Bass VST Plugins: 15 Of The Best in 2018!

Plugins 39 Comments

Is your music lacking energy and power, but you don’t know how to fix it?

In most cases, this means you’re probably lacking bass.

Whether you’re at the club or at a rock concert, the soul of a track and what you feel is always the low-end, punch of the bass. Without it, a song would feel empty and weak.

Getting the low-end right in your production can be the defining factor that either makes or breaks your track.

So the question is, how do you get it right?

The first step is indeed having the right source material, which means owning the right plugins for the job.

Lucky for you, there’s a wide range of bass tools on the market which are specialized in all sorts of low-end variations.

In this guide, we will outline the 15 best VST plugins in this category, ranging from multi-sampled instruments, synth basses, and futuristic bass solutions.

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A Few Considerations

Before we get into the technical details, there are a few terms you need to get familiar with to fully understand the information below.

Multi-Sampled Instruments: these instruments are composed of many different samples and layers of the same instrument.

For example, a piano would be sampled multiple times on the same note to capture the different velocities and timbres that each variation creates.

One thing to be aware of: since these instruments are based off of a huge library of samples, they’ll often require lots of hard drive space, so it’s recommended that you install the libraries on an external hard drive.

Because of the size, you also need to make sure the hard drive has a fast transfer speed, preferably with a thunderbolt cable or a USB 3.0. These are not cheap drives, so factor this into your budget when considering a VST with multi-sampled instruments.

A lot of producers use the LaCie Rugged hard-drive which is very portable, fast, and durable.

Software Synthesizer Instruments: synth-based plugins reproduce sounds using a variety of digital waveforms to recreate sounds of realistic instruments or modern bass sounds. These don’t require as much hard drive space and can, in most cases, be installed on your computer without needing to worry about extra storage.

Synth Emulations: many of the tools on our list are attempts to reproduce the sound of famous hardware synths or real bass guitars. While it’s hard to exactly reproduce the sound and character of the original analog machines, some software developers have come really close to the point where it’s hard to tell the difference! The ones we have included are some of the best emulations of classic bass synths.

Let’s now get into these 15 unique bass plugins!

15 Of The Best Bass VST Plugins in 2018

1. Trilian by Spectrasonics [299 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-trilian

Main Features:

  • One of the most comprehensive bass plugins on the market
  • Easy customization and user-friendly interface
  • Huge library of sounds (34 GB)
  • Over 200 effect parameters
  • Layer up to 8 patches

While it was released in 2009, Trillian is still one of the most versatile, advanced, and comprehensive bass plugins available on the market.

This is because this tool has a huge library of acoustic basses and replicas of hardware synthesizers such as Moog, Yamaha CS-80, or Dave Smith Tetra.

With over over 34 GB of sampled instruments, you won’t find a more comprehensive library of bass plugins on the market. All these instruments can also be expressed in different style variations like fingered, picked, fretless, slapped, muted, and many more.

An incredible feature is the ability to combine up to eight different patches at the same time, all with their individual parameters and modulations.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for some quick bass sounds, or an experienced sound designer looking for the most powerful plugin of this kind, anyone can make use of this versatile plugin!

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac as VST, AU, and AAX.

Download Demo/Listen

2. Substance by Output [199 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-substance

Main Features:

  • Unique 3-layer engine to create futuristic basslines
  • Four central macro sliders to control the main parameters in real time
  • Advanced arpeggiator
  • Preset menu with over 300 presets and smart tagging
  • Assign effects to each layer, or directly on the global tab

Output is famous for creating unconventional breakthrough plugins such as Exhale, Signal, and Analog Strings.

Substance is their new powerful bass engine. It’s engineered to combine heavily processed electric and acoustic basses with brass instruments, massive polysynths, and dirty analog synths, all into one instrument.

If you’re passionate about creating new experimental and powerful sounds, this is the perfect tool for you.

The secret behind this tool is the ability to combine up to three layers of a varied sound sources and blend them together with effects, filters, and modulations. Get ready to experiment!

As a result, don’t expect this plugin to reproduce a realistic acoustic bass, but rather to push the boundaries of what’s been done with electronic bass design.

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac. Runs in Kontakt or Free Kontakt player version 5.5.1 or higher.

Download Demo/Listen

3. Bassline – 101 by TAL [60 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-bassline 101

Main Features:

  • Monophonic bass-synth emulation of the Roland SH 101
  • Self-oscillating 24 dB resoland lowpass filter, ADSR envelopes, LFO controls
  • Polyphonic 6 voice mode
  • Built-in arpeggiator and sequencer
  • 300 presets at your fingertips

Back in 1982, Roland SH 101 gave us some amazing, punchy, and tight basslines. This excellent digital emulation beautifully captures the spirit of the original.

