The Subtle Versatility of Spire's Bass Amp

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Mark Foster of Foster The People using Spire Studio's bass amp

For an instrument with so many possibilities, bass players often face a similar dilemma. You spend countless gigs, practices, and personal time assembling a tone with your rig that feels perfect, only to have an engineer plug you “direct in” during a recording session. Often times it’s difficult to maintain your tone when recording, and it can definitely be frustrating. The good news for you is that Spire’s bass amp combines the convenience of “direct in” with the colorful tone options of an amplifier.

The bass amp is easily the unsung hero of Spire’s recording effects. With a warm presence and a soft fuzz, Spire’s bass amp simulation allows the bass to quickly settle into your mixes and completely fill out the low end; bass amp also offers the opportunity to create your own distinctive sound.

Spire’s bass amp has five features. Here’s what they do:

Tone

Tone is what makes your sound more top or bottom heavy. Turn it to the right to get a sharper treble sound, and to the left for a round low end.

Presence

Presence is what controls the mid-range frequencies. When turned to the right, the presence toggle boosts the upper-mid range frequencies, making them more “present” through the amplifier.

Drive

Drive is what gives your sound some crunch and distortion. Crank it all the way to the right to go full-on rock and roll.

Blend

The blend option ties the sound together. Boosting the blend will bring up the gain in the tone, presence, and drive toggles.

Boost

For when you need a little extra kick in the low and mid-range, tap the boost.

Let’s explore some contrasting musical styles to show how versatile the Spire bass amp can be.

Example A: Rock

When approaching a rock bass sound, it’s not always easy to know where to begin. So let’s take a cue from Lemmy Kilmister.

Lemmy, frontman and bassist of the iconic rock trio Motörhead, detailed the secret to his signature heavy rock tone to Bass Player Magazine: “I don’t use any effects. On my amp, I turn the bass off, the treble off, the middle is full on, and I’m at about three o’clock with the presence and two o’clock on the volume.” Let’s use these parameters as a starting point.

Rock Settings
Tone: twelve o’clock (off), Boost: on, Presence: 3 o’clock, Drive: 2 o’clock, Blend: 3 o’clock.

This tone brings a wallop of crunch to the mix. Without lows and highs dialed in on the amp, the bass sits perfectly in the middle of the drums and guitars while offering its own distinctive and detailed growl.

Example B: Hip Hop

When approaching hip hop, don’t be shy with the low end. Hip hop thrives on a fat low-end sound from the drums and bass, so try dialing your high ends down and your lows higher than usual. To avoid a total low-end wash, give the bass some drive and presence to sharpen up the signal.

Hip Hop Settings
Tone: 10 o’clock, Boost: on, Presence: 12 o’clock, Drive: 11 o’clock, Blend: 1 o’clock
amp switches
Amp switches

Example C: Funk

A funk bass tone wants it all—highs, mids, and plenty of lows. To get the most out of your tone when playing funk, try to get the cleanest tone as possible and try dialing in your mids and highs to get a crystal clear pop when you slap the strings. Avoid drive at all costs.

Funk Settings
Tone: 1 o'clock, Boost: on, Presence: 2 o'clock, Drive: off, Blend: 5 o'clock (all the way up)

Example D: Kitchen Sink

Ever wonder what other instruments sound like through the bass amp? Well here’s an example that runs everything through it.

Drums through the bass amp bring a wonderfully dark and moody sound to the mix. The guitars feel deeper but still push forward with the drive, and the synths ruminate in the lower range frequencies. If you’re looking for a vibe, try this out.  

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the Spire bass amp can do it all. Whether you’re a heavy shredder or a jazz cat, the bass amp has something to offer for every player. Taking the time to dial in the bass amp’s five features can give you exactly the tone you’re searching for and beyond. Just plug in, dial in, and enjoy.

Recording effects and amp simulators are only available when you pair Spire Studio to your Spire app.

Discover what else is possible with Spire Studio: