It doesn’t take massive skill to create massive tone and a great bass tone goes a long way with me. It does however take a keen ear and feel to get good low end tones happening. Here are some of the bass tones that consistently blow my mind plus some gear and plugin info to go with them. (in no particular order).
NOTE – In most cases, much of a bass player’s sound/tone comes from the way he or she plays so when trying to recreate a tone, sometimes it also becomes about recreating a playing style.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – “Suck my kiss” (Blood sugar sex magik)
My God this rhythm section was locked and loaded on this album. They have always been and continue to be locked in together perpetually but on this album, the bass tone, drum sound, songwriting and godlike performances created a masterpiece.
They used a million different pieces of gear during the recording of that album in Houdini’s old mansion. For the flea sound, I would start by using only the bridge pickup of your bass. You’ll need to play with your fingers and you’ll need to know how to slap and pop. Without those components, turn back now! He’s almost always used Gallien Krueger Amps and for the moment, the only native plugin that covers that is Audified’s GK Amplification 2 Pro. Cabinet wise, Flea has used Gallien Krueger 410, 115 and 215 cabinets on their own and in combination during his career and many GK bass impulses can be found across several developers.
FACE TO FACE – Walk the walk (Self-titled)
Face To Face bass player; Scott Shiflett is the older brother of Foo Fighter’s guitarist Chris Shiflett. Scott’s hybrid picked style is a big part of the tone but his bass lines also do a fine job of helping the bass shine when it needs to.
Scott’s gear is pretty easy to nail down because his setup has always been simple and consistent. First, he’s always used Fender Precision Basses (P-Bass) which have a signature sound. Another constant has been Ampeg 810 cabs and lastly I don’t recall him ever using anything but Ampeg amps, though I believe the specific models have changed. He has a great ear for tone and it’s evident on all his work with Face To Face and other acts.
For plugins, many Ampeg plugins exist and any one of them will probably get you in the ballpark if you use a pick and a similar picking style. JST Bassforge Rex Brown with the drive and gain dialed down a bit might help you get started.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE – “Know your enemy” (Self-titled)
Tim Commerford’s sound is flat out my favorite bass sound of all-time and he is a bass legend in my eyes. Another giant rhythm section to speak of here, a rhythm section that has been the concrete in three very good bands.
This album was recorded with an Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray and a Marshall Guv’nor pedal running into an Ampeg head and Ampeg 810 cab. He has mostly reached for the Ampeg SVT IIPro during his career with 410 Ampeg cabs and the Guv’nor pedal was replaced with a series of home-made “secret” silver distortion boxes. He runs two amps; one clean, one dirty and likes to blend the two. Good luck!
The best plugin I can think of to recreate this tone is Joey Sturgis Tones Bassforge Rex Brown. That plugin has all the tools needed to get you started. Tim mostly uses the bridge pickup so that would also be a plus.
INCUBUS – Megalomaniac (A crow left of the murder)
Ben Kenney came into the band as a very different bass player than his predecessor. This was his first album with Incubus and his tone was one of the things I noticed right away as a huge plus about “the new guy”. His bass tone is gritty when he needs it to be which I also really like.
Mesa Boogie Amps highlight his rig and since no Mesa Boogie bass amp sims exist, you’ll have to get creative. My suggestion would be to use Neural DSP’s Parallax with a reference mix of this song to work from and then just tweak until the grit is just right. You could likely get something close with Neural DSP’s Darkglass Ultra plugin as well. Both of those plugins are capable of a lot more than djent and modern metal.
THE ROTTED – “The hammer of witches” (Ad Nauseam)
This album contains one of my favorite heavy bass tones ever recorded. Matthew Trudgill’s tone and performance on the album do wonders for how monstrous the end result sounds. It’s heavy, filthy, cutting but still holding the low end down. It’s a perfect heavy bass tone.
“Reverend” Trudgill’s main Rickenbacker bass and aggressive picking style surely had a lot to do with the tone in addition to his Ampeg SVT Classic. Not sure if there was a distortion pedal used with the other gear involved, I don’t know one would be overly required. The Rickenbacker is a noisy beast!
STAY TUNED FOR VOL.2!!