Its oscillators produce a raw, analog inspired sound without the use of any samples. To complement the quality of the oscillators, the effects and filters add a smooth polish to model the sound to your taste.

While being a monophonic tool, TAL also added a new polyphonic feature, which allows you to operate using up to six voices for a richer sound.

While you shouldn’t expect to find the richness of a Minimoog or the sound of the original SH 101, it still packs lots of character and a solid sound for an affordable price.

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac as VST, AU, and AAX.

Download Demo/Listen

4. Bass Line 3 by Audiorealism [95 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-abl3

Main Features:

  • Affordable and powerful emulation of the Roland TB-303
  • Wave analyzer to transcribe your 303 patterns
  • Real-time randomizer
  • Hands-on approach by mapping parameters to a MIDI controller

As another plugin designed to emulate the iconic Roland TB-303, this digital alternative offers the same rich sound of the original. It also introduced new handy features such as the wave analyzer and randomizer.

This tool allows you to have a hands-on approach, similar to the original, by mapping parameters like cutoff, resonance, and other familiar controls to your preferred MIDI controller.

This is very handy if you plan to play live or record patterns and variations in real time. Even creating patterns on the step sequencer is extremely simple and intuitive.

If you’re a fan of that acid 303 sound and are not ready to invest in a vintage one, this will be a reliable and quality alternative!

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac as VST, AU, and AAX.

Download Demo/Listen

5. SubBoomBass2 by Rob Papen [99 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-subboom bass

Main Features:

  • Modern sound engine for deep low-ends
  • Unique waveforms derived from pitched down samples of different instruments
  • Easy Edit mode, ideal for fast tweaking and beginners
  • High quality presets offer unusual sounds
  • Onboard step sequences and Free Modulation mode

Engineered by world-class sound designer Rob Papen, SubBoomBass isn’t your traditional organic sounding bass plugin.

With sounds generated from unusual waveforms, derived from pitched down samples, you can expect to achieve unique and deep low-end boom.

On top of sporting basic VST options and effects, it introduces a new “Wave-Sequence” feature to open up new sonic possibilities for your sounds.

Furthermore, it features a very useful “Easy Edit” which reduces the number of controls for fast tweaking and is ideal for beginner producers.

You can also play with its step sequencer or the “Free Modulation mode”, which offers additional LFO’s and envelopes to assign to multiple parameters of your choice.

If you make hip-hop, R&B, or any bass prominent genre, this plugin will be a solid addition to your arsenal.

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac as VST, AU, and AAX.

Download Demo/Listen

6. Cyclop by Sugar Bytes [99 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-cyclop

Main Features:

  • Unique wobble generator ideal for creating unusual evolving bass sounds
  • Monophonic engine
  • Deep editing and modulation controls
  • Gate sequencer, 16-step sequencer, and an automation recorder
  • Eight programmable FX slots

Cyclop is a monophonic digital Bass synth, engineered to produce fat and evolving digital-sounding basses. Its focus? Cutting-edge low-ends.

The feature that stands out in this tool is the wobble knob, which allows you to choose from a selection of LFO shapes to modulate the synth and filter parameters at a tempo-synced rate.

For additional tweaking and sound mangling, you can activate the 16-step sequencer or the automation recorder.

Once you’re ready to take this plugin to new grounds, you can also start importing your own samples as wavetables! But don’t worry, if you’re not into deep editing, you can play with over 800 presets!

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac as VST, AU, and AAX.

Download Demo/Listen

7. Chris Hein Bass by Chris Hein [230 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-chris hein

Main Features:

  • Over 12 GB of meticulously multi-sampled bass instruments
  • 42 articulations to choose from and a mode to play chords
  • Eight built-in effects
  • Runs on Kontakt player

Because some instruments were made up using over 4,000 different samples in this plugin, you can expect a level of realism that is unmatched in any other software instrument.

That’s because every single note was recorded over an over, catching different velocity levels, playing styles, possible variations, and artifacts that the player might produce.

What adds to the realism of these sampled real basses, is the variety of articulations and playing styles you can choose from, giving the listener the impression that it’s really played by a world-class bassist.

You can expect to find an assortment of E-Basses, Fretless, and Upright Basses.

