This a Serum sound design tutorial in words. You’ll learn how to make a deep house bass from scratch, starting with a melody, how to layer it with drums, and then add some FX to make it sound extra dirty.
Creating the Dirty Bass Melody
Let’s just get right into it with the piano! Start with a G note. This isn’t actually random. The G note has a lot of frequencies where the sub bass is most present and noticeable, and the rule is more bass equals more energy, so this will give our bassline and drop that extra energy.
But which notes next? learn to listen and let your ears guide you.
The D and D sharp work together, they’re ‘catchy’. Go further by humming the notes you experiment with, going lower to end up with the second bar. Keep the same 1 16th note rhythm but mix up the notes. Copy and paste what you have so far and just add a note for variation to keep it interesting.
Making the Bass Sounds
Now you’re going to learn two ways to make sounds:
- The first gives you more control. First go to analog basic shapes and hit sine wave table. Move the oscillator down two octaves. Use oscillator B as a FM signal for oscillator A, and you can take down the volume since we’re only using it as a signal. Hit sine wave table on this and select FM from B to the warp knob in oscillator. You can now play with the knob changing the amount of FM which will affect the character of the sound.
- The second method is simpler. Again select FM wavetable from the digital wave table section, and select FM freak. This wave table position knob will change the character of the sound and you can play around with the envelope if you want a more Plucky bass. Now bring the sustain down and decrease Decay around 550 milliseconds to make your bass sound deeper.
- You’re going to want to add a filter and let it open up at a certain destination. There’s no fixed amount to use so tweak it until it sounds good to you. Remember to trust yourself!
Processing the Bass Sound
Next use the compressor to control the dynamic range of the sound. The goal here is gain reduction. Tweak the knobs until you like how it sounds, and again, trust yourself!
Another idea: bring the Rand knob all the way down. This way, the notes play in the same spot on the wave table each time making the sound more consistent. Now some soft clipping and distortion to smoothly saturate the bass sound.
Next EQ to boost the low end. Around three decibels so that the sub bass frequencies pop out more. You can stop here, but you could also go further!
Widening the Bass Sound
Let’s make the bass wider by putting some of the mid frequencies of the bass and stereo with some reverb:
Use a high cut filter on oscillator A to remove the very low end of your bass. Cut frequencies below 121 Hertz. Those ones will just keep mono. Now use the sub oscillator to fill up the frequencies we just removed. Make it one octave lower and hit the direct knob. This will prevent the sub oscillator from being influenced by effects we’re about to add. The more you increase the oscillator, the more sub bass frequencies you’re going to have. Now add effects to your mid bass to make it wider.
Reverb is pretty common in deep house and it gives it a dope vibe. Just make sure to increase the low cut on your reverb because the low end and your reverb will make a muddy mix. Now you can add cores to make it wider and bring the filter down to 600 Hertz to make sure it’s only affecting the low mids here.
The Hyperdimension tool makes the sound even wider. Use some trial and error to find what you like.
Tip: play with a detune knob together with the raid setting to add more attack to it. Use the noise oscillator to let a short envelope determine the volume of this noise to add some good attack. Then, link your envelope to the volume knob and use an analog noise for this purpose. If you want even more attack, link the same envelope to the pitch oscillator of A to increase it more. And there is your bass done!
Making The Drum Beat
Now let’s add drums so we can hear how it sounds in context.
To start, sidechain your bass using this Kickstart plug-in, which creates a bit of space for the kick to punch through, and speaking of kick – choose a punchy one. If the kick is very long, make it shorter to match your bass more. Drag and drop a clap (use a sample pack) and use the out knob to make it sound more together by removing the release. Next a pre-shifted clap to introduce the clap. Just make sure you set the BPM of the sample accordingly and reduce some sustain to make it tighter.
Now drop a hat to get that classic deep house sound, using it only every half beat in the last 8 bars to make the soundtrack more interesting. This fill creates a transition between the first and second part of the draw, but add a drum loop to make the rhythm a bit more interesting.
Just one more part to go! First, downlifter on when the drop kicks in. Sidechain it to make some room for the transient of the kick. Some ambience to fill up the track a bit more in the second part. This adds a lot of energy when in the mix. Also consider automations on the wave table. It doesn’t get boring as it repeats variations, which makes all the difference in your track by automating the knob and linking it to the wave table position. And then it’s all done!
Time to listen to it!
What Samples or Presets can help?
Samples from Euphoria, the deep house sample pack, make the process much smoother. It lets you quickly drag and drop the sounds you need. It has 410 samples and Loops 145 serum presets, and five fops to help you produce faster.
The Final Note on Deep House Bass From Scratch
Just remember, guys, this is music – it’s subjective. Take what you like from the tutorial and change what you don’t. It’s all about finding your own sound, so trust your ears and trust yourself.