Last month, we covered the technique for creating filter
swells for classic '80s and '90s R&B grooves. This time out, we'll
take a closer look at soulful leads and supporting riffs that rely on
the time-honored technique of using the mod wheel to inject vibrato into
The secret to performing with this patch relies on playing
sparse staccato riffs, then, when you want to get greasy with the
sound, extend a note ever so slightly and flick the mod wheel. While
it’s possible to get similar results by using delayed vibrato that fades
in on each note, with this technique you have a lot more control and
can tinker with the subtleties via automation.
Reset Subtractor to its default settings then zero the
velocity modulation to the filter envelope. Since Subtractor's default
patch uses a sawtooth, we'll stick with that – though you can experiment
with other waves like square or pulse for a slightly different flavor.
Start by setting up a gate envelope for the amplifier,
with instant attack, full sustain and quick release. Handily enough, the
default patch filter envelope settings are well-suited for this
particular sound, though you may want to tinker with the decay time
slightly to suit your playing. From there, set the filter cutoff to
40-50% and increase the filter envelope amount to about 60-70%.
The key to this sound is using the mod wheel to apply
vibrato to the oscillators, emphasizing specific notes in your riff.
Start by selecting a triangle wave LFO, apply it to the oscillators,
then adjust the LFO amount in Subtractor's mod wheel section. Setting
this knob to about 1 or 2 o'clock usually does the trick. Once
that's done, experiment by playing a simple funk-inflected percussive
riff and quickly flick the mod wheel to add that wiggle to accented