Production

Modo Bass is a software version of an acoustic bass guitar

Is Modo Bass what Virgil Starkwell needed in Woody Allen’s Take the money and run?

Modo Bass

If you have read my articles for the past several years, you know that I have reviewed several microphones, preamplifiers, A-to-D converters and other devices. Those devices have come from a multitude of manufacturers located in diverse countries, one of which is IK Multimedia. Despite having reviewed several hardware devices from this Italian company, I only became aware recently that IK’s first products in its early years were software-only. Now IK has launched Modo Bass. I am not a musician, but ahead you’ll enjoy two videos and discover more about the world’s first software version of an acoustic bass guitar, and how it made me time travel to recommend Modo Bass to Virgil Starkwell from the film Take the money and run.

IK Multimedia releases Modo Bass


IK multimedia describes Modo Bass as: “The breakthrough physically modeled electric bass virtual instrument for Mac/PC”. When they say Mac/PC, in this case, they mean either macOS 64 bit with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor or greater, 4 GB of RAM (8 GB suggested), and Mac OS X 10.9 or greater… or Windows (64 bit), Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2 processor, 4 GB of RAM (8 GB suggested), Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10, with an ASIO compatible sound card.

IK Multimedia says that Modo Bass is the first physical modeling virtual electric bass instrument that gives players and producers limitless bass sound possibilities and a new world of unmatched realism and playability for their bass tracks.

Unlike traditional sample-based virtual instruments, Modo Bass utilizes modal synthesis technology and an ultra-optimized sound engine to model each string as a nonlinear resonator. The string’s acoustic behavior is determined by its physical parameters as well as by the interaction of the string with fretboard, body and pick-ups of the instrument. The action of the player is then modeled as a nonlinear physical interaction with specific areas on the string surface. Then using IK’s analog modeling expertise, the amp and effects rig of the electric bass is added to the sound chain. This gives Modo Bass the ability to create hyper-realistic sound in real time.

Modo Bass contains a collection of 12 physically modeled iconic electric basses that span the history of bass sound in recorded music – more bass models than available in most other virtual instruments. Models include “60s P-Bass” based on an Alder body 60s era Fender Precision Bass, “70’s P-Bass” based on an Ash body Fender Precision Bass, “70’s J-Bass” based on an Alder body Fender Jazz Bass; “Modern J-Bass” based on an Ash body Fender Jazz Bass, “Devil Bass” based on Gibson EB–0; “Bass Man 5” based on Music Man StingRay 5-string; “Rick n’ Bass” based on Rickenbacker 4003; “Studio Bass” based on Yamaha RB5; “Violin Bass” based on a Hofner Violin Bass, “Thunder Bass” based on a Gibson Thunderbird, “Japan Bass” based on an Ibanez Soundgear, and “Flame Bass” based on Warwick Streamer.

Every detail of each bass has been meticulously analyzed and modeled to capture their true sonic character; the shape and type, the wood used for the body and neck construction, the hardware components, the original onboard electronics and controls. Every aspect and detail has been recreated to provide the highest degree of authenticity of the original instrument. But the sounds available with Modo Bass extend far beyond the 12 modeled basses. With the available customization features, users can craft virtually every electric bass sound imaginable.

Once the bass has been selected, players can choose from 3 playing styles – pluck, slap or pick – and control parameters of each style and how they influence the sound. Adjustments can be made to the force applied to the strings, the position of the hand, the direction of the stroke, the fingers used to play the instrument and how the strings are approached, the impact of the thumb slap and the finger pull on the string and even the thickness of the pick and style of its attack. Every aspect of playing style has been modeled as a non-linear interaction with the strings to provide a dynamic, ever-changing sound output.

There are 20 iconic bass pickups from which to choose that can be freely interchanged and added to the instrument – up to 2 pickups per bass. Users can change the type of pickups used, neck or bridge single coil or humbuckers, and their physical location under the strings can be moved freely for unlimited playing and tonal variations – a feature virtually impossible in the physical world. Modo Bass also gives players the ability to mix in the sound of an under-bridge piezo pickup for added resonance and top end. Switching from Passive to Active electronics option also enables a 3-band parametric EQ to fine-tune the pickup output tone.

With Modo Bass, players have full control over the post-instrument signal path as well and get 7 bass stomp boxes and two classic bass amplifiers derived from IK’s AmpliTube flagship software. Stomp box effects include an Octaver, Distortion, Chorus, Compressor, Delay, Envelope Filter or Graphic EQ. Each stomp box gives players full control over the effect applied to the signal, parameter adjustment and overall output volume into the next effect. Also available is a classic all-tube amplifier and 1×15 cab, or a solid-state model with a 4×10 cab.

Modo Bass provides MIDI control of critical parameters that can be automated in real time. With the MIDI Control section, players control and adjust the application of vibrato, the playing style, the application of Mute technique and the amount of slide technique applied while playing. The frequency of the vibrato, the amount of the bend, plus the amount of slide and detach noise while playing can all be controlled in real time on the fly.

Keyswitching in Modo Bass allows players to create amazingly real techniques like slides and percussive ghost notes. Users can switch on the fly between chord mode and note mode, the type of stroke used for playing, the fingers used and the method of playing, which provides the ability to completely customize the sound in real time.

Pricing and availability

Modo Bass is available now from the IK Multimedia online store for a special introductory price of US$/€149.99 until December 4, 2016. After that date, MODO BASS will be US$/€299.99 and a crossgrade will be available for US$/€199.99 to qualified users.

Modo Bass: A good solution for Virgil Starkwell?

According to my brief research, I discovered that the Cello is a very close relative to the bass violin. This relationship justified my time travel daydream to recommend Modo Bass to Virgil Starkwell, the protagonist we met in the mockumentary comedy film Take the money and run. Since Virgil had so much difficulty playing the Cello in a marching band, as you’ll see above, he could have used Modo Bass instead, with a laptop strapped to his waste, as long as he had a matte screen to use under direct sunlight. Going to present day real life, you might consider Modo Bass for your upcoming audio video productions.

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FTC disclosure

No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own.

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Born in Connecticut, United States, Allan Tépper is an award-winning broadcaster & podcaster, bilingual consultant, multi-title author, tech journalist, translator, and language activist who has been working with professional video since the eighties. Since 1994,…

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