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Using Icon Bass


Learn how to use Icon Bass. From basic functionality like loading patterns and playing bass lines to advanced techniques like playing flageolet or slap & pop.

Just like in other products of the SESSION GUITARIST series, the melody feature is provided in a separate Melody instrument. While the regular Icon Bass.nki is designed for the convenient playback of patterns, the melody instrument allows you to play your own bass lines and combine them with the included patterns within a single instrument.

The Icon Bass instruments are designed to be played using a MIDI keyboard. The patterns are triggered and selected via MIDI keyswitches, allowing for fast arranging.

Patterns will automatically sync to the master or host tempo. The patterns in this library can be played at any tempo from 60-65 bpm to 140 bpm and above. Since there is no time-stretching involved in the process, you will always hear the patterns in the highest possible quality.


The patterns are based on actual recordings by a professional studio musician, so they sound best in the typical tempo range for a given musical style.


KONTAKT’s on-screen keyboard, presenting the current keyboard layout.

On KONTAKT’s on-screen keyboard, all relevant keys and key ranges are color-coded: keyswitches for melody articulations (yellow), patterns (red), endings (purple), and slide (green). Melodies or patterns can be played in the blue key range.


To view a detailed description of each key, you can open the Mapping Panel by clicking the small keyboard icon in the bottom right corner of the instrument.


The Mapping panel, which presents a more detailed graphical overview of the keyboard layout.

Playing Melodies

After loading the Melody instrument up, you are presented with a melody section on the left and a pattern section on the right. If the melody section is selected, the instrument will play the notes you press instead of sequencing a pattern. This enables you to play your own bass lines with Icon Bass.


Melody and pattern sections in the melody instrument.

  • To change melody articulations, use the keyswitches from C1 to D#1 to switch between open, muted, flageolet, and slap & pop playing styles.

  • The Open articulation is the most commonly used articulation: Plucking individual strings with either the fingers or a plectrum.

  • The Muted articulation is created by resting the palm of the plucking hand on the strings, close to the bridge of the bass while plucking the strings. Muted hammer-ons and pull-offs can be triggered in the same manner as open hammer-ons and pull-offs.

  • The “Flageolet” articulation is also called “harmonics”. It is created by dividing the string into sections of equal length by lightly touching the string at specific points. As a result, higher overtones are sounding instead of the original note. In this case, you will hear the octave above the played note, which is the first overtone.

  • Slap & Pop articulations: To accommodate the different articulations needed for a typical slap performance using a single keyswitch, the instrument differentiates between briefly pressing the keyswitch and keeping the keyswitch pressed:

    • A short press on the D#1 keyswitch activates the slap articulation. This very bright sound is produced by hitting the string with the thumb, causing it to hit the frets of the bass.

    • Holding down the D#1 keyswitch while playing notes triggers the Pop articulation, which is produced by pulling the string away from the fretboard and letting it snap against the fretboard.

    • Releasing the D#1 keyswitch switches back to the Slap articulation.

    • Since every pop note is typically preceded by the characteristic sound of the playing hand touching the string, pressing this keyswitch triggers this percussive sound each time you press it.

  • To change the fret position value of the selected melody articulation, adjust its Fret Pos value. Choose higher values to have the instrument perform notes in higher fret positions on lower strings, resulting in a more mellow tone. You can control the fret position in real-time for all melody articulations combined with the MIDI CC#114. For more information on MIDI controllers, refer to Further MIDI Controllers.Further MIDI Controllers

  • Plectrum / Finger switch: Below the articulation keyswitches, you can choose to play all of the above articulations with either Plectrum or Finger.

  • Poly / Mono switch: The monophonic mode creates smooth transitions between notes, which helps to create realistic sounding solo lines and riffs. The polyphonic mode enables you to play multiple notes at the same time. Use this mode only if you intend to play multiple notes at the same time. In both modes, you can use the sustain pedal just like on a piano.

  • To apply vibrato or pitch bend, use the pitch and modulation wheels of your keyboard.

    • When playing patterns, the pitch wheel doubles as an Impact controller, modifying the velocity and accent intensity of performed patterns (for more information, refer to Controlling the Dynamics of the Performance).

    • From the Vibrato drop-down menu, you can choose between three different vibrato styles.

    • The Bend drop-down menu offers the standard pitch bend mode (All), as well as a mode in which only specific notes (lowest, highest, softest, loudest, latest note) in a voicing are affected by the pitch bend. This enables the emulation of a specific playing technique by which only some of the played strings are bent and others, for example open strings, retain their original pitch.

