Welcome to my bass effects pedals guide. Watch video reviews and demos of octave pedals, fuzz, distortion, looper, switch pedals and much more BEFORE you buy!
Electro Harmonix Micro POG Pedal Review
Whilst the Electro Harmonix Micro Pog pedal isn't an out-and-out bass pedal, there's still a lot that bassists can do with it.
As it's been such a popular pedal I wanted to do a quick review to help you figure out if this is a pedal worth investing in.
Build Quality And Design
If you've seen any of my EHX pedal reviews before then you'll know I think they're very well built. The micro pog is no exception. It's housed in a sturdy metal casing that has comfortably lasted me through many gigs now.
The pedal can run off a battery or 9v power supply, has both a dry out and effect out (always a handy option) and is operated by a footswitch on the front.
It's a standard job as far as EHX is concerned but that means it's always a good job!
The pedal has only three dials on the front which are "dry" (the amount of unaffected signal you want in your sound), sub-octave (amount of octave below) and octave up (amount of octave above).
Having only three options does make the pedal very easy to use right out of the box. If you're not really into pedals or you're a bit of a technophobe then this user-friendly will be a very welcome sight.
Granted you don't have anywhere near as many parameters to tweak on the micro POG as you do on the POG 2 but to be honest I haven't missed them. On gigs, I've just wanted one "go-to" sub-octave sound that I can set and leave for a gig.
The micro pog provides that really well and when you look at the extras you get on the POG 2 (detune feature, 2 octaves below and above) you start to think that, unless you're playing a lot of fusion music or you're doing your own music, that those extra features just aren't that suitable for a gigging bass player.
Pros And Cons
This pedal does sound fantastic. It tracks really well, has a nice synth-like quality to it but it doesn't overpower the tone of your own bass and it is incredibly easy to use. For those reasons alone I do think it's a great pedal.
That being said there are some drawbacks.
As I mentioned in my youtube review, not having the ability to save any kind of preset is a bit of a problem. This is just a fact of having an analogue pedal. If you're like me and you just want a go-to sub-octave sound then a few minutes during soundcheck can get you the tone you want and then you can leave it.
It is a little pricey (around $220 on Amazon) but it's a pedal that will come in handy in a lot of situations and it will last a very long time.
Let me know what you think of it by leaving a comment below and if you've enjoyed this review don't forget to leave a thumbs up and subscribe.
EHX Bass Micro Synth - Bass Synth Pedal
In this review, I find out as I talk through all the pros and cons of the EHX bass micro synth that I've found over the last month whilst I've had it on gigs, recording sessions and as part of my practice set up.
It does have some truly great features and sounds built-in so let's dive into the review and I'll start by showing you some of the basic then more advanced features.
Built To Last
First the casing and build quality. As will all Electro Harmonix pedals the build quality is excellent. The circuitry is housed inside a very solid and durable metal stompbox which can be powered by either a 9volt battery or a 9volt power supply.
Personally, I go with the power supply option as I think it's safer and more reliable for gigs and studio work. Plus taking the casing off to insert the battery is a bit of a hassle but you won't have to replace batteries that often so it's not really a big problem.
From left to right the faders are trigger (sets the extent} at which the circuit of the pedal engages), sub-octave (creates an octave below your bass), stringed instrument (the amount of your clean signal that gets mixed in), octave (an octave above your bass) and sq. wave (controls output volume of the square wave signal).
All of the sounds controlled by sliders on this pedal are absolutely miscible so already these choices alone provide large scope for creating great synth sounds.
But there are more options on the right side of the pedal.
Starting with attack delay (a favourite feature of mine) which controls how long it takes for the pedal to reach full volume. This can help create that delayed throbbing bass sound which is used a lot on synth bass tunes. I also find it really helps with laid-back grooves to stretch the time and create a more lazy feel.
Then there's resonance, starting frequency (where the filter sweep starts), stop frequency (where it stops) and the rate which is how quickly the sweep happens.
So you can see you get a massive set of tools to play with and you can create a huge range of sounds from subtle auto-wah like effects to full-on signal crushing distortions and everything else in between.
Granted not everyone may need such a broad palette to play with and some may find this amount of options intimidating at first but EHX kindly includes some guide settings in the user manual so you can always use these as a starting point and play from there.
As this is an analogue pedal you won't be able to save any presets. Synth sounds are very common requirements on gigs these days and this means spending time programming them beforehand or adjusting settings in between songs if you need to.
