Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bassmeister

I assembled a Kontakt bass instrument crudely nick-named Bassmeister, which is now available on Sampleism... The samples were created with rare, vintage bass piano.

I bought the piano sometime in early 90s (took me a while to get to sample it), the guy who was selling it, advertised it as "The Doors bass". He was referring to Rhodes bass piano used by Ray Manzarek, but this box was no Rhodes. The piano is "Basset II" made by East German accordion manufacturer Weltmeister. Not to be confused with Hohner's Basset, which is electronic keyboard. Weltmeister's Bassset I, is somewhat noticeable on the Internet, as it's a keytar, it has been produced from early to late 60s. Version II has lost the handle along with proud name of keytar and has different casing, but from what I can tell of version I pictures, the interior is very similar. Unlike Rhodes, this critter is using a set of metal stripes (in place of metal rods) built into a comb shaped pickup. The mechanism of making the stripes vibrate is rather unique. There is a lever mechanism which lifts the stipe up, until it slips off its edge, which is similar to the way you play a kalimba with fingers. Lever mechanism is simple, yet quite fragile. It would explain, why there is not many of these still in working condition. My unit has five broken or missing levers, however, as the lever design is the same for all keys, I could use one of working levers, for sampling separate keys. Which was just a lot of screwdriver work. At the side there is a kind of volume modulation pedal, which doesn't work very well, probably because of aged parts. The bad thing about this piano is resonance, it's enough to tap the case harder and all the stripes start to resonate, interfering with playing keys. It might be partly because of aged (and cheaply made) sponge dumpers. For sampling I used two small towels to quiet unused stripes, the amount of work it would take to secure them all, would rather indicate a design flaw.

For Kontakt instrument I used two velocity layers and five polyphonic round robin samples per key. By polyphonic round robin I mean, there is separate round robin counter for every key. Key velocity doesn't really matter in instrument's design, but hitting a key really hard make a distinctive initial distortion sound, so I made a separate high velocity layer. The instrument has selectable filters, distortion, LFO and envelope modulators for some creative sound shaping. It requires full version of Kontakt 5.5.1 or newer to work.

Finally, here's a video overview of the Kontakt instrument.

 

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