I thought I would share my attempt at emulating the synth bass sound in Michael Jackson’s Thriller using the Roland GR-55 guitar synthesizer and my Ibanez bass equipped with a Roland GK-3B bass pickup.
First of all, the pickup and controller installation on my bass is not ideal from a playability standpoint due to the shape and layout of my bass.I have tried mounting it in various locations and where I have it now seems to be the best compromise.One of the annoying things about the controller is that the volume knob is very loose and super easy to bump while playing which results in unintended consequences!To remedy that I pulled the knob off the shaft and added an O-ring around the shaft and put some foam into the inside knob cavity.That really tightened it up so accidental volume changes are not an issue anymore for me.The other problem is the S1/S2 switches are also easy to bump, but by being careful during playing I have been able to avoid them.However, I would like to find a more fool proof solution.If you have any ideas, let me know!
GR-55 Floorboard Settings
In the video below, the first image is the main page in the GR-55 Floorboard Editor (courtesy of Gumtown on Vguitarforums.com) and as it shows, for the Thriller patch I am using two PCM synth sounds, number 241 Synth Bass 2 and 18 Fretless Bass as well as an electric bass COSM model and some of my normal pickups blended in.I found that having the electric bass blended in added a little more definition which is needed for the staccato parts in Thriller.
The image for PCM Synth 1 shows the details for that tone.I believe that a Mini Moog was used in the Jackson recording.There is a PCM tone in the GR-55 called Big Mini that I thought could be a Moog like tone, but when I used it the sound just wasn’t right.So I auditioned more PCM tones and finally settled on 241.
The image for PCM Synth 2 shows the details for that tone which is for tone 218 Fretless Bass 1.This gave the sound it a little more edge.
The next image is for the electric bass COSM model, which in this case is number 4, Precision Bass.As you can see I have the volume and tone at 100 %.
And finally, the last screen is for the amp that I chose:A clean bass amp with middle gain.Next is a short sample of how the GR-55 Thriller Bass patch sounds.
Here is a short video I recorded while in Hawaii of the Royal Hawaiian Concert Band performing the song “Kuhio Bay“. This was on the lawn, under an enormous tree, in front of the Iolani Palace built by the Kingdom of Hawaii. As described on the band’s website, it was “Founded in 1836 by King Kamehameha III, the Royal Hawaiian Band is the only band in the United States with a royal legacy and is currently an agency of the City and County of Honolulu. The mission of the band is to promote music, preserve Hawaiian musical culture, inspire young musicians, and enrich the lives of the people of Hawai‘i…..From its royal beginnings in 1836, the Royal Hawaiian Band has entertained audiences in Hawai‘i and around the world for 180 years. Once known as the “King’s Band,” it was created by King Kamehameha III and became a staple of daily life by performing for state occasions, funerals, and marching in parades. The band accompanied Hawaiian monarchs on frequent trips to the outer islands, bringing music to remote destinations of the kingdom, such as the leper colony of Kalaupapa on the island of Moloka‘i.”
I thought I would share a few photos from my last trip to Hawaii. This visit was on the island of O’ahu. The photo gallery includes a picture of the stained glass window at the rear of St. Augustine church on Waikiki, flying guitars in Hard Rock Cafe – Honolulu and other miscellaneous scenes around the island. Every time I go to O’ahu I enjoy visiting the somber Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. We also paid a visit to Iolani Palace, home to the last Hawaiian royalty, which included attending a concert on the lawn outside by the Royal Hawaiian Concert Band.
In October 2015 I released my cover of “Spooky”…….Just in time for Halloween….you can play my version of some Spooky music at your party or as background music as you open the door for Trick or Treaters.
This is my instrumental version of Spooky…..arranged, performed (Yes, that’s me playing electric guitar, string bass, keyboard and synthesizer.) and recorded by me. Spooky was a billboard hit for the group Classics IV in 1968 and then again in the late 1970s for the Atlanta Rhythm Section (ARS). Spooky however, was originally composed by Mike Sharpe (Shapiro) and recorded as a saxophone jazz instrumental.
Per Wikipedia, “Mike composed the tune along with help from Harry Middlebrooks and recorded the song at Liberty Records. The Mike Sharpe version of Spooky peaked at #57 on the Billboard Pop Hot 100, which was pretty good for a Jazz group. The Classics IV version of the song added lyrics which we all associate with the song and as a single it peaked at # 3 in the US as a pop single.
In 1979 ARS covered the song and released it on “Underdog”, and according to the album’s entry on Wikipedia, “The album contained two songs which reached the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
In the cool of the evening when ev’rything is gettin’ kind of groovy, I call you up and ask you if you want to go and meet and see a movie, First you say no, you’ve got some plans for the night, And then you stop, and say, “All right.” Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you. You always keep me guessin’, I never seem to know what you are thinkin’. And if a fella looks at you, it’s for sure your little eye will be a-winkin’. I get confused, ’cause I don’t know where I stand, And then you smile, and hold my hand. Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you. Spooky! If you decide someday to stop this little game that you are playin’, I’m gonna tell you all what my heart’s been a-dyin’ to be sayin’. Just like a ghost, you’ve been a-hauntin’ my dreams, So I’ll propose… on Halloween. Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you. Spooky, Spooky, Spooky, Oh-whoa, all right, I said Spooky!
As time allows I have been transcribing into notation some of my music and making that available on this site. The full score for Opus 1 in my Bluesy Bach series of recordings, Bluesy Bach – Opus 1 (Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring), is now available for purchase. This piece is scored for four electric guitars, violin 1, violin 2, viola and cello, contrabass, electric bass 1, electric bass 2, timpani and two drum kits. The drum kit parts are only an approximation as notating drum parts is exceedingly difficult, at least for me!
This was my first venture into rearranging Bach to take on a blues groove and was with his, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”. Per Wikipedia, it “is the most common English title of a piece of music derived from the 10th and last movement of the cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 (“Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life”), composed by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1716 and 1723.”
Bach scored this piece for choir, trumpet, violin, optionally oboe, viola, and basso continuo. As I said, my arrangement is scored for scored for four electric guitars, violin 1, violin 2, viola and cello, contrabass, electric bass 1, electric bass 2, timpani and two drum kits. The guitar plays the violin 1 melody and the double bass plays the choir lines. A preview of the score and the full score are available for purchase in the sheet music store.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I had a busy spring and summer, so now I am playing catch up with my web site. I had created a ringtone for Bluesy Bach Opus 4 (Arioso Für Elise) a few months ago, but forgot to post it until now.
And furthermore, YOU can help support independent music creation, by going to my music store page. Once you are there, please BUY ringtones (or song, or videos) for ANY amount you choose to pay. All payments may be done SECURELY through PayPal.
The music store page contains ringtones that are already in the Apple .m4r format.