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Gear Reviews

Gear Impressions and Luthier Spotlight With Jake Wolf : Mesa Boogie M6 Carbine

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Review by Jake Wolf –

Background:  These days, it’s hard to deny that lightweight tiny amps are on the front lines of the bass amp scene; amps that look like and weigh about as much as a shoebox, but deliver all the volume, tone and flexibility needed for today’s busy gigging bassist.  Companies are jumping on board left and right, entering their bids to compete in the new featherweight amp market.  And then there’s Mesa’s M6; not tiny, not featherweight, but truly a contender the modern amp marketplace.  Mesa’s M6 has already earned a reputation as an instant classic, garnering praise among discerning bassophiles and gigging road dogs.  For the M6 to be gaining such popularity amongst similarly rated heads that weigh a fraction as much, Mesa must really have hit the nail on the head, right?  RIGHT!  Well, Mesa recently sent me their M6 Carbine (previously known as the Fathom) to check out and put through its paces.  My personal opinion is that the M6 represents a real evolutionary leap in terms of power and tone, while maintaining the tried and true form factor of a 2 rack space traditional-power-supply bass head.

Construction:  Mesa stuff always looks well built and smartly designed, and the Carbine certainly follows in that tradition. The look is stripped down, austere and industrial; the clean lines are refreshingly easy on the eyes, making quick tone adjustments a snap.   The beefy chassis and faceplate are confidence inspiring, seeming totally roadworthy, the switches, knobs, and jacks feel stout and reliable.  Everything about the construction seems well thought out and equally well executed.

Features:  The M6’s preamp section features a 3 band eq with some cool extras.  Pull on the bass knob and you get the “deep” setting, with extended low end heft and a bit of additional air on top, adding overall beef and some added width to the sound.  The mid control is deceivingly a boost only control, as opposed to the bass and treble controls boost/cut type feature. It sounds balanced and punchy at the center detent (an odd feature for a boost only control), but as with all of the M6’s eq knobs, a little goes a long way.  Twisting any of the knobs offers powerful tone shaping ability.  The eq is user friendly, and the chosen frequency points are very intuitive and unobtrusive to my ears.  One cool feature is the 5-way mid preset knob, which works better than most any other “mid presets” type of approach that I’ve heard.  It has two mid scoop settings and two mid boost settings, and I found the less extreme of each to be totally usable, musical and great sounding.  I experimented on gigs making quick adjustments to my tone using only that knob and was pleasantly surprised with how usable the settings were.  Continuing down the front panel, the M6 features a handy front mounted DI level with push/ pull control for pre/post eq settings, and a master volume with a pull-to-mute function, indicated by a small yellow LED.  On the back, there is a DI XLR jack with a ground lift, an effects loop with a bypass switch, two multi function speaker outs, a tuner out, and the footpedal jacks.  A note about the footpedal: Mesa decided to go with 1 jack per setting, meaning that there are 5 jacks for footswitches, one each for the 5 mid presets, all of which are on/off.  While I can appreciate the flexibility in being able to control and combine any and all settings, I find this to be somewhat clunky, potentially very confusing, and it requires either a small handful of pedals, or a custom designed pedal that houses 5 switches and 5 jacks. (Mesa responds: We can make a footpedal designed for the carbine for an additional cost if a customer requests one)

Real World:  I used this head on a handful of gigs with various basses and cabs in several different rooms.  By and large, playing through the Carbine was a joyful experience.  Tonally, the carbine is a departure from the vibe Mesa is loved and renowned for.  It is quick, articulate, and forward sounding, with tons of upper mid and treble snap, and great low end oomph.  Whereas Mesa’s Mpulse series heads are somewhat pillowy and tubey sounding, the Carbine is a striking contrast; bold, sharp and assertive, adding some spice and variety to their product line.  My band mates praised the Carbines ability to leap through to the front of the stage mix without sounding brash or harsh, instead it rides that fine line of being clear and present without sounding sterile or clanky.  It is very musical and dynamic, and was easily compatible with every cab/bass combination I tried it out with.  Volume-wise the Carbine is loud, and by loud I mean REALLY LOUD.  Perhaps it’s due in part to the assertive voicing of the amp, but I was more than happy with the volume and the headroom the amp produces, bordering on overkill for most club gigs.  I know how we bassists love our headroom!  I rarely had the master above nine o’clock even on loud gigs, and it never seemed to lose its composure or break a sweat, even when pounding out sub octave OC-2 synth lines or searingly loud slap grooves.

