its typical sound. The string length on a fretless bass is markedly shorter than the string length on an acoustic double bass. The upshot of this is that a controlled buzzing is produced, even when a fretless bass is played with a weak attack. This buzzing can be consistently reproduced in the high register, even on fretless basses that have very short string lengths. The use of the comparatively soft tip of your finger—instead of a hard, metallic fret—to divide or shorten the string also plays a role.

To program a fretless bass
  1. Load the E-Bass Fingered Basic EQ1 setting.

  2. Turn Object 3 off. You’ll come back to it later.

  3. Choose the Object 2 Disturb type menu item.

    Tip: In the Disturb model, the Timbre parameter determines how far the string is deflected from its resting position by the obstacle. Positive values precipitate no deflection of the vibration from its resting position. Variation defines the length of the string section that is disturbed—positive values correspond to a longer section of string, negative values to a correspondingly shorter section of string.

  4. Adjust Object 2’s parameters to the following values:  Strength 0.14, Timbre −0.05, Variation −1.00.

  5. Click-hold the Object 2 slider, which remains at the far right in the Pickup display, to see its value of 0.99. You’ll note that the range between C2 and C3 already sounds quite acceptable, but the buzzing in the lower notes is still too strong. It is somewhat sitar-like, so keep this disturb model in mind when it comes to creating a home-spun sitar.

  6. Try different settings for the Strength parameter for both the higher and lower playing ranges. You’ll see that, at best, only a compromise is possible. The buzzing is either too loud in the low range or not present enough in the high range.

    Obviously, the effect needs to be scaled over the relevant tonal range. Unlike the parameters for the string, Objects 1 to 3 don’t have a directly addressable key scaling function. There’s a clever way around this:  Both LFOs offer a key scaling function. As you probably don’t want the buzzing to be modulated by a periodic oscillation, you need to reduce the LFO speed to infinitely slow or 0. In this way, you can deactivate the LFO itself, but still use its modulation matrix.

  7. Activate LFO2 by clicking the LFO2 button at the bottom left, and set the Rate knob to a value of 0.00 Hz.

  8. Click the 1 button (next to the RateMod slider, to the upper right) to activate the first modulation target.

  9. Open the Target pop-up menu and choose Object2 Strength.

  10. Open the “via” pop-up menu and choose KeyScale.

  11. Drag the “amt” slider to the right while you are playing. You’ll quickly realize that the singing buzzing fades out in the lower range, while gradually being retained as you move towards C3. Drag the slider to a value of 0.15. The buzzing will now be far more moderate in the low range.

  12. Switch Object 3 back on. Set Timbre to its minimum value (−1.00) and Variation to its maximum value (1.00). Object 3 should be positioned all the way to the right, at a value of 1.00.

  13. Vary the Object 3 Strength parameter. You’ll discover that the overtone content of the buzzing can be controlled very effectively. A Strength value of 0.25 is recommended here.

  14. Save this setting asFretless Roundwound#1.

Using Modulation and Detuning Effects with Sculpture

Detuning and ensemble effects are normally achieved using a modulation effect or by combining doubling and detuning. When you are using a fretless bass for a solo part, a broad chorus effect adds a nice touch.

Because Sculpture can synthesize only one note at a time at any given pitch, simple doubling isn’t an option. There are, however, alternatives for bringing movement and life into the sound. Almost all of the type parameters of the different objects can be modulated by LFOs, resulting in a vast number of possible combinations.

To emulate a chorus effect by modulating the pickup positions
  1. Make sure the Fretless Roundwound#1 setting is loaded.

  2. Adjust the position of Pickup B to 0.20.

  3. Drag the Spread Pickup semicircle—which is beside the Level knob—upward. Both of the light blue dots move downward toward the letters L and R.

    You can hear how the stereo breadth of the fretless sound has increased. Pickup A is sent out on the right channel, while Pickup B occupies the left channel.


Note: Although only modern basses offer such stereophonic features, it’s still fun to process conventional sounds, such as those created in the previous examples, with this effect. Note that not all pickup positions are monophonic-compatible. You can check this by returning the Spread Pickup setting to monophonic—click the Spread Pickup semicircle while pressing the Option key.

To make the pickups move
  1. Select LFO1.

  2. Click the 1 button (next to the RateMod slider, to the upper right) to activate the first modulation target.

  3. Choose Pickup Pos A-B as the modulation target.

  4. Set the Rate knob to 1.00 Hz.

  5. To hear the effect, you need to set the modulation intensity (amount). Familiarize yourself with this effect by moving the “amt” slider gradually to the right. Set it to a final value of 0.15, a moderate rate that doesn’t wobble too much.

  6. Save this setting asFretless Chorus Dry.

Tip: At the maximum stereo breadth, effects based on detuning are not as prominent, especially when the beats heard in the sound result from signal differences between the left and right channels. This is valid only to a certain degree, because the motion of the pickup doesn’t create a true chorus or harmonizer effect. Try it out and see what happens when the stereo breadth is reduced a little. Also test other modulation targets, such as Pickup Pos A+B, Pickup Pan A+B, Pickup Pan A−B, and String Stiffness. Have fun!

Adding Reverb and Reflections with Sculpture’s Delay

As a rule, basses are mixed without effects (dry) and you probably haven’t missed any reverb or delay effects in the examples so far. However, a little bit of reverb can be quite appealing on a fretless bass, when it’s used as a solo instrument. Use Sculpture’s Delay section to emulate this.

To create an unobtrusive atmospheric space
  1. Load the Fretless Chorus Dry setting.

  2. Click the Delay button to turn on the Delay section.

  3. Drag the Input Balance slider to 1.00.

  4. Click the small Sync button—directly to the right of the Delay Time slider—to deselect it, which switches off the tempo synchronization of the delay.

  5. Drag the Delay Time slider to 90 ms.

  6. Set the Xfeed knob to 0.30.

    The individual reflections are still too brash. To make the effect more discrete and unobtrusive, adjust the frequency spectrum and amplitude of the reflections. Start with the frequency spectrum:

  7. Drag the LoCut slider to 200 Hz and the HiCut slider to 1000 Hz in the Delay section.

    The LoCut parameter at 200 Hz excludes the low frequencies in the reflections, thus preventing a muddy sound. The comparatively drastic cut to the highs with the HiCut parameter blurs the individual reflections, thereby creating the impression of a small room with soft surfaces.

  8. Set the Wet Level knob to 25% to reduce the total level of the effect.

  9. Save this setting asFretless Chorus+Ambience.

This example shows that the Delay section can be used as a substitute reverb for small spaces. For sophisticated reverb effects, it’s best to process Sculpture’s output with one of the Logic Pro reverb plug-ins.

To create a “drowned in delay” effect
  1. Reload the Fretless Chorus Dry setting.

  2. Switch the Delay section on.

  3. Drag the Input Balance slider all the way to the right, to 1.00.

  4. Set the Delay Time value to 1/4t (quarter-note triplet).

  5. Set the Feedback knob to a value of 0.20.

  6. Adjust the Xfeed knob to a value of 0.30.

  7. Drag the LoCut slider to 200 Hz and the HiCut slider to 1600 Hz.

  8. Now adjust the overall level of the effect—try setting the Wet Level knob to a value of 45%.

  9. Vary the stereo position and rhythmical structure of the delay, by moving the small light blue diamond around the Delay Pad.

  10. Save this setting asFretless Chorus+Wet Delay.