Review: Ample Bass Upright II from Amplesound

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Captured with Ample Sound’s ““secret sauce”, Ample Bass Upright’s sonic playback is impressive with expanded sculpting capability and a great set of functionality.

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Review: Ample Bass Upright II from Amplesound

Thirteen must be a lucky number. Ample Bass Upright marks the 13th entry into the Amplesound stable of virtual instruments. Let’s consider the fact that finding a great sounding virtual upright bass to anchor your next jazz, swing or rockabilly production can be a bit of a daunting challenge. Don’t get me wrong, they do exist out there, but they are few and far between if you are looking for something with the quality of the Amplesound Bass Upright. Everyone has their favorite and while I own the uprights from three competitors, there is something about the sound of this bass that I just prefer.

Ample Bass Upright II sells for $149.00 from: Ample Sound

Thoughts

One of the things that I really like about Amplesound is the specific choice of instruments that they bring to the marketplace. They had the requisite guitars and basses covered early on, but have now branched into some of the more unique and less commonly sampled instruments. You may recall that my last review of an Amplesound library was the John English Masterbuilt Telecaster. That one was a unicorn in the VI World (as well as in real life). The Ample Bass Upright focuses on something this time that is less rare, but still impressive in its tone and playability.
If you own any of the other Amplesound guitars/basses (and this one marks the 13th installment), the interface will be relatively familiar to you as it uses almost all of the same controls and page layouts. The big difference here is that this is the first fretless instrument in their lineup. While I review a fair amount of Kontakt libraries, the Amplesound family of guitars is all plugin based. Plugin or Library, to me it’s all about the best tool for the job and in this day and age the combination of them is really critical to getting the best overall production result.

I included a photo from the sampling session as I know a lot of people don’t have a true sense of what is involved in the microphone choices, placement, etc. (and the sheer tedium for the poor musician stuck playing the instrument!)


If you own other Amplesound plugins, the interface is quite similar.

The real difference here is the microphone controls here allow for adjusting the volume of the microphones for the neck, body, room ambience and DI.

One thing I like here is the ability to have so much control over the microphones. Depending on the style of music you are recording, the DI may be too “electric” sounding and you can get a really mellow organic or rock bottom bass sound by mixing mics in combination with the multiple stereo and mono modes available. This was a big selling point for me personally. There are a couple of notable mentions: fret noise here is called Auto Buzz, there are also controls for Phase and Attack right on the main interface. We’ll dive into a few of the others in a minute but rather than go through every page feature by feature (there’s a great handy manual for that!), I will outline some of the really standout features.
Some of this is repetitive from my last review but applies here as well. Hovering over each control provides a tool tip with helpful information on usage. I hate when that feature is missing and you need to open a PDF manual to find simple information. You have an extreme level of control with sample and articulation editing along with a choice of modes, the standard mode or keyboard mode (multiple notes per string) or solo mode (single note only). The other standouts generally are the Open String mode and “intelligent” Capo logic to follow incoming notes. The support for open tunings is a nice feature here as well.
Honestly, the one thing that I was disappointed with was the inability to play it as a bowed instrument, which I learned was a big ask given the way it was imagined and the intended audience from my read. Fear not, there are plenty of Contrabasses out there that support bowing – but may not be great at holding down the bottom end on a Bebop track like this one.


The Tab feature provides access to a variety of tabs for Blues, Jazz, Country, Funk and Pop or you can import your own Tabs in as long as they are in GuitarPro format. You can also drag the Tab from the instrument and drag it straight into your DAW.

Playing can be “humanized” by tweaking the parameters in the Tab player to get that feeling you are looking for.

The Articulations sampled for Ample Bass Upright are Sustain, Mute, Natural Harmonic, Hammer on & Pull off, Legato Slide and Slide in & Slide out. The Poly legato feature along with the ability to play at any speed, pitch or velocity makes for some pretty amazing realism in your playing. Again, if you have any of the other Amplesound guitars or basses, this will be familiar territory.


Stompboxes with an acoustic upright you ask? Why yes. If you want to get a really bright electric sound using the DI input alone, you can augment it with any of the standard Amplesound FX included. This isn’t my particular cup of tea but out of sheer curiosity, I did play around with it and you can get some really unique sounds applying things like distortion, reverb and delay. I like to mix in the room and prefer to use premium plugins for FX, but the included are more than capable if you are inclined to use them.


The Settings Tab allows you to drill down further on things like tuning, max voices, velocity sensitivity, sample cycle mode and MIDI guitar settings. A word of caution: refer to the manual before making any changes here if you are not sure.


One feature on the microphones that I neglected to talk about was the Equalizer that is included for the three main setups: Neck & Ambience, Body and DI. Each set of mics has their own basic controls on the main interface and then you can drill down into the full 5-band EQ by clicking on the “E” below each section. Here you can further sculpt the sound to your liking.

Trying to truly express the sound of an instrument in a review is difficult at best. Every instrument is a personal choice for a musician. What I can say about Ample Bass Upright is that I am really impressed with the sound, the sculpting capability and the functionality. It can roll both as either a straight acoustic or electric or some flavor of both. If you own other plugins by Amplesound, the familiarity of the interface eliminates the learning curve, although truth-be-told, the interface is very intuitive to begin with.

As I said at the beginning, I own three other virtual upright basses that are comparable for jazz, pop or acoustic music. This has become my favorite because of the tone and the ability to really get surgical with sculpting of the overall sound based on how I want to pair it up with other instruments. This is one of the luxuries that we don’t get in the real world of physical gear. I think the biggest thing I would attribute to the sound is the overall sampling process employed by Amplesound and whatever their “secret sauce” is. This is something that I have also found in their other virtual instruments, making them one of my favorite developers.

As with all of my reviews, I will say that before making your purchase, please check out the official demos to make sure that this is the right tool for you.

 

Facts

Amplesound Bass Upright II is a VST/AAX/AU/RTAS virtual instrument plugin. It requires 5 GB of disk space. Amplesound provides an extremely comprehensive technical fact sheet on their website. Instead of restating the content of the site here.

Ample Bass Upright II sells for $149.00 from: Ample Sound
Official Videos Of Ample Bass Upright II: ibrary sells for $XX from Developer Link

 

Demos of Ample Bass Upright II

Videos of Ample Bass Upright II