Gripes:  I admit that the pull-to-mute function on the master knob almost always results in a volume shift due to the knob getting bumped when pulling/pushing.  I would like to see Mesa add a separate mute control, one that isn’t connected to a critical knob.   Good news: the mid presets are footswitch controlled.  Bad news:  As I mentioned, you’ll need a barrage of footswitches to get full use of the functionality, or a custom made footpedal, like the one Mesa mentioned is available as a custom order. I personally would love to see Mesa include in the box a proprietary Carbine footswitch.  This is a no-brainer for me, especially given my love for its abilities, and its functions’ value in the overall package.

Conclusion:  Some friends and I were joking that this is the anti-Mesa or better yet, the Mesa for guys who haven’t been real fans of their previous amp offerings.   This is not at all meant as a slight against Mesa Boogie. Rather, what I mean is that the M6 is a clear departure from the established Mesa tonal formula, and a foray into a market that has many good contenders but few true standouts, especially ones that sell for under $1000 ($1149 with optional head case).  To my ears, the M6 sounds more similar to my old trusty and beloved Demeter/Crest rack setup than it does like any of its 2 rack space head competition.  I loved its authoritative quickness, forward yet unobtrusive and appropriate mids, and slammin’ bottom end.  The M6 may prove too “in your face” for the die hard lovers of SVT or 400+ type tone, but there’s no denying that what it does, it does in spades,  The M6 raises the bar big time.  It shows that a 2 rack space amp that weighs 24 pounds doesn’t have to compromise sheer power, tonal versatility, build quality or a comprehensive yet uncluttered feature set.  One thing is for sure, the M6 is right up my own alley.  It puts a smile on my face and a flap in my pant leg every time that cool blue power light flicks on.

For more info, visit www.mesaboogie.com

Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Joyo Monomyth – A Versatile Modern Bass Preamp

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Gear Revieww: Joyo Monomyth - A Versatile Modern Bass Preamp

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinions or the content of our reviews. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

Introduction:

The Joyo Monomyth bass preamp pedal is designed to offer bassists a comprehensive range of tonal options, combining modern features with practical functionality. With independent channels for EQ and overdrive, as well as useful additions like a cab sim and DI output, the Monomyth aims to be a versatile tool for both live performances and studio sessions. This review will delve into the pedal’s specifications, controls, and overall performance to determine if it lives up to its promise of delivering quality and flexibility at an affordable price.

Specifications:

– Dimensions: 130 * 110 * 50 mm

– Weight: 442g

– Working Voltage: DC 9V

Controls:

The Joyo Monomyth is equipped with a comprehensive set of controls designed to provide maximum tonal flexibility:

– Voice: Adjusts the character of the overdrive, from distortion to fuzz.

– Blend: Balances the dry and effected signals, crucial for maintaining low-end presence.

– Level: Sets the overall output volume.

– Drive: Controls the amount of gain in the overdrive channel.

– Treble Boost: Enhances high and mid frequencies for clarity in complex passages.

– Gain Boost: Adds extra gain, particularly effective at low gain settings to enhance the low e.

– EQ Function Controls: Features a 6-band graphic EQ plus a master control for precise nal shaping.

– Ground Lift Switch: Helps eliminate ground loop noise.

– Cab Sim Switch: Activates a simulated 8×10″ cab sound.

– LED Light Control: Customizes the pedal’s ambient lighting.

Performance:

The Joyo Monomyth shines in its dual-channel design, offering both a transparent EQ channel and a versatile overdrive channel. The 6-band EQ allows for detailed tonal adjustments, preserving the natural character of your bass while providing ample flexibility. The voice control mimics the functionality of the Darkglass Alpha Omega, shifting from distortion to fuzz, with a sweet spot around the middle for balanced tones.

The blend control is essential for retaining the low end when using distortion, ensuring your bass remains powerful and clear. The treble and gain boosts, available on the overdrive channel, further enhance the pedal’s versatility, making it suitable for everything from subtle drive to full-blown fuzz.

