Video: Annie Clements and Thad Beaty on "The Bass of the Future"

Back at this year's Grammy Awards show, we noticed a strange contraption on Annie Clements' bass during the live performance of Maren Morris' "The Bones."

We DM'd her to ask for more details, and to our surprise and delight, she DM'd us back right then, from the Grammys, to give us the low-down on her MIDI controller–equipped bass guitar. She then posted a video on YouTube explaining her "Bass of the Future."

And yet, we still wanted to learn more. So we caught up with Clements and Thad Beaty—her husband, former bandmate, guitarist, and the co-creator of the Bass of the Future—at their home. We discussed not only the bass in question, but how their music-making has changed through the pandemic, what they're most looking forward to as tours resume, and more.

The Bass of the Future

While the Bass of the Future might look like a keytar, it's a small MIDI controller attached to the front of her Fender Jazz Bass.

Instead of modifying the bass itself, Clements and Beaty mounted the IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2 Mini 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.

Clements, who performs with Morris and many other artists, also has a band with other hired guns name Side Piece. Their latest single is "What Would Dolly Do? (W.W.D.D.)" And Clements has a new solo song, produced by Beaty, named "My Dog." Follow Clements and Side Piece on their social channels: Clements' Instagram, Side Piece's Instagram.

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