But in my experiences with this pedal, I've been able to set a go-to synth sound before I start a session or gig and stick with it so it's only been a minor set back.
As I say this is due to the pedal being analogue so it can't really be helped.
Overall I do think this is a fantastic pedal but it's great for specific things. It's not an allrounder which is a shame considering how diverse it's sound bank is. It's more that it doesn't have an interface to match its awesome tone producing capabilities.
What do you think of it?
Leave me a comment below and tell me!
EHX Bass Big Muff - Bass Fuzz Pedal
At $89 is the best bass fuzz pedal on the market the EHX bass big muff? In this video, I take you through three things you need to know before buying one.
It's Used And Trusted By Big Names
The first thing I love about this pedal is that it comes from a trusted brand which is used by big-name players. Seeing and hearing the big muff on records like "Hysteria" by Muse is a reassuring sign of its quality.
You Can Get A LOT Of Sounds
Second, there's a huge variety of sounds that can be made from the pedals three settings. A volume, tone and sustain dial. The volume dial is self-explanatory. The tone adjusts how bright the distortion is and the sustain can be used to add presence.
With these three dials, you can add some subtle crunch (low sustain and tone settings) all the way up to a face-melting overdrive sound which is tone.
How It Works
The EHX bass big muff pi is modelled on the old green big muff that many bass players used in the 90's. The reason the one was used to much is that it didn't remove all the low end from the signal when it added distortion.
The big muff pi succeeds in doing the same. There's plenty of low so you'll still sound like a bass player but, if you want to retain some more of your basses natural sound, then you've got a few more options that this pedal gives you.
Below the tone dials, you'll see a switch with three settings. Bass boost, norm and dry. boost will boost the low frequencies, norm runs the pedal on the default circuit but dry blends in your own dry bass signal with the distortion.
This is a massive bonus if you want a more "blended" tone that isn't all distortion.
There's also a separate effect and dry outs on the side of the unit which give you further options when recording or for a more complex live setup.
Personally, I think this is the best bass fuzz pedal you can buy right now. At $89 it's much cheaper than the mxr bass distortion pedal ($139) or the aftershock bass distortion ($149), it's made by a company that has great pedigree and history and it's very diverse in what it can do.
If you're looking for a fuzz pedal to add to your rig, for me, this is it.
TC Electronic Ditto Looper - Looper Pedal
The ditto has one of the simplest and easy to use interfaces I've ever seen on a pedal.
You press the stompbox button once to start recording (the light goes red as you do this) and then once again to stop. You can pause by double tapping and you can delete the loop by double-tapping and holding the button.
When the light on the box is green the loop is playing back. When it's flashing green it's paused and when it's red it's recording.
Other than this there's a volume dial that controls the volume of the loop and that's it. Very simple and easy to understand.
How To Use It - Walkthrough Demo
Try constructing a loop that is similar to a rhythm section. That means bass, drums and some kind of chords.
I often find it easiest to start with a bass line which lasts perhaps one, two or four bars but you can go any length you like.
Next, add a simple kick pattern followed by a snare.
Finally, add some simple two or three-note chords and you have a completed loop.
Won't This Loop Sound Too Busy?
When looping on an instrument with a limited range like the bass, guitar or voice, our loops can become cluttered because we don't have a lot of room to work with.
For this reason, it's important to keep each layer simple. This way each of the layers has some space that the other layers can fill.
Is EQ Important?
Yes. Again, because we have a limited range to work with we need to make some space for all our parts to be heard. And if they've all got the same EQ then they're all fighting for the same space.
Try adding low end (and nothing else) to the kick, only mids to the snare, low mids to the bass and high mids to the chords.
This will give you a nicely balanced loop and once you've got that, simply turn yourself up louder than the loop (or turn the loop down) and you can play over the top.
Sansamp Bass Driver
Having used the sansamp in the past I have mixed feeling about it and how it works when stacked up to some more modern options. Here are my thoughts.
The sansamp is a small and sturdy stompbox that is often used as a preamp by bass players for studio work and live gigs.
It has a regular jack input, jack output, parallel output, an XLR out and it's powered by either a nine-volt battery or a power supply.
Overall, it feels like a very durable pedal. The only thing that I feel could be improved upon is the cover for the battery.
In comparison to the Palmer Pocket Amp it does feel a little fragile but by no means is this a massive deal-breaker. It's still pretty secure.
EQ And Tone Control
The controls on the sansamp are level, blend (to mix dry and amp emulation into your signal), treble, bass, drive and presence which excites the top end if the blend is turned on.