Outputs are plentiful, with a DI and XLR out for direct recording or ampless setups, and a headphone out for convenient practice sessions. The cab sim switch adds a realistic 8×10″ cab sound, enhancing the Monomyth’s utility in live and studio environments.

Pros:

– Versatile Control Set: Offers a wide range of tones, from clean to fuzz.

– Blend Control: Maintains low-end presence.

– Robust Outputs: DI, XLR, and headphone outs make it adaptable for various setups.

– Affordable: Provides high-end functionality at a budget-friendly price.

– Sturdy Construction: Durable build quality ensures reliability.

Cons:

– Plastic Knobs: May feel less premium compared to metal controls.

– Boosts Limited to Overdrive Channel: Treble and gain boosts do not affect the EQ channel.

– Cab Sim only on the XLR out: how cool would it be to also have it on the headphone out?

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Monomyth stands out as a versatile and powerful bass preamp pedal, offering a range of features that cater to both traditional and modern bassists. Its dual-channel design, comprehensive control set, and robust output options make it a valuable tool for achieving a wide spectrum of tones, from clean and warm to heavily distorted. For bassists seeking flexibility, reliability, and excellent value, the Joyo Monomyth is a top contender.

For more information, visit online at joyoaudio.com/product/267.html

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Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Joyo Double Thruster – Modern Bass Distortion Redefined

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Gear Review- Joyo Double Thruster - Modern Bass Distortion Redefined

Review of the Joyo Double Thruster…

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinions or the content of our reviews. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

Introduction: When it comes to bass distortion, finding a pedal that delivers a wide spectrum of tones while maintaining the essential low end can be challenging. The Joyo Double Thruster, a modern bass distortion pedal designed to cater to the diverse needs of bassists was a pleasant surprise that we had the opportunity to review. From subtle overdrive to full-on fuzz, the Double Thruster delivers with versatility and affordability.

Specs: The Joyo Double Thruster is compact yet robust, making it ideal for both stage and studio use. Here are its key specifications:

Dimensions: 109 * 72 * 48 mm

Weight: 250g

Working Voltage: DC 9V

Controls: The Double Thruster features a comprehensive control set that allows for precise tonal sculpting:

Tone: Adjusts the overall tonal character of the distortion.

Blend: Critical for bassists, this control blends the dry signal with the distorted signal, ensuring the low end remains intact.

Volume: Sets the output level of the pedal.

Gain: Controls the amount of distortion, from mild overdrive to full fuzz.

Gain Boost Switch: Provides a noticeable boost, especially at lower gain settings, enhancing the low end and adding depth to the tone.

Mid Boost Switch: Boosts mid frequencies, helping the sound cut through the mix with greater clarity and definition.

LED Light Control: Customizes the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance: The Joyo Double Thruster excels in delivering a range of distortion tones while retaining the essential low end that bassists need. The blend control is particularly useful, allowing users to mix the clean and distorted signals to maintain clarity and punch. The gain boost switch adds a pleasing depth to the low end, especially noticeable at lower gain settings, while also compensating for low end loss at higher gain levels. The mid-boost switch enhances the pedal’s ability to cut through complex mixes, making it ideal for intricate playing.

In terms of versatility, the Double Thruster can emulate a variety of distortion sounds, from subtle warmth to high-mid, djenty grind. This makes it an excellent tool for bassists exploring different genres and styles.

Pros:

  • Blend Control: Essential for retaining the low end in a distorted signal.
  • Size and Weight: Compact and sturdy design.
  • Rugged Construction: Durable build quality.
  • Gain and Mid Boosts: Adds versatility and clarity to the tone.
  • Affordable Price: Offers excellent value for money.

Cons:

  • Plastic Knobs: May feel less premium compared to metal controls.
  • Comparison to High-End Pedals: While close, it may not fully match the tone of more expensive pedals like the Darkglass B3K, and that’s ok. The Double Thruster is a great pedal on its own!

Conclusion: In conclusion, the Joyo Double Thruster stands out as a versatile and affordable option for bassists seeking a wide range of distortion tones. Its thoughtful design and comprehensive controls make it a great tool for achieving everything from mild overdrive to full fuzz, all while maintaining the crucial low end. For bassists looking to expand their tonal palette without breaking the bank, the Joyo Double Thruster is a must-have addition to their pedalboard.

