How the Gibson EB 5-String Bass also Became a Keyboard Instrument
Cakewalk's cross-platform Dimension Pro software synthesizer has been popular with both Windows and Mac users, but never included a 5-string bass instrument—a shortcoming which has now been remedied, thanks to extensive sampling of Gibson's EB 5-String Bass and subsequent adaptation to a keyboard-based instrument.
The process of creating an instrument like this is quite complex. The EB Bass fed SONAR X3 via a TASCAM US-366 interface set to its "guitar" input; each note was recorded individually and placed on its own track for editing and trimming (Fig. 1). The notes have to be perfectly in tune, and because Min-ETune is not available for bass, SONAR X3's TH2 Producer amp sim tuner was left open at all times to monitor pitch. Also, there can't be any buzz even when hit hard, so the action was set higher than normal; picking has to be consistent in terms of attack, level, and where the string is plucked.
Fig. 1: The Cakewalk SONAR X3 project used for tracking and editing the EB bass notes. TH2 is open to the tuner to insure that all the notes were always right on pitch.
What’s more, the EB basses give eight distinct sounds due to the various pickup wiring combinations possible with the two Tuned Coil Tap pickup options. So, to create a truly comprehensive expansion pack, the entire process for sampling one EB bass sound had to be repeated for the remaining seven sounds.
As a final touch, the keyboard's mod wheel control was assigned to create tonal changes that mimicked the EB 5-String's tone control. In addition to the eight "pure" programs that re-create the pure, dry EB bass sound, there are also eight "growl" programs that use Dimension Pro's DSP to add an amp-like overdrive.
The sampling and instrument construction was done by Gibson Chief Magic Officer Craig Anderton (who has created sampled instruments not only for Cakewalk but for Peavey, Steinberg, Alesis, E-Mu, Ensoniq, and others); he detailed the entire process of making the Expansion Pack in the Cakewalk blog. Cakewalk Marketing Director Andrew Rossa comments, "Basically, we got lucky that Craig needed a 5-string bass sound for a song he was working on. One thing led to another, and now Dimension Pro not only has a great set of 5-string bass samples, but some of the finest bass samples we've heard. It's like the EB bass was made not just for playing and recording, but for sampling."