what is a reese bass

What is a Reese Bass? Unraveling the Mystery

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Ever been in a club, feeling the music pulse through the air, and suddenly, a deep, growling bass shakes the room? That, my friends, is a Reese bass. It’s not just any bass sound; it’s a rich, complex beast that has dominated dance floors and tracks for decades. Originating from the realms of electronic music, the Reese bass is known for its thick, detuned texture that can vary from smooth to aggressively distorted, making it a favorite among producers and listeners alike.

History of Reese Bass: Kevin Saunderson and Ray Keith

The story of the Reese bass starts in the 80s, with a genius producer named Kevin Saunderson. In Detroit, Saunderson created a track that would become the cornerstone of the Reese bass phenomenon. Then, Ray Keith, another legendary figure, took this sound and spun it into the fabric of early jungle and drum & bass, cementing its place in dance music history. Their pioneering work showed the world the power of this unique sound, setting the stage for countless musical innovations.

The iconic sound of Reese Bass in Dance Music Subgenres

From techno to drum & bass, the Reese bass became a staple, defining the energy and vibe of many tracks. Its versatility is unmatched, able to adapt and fit into various dance music subgenres while still maintaining its distinct character. This iconic sound has been a game-changer, influencing not just producers but the evolution of the genres themselves.

electronic music producer making music in studio

Deep Dive into Reese Bass: Low-pass Filter, Phase Distortion Synth, and Detuned Oscillators

At its core, the Reese bass is a technical marvel. Producers craft this iconic sound using detuned oscillators to create its rich texture. Then, by adding a low-pass filter with just the right filter cutoff, the sound gets its warmth. Phase distortion synths also play a role, adding to the complexity and depth of the bass. Together, these elements create the unmistakable growl of the Reese bass.

Detuned OscillatorsTwo or more oscillators slightly detuned from each other to create rich, phasing harmonic interactions.
Low-pass FilterUsed to shape the frequency content by attenuating higher frequencies, resulting in a warm and smooth tone.
Phase Distortion SynthProvides complex and evolving timbres by modulating the phase of the waveform, adding depth and character.

Reese Bass’s Breakout Moment: The Jungle Classic

The moment the Reese bass truly broke out was with its incorporation into jungle music. A jungle classic track featured this bass, and suddenly, everyone wanted that sound. It was raw, it was powerful, and it perfectly complemented the fast-paced breaks of jungle, marking a pivotal moment in dance music.

Exploring the Aggressive Variants of Reese Bass

While the Reese bass started with a fairly smooth texture, producers soon began experimenting, creating more aggressive variants. These heavier versions pushed the boundaries of what the Reese bass could be, adding an edge to tracks that was previously unheard of. This evolution showcased the versatility and potential of the Reese bass to continually reinvent itself.

electronic music producer playing on midi keyboard

Reese Bass and the Casio CZ-5000

An interesting twist in the Reese bass saga is its connection to the Casio CZ-5000, a synthesizer known for its phase distortion capability. This synth became a favored tool for crafting the unique sound of the Reese bass, providing the means to explore its sonic possibilities further.

From Basic Sound to Complex Sounds: The Evolution of Reese Bass

The journey of the Reese bass from a basic sound to the complex, layered texture we know today is a testament to the creativity of producers. They’ve taken the foundational elements and pushed them, experimenting with modulation, effects, and synthesis techniques to continually evolve the sound.

Evolution StageDescription
Basic SoundOriginates from detuned oscillators with a low-pass filter, creating a foundational thick texture.
Layered TexturesProducers start layering multiple oscillators and applying modulation for richer, evolving tones.
Effects and ProcessingIntroduction of distortion, chorus, and other effects to add depth, character, and uniqueness.
Advanced ModulationExperimentation with advanced modulation techniques to achieve intricate movement and dynamics.
Sonic ExplorationConstant exploration of synthesis methods, effects chains, and sound design for new sonic frontiers.

The Role of the Original Sound in Electronic Music Production

The original sound of the Reese bass has never lost its charm or relevance in electronic music production. It serves as both inspiration and a foundation, a starting point for new explorations in sound. Its enduring appeal lies in its ability to convey emotion and energy, making it a timeless element in music.

Subtractive Synth vs. Wavetable Synth: Which is best for Reese Bass?

When it comes to creating a Reese bass, the debate between subtractive and wavetable synths is ongoing. Each has its advantages, with subtractive synths offering a classic approach and wavetable synths providing more flexibility in waveform manipulation. Ultimately, the choice depends on the producer’s preference and the specific sound they’re aiming to achieve.

Synth TypeSubtractive SynthWavetable Synth
DefinitionUses oscillators and filters to subtract harmonicsUtilizes pre-recorded waveforms to generate sound
Oscillator ControlOffers precise control over oscillator parametersLimited control over individual waveform parameters
Filter OptionsRich selection of filters for shaping the soundOften includes basic filter options
Detuning AbilityExcellent for detuning oscillators to create thick texturesDetuning capabilities may be limited depending on the synth
ModulationSupports extensive modulation optionsMay have fewer modulation options than subtractive synths
FlexibilityHighly flexible in sound shapingGenerally more straightforward in sound design
CustomizationAllows deep customization of sound through routing and modulationLimited customization compared to subtractive synths

Understanding the Bass Movement in Reese Bass

The movement in a Reese bass line is what gives it life. It’s not just about the notes played but how they’re manipulated over time. Modulating the filter cutoff, adjusting resonance, and playing with LFO rates all contribute to the dynamic, living texture of the Reese bass.

Bass Movement AspectDescription
Note ProgressionMovement of bass notes over time, often following a rhythmic or melodic pattern.
Filter ModulationDynamic adjustments to filter cutoff frequency, influencing the tone and timbre.
Resonance ControlManipulation of resonance settings for emphasizing certain frequencies in the bass.
LFO Rate AdjustmentModulating parameters like LFO rate to introduce rhythmic fluctuations in the bass.
Envelope TweakingFine-tuning envelope settings (e.g., attack, decay) to shape the bass’s transient.

How to Make a Reese Bass: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a Reese bass might seem daunting, but it’s all about understanding the basics and experimenting. Start with two oscillators, detune them slightly, add a low-pass filter, and then tweak from there. Play with distortion, chorus, and phaser effects to add character. Remember, the beauty of the Reese bass lies in its flexibility and the infinite variations you can create.


The Reese bass is more than just a sound; it’s a legacy in electronic music. From its roots with Kevin Saunderson to its role in defining entire subgenres, the Reese bass has proven its staying power and influence. Whether you’re a producer looking to master this sound or a listener simply enjoying the depth it adds to tracks, the Reese bass remains an enduring mystery, continually unraveling with each new track it graces.

Remember, the journey into the world of Reese bass is endless and ever-evolving. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make the sound your own. Happy producing!


Can I create a Reese bass without a synthesizer?

Yes! While hardware synths offer a tactile experience, software synths can also produce a fantastic Reese bass. It’s all about using the right techniques.

Is the Reese bass only for drum & bass music?

Not at all! While it’s a staple in drum & bass, the Reese bass has found its way into techno, dubstep, and beyond.

How important is detuning in creating a Reese bass?

Detuning is crucial. It’s what gives the Reese bass its thick, rich texture by creating slight phase differences between the oscillators.

Can beginners create a Reese bass?

Absolutely! With some basic knowledge of synthesis and a bit of experimentation, anyone can start creating their versions of this iconic sound.

Where can I find more resources on Reese bass?

There are countless tutorials online, both free and paid, that dive deep into creating Reese bass sounds. Start with YouTube and music production forums for a wealth of knowledge.