Effects and bass can be a tricky combo. The bass usually needs to focus on the low end spectrum of the entire bad mix. Their roll is insanely important to drive the power and groove of the band. Without the bass, we’re just talking those wimpy lows and over powering mids from guitars and vox. I don’t typically play bass, but I’ve played with plenty of bass players, and when effects are initially brought into the mix, the lows usually drop and they’re in the range of guitar players. Not ideal.
So when working with bass, you need to really pay attention to your settings and finding that spot where the lows are there, and the bass presence doesn’t change when the effect is on or off. That is the challenge, and typically, effects are geared toward guitar frequencies. Overdrive and drives in general can be difficult due to the nature of the compression when distortion gets more aggressive. It usually thins things out too much for bass.
I recently had a chance to check out Darkglass Electronics Microtubes B3K CMOS Bass Overdrive. Like I mentioned I normally play guitar, but I do have a sweet vintage Kramer 450B bass laying around the rock room. I thought this would be a great opportunity to see what this pedal is all about.. and on bass.
My first reaction… man, this pedal BLEW MY MIND! I love how this pedal was designed with bass in mind. Controls are simple. We have standard Level and Drive controls. The Drive is very gnarly and hairy. I loved it cranked. Next we have Blend. Yes! Blend. This is where things become helpful with bass players. The ability to blend the drive with the clean signal. I was finding interesting tones where the drive was barely audible, and pushing the blend to saturation. I was able to maintain that low end.
Next we have a 3 way toggle for Attack. This was a very interesting control, and I noticed it responded to the Blend. This thing was amazing to dial in some variety. I wanted to copy the official description of this feature:
Sets the amount of treble content to saturate: The “Boost” setting emphasizes the treble content extra clarity and presence. The “Flat” position leaves this register untouched while the “Cut” position will reduce the amount of high frequencies being saturated. This new addition helps to keep the treble portion of the signal under control, specially useful when playing with new strings and/or cabinets with tweeters!
And finally we have the Grunt Switch. I loved it with the Grunt On. Other options are ‘Fat/Thin’ and ‘Raw’. Here is what they say about the Grunt Switch:
Sets the amount of low frequency content to saturate by selecting between three different bass boost levels before the clipping stage.
I was super blown away with this overdrive on bass. I’m going to do some experimenting on guitar next. But honestly, I haven’t been this excited about an overdrive in a long, long time. If you play bass, and have been wanting to get some growl to your tone, but don’t want to sacrifice your low end responsibility, I think you should take a look at this pedal very closely.
The price point is well worth it as well. You can pick up the Darkglass Electronics Microtubes B3K CMOS Bass Overdrive for $230 at Amazon.com and it’s worth every penny. The build quality is also through the roof. Darkglass Electronics have it figured out. Well done!