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Anyway to get a "string section" effect? - MP3 sample posted


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Originally posted by Dave Sisk:

Hey folks:


I got this reply from someone on DIYStompboxes.com:


You could use a phase-locked loop frequency follower with a series of dividers in the loop to generate several octaves of digital sawtooths above the bass fundamental, send each to a filter bank to simulate a generic string timbre, delay/chorus each, mix the results, and then envelope-shape the signal to get a bowed attack/decay. That should do it!


My reply was "huh?" (the poster hasn't responded yet though). Can help me figure out this answer?

Forget the technobabble. All he's saying is:


that you should get a harmonizer

"You could use a phase-locked loop frequency follower with a series of dividers in the loop to generate several octaves of digital sawtooths above the bass fundamental" just means that you should have a device that will generate octaves or other intervals from your bass signal. It's like someone saying "you should initiate the spring release to cause the impact of the hammer to create the instant friction needed to cause the combustible gasses to expand, propelling the projectile out of the cylindrical pathway at a rapid velocity" when he means "shoot the bastard".


then run each note through a filter He's talking about a synthesizer type filter. It dynamically take off the high end to better simulate a string sound.


then run each filtered note through a chorus and delay That's pretty self explanatory


mix it all together so you can send it to one input and put and envelope on it The envelope will remove the attack at the beginning of the note to simulate bowing.


I have an alternative for you. It has been mentioned above in other posts, but I feel I must reiterate.


What you have asked this guy to build is basically a synthesizer. The fact that the oscillator will be your bass is irrelevant. It's still a synth. Sound source->Filter->Amplitude Envelope...that's the most basic of synthesizers. It will be unwieldy and single-purpose.


Trust me, as I come from that side of things. Get a keyboard. The cheapest keyboard you will find in a music store that doesn't have speakers built in will blow away the most intricate gadget this guy could design in terms of realistic string sounds.


And play the bass with your left hand on the keyboard when you have to. It's not that bad...left/right independence is a misnomer...keyboard players' hands are working together as much if not more than stringed instrument players. You can do it.


Filters and Bass Synth pedals are great for those analog string emulations, but even the tiniest rosin sample in front of a sustained string patch on a keyboard will evoke a string section much more effectively than any of them.


And as for drummers playing with a sequence, you are sending him a click, right?


And if you have a DR-5, you already have the synth. That was a JV engine, which is still in use today, although it's been improved. You just need a controller keyboard. You can get those for well under $200.00.

"For instance" is not proof.


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Bass/String section sound. Here's how I have done it.


Fretless 5 string w/ Roland GK3B divided pickup.

Roland GI-20 GK-Midi converter Midi out to various sound modules. It works better for solo passages, doubling the bass sound in the higher registers. Tracking isn't too shabby. For lower notes it will track more slowly. I use a cello sound with a slow attack sometimes on the lower notes that fades in. When I use it I'm often going for the fretless/cello or fretless/viola in unison sound.


My favorite sounds are from the EMU Vintage keys Pro. I have it loaded with the B3 and ZR71 chips too. I also use it with Kurzweil ochestral sounds.

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Originally posted by tnb:

I'm with DBB and BenLoy. After being a big fan of synth strings for years (synth are cheap and don't complain), I got to play in a string section last spring. They were mostly (very) advanced high school and college students with a couple of ringers thrown in to lead them. There is no substitute for real strings. I'm off the synth strings completely.


Is this for a gigging or for a recording session?

Mentioning the difference between synth and real strings reminded me of something...


There's an REM song I really love, where they used a mix of synth and real strings simultaneously (with the ratio changing a bit) to really great effect. I remember a little blurb where Micheal Stipe was talking about it. What I got from it: they're two different animals, they both have their place, and sometimes those places overlap, but not always. I happen to dig the sound of synth strings, and think it works better in some situations. However, I doubt I'd ever choose a single synth string part (say, synth violin) over having a real violinist there.


Overall, I think this is a cool idea worth exploring, and Jeremy's and C. A. C.'s both seem intriguing and worth exploring. I'd love to hear what you come up with!

unkownroadband.com - step into the unkown :-)
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Hey Folks:


OK, I got a chance to do some experimentation today. I searched through the presets on the Digitech BP8 until I found one that sounded somewhat string-like, then copied it to a user bank and modified it. It came not bad at all...sounds more like a cello than a string section, but I think I can make this work. I've recorded a short set of riffs that I've posted. The beginning section is done with the fretless and this strings effect first with a single part, then a simple harmony part an octave above added. When the drums come in, it morphs into a funk groove (MM SR6 fretted bass and the envelope follower patch).


I also tried running the basses output into the analog in jack of the Boss DR-5. It actually tracked pretty well for the slow stuff I'm doing (I just had to be careful to play lightly and very consistently), but I *think* the strings effect on the BP8 actually sounds better. I'll probably record this using the DR-5 as well...sometimes things just sound different when hear them in the mix with other instruments.


Please tell me what you think of the strings effect. I've still got some more tweaking to do, but I'm liking it so far. Also, tell me what you think of the envelope follower effect on the funky groove. I've got the effect and the dry signal essentially 50/50 mixed, but it might actually need to be a little heavier on the effect side...maybe. Tell me what you think.




Thanks for all the help guys!


Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006


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Sounds like a good start. Sounds a bit like an '80s keyboard synth that could've been heard in the background of Disney's Captain Eo but with other instrumentation I think you could pull it off quite successfully. Somewhat infectuous groove there in the second part...I'd say it deffinately needs more effect.


That's my 3 cents anyway. :thu:

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Definitely more envelope filter effect mixed in for the funk stuff. Your twangy strings coming through provide for an opposite type of effect from the envelope filter, so your sample there seems to kind of "contradict" itself. I like my envelope filter at 100%, 90% at least.


The strings sound... not so sure. I think the timbre is decent, but the breaks in between the notes seem too long. If you could get them to hold their volume a little longer and flow into one another, I think it'd sound more natural.

All your bass are belong to us!
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