  • Octave down: Use the Octave down switch in the top left box to transpose the entire sample set down by an octave. This is not an insert effect like an octaver, but a powerful sound design feature, which works great for electronic and film music genres.


You can switch between the different vibrato speeds via MIDI CC#112 and choose between different pitch bend modes via MIDI CC#113. For more information on MIDI controllers, refer to chapter Further MIDI Controllers.


When playing adjacent open notes, hammer-on and pull-off samples are added automatically if the velocity of the following note is significantly softer than the one previously played. This works only for overlapping (legato) notes up to an interval of a minor third. Monophonic mode is recommended, but not required to use this feature.

Combining Melodies and Patterns

The melody instrument provides two different modes, namely the Melody mode and the Pattern mode. By default, it is in Melody mode.

  • To switch from melody to pattern, hold down one of the pattern keyswitches from E1 to G1 with your left hand, while playing notes with your right hand. The instrument will temporarily perform those notes as a pattern. If a pattern is in Phrase mode (refer to Phrase and One Pitch Mode, MIDI Drag and Drop), triggering its keyswitch will cause the pattern to be played back using the notes contained in the phrase, transposed to the key of the note you play on the keyboard.

  • To switch back to melody, release the pattern keyswitch with your left hand. If you still hold notes in your right hand at that moment, the instrument tries to sequence one more note that would have followed had you continued with the pattern playback. For example, if you release the pattern keyswitch shortly before the next downbeat while still holding notes with your right hand, the instrument will switch back to melody mode with one last note onto that downbeat.

  • To play patterns instead of melodies by default: If you are mainly intending to use the melody instrument to play patterns, you can change the default mode from Melody to Pattern on the Playback page (refer to The Playback Page). When Pattern is selected as the default mode, holding down one of the Melody keyswitches (C1 to D#1) will engage the melody mode temporarily.However, the Pop articulation is not available when Pattern is selected as the default mode.


To achieve musically convincing results, it is advisable to use the instrument within your sequencer and to play along with its metronome.


The included pattern library is identical in the pattern instrument and the melody instrument, and the procedures to load, modify and play back patterns are similar. However, to accommodate the melody articulations, the number of pattern slots has been reduced from eight to four in the melody instrument.

Pattern Selection and Playback

The following section describes the pattern instrument. While most of the information also applies to the melody instrument, refer to Playing Melodies and Combining Melodies and Patterns for detailed information about the features which are specific to the melody instrument.

  • To select a pattern, press the corresponding keyswitch MIDI note or click on the pattern you wish to play.

  • To play a pattern, play notes on your MIDI keyboard. After releasing the keys, playback will be stopped within a specified note duration (refer to Latch Mode in The Playback Page).

  • To end the playback at a precise point in time, it is recommended to use the Bb1 keyswitch or one of the other ending keyswitches (refer to Playing Dead Notes, Endings and Slides).

  • To load a different pattern into a slot, click on the magnifier icon in the current slot. This will open the Pattern Browser (refer to The Pattern Browser).

  • To load the next or previous pattern of the pattern library, click on the little left or right arrow buttons in the current slot.

  • To remove a pattern (clear the slot), [Alt] + click on a slot.


It is recommended to play notes or pattern changes briefly ahead of the beat and avoid overlapping notes to give the playback engine time to anticipate the transition. This way, the engine has enough time to add fret noises and the transition will sound more natural. As the performance is bound to the metronome of the sequencer, the timing of incoming MIDI events has no effect on the timing of the performance. For more information, read Tips and Tricks.


If available, Chase Events should be activated in your DAW settings. This will ensure that the engine gets proper note information on sequencer start or cycle jumps.

Loop and Single Note Pattern Types

The playback engine creates patterns in one of two different ways: some of the patterns are based on recorded performances, while others are based on sequenced single note samples (referred to as single note patterns below).

  • Recorded loops contain a little note icon next to their name in the Pattern Browser (refer to The Pattern Browser).

  • Single note patterns have a little staircase icon next to their name in the Pattern Browser.

  • The articulation and fret position of single note patterns can be adjusted in the Pattern Inspector (refer to The Pattern Inspector), and their velocity can be adapted over a wider range (refer to Controlling the Dynamics of the Performance).

  • While being less flexible, patterns based on recorded performances might contain special articulations or timbres that would have been impossible to realize with single note samples.


When playing single note patterns, you can trigger slides between different pitches by playing the newly added keys with a very high velocity: the next suitable note will start with a slide if it is being played with a velocity greater than 110. To use slides when playing melodies, hold down the B1 keyswitch while playing melody notes.

