"Raspy" bass tone?

This is my first thread so I hope I’m doing this right.

I’m a guitarist, so I’m meant to know a thing or two about tones, but I’m stumped here.

I can’t exactly pin-point where I’ve heard this bass tone, since vkei bands, among others, kinda use this bass tone for a few songs and forget about it. The tone can be considered “raspy”, or “rattly”. The bass attack is very pronounced. Reminiscent of Korn’s earlier songs (Freak on a leash comes to mind).

While the sound may come off as slap due to how “percussive” it sounds, I’m pretty sure the bassists are not slapping throughout the whole song. But I could still be wrong.

This is a very specific request but, if anyone here is a bassist or knows about this, how do you get that sound? do you play nearer to the bridge than usual? is the tone easier to achieve using a pick or fingers? is it EQ magic? lastly, can it be recreated with a bass VST?

I personally love this tone because it can add a lot to a rather basic riff, and can be an easy recipe to make a song sound heavier.

I have varying examples here, but the ones I really want to go for are Waga Arubeki Basho and 去勢.

I hope this all fits into the thread/topic or something, I don’t post in forums much unless it’s replies.


@blossomingRuin, @NewsMan y’all got anything for this one?


It’ll be a mix of things, usually, and there’s a few ways to get this sort of sound!! I call it the “clank” haha. Sometimes it is slap (Toshiya and Fieldy both slap a LOT), but you’re correct that it isn’t all slap, and can be achieved other ways :slight_smile:

First, fresh strings are a must. While the primary function of the bass is to fill out the lower frequencies in a mix, the way a bass is heard will be greatly reliant on harmonics and overtones in the midrange, and dull strings will lose all of the clarity in that area.

Second, some sort of amp tone is a major help. You can get the tone with a bass DI, but it will take a lot more work. Using an amp or an amp simulator can do a lot of the initial shaping of the bass sound. Turning the treble up on the bass amp will help push the clank out (what’s labeled ‘treble’ on bass amps is usually more focused in the upper midrange). A tiny bit of distortion can also help a lot, especially if you’re able to blend it with the clean signal. A typical trick in metal production is to duplicate the bass track, have one completely clean and with everything above 200-250Hz filtered out, then heavily compressed to give a very stable, clean low end. The duplicated track will have some distortion, then everything BELOW that frequency range filtered out (distorting the signal before filtering will help bring out the upper harmonics of the low frequencies before you filter the rumble out). Blend these two tracks to taste. You don’t need to go over the top with the distortion, you don’t want to flatten out the dynamics of that clank entirely - just enough to help it cut through a dense mix!

You ask if picking/plucking closer to the bridge will help - I’ve actually found the opposite to be more true. When you pluck close to the bridge, you give the string less room near the bridge to vibrate, and as a result you get a very focused, mid-heavy tone, and a massive drop of the super-lows. As we can hear in these examples, a large low end is just as important to this tone as that metallic clank. Plucking closer to the neck will give the string more room to vibrate freely, giving more low end. The mid-focus also moves a bit more to the upper mids, helping bring out that clank a bit more. Sometimes mixing in the dry DI signal can also be a nice addition.

Lastly, low string action is also pretty important. Some of the sound comes from the strings rattling against the frets. You don’t want the action so low that you lose sustain on fretted notes, just low enough to get some rattle and buzz.

When you say bass VST’s, I assume you mean a virtual instrument? I’m not SUPER familiar with different options since I play bass myself for my productions, but Loki 2 from Solemn Tones seems to be a really good option, sampled from a Dingwall bass. If you mean amp sims, there’s LOADS of good options out there - I usually use Parallax from Neural DSP, and sometimes combine it in parallel (separate feeds blended together) with a Sansamp- or Ampeg-type plugin.

One can achieve this either with fingers or a pick. I believe Toshiya was still using a pick up until Uroboros, and you can hear it a little buried in songs like Shokubeni, and then you can still hear it all across DSS and Arche. Experiment with both - with picks, try different thicknesses - I’ve found thicker picks like I prefer for guitar round out the top end of the sound and make me lose the clank, whereas thinner picks almost help accentuate it! With fingers, make sure putting strength into the plucks, and possibly push the treble and/or distortion a little bit more.


Also very important - make room in your guitar tones for the bass!!

