People always seem to be interested in finding "tricks" of the recording trade so here is one of mine: The Porchboard Bass is a solid, finely-crafted piece of wood employing a pressure sensor from a motor vehicle air bag which creates not only a kick drum-like sound but also a bass tone at around 100 Hz. A footrest/bar is struck much like a pedal from a kick drum which triggers the sensor to a standard TS 1/4" output. What's unique about the Porchboard is that in a mix or live performance it can lend the impression that a bass guitar is present and "moving" with the chords or changes of the song. I frequently use it to reinforce kick drum tracks to get a deeper, fuller sound and presence out of the bottom in mixes. Live, it can replace a kick drum AND lend more depth and bottom to your arrangements and overall sound. (I hear that Willie Nelson's drummer actually used it on tour occasionally to replace his kick). Typically I run the output of my Porchboard to a basic gate (in my case a dbx 363X) to eliminate "pops" from recoils when the board is struck too hard, then to any direct box. Add compression to taste. With creative use of EQ and reamping, many other interesting and useful variations can be created from a seemingly basic percussion track. I am constantly finding new and unusual applications for this funky unit. Of course, like anything else, you can easily over-use it too. Two models are available, mahogany ($450) and pine ($250). (

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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