Tutorial on basslines - note placements

i’m really struggling to get decent bass lines so perhaps a tutorial on note placement etc for different genre’s of music. I know this is coverd off in all of the vids but just one dedicated to say bass lines etc and note placement rather than complex synth programming.

What do people think

The most important part of your bassline is the interaction between the kick and bass, if the two sounds don’t work well together no amount of compression or eq will make it sound great. before you start making your bassline you need to decide which sort you want and what job you want it to do. if you want your bassline to be bottom heavy usually you would need the kick to sit above the bass (frequency) for them to work together or if the kick is bottom heavy then the bassline should sit above the kick. you can get away with both being bottom heavy when they bass sits on the off beat.

if you choose the right kick then note placement for the bassline is a lot easier to get away with and deciding what sort of bassline you want make choosing a kick alot easier. i’ve also notice that in many of the top tracks many of the producers usually have a hi-hat or percussion element that follows the same pattern as the bass, i think this can be used to great effect to help you bassline stand out.

deciding what you want from a bassline is best done before you move on with anything else in the track.

perfect example’s of the Lead/bass.

Thanks for that John. Im just really struggling with the note placement and note lengths etc. Suppose what im aiming for is that when i play it back it has energy and starts to make my feet want to move lol!!!. At the moment they just seem reaaly static and boring. To me the bassline is a key element of the track as emphasised by the video you posted.

I do however understand the difference with a bassline working as a lead and a bassline working with other notes - thanks once again though.

if you want the bassline to make you want to move try adding some groove to it by moving notes slightly and like i say use a hi-hat to sit above the bassline to emphasize the groove.

which DAW are you using?

perfect example of a bassline just used to Pin the bottom of a track together

for good examples of using tight punchy kicks and heavy sidechained basslines alex calver would be great source of reference.

also instead of programming a bassline play it in on a keyboard, it doesn’t matter if you can’t play! if you have on finger on your hand you can play a bassline groove into a track

Hi Jon,

Thanks for the additonal video posts - much apprecaited.

DAW im using is Ableton. I do have a midi keyboard but my studio room is slowly being tuned into a play room for my daughter so i think the midi keyboard is going to have to go before my daughter pulls it over and smashes it!!!

lol i know the feeling, i’ve now moved my studio into my living room because of lack of room. pretty sure you can set Ableton up to use your qwerty keyboard for thing’s like this.

Try playing along to the rest of your musical elements. Just start hitting keys until you start hearing a groove you like.

Then to give the bass some kinda movement, try copying your bass sequence into 3 channels, then on each channel delete a part of the midi so that only 1 channel is playing each part/note on it’s own. So 3 channels in total will still play the same midi sequence, but not at the same time. Not sure if that makes sense?

On each channel with your bass, make small changes to your bass plug in / sample. Be it longer decay, pulse wave instead of saw (example), maybe even an effect plug in over one of the channels.

So that each of the 3 channels has slight subtle differences than the other 2 channels.

When you play the whole thing back, it will sound less static.


Thanks for the help - yes it makes sense i’ll give it a go and see what happ[ens. Once again guys thanks for the feedback.


Yeah looks like i’m playing my notes into Ableton using my QWERTY keyboard from now on not quire the same as a big midi keyboard that i used to use.