While the engine is a little outdated (Kontakt 2, but runs on newer versions as well), and it doesn’t include any synthetic sounds, we can’t deny that these basses sound authentic.

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac. Runs in Kontakt or Free Kontakt player version 2 or higher.

Download Demo/Listen

8. Scarbee Rickenbacker Bass by Native Instruments [99 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-scarbee

Main Features:

  • Crisp and detailed emulation of the Rickenbacker 4003 Bass, ideal for pop and rock
  • Choose between palm-muted and open picked playing modes for a realistic performance
  • Add unique Kontakt effect chains and the unique Jump Amp for additional power and crunch

As we enter the sphere of organic sounding basses, there’s no doubt the Scarbee series by Native Instruments is the best emulation on the market.

Emulating the world famous Rickenbacker 4003, which is considered to have defined some of the best pop and rock records in history, this Kontakt multi-sampled instrument delivers the same character and versatility of the original instrument, while packing new sonic variations.

The meticulously sampled instrument can be reproduced using multiple playing styles.

Its sound is powered by a newly developed Guitar Rig Jump Amp and quality native Instruments, EQs, compressors, and saturators.

If you’re looking for that authentic Rickenbacker sound for your pop, rock, and organic records, you can’t go wrong with this pick. Make sure to also check out other Scarbee variations by Native Instruments.

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac. Runs in Kontakt or Free Kontakt player version 5 or higher.

Download Demo/Listen

9. Phoscyon by D16 [59 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-phoscyon

Main Features:

  • One of the best Roland TB-303 emulations, ideal for acid bass sounds
  • Great tweaking potential compared to the original hardware, with additional parameter controls, sequencer, randomizer, and arpeggiator
  • Powerful distortion unit built-in

No matter what genre you make, the TB-303 has always been a classic bass-line synth to own because of its unique, acid, and raw sound.

While many have tried to digitally emulate this iconic sound, few have come close. The D16 is certainly one of the best sounding emulations on the market.

Just like the original, a mixture of saw and square waves make up the core engine with a clear 18 dB/ octave low-pass filter.

What sets this tool apart from the original, and other reproductions, are a bunch of new interesting features which include a sequencer, arpeggiator, randomizer, and a gritty distortion unit.

While this tool might not reproduce such a wide range of sounds like some of the other plugins on this list, it certainly does its job well to recreate the classic 303 character in a digital package, at an affordable price.

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac as VST and AU.

Download Demo/Listen

10. ManyBass by Manytone [140 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-manybass

Main Features:

  • Features a 2.4 GB library of multisampled instruments, with a synth-style control engine
  • Sounds are split into deep, growl, and smooth variations, with multiple playing techniques
  • Load up to four different articulations, and switch between them seamlessly
  • Built in amplifiers and cabinet emulations as well as an effects rack

As the name hints, the ManyBass is an instrument designed to create cutting-edge bass guitar sounds.

The ability to choose from multi-sampled basses, or begin with a raw waveform to make synthetic bass sounds make this tool very versatile.

Something unique in this plugin is the ability to load up to four different articulations and switch between them using keyswitching or MIDI.

To make these sounds sit nicely in your mix, you have a selection of amp and cabinet mutations and an effects rack to add an extra edge to your sound.

Once you run out of options, you can also buy add-on packs with extra instruments.

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac as VST and AU.

Download Demo/Listen

11. Bass Bundle by Ilya Efimov [275 USD]

(requires full version of Kontakt)

cymatics-bass vst-bass bundle

Main Features:

  • Includes five multi-sampled bass libraries
  • Up to 12 velocity levels per sample and multiple articulations per instrument
  • Choose between various types of amps and effects from the Kontakt engine (you won’t be able to use this plugin if you don’t own the full version of Kontakt)
  • User-friendly interface

If you’re not familiar with Ilya Efimov, he’s a film composer, producer, songwriter, and also jazz pianist. In his spare time, he likes to make top quality sampled instrument libraries.

In this comprehensive bundle, you can expect to find emulations of a Fender Precision bass, a 1952 custom Fender, a custom 5-string studio bass from FBass, and other iconic bass models.

With the ability to choose a variety of playing articulations and up to 12 velocity layers per sample, it’ll be hard to tell the difference from a real-life performance. You can even opt-in to add fret and release noises!

This is another quality purchase if you’re aiming for that realistic bass sound in your music, as if it was recorded live!

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac. Runs in full version of Kontakt 5.6 or higher.

