Review: Orange Tree Iconic Bass: Jaco

Sampled electric bass for Native Instruments Kontakt
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For Iconic Bass: Jaco, Orange Tree re-created its namesake’s fretless bass setup, using the same gauge of round-wound strings and recording with a DI, as was Pastorius’ preference. The library loads into Native Instruments Kontakt (2.0 or later) and offers a choice of neck, middle, and bridge picking positions. Round-robin cycling and an Autoplay feature keep the tonal differences in line by randomly choosing adjacent positions in between.

Pastorius’ unique vibrato, slides, harmonics, ghosted, and X-notes are all accounted for. Equally remarkable is the depth of expression the set affords without getting into keyswitches or MIDI CC maneuvers; the stuff that animates Iconic Bass is, with few exceptions, under your fingertips as you play. The C just below the instrument’s low D triggers hyper-realistic vibrato samples, with stronger velocities increasing the intensity. A halfstep above the vibrato trigger, you can mute the currently played note and trigger a sample of a left-hand slap to damp the string. By default, a sustain pedal triggers realistic slide samples, up or down between notes.

Three basic control areas— Performance, Mapping, and Tone— let you shape the overall response and sound of the instrument. The adjustments for legato performance are noteworthy, with lower Threshold settings restricting the instrument to a monophonic, legato performance if notes aren’t played simultaneously. You can further shape the instrument’s tone using the tasty amp and cabinet impulse responses along with controls for blending the IR with the direct sample.

Iconic Bass: Jaco is the most faithful sample-based instrument I’ve seen for re-creating Jaco’s style of fretless playing: The tone of the instrument—from the woody, bridge-pickup attack to the syrupy, neck-position legato maneuvers— is all there. Check out the online demo files: I’m confident you’ll be as convinced as I am.


Former Electronic Musician editor Marty Cutler wishes banjoists gigged as much as bass players.