While there are many different ways to process and enhance the sound of your bassline, one of the most beneficial ones is surely harmonic distortion. There are different types of devices that generate harmonic distortion, and one of the most pleasant to the human ear has to be the sound of tube or solid-state amplifiers. This effect will not only enhance your sound but also color it in a special way. In the next tutorial, we will show you how to use an effect that generates harmonic distortion for your bassline. 

As usual, we have made a short sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW. It contains all the essential elements of a full mix, including the bassline. As the bassline is one of the main pillars of electronic music, it needs to sound good and cut through the mix properly. Let’s first listen to the kick drum and the bassline unprocessed.

~Kick Drum & Bassline – Unprocessed

As we can hear from the example above, the kick drum and bassline sound decent, but the latter is pushed way too much in the background. However, with some harmonic distortion, we should be able to enrich its sound without losing impact on the low part of the frequency spectrum.

In order to do that, we have chosen a plugin called Shinechilla by Voxengo. First, let’s put a new instance of the plugin on the bassline channel.

Shinechilla is a harmonic distortion generator that uses a threshold as a trigger. This is important since many exciters not only give little flexibility on harmonic control, but they are always on and affecting the signal. The amount of processed signal is then controlled with a “Mix” knob or parameter.

However, real tubes and transformers act like the Shinechilla Threshold. They produce harmonics in gradual increments after a certain threshold is crossed. It’s one of the reasons they sound the way they do. Therefore, the absence of this behavior can be one of the reasons many other software exciters sound artificial.

The Shinechilla parameters

On the Shinechilla interface, we can see the spectrum analyzer taking a big portion of the overall image. On the bottom part, there are a number of tabs for Threshold, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Harmonic, Saturation, and Out volume. If you click on any of these tabs you will notice the white horizontal line that appears over the image of the spectrum analyzer. You can set the position of the Threshold, Harmonics, Overall volume, etc. by dragging the left and right points of the horizontal line. 

It’s also possible to fully mute the 2nd,3rd, 4th Harmonic, and Dry signal, by pressing the tabs at the bottom right. 

The sound of our bassline with harmonic distortion

Now let’s move to some practical audio examples. Here is how our bassline sounds unprocessed and then processed with Shinechilla.

~Bassline – Unprocessed

~Bassline – Processed With Shinechilla

Now we can hear a lot of harmonic content added to the bassline. Shinechilla is not only useful on bassline sounds. We encourage you to experiment and use it on other instruments as well.

Finally, let’s hear how the full mix sounds with the unprocessed and processed basslines.

~Full Mix – Bassline Unprocessed

~Full Mix – Bassline Processed With Shinechilla