What the bejeezus is a bass guitar doing on an electronic music site you say?
Midi bass guitar has been a love/hate relationship for Studio Wormbone over the years.
Love: As a bassist who later got into synths I felt liberated from a timbre standpoint when I got my first midi bass. All of a sudden any and every sound imaginable was within reach. It was very much indeed a gateway drug in that respect.
Hate: However, because of the nature of the beast there has yet to be a system invented that’s truly accurate and playable. Physics itself makes the problem significant. In a nutshell, because bass guitar outputs such a low frequency the result is that either there’s an annoying latency (lag time) between the time a note is played and the time it’s sounded (because of the necessary time needed to analyze the initial note) OR notes get wrongly triggered or dropped altogether.
The Line6 Variax Bass is in the same ballpark as midi bass but it’s somewhat unique. It uses a similar system to one that’s been used in other midi basses before (piezo bridge pickups) but instead of outputting a midi signal to drive external gear it contains all of it’s electronics on board. It’s also not targeted at synth enthusiasts since there’s no midi output and most of it’s capability revolves around physical modeling of classic bass guitars.
I personally applaud Line6 for the forward thinking aspects of this instrument but am still waiting for the day when bass guitar and synth can dance together in unison.