All of these features are enabled by a footswitch and if the footswitch is off then you get a regular DI box.
What's It Like To Use?
I feel there's both good and not so good here. The option to blend in amp emulation along with drive and presence does give you a huge amount of options.
Having these tone controls gives you the choice of victimisation the more characteristic, driven sound of the sansamp similarly as realizing sounds of your own that you just like.
However, I feel the largest downside is the shortage of a mid-range EQ dial. To turn the mids down you have got to spice up bass and treble so mids are lower by comparison and to show them up you must turn bass and treble down.
Personally, I do find this a trifle proscribing however you'll be able to continuously modification the EQ on your bass to compensate.
I feel the sansamp is less complicated to use as an impact instead of an out-and-out DI. The high end (both clean and driven) feels a little synthetic to me and it doesn't quite provide the clarity and crispness that you get from the DI on most good amps like Aguilar, Markbass or Vanderkley.
But does that mean you should avoid it? By no means.
The parallel output does mean you're able to blend a clean and driven signal together which is a great feature.
Getting a decent blend is something many drive and distortion pedals struggle to do so the sansamp presents a great option for creating this effect.
Overall, it does sound a little dated in comparison to some other things on the market today but I feel it still has a place as an effect on most peoples pedalboards.
It would be ideal as a home practice tool, a gigging option for a keen part-time musician or a student early on in their career.
Palmer Pocket Amp
What Is The Pocket Amp?
It's a small stompbox preamp but it's packed with some amazing features which really make it possible to practice literally anywhere at any time.
It's got several things you would expect to see on a good preamp.
There's EQ (bass, mid, mid-freq and treble), drive, volume and (a very cool thing) a dry and wet signal blend. These are full mixable so you can really be in charge of how much your sound is coloured by the pocket amp.
But the most awesome feature which makes it such a great practice amp is that there's a headphone jack and an aux-in jack.
This means that you can plug your headphones in, hear your bass but whilst still being able to play along to any songs, backing tracks or drum grooves you might be working on.
How I Use The Pocket Amp To Practice
We've all been in situations where silent practice is valuable. Whether you're doing some late night (or early morning) shedding and you can't wake the neighbours or you need to have a quick refresh of some songs backstage at a gig, the pocket amp allows you to do that.
It's something you can use in literally every practice situation and, as we all know, there are loads of times when an amp simply isn't available or practical to use.
There Are Some Drawbacks
Whilst the pocket amp does solve a lot of problems it also leaves a few untouched. If you want a practice amp that you could also take to a band rehearsal then this definitely isn't for you. It simply isn't multipurpose in that sense.
You'd be better off going with a Mark Bass Mini, a Micromark, an Ashdown Tourbus 15 or any small bass amp. I've left some links to some good options below.
That being said, if you want something that is purely for practice then I can't recommend this enough. It's great for beginners, home players, students and also serious pros. Ideal for travel, very portable, durable and just a very well designed piece of gear.
But this is just my opinion. If you've got a different point of view, or if you know of anything that's better, then tell me about it by leaving a comment below!
TC Electronic Flashback Mini Delay
Check out my video review and demo of the Flashback Mini Delay.
Build Quality And Features
First things first, the flashback mini delay is incredibly mini. It's not that much bigger than a nine-volt battery which makes it incredibly compact.
It's also extremely simple to use.
There are only three dials on the interface which are delay (how big of a delay you want between the note you play and the repeated notes the pedal creates), feedback (how many repetitions you want to hear) and FX level (how loud the repetitions are).
Whilst these dials aren't super precise, the flashback mini, like all TC Electronic pedals, does have a great trick up its sleeve and that is the tone print library, software and app.
Tone Printing (And Why It's So Cool)
The tone print library is an online archive of loads and loads of different pedal settings that have been digitally printed and stored that you can download and move onto your own pedal.
So if you browse the library and find one from your favourite musician or one that you like just download it and add it to your own pedal.
That's really awesome!
But it doesn't stop there.
You can also download the tone print software and build your own tone print. You can fine-tune pretty much every parameter you can think of then, once you're happy, upload that to your pedal.
This provides you with a massive amount of flexibility that the physical dials don't give you.
When you really get stuck into the online tone library this pedal really comes alive. The amount of flexibility you get for a $99 pedal is truly incredible. And the library is always being updated so there are always new sounds to try.
Granted, it can be a long-winded process to always get on your laptop each time you want a new sound but on balance, it doesn't seem like a huge issue when you think about what you're getting in return.
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