Playing Dubstep On Real Instruments

When we first saw the live cover of Skrillex Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites by the band Pinn Panelle, we had to know how a band is able to play live dubstep on real instruments. We emailed the band and they spilled the beans on how to process the hell out of an instrument in a live environment.

First up is the bassist, [Nathan Navarro]. He wears a Source Audio Hot Hand on his right thumb. This little box is a two-axis accelerometer that communicates with his pedal board using RF frequencies. With the Hot Hand, he has control over two parameters on Hot Hand Pedals. The envelope effect is awesome, but it’s worth noting that [Nathan] is sponsored by Source Audio. We’re thinking it would be relatively easy to cram a Wii MotionPlus and microcontroller into a wristband. Tied to a computer and MIDI interface, the homebrew solution would do the same thing.

[Derek Song] is the guitarist and he’s used multieffects for most of his musical life He has a small Bluetooth keyboard and touchpad mounted to the front of his guitar that controls just about everything on his pedal board. The Bluetooth controller sends commands to [Derek]’s computer that outputs MIDI CC messages to his pedal board.

In a studio, Pinn Panelle’s cover would be impressive. The fact that it’s being played live opens up a number of doors as to what a band can do in real-time. If you’ve got a pedal board or electronic music build, send it into the tip line. Also, check out the videos after the break for a better demo of [Derek]’s Bluetooth setup.



52 thoughts on “Playing Dubstep On Real Instruments

    1. Dubstep (and similar ‘new genres’) seem often to be based around “we’ve just discovered this nifty new synth effect/vocal filter/sequencing trick/etc, let’s do it to EVERYTHING”. A little akin to “I’ve discovered that you can pluck violin strings, it’s sounds amazing! I’m gonna make musing using just plucked violin strings!”. The sound itself is not unpleasant, but on it’s own it just falls a bit flat.

      e.g: just asynchronous drumkits, stretched synths and bass thuds? Not my cup of tea. Same thing mixed in with woodwinds, rainmakers and the rest of an orchestra? Great! (

      ‘New sounds’ work best in combination with ‘old sounds’, because eventually they’re going to BE ‘old sounds’.

  1. Might not be my taste in music, but I can certainly recognize the pure talent. What it sounds like aside, these guys are all well on their way to being great musicians.

    And it’s still better than Lady Gaga.

  2. This doesn’t even really sound like dubstep. I mean, it has _a_ wobble, but not _the_ wobble that would make it.

    It would be like making d&b but instead of drums and bass, you’d use a xylophone and a guitar. It just doesn’t work the same.

    1. dubstep wasn’t always about the wobble bass. in fact, it wasn’t even dubstep that first used it.

      this modern dubstep sound is good for what it is, trendy as it may be.. I think it should at least fall into a subcategory of it’s own; just like there’s house, and there’s progressive house and hard house and many others.

      This is neat though. I wonder if the more established bands that dip into the electronically influenced sounds like Linkin Park are aware of or have considered such a technique for modifying their guitar sounds.

  3. dubstep on real instruments…..keyboards aren’t real instruments?
    how do you think they make the sounds in the first place lol
    you just normally don’t see a dubstep-like filter on something like a guitar

    controlling it by the hand doesn’t make it sound exactly the same as on a keyboard.
    you could make a time-sync’d filter for guitar though

    1. I think real instruments usually refer to a device that creates sound, instead of a device that merely controls another device that creates sound.

      A midi keyboard isn’t really a real instrument, since it’s useless on its own. It just tells a computer to play out a sample or a synthesized note.

      “a dubstep-like filter”


  4. Sooo… We’ve been told that there’s moderation now. Could somebody moderate Vonskippy a bit? I don’t think he’s ever liked anything featured on this site.

    Saw this a while ago. Don’t like Dubstep much, but I do like the idea of live performances of electronic music.

  5. excellent… i’ve always wanted to be able to play live, this is giving me ideas.
    oh, and to all those people complaining it’s not music – remember the 60’s, with that ‘damned hippie music’ older generations complained about?
    no offense, but just because you can’t enjoy it doesn’t mean it’s not good :)

  6. I don’t like dubstep, far too slow for me, same as grime, 170-180bpm drum and bass forever :D I like the idea of the midi control of stuff though, very cool seeing anything new on that front :)

  7. I’m almost 49 and think this sounds great! Have enjoyed Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Cars, B52’s, Van Halen, New Order, Nirvana, STP, etc etc through the years and it’s all good. Glad to hear the “youngstes” continuing the music innovation!

  8. Sooo here we have folks that have never seen a guitar synth? Look, I’m a midi guy thru and thru so this is nothing new under the sun. Glad the kids are having fun and the internet has a new meme to play with.
    really all the nice things I have to say.

  9. These sounds are not so far removed from what I used to do with a Les Paul tuned to C, a good wammy bar, a Boss Metal Zone, Flanger, Reverb and Chorus (flicky flicky, Mr tonepot) The only difference is that this style seems to play the same phrase over and over again… Am I missing something?
    Back in the day we used to challenge ourselves to write the hottest riffs/licks/shred solos AS WELL AS innovate the sounds. Honestly is this the best these kids can do with technology? Buy a Korg…

  10. I think this shit is great. I’m not a huge fan of dubsteb but I love seeing new twists on playing. The thing I can’t get over the most is the motion control of expression with that thumbring that the bassist has. It can be used for SO many things other than this and THAT intrigues me. Never saw anything like it before this. Definitely gonna try to home brew this shit. Plus the visual effect you get with him producing that with motion is crowd pleasing as hell. Way more than you could ever gain through using a simple Korg.

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