Download Demo/Listen

12. Shreddage Bass 2 by Impact Soundworks [99 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-shreddage

Main Features:

  • Custom-made 6-string electric bass ideal for heavier genres
  • Made up of over 11,000 samples and up to 32 samples per note
  • Virtual fretboard for visual feedback and deep tweaking
  • Custom built FX rack with amp cabinet simulations
  • Add finger noise, pop samples, and other artifacts to add realism to your performance

The name might hint that this electric bass emulation is most suited for rock and metal, but it might surprise you that it’s actually versatile and can be used for many other genres.

If you leave the heavy amps and processing on the sound, you get one of the cleanest and warmest sounding electric basses on the market.

Recorded with a handmade Muckelroy bass through the best tube preamp for maximum fatness and punch, you can expect this instrument to sound like the real thing.

You can also customize it with an assortment of playing articulations, round robins, and velocity layers. You can even program it to play open, legato, muted, or staccato notes.

Give it a shot if you’re looking for a premier electric bass with lots of character and realism!

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac. Runs in Kontakt or Free Kontakt player version 5.5.2 or higher.

Download Demo/Listen

13. BASiS by Vir2 [100 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-basis

Main Features:

  • Extensive 7 GB collection of electric, acoustic, and bass synth instruments, ideal for every genre and style
  • Playing modes and articulations are fully customizable
  • Built-in effects such as lo-fi, distortion, limiter, reverb, delays, and many more
  • Innovative legato tool and a customizable vibrato engine

BASiS is another comprehensive bass solution that packs a lot of power under its hood.

It comes with a collection of over 7 GB of diverse basses, such as a Rickenbacker, P-Bass, Jazz Bass, Musicman basses, Upright, and slap basses. In addition, you can play with over 100 patches of synth basses.

It’s super easy to use and there’s plenty of ways to customize your instruments and tone with multiple playing techniques and effects.

Like many of its competitors, it also randomly adds fret noises, release samples, and other player imperfections to improve the realism of each instrument.

While it’s not as comprehensive and massive as Trilian, it’s a very valid alternative for a fraction of the price.

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac. Runs in Kontakt or Free Kontakt player version 4 or higher.

Download Demo/Listen

14. Modo Bass by IK Multimedia [299 USD]

cymatics-bass vst-modobass

Main Features:

  • 12 classic electric bass guitar emulations at your fingertips
  • Because it’s a synth, it doesn’t require much storing space compared to multi-sampled instruments
  • Super easy to use and flexible to program
  • Finger, Pick, and Slap playing styles and adjustable playing strength, pick direction, slap style, left-hand positioning, player noises, and amount of muting.

While Modo Bass is a synth based instrument, you won’t be able to tell the difference from a recorded instrument when used in your mix.

You can pick from 12 different classic electric bass emulations, all tweakable to the bone, in order to make it sound like the real thing is in your hands.

You can find all features of other multi-sampled competitors, such as playing styles, slide, muting, pick position, vibrato, hand positioning, and player noises without the pain of having to carry around huge sample libraries.

It’s hard to believe a synth can sound so close to a real instrument, but in this case IK Multimedia went beyond what has ever been done in this field.

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac as VST, AU, and AAX.

Download Demo/Listen

15. Ample Bass P Liteby Ample Sound [FREE]

cymatics-bass vst-ample bass

Main Features:

  • Easy solution for achieving groovy and rock-oriented sounds
  • Choose amongst over 12 different playing styles such as palm mute, slap, legato slide, for a more realistic feel
  • Emulation of the Fender Precision Bass

If you need a great sounding electric bass plugin that will simply do its job, and don’t want to invest in one of the other bigger libraries and smyths above, you can count on the free Ample Bass P Lite 2.

Emulating the iconic Fender Precision Bass, it’s the perfect companion to more organic sounding genres such as pop, rock, and groovy styles.

There are over 12 realistic articulations you can choose from, which give the sound a realistic feel. The engine also automatically adds ear-candy articulations such as slapping on the strings or body, and players noises (which adds to the realism).

System Requirements: Available for Windows and Mac as VST, AU, AAX, or Standalone.

Select your global block.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is a huge variety of Bass plugins on the market, all with their own strengths and unique features.

By outlining them for you, we hope to have given you a good idea of which ones will be suitable for you.

We recommend downloading the demos of the ones you want to test on your productions to really get a feel for their sound and potential before investing in them.

Now we want to hear from you…

Which plugins are you using for your basses?

Are there any others worth adding to the list?

Let us know in the comment section below!

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Comments 39

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