You’d be surprised how many of the heaviest guitar tones actually sound like thin, neutered bullshit when you solo them out of a mix, and you realize how much of the power in those guitar tones comes from how it blends with the bass guitar. Similarly, carving space out of the guitars also allows the bass to sit in a mix more comfortably, sharing the lows and super-lows only with the kick drum, and having some space in the mids to punch through the guitars :slight_smile:


These are all very valuable tips, thank you. I should mention though, I don’t really have a bass guitar with me, hence why I wasn’t so sure about what I was saying. So I can’t really apply some of what you said, eitherway I’m super grateful.

And yea I meant virtual instruments. I could go an extra step and use virtual amps for said virtual basses. I use EZbass, but I can give Loki a shot.

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I believe EZ Bass has some amp stuff built in? But depending on how deep it is you might want to look at other amp sims. EQing before and/or after the amp section might also be helpful! But definitely try coaxing it out of EZ Bass before spending the money on something else

I hope this was helpful!!


Wow, what an incredibly helpful thread. Love it.

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Not to necro-post, but I just discovered a new way of getting this sort of sound that is proving VERY effective for me, and I’ve got some audio clips to upload as examples as well. I figured it out while working on something for a mix contest, but to get around any issues of copyright I’ve gone ahead and applied the process to the bass tracks in one of my own songs. This can all work with any type of bass playing, and I’m including examples of applying this to both picked playing and slapping.

We’ll need three things-
A bass amp/amplike tone (for this demonstration I’m using Parallax from Neural DSP)
A DI track
A way to apply a guitar amp-style distortion to JUST specific frequency ranges. In this particular case I’m using the Saturn plug-in from FabFilter)

We’ll start with just the DI track of the picked section. I’m playing a Fender 5-string Jazz model with Radial DI box into a Focusrite interface - nothing fancy. We have TWO tracks running for this at once, each with an exact copy of the same performance (this clip is just one of those tracks)
Next we’ll run it through Parallax. Any kind of bass amp-type processing will work, this is just a nice tried-and-true tone for me. My Parallax patch sounds like this (please ignore the ambient synth-sound happening behind the bass, I’m VERY tired and didn’t realize my FX channels were still live while exporting all of these).

Now here comes the fun part - on the SECOND copy of the bass track, we’re going to put on FabFilter’s Saturn 2 plugin. Saturn 2, like it’s predecessor, is a multi-band saturation and distortion plugin - this means we can apply different kinds of distortion to just specific ranges of the frequency spectrum on whatever track we’re working on. On the second copy of the bass DI track, WITHOUT using anything like Parallax, I apply this setting:

That line running vertically down the center of the screen is our frequency crossover point - that is, where I have set Saturn to split the frequency spectrum. In this case it’s roughly 400-500Hz-ish (the exact numbers don’t matter - dial it in by ear). You can also see in the top left of the screen there’s a highlighted ‘M’ button - I have MUTED the lower portion of the frequency spectrum. The upper ranges of the spectrum, I’ve applied the ‘Crunchy Amp’ distortion style, and cranked the drive knob up around 50 percent. You can achieve something similar with a clean-ish guitar amp-type plugin, and filter the lows out before the bass hits the amp.
This track alone sounds like this

Combine that with the Parallax track, and we get THIS
And, in the context of a full mix!!

Now, again with some slap bass
Parallax tone
Saturn tone
Blend them together
Full mix

There are TONS of ways to go about getting this sort of a tone, and this is just one of them. But it’s been working VERY well for me recently, and I figured I might share for others who might still be looking for a way to get this sound :slight_smile:


often in studio recordings the producer is going to have a separate track of the bass that is just distorted and with the bass frequencies removed. so you can really get that raspy goodness mixed in perfectly. The Sansamp PSA was used for that alot back in the day for drums too~ Sansamp bass drivers are on lots of folks pedal boards to get similar results. Lots of ways to get similar results, EQ and the such.


Absolutely! And in modern times, I’ve seen mixers like Joel Wanasek and Joey Sturgis treat the bass guitar on 3 different tracks - one for subs and lows that gets absolutely SMASHED with a limiter to pin the low end in place, and then the mids and treble each given way less compression, then all of them blended together

I remember an instructor in audio school showing us how you can even distort things that were never MEANT to be distorted, for great effect - he slammed the bass into the front end of a Pultec hardware EQ until the input stage of the EQ overloaded, and then he blended that super fuzzy tone back in with the DI. Worked perfect for the stoner rock band we were working on :slight_smile:


yah, multiple tracks and then getting it all together nicely is the key and fuzzy goodness is where it is at~ izotope trash is my go to baby for the fuzzy nice fun times~ much trent reznor, much wow.