Review – Simple Jazz Bass from Fluffy Audio
Fluffy Audio’s Simple Jazz Bass is just that: a delightful jazz bass library with a clear, detailed sound.
by David Keenum, Nov. 2017
All About That Bass
I’ll admit it. A double bass library has never been high on my wish list. In my mind it is a functional instrument but nothing much to get excited about. However, this library has really changed my mind. It has a nice, clear, detailed sound, and it’s fun to play. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s go over the terminology. The double bass is also called the “upright bass”, the “standup bass”, the “acoustic bass”, and even, at times, the “contrabass”. They’re all the same instrument, just different names. It has four strings, usually tuned to E, A, D, and G. Yes, that is exactly the range of a four-string bass guitar.
If you pluck the strings it is called pizzicato in orchestral music. Pizzicato means “plucked.” And the plucked articulation is used in most popular music styles. Rockabilly, old blues, bluegrass, and jazz all use a plucked double bass. Even the song, All About That Bass, uses a plucked double bass. This library could possibly be used in all of the above-mentioned styles of music, but it is missing the slapped sound used in bluegrass and rockabilly. Otherwise this library would be appropriate for any of these musical styles.
The Simple Jazz Bass ( https://fluffyaudio.com/shop/simplejazzbass/ ) sells for €49 EUR or $49 USD. It is delivered as a download link. Installation on my iMac 4GHz using macOS Sierra 10.12.6 went without any complications. I just unpacked the files and created a folder in my “Kontakt Libraries” folder.
The website has two videos that both demonstrate the instruments as well as walk through the features. These videos do a really good job of explaining what you get with this library. The first video walks you through the interface, while the second video contains a screenshot of a piano and Simple Jazz Bass version of the Steve Swallow song, Falling Grace, probably made most famous by Jim Hall and Pat Metheny. In both videos you can plainly hear the Simple Jazz Bass in action, and I can attest that the sound on the videos reflects what Simple Jazz Bass sounds like when I play it.
The interface (GUI) has only two windows – simple! The first window covers what Fluffy Audio calls articulations: Polyphonic, Legato, Glissando, and FX, as well as a mixer with two microphone perspectives, and a Reverb adjustment. The second window covers the “under-the hood” type settings: engine accuracy (useful for saving computer resources), neighbor-note round robin (more on this shortly), attack, release volume, legato velocity, smart legato, and compression.
Although I played around with all the settings, I found that I liked the factory settings just fine. I made good use of the legato function, but I had less success with the glissando and FX settings. I don’t mean this as a criticism of these features. I may have failed to figure out the correct playing style. I can say that by using notes a half-step or full-step apart gave me the ability to do glissandos.
First of all, I’d like to say that I really enjoy the sound of the instrument. Not sure if it’s the “wooden” tone or the sound of the finger plucking the string, but there is detail to the sound. It sounds alive and real. I compared Simple Jazz Bass to the Jazz Upright and the Upright Bass instruments in the Kontakt Factory Library. Neither came close to Simple Jazz Bass’s detail. Both, to me, sounded more compressed, with the bass frequencies emphasized. Also, I could tell a difference in the way the notes ended, the Release Samples. Simple Jazz Bass “felt” real. The instrument is advertised as a solo instrument, and I believe it delivers.
If I were to have a complaint, it would be my desire for round-robin samples – where the instrument uses a different sample when you retrigger the same note. Fluffy Audio decided to use what they called “neighbor-note RR,” where they pitch neighboring notes rather than use true round robin. Solo, I could hear the difference on some notes in the lowest octave, but, frankly, it wasn’t that noticeable in a mix situation.
I have spent a good bit of time with this instrument, mainly because I enjoy playing it. In retrospect, maybe I’ve short changed the Upright Bass. Maybe, just maybe, it is All About That Bass!