Phrase and One Pitch Mode, MIDI Drag and Drop

A large number of the included patterns contain melodic phrases, while others are based on just one single pitch. To display phrase patterns only, click the Phrase button in the pattern browser.

  • To play the unaltered, original phrase, press only one single key.

  • To adapt a specific phrase to a given scale, chord or interval, play the required chord or interval, such as a third, a sixth, a seventh on your keyboard. The corresponding notes contained in the phrase will be adapted accordingly. This way, you can easily convert a major third to a minor third, or vice versa.

  • To toggle between Phrase mode and One Pitch mode, select a phrase pattern, and then click on the Phrase / One Pitch toggle button.


    In One Pitch mode, the rhythm of a phrase pattern will remain the same, but the melody is reduced to a single pitch. You can then play the pitches on your keyboard ahead of any new note position within the pattern’s rhythm. Patterns which do not contain melodic phrases cannot be toggled, and for those patterns the Phrase / One Pitch toggle button is not active.


    Just like regular patterns, phrase patterns can be based on either a recorded performance (note icon in pattern browser) or on sequenced single note samples (staircase icon in pattern browser). You can change the playing style and fret position of the latter type in the pattern inspector (refer to The Pattern Inspector).

  • To permanently switch all phrases to One Pitch mode, press [alt] + click the Phrase button. Press [alt] + click again to switch back to Phrase mode. After that, the selected mode will be retained globally, even if you load new patterns or songs.

MIDI Drag and Drop

  • To export a phrase into your DAW as a MIDI file, drag and drop the arrow icon next to the selected pattern into a MIDI track. The root pitch will be based on the last pitch you played.


    This will create a MIDI part containing the pitch progression of the respective phrase, with each MIDI note properly positioned ahead of the beat (refer to Create Natural Transitions in Tips and Tricks). Additionally, the MIDI part contains a keyswitch ensuring that the correct pattern is selected. Since the different MIDI notes of a phrase are now being sequenced by the DAW, the pattern will be automatically switched to One Pitch mode. Now, you can transpose the incoming MIDI notes to change the melodic line, retaining the original rhythmic structure.


Since Icon Bass is based on two-bar patterns, make sure to drag the MIDI loop onto an uneven bar number (bar 1, bar 3, bar 5, bar 17 etc.). Please note that loading a different pattern, changing the pattern tempo (half time, double time), or adjusting the length or the start shift in the pattern inspector will render the corresponding MIDI part incompatible. In this case, delete the old MIDI part and drag the phrase into your DAW again.

Playing Dead Notes, Endings and Slides

In addition to the actual patterns, Icon Bass provides a variety of endings, as well as slides and percussive sounds. The corresponding sets of keys are marked purple and green on the KONTAKT on-screen keyboard. The table below describes the functionality of each keyswitch for both the pattern instrument and the melody instrument:

Pattern Instrument

Melody Instrument


Long ending

Slide up: End sounding notes with an upward slide. If there are no sounding notes, you will hear a regular slide. The speed of the slide depends on the incoming velocity.


Slide down: End sounding notes with a downward slide. If there are no sounding notes, a long ending will be played and the slide will sound only when releasing the key.

Slide down: End sounding notes with a downward slide. If there are no sounding notes, you will hear a regular slide. The speed of the slide depends on the incoming velocity.


Mute strings → Slap strings with thumb

Play dead notes based on the selected articulation. Holding down this key will allow you to play dead notes chromatically. Dead notes are velocity sensitive.


Slide down. At high velocities, an up-down slide is performed.

Slide modifier: Hold this key to start melody notes with a slide. The slide interval and direction depends on the previous note.

Controlling the Dynamics of the Performance

The patterns included in Icon Bass ignore the velocity information coming from your MIDI keyboard or DAW. Instead, you can continuously control the dynamics of the performance with the impact slider. As the melody instrument is velocity-sensitive while in melody mode, the pitch bend wheel doubles as a pitch bend controller when playing melodies.


The Impact feature

Use your MIDI keyboard’s pitch wheel to control the Impact/pitch bend. It works as a bi-polar control to increase or decrease the playing intensity of the musician. The neutral default position is the center position which can also be recalled via [Cmd] + click.


The Impact feature can be used to smoothen transitions between patterns with differing overall dynamics.


While the velocity coming from your keyboard doesn’t affect the dynamics of the performance, you can use it to trigger slide transitions when playing patterns. Try playing notes with a velocity greater than 110, a slide transition will be added at the next suitable position.

