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How to create a bouncing synthpop bass sound

Ah, the 1980s - a glorious time for synth music, when a number of talented artists released poppy songs whose influence can still be felt today.

Here, we're going to be looking at how to recreate an essential element of '80s synthpop: a bouncing bassline.

Click here to download the files you need to complete this tutorial.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 1: Nothing says 80s like a bouncy bassline spanning several octaves. Let’s make one using TAL-Software’s TAL-Bassline-101, an emulation of the SH-101 (grab a demo from TAL). Create a 100bpm project in your DAW, load TAL-Bassline-101 on a MIDI track triggered by Bouncy bass.mid, then import Beat.wav and Pad.wav.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 2: Over in the Source Mixer section, change the oscillator wave from sawtooth to square for a ‘bouncier’ tone. VCO Range is already set to 8’, which is perfect for the midrange bass sound we’re after. Set the Sub Osc to a 1 Octave Square, and lower the amount to 1.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 3: Next, let’s shape our bassline’s amplitude. In the VCA section, change the VCA from Gate to Env. For a short, punchy sound, head to the Env section – a little Sustain (around 2) and a touch of Release (around 1) will help things sound a little more snappy.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 4: The SH-101 has a juicy 24dB/octave filter, so let’s bring that in next. Lower the VCF’s cutoff Frequency to around 7 and bring up the Resonance to about 4. Lower the keyboard tracking (KYB) down to 0 to help shape the tone, and increase the amount of Envelope modulation to around 2. That opens the timbre up nicely without going overboard.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 5: For squelch, increase Resonance and lower the cutoff Frequency. The wow and bite of the resonance is perfect for 80s-style acid. Finally, lower the LFO frequency (LFO/Clk Rate) to around 2 and apply VCF Mod for movement. Job done.