The Dirty / Grindy Bass Pedal Preamp Shootout!


Background: I used to have a Sunn 300T and have always loved a nice grindy tube saturated overdriven tone. When I joined my current band, I found my Sunn was simply not fast enough to keep up and I didn't feel locked in with the band. I gave up the amp in favor of a Mesa M6 Carbine and a VT Bass pedal and found a nice home with that combination for the last two years. However, during that same time span, I've been reading about other similar preamp pedals and have been GASing to try something different.

The project: During all my research, I found a surprising lack of comparison threads between all the different options - so this is my answer to that. I've bought up all of the pedals that I personally wanted to try and you'll find those clips below

Note that these are specifically preamps that are supposed to do tube amp modeling for grindy overdriven tones so I am not counting crystal clean DI's like the Sadowsky, etc.

The audio source: I used a Fender 50's Classic Precision Bass w/ Lindy Fralin pickups and D'Addario XL Steel Strings. I also used a G&L L2000 Tribute with the single coil mod. I used this both in Outer Coil only mode (supposedly similar to a 70's jazz bass) and Inner Coil only mode (supposedly similar to a Stingray). This bass was also strung with D'Addario XL Steeling Strings.

I recorded the original "clean" tracks going direct into my Focusrite 2i2 interface. I then re-amped these tracks with Ableton using one of the audio outputs on the 2i2.

Disclaimer: There are obviously LOTS of tones that these pedals are capable of that I didn't touch with these clips. It just wouldn't be possible for me to make clips to capture every sound. So I went with what I thought sounded like a good tube tone that I would use (somewhat scooped mids) and then adjusted the gain for each of the settings. No outboard EQ or compression was used during the process just cleanly recorded into Ableton.

If you have any questions, please ask on this thread on TalkBass.com or you can email me directly. Thank you.


Individual Pedals

Clean Clips

Basses:
Fender 50's Classic Precision Bass w/ Lindy Fralin pickups and D'Addario XL strings
G&L L2000 Tribute - Outer Coil Mod w/ D'Addario XL strings (passive)
G&L L2000 Tribute - Inner Coil Mod w/ D'Addario XL strings (passive)

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Aguilar Tone Hammer


Light - AGS On - Gain 10 / Treble 12 / Bass 1 / Mid Freq 1 / Mid 9 / Master 12
Medium - AGS On - Gain 1   / Treble 12 / Bass 1 / Mid Freq 1 / Mid 9 / Master 12
Heavy - AGS On - Gain 3   / Treble 12 / Bass 1 / Mid Freq 1 / Mid 9 / Master 11

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Catalinbread SFT


Light - Treble 12 / Bass 9 / Volume 10 / Gain 10
Medium - Treble 12 / Bass 9 / Volume 10 / Gain 1
Heavy - Treble 12 / Bass 9 / Volume 10 / Gain 3
Run at 18V

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Darkglass B7K


Light - Blend 1 / Level 1 / Drive 7 / Low 1 / Treble 12 / Lo Mids 1 / Hi Mids 11
Medium - Blend 12 / Level 1 / Drive 11 / Low 1 / Treble 12 / Lo Mids 12 / Hi Mids 11
Heavy - Blend 12 / Level 1 / Drive 2 / Low 12 / Treble 11 / Lo Mids 12 / Hi Mids 11
Switches - Grunt: Fat / Boost: On

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Darkglass Vintage Microtubes


Light - Blend full / Era full / Level 12 / Drive 9
Medium - Blend full / Era full / Level 12 / Drive 12
Heavy - Blend full / Era full / Level 12 / Drive 3

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Tech 21 Sansamp BDDI


Light - Level 2   / Blend 2 / Treble 12 / Bass 1 / Drive 10 / Presence 9
Medium - Level 1   / Blend 2 / Treble 12 / Bass 1 / Drive 1   / Presence 9
Heavy - Level 11 / Blend 3 / Treble 12 / Bass 1 / Drive 4   / Presence 9

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Tech 21 VT Bass


Light - Level 12 / Mid 12 / Character 11 / Drive 10 / Low 1 / High 11
Medium - Level 12 / Mid 12 / Character 11 / Drive 1 / Low 1 / High 11
Heavy - Level 12 / Mid 12 / Character 11 / Drive 2   / Low 1 / High 11

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Tronographic Rusty Box


Light - Boost Off / Vol 11 / Treble 10 / Bass 1   / Mid 11 / Gain 9
Medium - Boost Off / Vol 9   / Treble 10 / Bass 1   / Mid 11 / Gain 1
Heavy - Boost On / Vol 9   / Treble 9   / Bass 12 / Mid 11 / Gain 3

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Combinations

Darkglass B7K
Blend 3 / Level 1 / Drive 11 / Low 12 / Treble 10 / Lo Mids 11 / Hi Mids 11
Grunt: Raw / Boost On

Aguilar Tone Hammer
AGS Off - Gain 12 / Treble 12 / Bass 1 / Mid Freq 1 / Mid 9 / Master 11

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Darkglass Vintage Microtubes
Blend Full / Era Full / Level 1 / Drive 11

Aguilar Tone Hammer
AGS Off - Gain 10 / Treble 12 / Bass 1 / Mid Freq 1 / Mid 9 / Master 11

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Darkglass B7K
Blend 3 / Level 1 / Drive 11 / Low 12 / Treble 1 / Lo Mids 11 / Hi Mids 11
Grunt: Raw / Boost Off

Tronographic Rusty Box
Vol 9 / Treble 9 / Bass 12 / Mid 11 / Input Gain 11

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Darkglass Vintage Microtubes
Blend Full / Era Full / Level 1 / Drive 10

Tronographic Rusty Box
Vol 9 / Treble 9 / Bass 12 / Mid 11 / Input Gain 11

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Darkglass Vintage Microtubes
Blend Full / Era Full / Level 12 / Drive 9

Darkglass B7K
Blend 11 / Level 1 / Drive 11 / Low 2 / Treble 12 / Lo Mids 12 / Hi Mids 11
Grunt: Raw / Boost Off

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All cilps recorded by John B. Scott. Please ask permission to re-use for any purpose.
Pedal photographs copyright their respective manufacturers.

May 2013