Monday , May 20 2024
This software emulates the classic 4003 line of basses and has been officially approved by Rickenbacker.

Software Review: “Scarbee Rickenbacker Bass” from Native Instruments

Scarbee Rickenbacker Bass is one of the newest products from Native Instruments and is also included in the new Komplete 9 Ultimate that has just been released as well. It is modeled on the Rickenbacker 4003 Bass and for the first time, this is an instrument that has been officially approved by Rickenbacker.

The Rickenbacker Corporation has been around since 1932, was the first to produce electric guitars, and by 1957 began producing bass instruments with the introduction of the 4000 series. The 4003 line was introduced in 1980 and is still in production today. With its distinctive sound, this Rickenbacker bass has been used by such luminaries as Paul McCartney, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, John Entwistle of the Who, Chris Squire of Yes, and Geddy Lee of Rush.

The software comes as two separate instruments. The first is the standard Rickenbacker 4003 bass, which has a big sound with a long sustain. It has rich overtones that complement the tight, deep low end. With three different pickup settings, it provides for very different timbres, and the bass was recorded using the “Rick-O-Sound” stereo outputs. The second contains the palm-muted sound. To get this sound, additional care had to be taken to capture the difficult-to-record palm pressure changes and how they affect the overall muting level. Both instruments were recorded by Thomas Skarbye.

Scarbee Rickenbacker Bass is powered by either the free KONTAKT player that comes with the package, or by using the full stand-alone KONTAKT 5 product which also comes with the Native Instruments Komplete 9 Ultimate software.

This bass is ideal for distortion, and the first Scarbee bass to be played with a pick. Rickenbacker Bass delivers all the character and versatility of the original. It was recorded using stainless steel Rotosound strings direct into Pro Tools with premium Mogami cables and a Metric Halo LIO-8 preamp, assuring that every nuance of this legendary bass came through in pristine quality.

The Rickenbacker Bass navigation window consists of several areas. At the bottom is a pane that provides information about the various controls on the screen. There is a presets box that allows you to load or save presets containing all of the instrument settings such as the selected pickup, the volume, tone settings, and all of the effects for the amplifier, cabinet, compressor, tape and EQ.

To see the settings for the bass, you click on the body of the guitar, which brings up the controls. You have the ability to choose the neck pickup, the bridge pickup, or both. You can control the tone as well as the “Rick-O-Sound” – a simulated stereo effect that was designed by Rickenbacker. This makes use of both pickups and divides their signals through two different amps.

By clicking on the amplifier – the top for the controls and the bottom for the cabinets – you can modify the sound even further. On the head you have control over the gain, preamp, bass, mid, treble, presence, and the master volume. For the cabinets, you have a choice of seven configurations.

Next to the amp is a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Click on the top of the recorder and you can control the input gain, low-frequency boost (warmth), high-frequency boost (tone), and output level. Clicking on the middle of the recorder gives you the compressor and its settings, and the bottom is the equalizer and its settings.


Finally there are the instrument user interface and the keyboard layout at the bottom of screen. The instrument shows the strings, the hand position, the note being played, and the name of the last triggered articulation. The hand position is designated by a bar along the top of the strings. When you play a note, the next note played will automatically be chosen to be a string and position closest to that hand position, providing the minimum of effort.

Through the use of key switches you also have complete control of the sounds you can create. You can control sustains, mutes, down strokes, up strokes, hammer-ons, pull-off and more. You can even go into manual mode to select which string to use as a default whenever possible. You can even set your default hand position via key switch.

With the Sound and Performance settings you can control sound parameters such as vibrato speed and control, scrape offset and mix, release level and decay, and instrument noise. The performance settings give you the choice of pop & country, soul & funk, and rock & retro. You can control the auto stroke detection, tolerance of how many milliseconds apart notes can be played, control of the hand position, and control of the slide mode.

I really love the interface that comes with the Scarbee Rickenbacker Bass. Not only does it give you a lot of options, it is very intuitive to use. Because of the use of KONTAKT, you have a nice effect chain through the Jump Amp and the other effects via the Solid Mix Series.

I found the Scarbee Rickenbacker Bass very easy to use and in keeping with the standard of all of the Native Instrument products, with a very high sound quality. When you add to that all of the variations of sound that you can create from this bass, it is really incredible and because of that I really have to highly recommend the Scarbee Rickenbacker Bass.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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