Loading and Saving Sound Presets

With Icon Bass, you can easily customize the sound. Each sound preset includes all parameters of the Amps & FX page as well as some of the parameters of the Bass Settings page (refer to The Amps & FX Page and The Bass Settings Page). You can load sound presets from the Sound Preset drop-down menu in the top right corner of the instrument.


The Sound Preset box in the top right corner of the instrument

  • To load a factory or user sound preset, either select a preset from the drop-down menu, or cycle through all presets by clicking the little left and right arrow buttons.

  • To save a new user sound preset, enter a preset name into the text field and click on the floppy disk icon. This will store the current sound settings into a new user preset.

  • To overwrite a user sound preset, first load it and then make changes on the or page. Then click the floppy disk icon without changing the preset name. If you change the preset name before saving a preset, a new sound preset will be created instead of overwriting the existing one.

  • To delete a user sound preset, select it from the drop-down menu, then click the circular Delete button.

  • Linking sound presets to Song presets: If the Link to Song switch is activated, selecting a song preset (refer to The Song Browser) will also load its corresponding sound preset. Deselect it to change songs without altering your bass and effects settings.

Locking Parameters When Loading Snapshots or Songs

Normally, when you load snapshots or songs (refer to The Song Browser) of the instrument, all parameters will be set accordingly. Therefore, snapshots and songs are stored and recalled globally. To prevent the Playback parameters from being changed by loading snapshots or songs, click the lock icon on the Playback tab.


If the Playback parameters are locked, they will not be changed by snapshots or songs.

Resetting the Round Robin Counter

To enhance the realism of Icon Bass, the entire sample content employs a method which is called “Round Robin”: Each sample was recorded multiple times and if the same pitch is being played with the same velocity multiple times in a row, Icon Bass automatically alternates between those different recorded samples of a given pitch and velocity. These variations are called “Round Robins”. The result is repetitions that sound less mechanical and more like a performance by a real musician, as the tone varies ever so slightly. As the instrument is automatically cycling through the different Round Robins, the performance will slightly differ each time you’re playing it back in your sequencer.

While this is beneficial to the overall realism, you might find that a certain Round Robin sample matches the required phrase better than another. You can reset the Round Robin counter by sending continuous controller 3 (CC#3) to the instrument at the beginning of a song section. This way, you will be hearing the exact same samples every time the section is being played back.


When exporting/bouncing your song, placing a CC#3 value at the beginning of your arrangement will lead to a deterministic result: Each bounce will be using the exact same samples, rather than a random constellation of Round Robins.

Defining the Downbeat after Signature Changes

Since there is no way for the instrument to recognize signature changes or insertions of half a bar etc., present in your DAW session, its pattern playback would get out of sync in those cases. To solve this problem, you can use the global transport offset feature to compensate for a change of signature or bar length during playback.

→ To define a global transport offset in ticks, send MIDI CC#111.

The value you send (ranging from 0 to 127) will be multiplied by 80 ticks and added as an offset to the host transport. 80 Ticks is the length of a 32th triplet, which is the greatest common divisor for all note values available in the instrument. Twelve 32th triplets equal a quarter note. Therefore, to insert half a 4/4th bar (i.e. shift the playback by two quarters or 2 × 12 32th triplets), you would need to send MIDI CC#111 with value 24, etc.

The following table shows typical values needed for common offsets:


CC#111 value

No offset


One quarter


Two quarters


Three quarters


Four quarters (= one 4/4 bar)


Five quarters


Six quarters


Seven quarters


Two 4/4 bars (= no offset)


Minus one quarter


Minus two quarters


Minus three quarters


One eighth note


One eighth triplet


Further MIDI Controllers

CC#112: Set Vibrato speed. You can change the setting for the Vibrato speed by sending a continuous MIDI controller event to Icon Bass:


CC#112 Value







CC#113: Set Pitchbend Mode (only available in the "Melody" nki). In the melody instrument, you can change the Pitch Bend mode by sending a continuous MIDI controller event to Icon Bass:

Pitchbend Mode

CC#113 Value

All: Bend all notes


Low: Bend lowest note only


High: Bend highest note only


Soft: Bend softest note only


Loud: Bend loudest note only


Last: Bend latest note only


CC#114: Set Fret Position for all melody artics (only available in the "Melody" nki). In the melody instrument, you can change the Fret Position of all Melody articulations sending a continuous MIDI controller event to Icon Bass:

Fret position

CC#114 Value

0 ( = Open Strings included)