Big Fish Audio | Keyboard Magazine Francis Preve | Old School Funk Bass Product Review
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Old School Funk Bass | Keyboard Magazine

Reviewer: Francis Preve | Rating: Pros: Wide range of performances for dance and hip-hop. Cons: Some recordings include significant fret noise. Bottom Line: An eminently useful but slightly uneven bass collection Back to Old School Funk Bass product details

One of the hot trends in modern dance music is the return of real bass guitar. After years (decades?) of synth bass, remixers and producers are rediscovering the flavors that only a seasoned bass player can cook up.

So when Big fish Audio's Old School Funk Bass was released, I immediately contacted Keyboard and practically begged them to let me review it. If this was really da funk, I wanted it in my hot little hands.

Running the gamut from chocodelic funk grooves to perky disco rhythms, OSFB delivers a mixed bag of loops. Some are eminently useful, while others are a bit lackluster. Second listener Jim Aikin agreed. "I like the authentic funk feel of these loops, but they're obviously designed to fill in the bottom layer of an arrangement; the inspired solo licks are few and far between."

According to the release notes, vintage basses and amps were paired to capture the character of each style. While this helps round out the collections, a fair number of the loops contained significant amounts of fret noise. I know a few producers who dig these artifacts since they add phlaver to the performance, but I prefer my bass tight and clean. Adding a touch of dynamic lowpass filtering helped make some of the "frettier" loops more palatable.

Fortunately, OSFB also features some lovely recording fat, clean, and meticulously played bass riffs. Overall, the feel is quite musical, albeit a little loose at times. But with the right drum pattern this can give a groove some real character. I had no trouble editing the loops in ReCycle or Acid, and/or using plain ol' pitch-shifting to make them fit my tracks.

The CD also includes a selection of one-note rhythms at 110 BPM in a variety of keys. These are useful for creating bass parts that follow your chord progressions rather than the other way around. While it would have been nice to also know which guitar/amp combo was used in which samples, the essential information-tempo and key signature-is included in the liner notes.

The CD includes a Vigier bass sampled one note at a time in both open and fingered positions over the entire range of the instrument. You can build your own sampled bass patches if you like. But the Vigier samples don't include any slapped or popped notes. What up wit'dat, dawg?

There's a lot of useful material here, and the collection covers a lot of ground, but my overall impression is that OSFB is a trifle uneven. Don't get me wrong-there are some great house, disco, and hip-hop grooves, and several of these loops will eventually find a home in my mixes, but I'm not certain that the collection has earned the "ultimate" moniker.

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