Annie Clements Explains Her Grammys-Played "Bass of the Future"

If you caught Maren Morris' performance of "The Bones" at last night's Grammys, you may have noticed a strange instrument in the hands of bassist Annie Clements. While the television camera focused on Morris or guest guitarist John Mayer, we were trying to get a closer look at Clement's bass.

Was it a P-Bass keytar? A small keyboard in place of a pickguard? Were our eyes deceiving us?

Thankfully, Clements knew that some of us watching would want the low-down. Soon after the performance, she posted a video on YouTube explaining her "Bass of the Future." And she was also kind enough to respond to our DMs, despite the fact she was still at the Grammys.

Annie Clements' Bass of the Future

Turns out it's not a keytar proper, but a small MIDI controller attached to the front of her Fender Jazz Bass.

The IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2 Mini is a lightweight, 25-key controller. Instead of modifying the bass itself, Clements has mounted the iRig Keys to the body with some standard door hinges, strips of velcro, and another few bits of hardware.

"Once you get it all set up and get it just right, you can go back and forth between your bass and your synth bass," Clements says.

Of course, you'll need to connect your MIDI controller to a sound source, which in her case is a show computer running Ableton Live, Mainstage, IK's Syntronik Deluxe collection of soft synths, and the AmpliTube amp modeling program. To connect the controller and her software, she has two pieces of gear on her pedalboard: a MIDI Solutions Power Adapter that powers the iRig Keys via USB and an Excel Valley MIDI USB DIN Converter that routes the 5-point MIDI connection to the computer.

It amounts to a fairly simple but no less ingenious way of switching between electric and electronic bass sounds, and obviates the need for a separate keyboard rig on stage.

The Bass of the Future allows her to create the exact sounds she needs for "The Bones." The song "has a specific pulse we were looking for and we liked the vibe of having a gate on top of the soft synth to add a soft pulse," she says.

This "we" includes Eric Montgomery, Morris' keyboard player, who Clements says "worked his ass off" to create many of the sounds they use in their live show, as well as for "The Bones" in particular.

The track uses Syntronik's emulation of the Juno-60 keyboard, but "the Syntronik has a ton of cool synths," Clements says. "Obviously I dig their Minimoog, and you can’t go wrong with a Moog Taurus. I think they call that 'The Billy.' Also found that Tal makes some good synths as well, which is what I’m using on the road. We use a lot of Tal stuff on the road. They also have a Juno."

As Clements gets back on the road with Morris, we're excited to hear more from this Bass of the Future. And if anyone wants to follow in her footsteps, watch her full explanation above to learn how to make your own.

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