I bought this as a substitute for ripping out the electronics on three of my passive basses (a Fender Jazz '62 reissue, a Ricky 4003 & and Epiphone Jack Casady). For obvious reasons I didn?t want to do this, but as much as I like each bass?s individual character I was missing the active ?Zing? I get from my Stingrays. I didn?t fancy the more expensive version, as this is solely used as a front end pre-amp (before effects and my amp) for my passives basses only. The tuner out, mute, DI etc on the ?Sadowsky DI? version were not needed.
What you get:
Bass, Treble, Volume controls in a bomb proof casing. Apart from other standard features (input, output, footswitch, battery indicator, and Boss style 9v power input) that?s it. You don?t get much ?Bang for your Buck?. Even the case is black with minimal writing on it. It?s the Sadowsky active circuit in a pedal. Nothing more, nothing less.
The controls are boost only, so when everything is at zero the pedal might as well be off (Well technically you?re still utilising the active circuit, but to my knackered ears it sounded pretty near to bypass) . I know we?re bass players, but it so simple even we don?t need the enclosed instructions. Boost the treble, boost the bass, adjust the volume to match bypass, jobs a good?un. You?ll find the more you boost the frequencies the more you back off on the volume (if you want parity with your ?Clean? sound), or whack ?em all up and use it as a volume boost for any solo?s you may feel brave enough to attempt.
Let?s get this straight. It won?t make a Jazz sound like a Stingray, or a Warwick sound like a Ricky. What it does do (very well) is to liven up a passive bass signal. It?s difficult to explain, but it sort of make you existing tone a bit more ?Fruity?, gives it a bit more presence, a bit more oomph. It?s maybe not as brutal as I was expecting, but it does add enough ?Sizzle? to compete with my Stingrays top end. With only Bass and treble tone boost (remember, it doesn?t cut) you will get more of a scooped Funk/Rock/Metal sound the more you boost. Personally, I go for the scooped mids on my active basses, so this fits just perfectly for me. If you want a Honky Mid boost Jaco sound I suggest you look else where. It doesn?t kill the mids from your existing tone, it?ll just bury them a bit the more you boost the available frequencies.
It?s either on or off. Simples. I like the fact you can still keep your original tone, and have this on to ?Modern up? the sound of your precious vintage bass when needed.
Low noise on passive pickups.
I haven?t tried it any my active basses as I don?t particularly care how it sounds with them (as that?s not what I bought it for).
It is, after all, the same circuit that they put in Sadowsky basses (and we all know how expensive they are). So, just under 200 euros (£170 in real money?) for the guts of a 3, 4 or 5 grand bass seems ok to me. Also, one active circuit for all your passive basses is a lot cheaper (and less invasive) than the alternative. It may seem like you can get more for less from other manufacturers, but it?s all about the quality (build and sound) at the end of the day, isn?t it?
It sounds like it looks:Clean, uncluttered and to the point.
If (like me) you have a mixture of passive and active basses, and you want to give your passive basses a lift then this could be just for you. Other Bass preamps may have more features, but this little unit doesn?t go up against them. To me, it?s a ?Find your tone, and leave it? pedal. It wont add anything more to an active bass (in my opinion), but it?ll gave a pleasing nudge to your existing passive tone. Basically, what it does it does very well. You just need to work out if you want a quality one trick pony, or something that offers more in terms of overall functionality. I think the term ?Jazz on Steroids? has been used to describe this little marvel (probably because of the Marcus Miller connection), and I think that?s pretty appropriate, if you?ve got a Jazz that is! Other Passive electronics will benefit from the little ?clean & polish? that this pedal does.
I like what it does, and how it does it. Can?t be any fairer than that.