I'm not new to music, but a newbie at sound design ! Hence I'm having a lot of fun, but all this is a bit... Hm, overwhelming, to say the least.

Anyway, I'm looking to recreate something similar to the distorted bass/lead that comes with the pluck in Awolnation - Sail. I think it's a great way to add punch to a more melodic song, and I'd like to play around this kind of sound. Any idea where to start ?

Oh, and I'm using Massive for most of my MIDI sounds.

Thanks !

2 Answers 2


The base of the bassline is a sawtooth wave.

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In order to recreate the bassline I used 2 Oscillators. One peek wave for maximal crispness and a sawtooth wave transformed 1 octave lower to add weight. I added an Ensemble effect to the peek wave to get a somewhat phat stero-ish effect. Slight adjustments with an Equalizer included a little subtraction below 100hz, a little boost around 150hz and a little subtraction above 3khz. Everything got rounded off with a little distortion. I made sure all the plug-ins that I used were 100% free and available for download in the links below.

The result is pretty close to the original:


lets break the sound up into three parts.

Sound/texture, Chords and Effects

Sound Texture if you were to play one of the sounds in the chord it would be a string instrument, akin to the violin. Im sure you would of heard or seen the somewhere a violinist plucking strings on their violin. If you were to sample this, that would be a great place to start. Re-creating such sounds from a vst with oscillators would be super convoluted.

http://www.vst4free.com/free_vst.php?id=2296 I just did a quick google search for free violin vst plugins, the actual video demo doesn't demonstrate exactly the effect you are looking for, but the knobs on it will make it possible if you were to set the attack to like 5 percent, decay at like 20-40% the sustain at the similar amount. and release would be at about 50%.


laying out the midi notes that you are after in the chords that you are after.


the best approach you want to use is the ADSR volume this is akin to the "ENV" tab modulator in massive. This modulation can be added to the volume of an osc's or it can be added to the cutoff. Ill leave that experimentation up to you to decide.

in this case to re-create this sound use the vst i mentioned earlier.

Now that we have the pluck, it needs to be washed out and have lots of reverb.

reverb plugins come native with any daw you have

This may not be exactly what you are after. but its definitely a point in the right direction.

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