Octave dividers aren’t just for guitarplayers: They also rock for bass,whether you’re getting mega-low sounds from the lower strings, or playing high up on the neck for very cool 8-string bass effects. It’s easy to do octave division with amp simsand DAWs, but there are some definite tricks involved.
As when adding many other types ofeffects on bass, it’s best to create asecond track in parallel with the main bass sound, and dedicate thesecond track to the octave divider.This lets you mix in the precise amount of octave sound, but more importantly, you may need to conditionthe bass signal to optimize it foroctave division.
Most amp sims include octave dividers. I’ve successfully used octave dividers on bass with IK MultimediaAmpliTube 2, Waves GTR Solo (Figure1) and GTR3, Native Instruments GuitarRig 3 (Figure 2), Line 6 POD Farm,and Peavey ReValver Mk III. There’snot a lot of difference among theseparticular effects; they all do the job.You can also use the other availablemodules to condition the bass signal.
Two main problems can interfere with proper triggering: an inconsistent input signal level, and triggering on aharmonic rather than the fundamental(which causes an “octavehopping”effect, where the signal jumps back and forth between thefundamental and octave).
A compressor can solve the consistencyproblem. Set it for a moderate amount of compression (e.g., 4:1 ratio,with a fairly high threshold). Make surethe compressed sound doesn’t have a“pop” at the beginning, and the sustainis smooth. Then if needed, patchin an EQ to take off some of thehighs—the object is to emphasize the fundamental. This may requirecompromise; too much filtering willreduce the level from the higherstrings to where they might not beable to trigger the octave divider(as well as change the tone),where as not filtering enough maycause octave-hopping on thelower strings.
What works best for me is cuttinghighs and boosting the low bass abit. If the EQ curve isn’t sharpenough, you may get better resultsby patching two EQs in series. I’vealso found that with Guitar Rig 3,using the Pro Filter module withmode set to LPF (lowpass) and slopeto 100% four-pole provides outstandingconditioning, especially whenpreceded by the Tube Compressor.
Playing technique also matters.Popping and snapping might confusethe octave divider, as can the transients that occur from playingwith a pick. Playing with your fingersor thumb gives the best results, but don’t be afraid to experiment;for example, if you do “snap”the string, the sound might maskthe divided sound anyway, so itwon’t matter. Also, remember thatoctave dividers are monophonic, somake sure only one string vibrates at a time.
Once you have your signal chain tweaked, adjust the parallel, octave divided signal for the right balance with the main bass signal. You’llprobably find yourself playing anoctave higher than normal, becausethe octave divider will supply thelow ...