Visit online at joyoaudio.com

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Bass Videos

Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

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Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB…

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB – Hearing protection has always been front and center on my mind because I love music so much, I cannot imagine my life if I were unable to hear.

You might remember back in 2021, we had a good look at the Minuendo Lossless Earplugs featuring adjustable protection. This system has a lot of very good features but there was always the question of how much sound attenuation to choose.

Now, the great folks at Minuendo have come up with a new version of their earplugs that has a set 17dB noise reduction. You still get a lot of the great features of the adjustables but you just don’t have to think about the specific sound level. In addition, this new version of earplugs comes at a very attractive price point.

For more information, visit online at Minuendo.com

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

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Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.

Specs:

Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.

Controls:

At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance:

True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.

Pros:

The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.

Cons:

While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at Amazon.com

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

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Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

Joyo Scylla Compressor: When Quality meets Budget-Friendly

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the diverse landscape of effects pedals for bass guitar, finding a compressor that strikes the balance between performance, versatility, and affordability can often feel like a daunting task. 

However, amidst the sea of options, one pedal stood out as a true diamond in the rough – the Joyo Scylla compressor. Despite its wallet-friendly price tag, the Scylla boasts a great array of features and controls typically reserved for pedals with much higher costs. Let’s take a closer look at why the Joyo Scylla is turning heads and earning praise among bassists on a budget.

Specs: The Joyo Scylla compressor measures in at 109 * 72 * 48 mm and weighs a mere 234g, making it both compact and lightweight – perfect for gigs or studio sessions where space is at a premium. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Scylla is efficient and versatile, compatible with a wide range of pedalboard setups.

Controls: What sets the Scylla apart from its direct competitors is its comprehensive control set, offering bassists a good amount of flexibility in shaping their sound. With six knobs, the Scylla allows for a very precise adjustment of key parameters:

  • Input Gain: Adjusts the amount of signal being fed into the compressor.
  • Output Volume: Controls the makeup gain after compression, ensuring consistent output levels.
  • Compression Ratio: Unlike traditional compressor pedals with preset ratio options, the Scylla features a continuous knob, allowing for seamless adjustment from subtle compression to limiter-like effects.
  • Attack and Release: Determine how quickly the compression engages and releases, offering a range of tonal possibilities from punchy and aggressive to smooth and subtle.
  • Output Tone Control: A unique feature not commonly found in compressor pedals, the tone knob adjusts the coloration of the compressed signal, adding warmth or brightness to your bass tone.
  • LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal, adding a touch of visual flair to their setup.
  • Performance: In practice, the Joyo Scylla delivers where it matters most – in sound quality and performance. Whether you’re aiming for a tight, punchy bass sound or smooth, sustained notes, the Scylla excels in providing transparent compression that enhances your playing without sacrificing dynamics. The granular control offered by its knobs allows for precise tailoring of compression settings to suit a wide range of playing styles and musical genres.
  • Pros: The Scylla’s strengths lie in its granular control, versatility, and compact design. Its sturdy build quality and diminutive size make it a welcome addition to any pedalboard, occupying minimal real estate without compromising on functionality. However, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Scylla is its price point. Despite offering professional-grade features, the Scylla remains accessible to bassists of all budgets.
  • Cons: While the Joyo Scylla excels in many areas, it’s not without its drawbacks. One notable omission is the lack of metering, which may pose a challenge for users seeking visual feedback on compression levels. Additionally, the plastic knobs, while functional, may feel somewhat less premium compared to other pedals. 
  • Conclusion: In conclusion, the Joyo Scylla compressor emerges as a great option in the world of budget-friendly effects pedals for bass guitar. Its comprehensive control set, transparent compression, and compact design make it a compelling choice for bassists seeking professional-grade performance without breaking the bank. From its intuitive interface to its thoughtful touches like the tone knob and customizable LED lighting, the Scylla delivers a level of versatility and functionality that belies its modest price tag. For bassists looking to elevate their tone without compromising on quality or affordability, the Joyo Scylla compressor is a clear standout.

For more information, visit online at joyoaudio.com/product/265.html

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