Ample Bass Yinyang II Review

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Ample Bass Yinyang II is a virtual Fodera Yin Yang bass guitar plugin for Windows and Mac systems and can be used as a 32-bit/64-bit plugin or a standalone application. The sampled bass is a very expensive boutique 4-string, and the model is associated with Victor Wooten – if you don’t know who he is, think of him as a “bassist that a lot of bassists like”.

AmpleSound does some things very consistently – all their instruments work in a very similar way, are sampled with a similar level of detail, and are always based on very nice, high-end instruments. Even when they sample something as common as a Telecaster, it’s a handmade Custom Shop model. This bass takes the sampling of high-end instruments one step further, by sampling a Fodera which a lot of bassists would consider the Holy Grail of bass guitars (well, nearly – this is the Yin Yang Standard, which is “only” about $5000, not the Deluxe). The other difference is that there are a lot of articulations available here – sustained notes, palm mutes, harmonics, three types of legato, plus the things which make this virtual bass special – slap, pop, and tap. This is a regular 4-string bass, though as usual with Ample’s instruments, any string can be tuned down up to a full step. Sustain notes are also sampled all the way down to a low B for the range of a standard 5-string bass.

Balanced Sound

The name “Yinyang” implies a balance of opposites, and indeed that’s the sound we get. The sustain articulation is very warm, and sounds like the strings were not plucked very hard even at maximum velocity. The slap and the pop, in particular, are the opposite – very bright with a pronounced attack. The tap articulation is something I’ve never run across in a virtual bass (or ever actually used in a song myself), but it sounds like tap would – not very loud, and with a somewhat noisy attack. The tap and harmonics articulations are things that wouldn’t generally be used when playing typical basslines but become useful when the bass is exposed in a solo or intro.

In general, the boutique bass tone is quite different from vintage instruments, with a more even frequency response rather than a significant bump somewhere in the mids. The general stereotype is that this kind of modern bass tone sounds great by itself, but vintage basses often work better in a mix, and like most stereotypes, it’s generally true. This bass is probably not the best choice for a traditional-sounding rock or metal band mix unless we’re talking about fusion-flavored prog. However, for styles like urban gospel, R&B, and modern funk this is the classic bass sound, and for modern pop or EDM mixes where everything except the bass and kick is high- passed, so there’s no need for the bass to have a cutting midrange, it also works very well.

So, this bass does not sound quite like most sampled bass guitars, and sometimes that’s good whereas sometimes it’s bad. The even frequency response almost makes it a good compromise sound between a synth bass pluck and a more retro bass guitar. In short, it’s pretty much the worst virtual bass ever for sloppy punk. The farther you get from punk, the more suitable it is.

Playability And Control

I’ve reviewed a few Ample instruments before and the engine works pretty much the same way with all of them, so I won’t go into too much detail about the engine here to avoid repeating myself. My review of Ample Metal Ray II explains how it works with bass guitars. In general, it’s very guitarist-oriented, and lets you think like a bass guitarist would when programming or playing the track, and should work well with MIDI guitar controllers.

With this bass, two interesting twists are added, both related to the slap and pop articulations. One is an extra control for balancing the volume of the slap and pop articulations against the rest – in the real world, hard slaps and pops produce a very strong signal, which is why many slapping bassists use a limiter. This control allows the balancing of the loudness without the other side effects of limiting, which is a great option to have. And there’s the concept of balance showing up again, to go with the Yinyang name. The other extra feature is that hitting the slap and pop keyswitches at once results in slap notes on the E and A strings and pop on the D and G – just like many bassists often do in reality. Very clever, and really helps to make this the most useful virtual bass for slap I’ve yet run across.

Who Is It For?

One interesting question is, what kind of user wants a virtual version of a bass that bassists like? After all, bassists would want to use a “real” bass guitar, even if it’s much less expensive, and non-bassist producers generally have never heard of Fodera. I don’t think you need to have heard of Fodera to appreciate the modern boutique bass sound, though. Also, it works extremely well for playing basslines which include slap and pop since those articulations are not just included as an afterthought but really are a core part of the instrument and are sampled in-depth.

Now, even a year ago I would have said that nobody really needs slap bass, but slap does seem to be making something of a comeback in mainstream music, much to my surprise. I remember an old joke (probably dating back at least to the 90s) about how producers in LA would hire double bassists for pop recording sessions because they’d actually play notes, while bass guitarists wanted to slap on everything. Perhaps we’ve finally figured out how to use slap to add accents in a “serve the song” way and not get too self-indulgent. And even if you don’t use slapping in a track, the plucked sound has a very nice and warm sound which isn’t quite like most other basses, so this bass fills an important niche.

Summary

Ample Bass Yinyang II ($89 intro price, $119 regular) is a virtual version of a bassist’s bass. Its modern boutique tone and the broad range of articulations make it quite different than the vast majority of sampled bass guitars. It’s not a very good classic rock bass, and a terribly unsuitable punk bass, but very useful for a lot of other styles which would use a bass guitar.

Ample Bass Yinyang II Review

88%
88%
Brilliant

Ample Bass Yinyang II is a virtual version of a bassist's bass. Its modern boutique tone and the broad range of articulations make it quite different than the vast majority of sampled bass guitars.

  • Features
    10
  • Workflow
    8
  • Performance
    10
  • Design
    8
  • Sound
    9
  • Pricing
    8
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About The Author

D Smolken is a musician, artist and a sampling expert. He creates freely downloadable SFZ libraries available on his website Karoryfer Samples.

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