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Gear Impressions and Luthier Spotlight With Jake Wolf: Mono Cases

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Review by Jake Wolf
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The MONO Case Company may be a newcomer to the bass bag market, but it’s easy to see that they’ve hit the ground running.  I caught up with them at Winter NAMM and their booth was buzzing with players, eager to check out their stylish and hip looking gig bags.

As I stepped into the booth, it became obvious to me that the beauty of these bags is not just skin deep.  Smart upgrades like steel riveted handles, internal ABS plastic reinforcement, waterproof external coating, and stowable carrying straps separate the mono bags from the hordes of sufficient, yet not entirely exceptional, gig bags.

M80 single bag

The M80 single bag has a durable nylon exterior that is stylishly stitched and baffled like many of MONO’s products.  The bag itself is fairly compact and dense, weighing in at 5.75lbs, fairly light compared to similar bags.  It has some rigidity to its frame, courtesy of smartly placed ABS plastic reinforcements, which offer more protection of the ends than your average gig bag.

With a bass inside, it feels solid and snug, just the right amount of extra padding in the right places: mostly the bottom and the top. MONO cases feature a Velcro neckbrace that cradles the bass’s neck and holds it snugly in place, minimizing shifting inside the bag.  Plush velour style lining trims out the interior.  The accessory pockets on the outside are sufficient, but I personally would like to see a little more room for extra accessories.  In the main pocket I was able to fit two 12′ cables, a tuner and a strap, but little else. The main pocket also has a built in organizer for pens and paper, similar to what you’d see in a school type backpack.  In addition, there is a small “hidden” accessory pocket at the top of the case, well suited for a small tool kit, or other little items.  MONO did well with their backpack straps, they are slim and low profile, but feel very comfortable and carry the weight well.  I received many a look and compliment on the Mono case from other musicians, its uptown styling and unique appearance seemed to make quite an impression.

M80 Dual Bag

MONO also sent along their M80 Dual bag, which is very similar to the single, except for the obvious fact that it holds two electric basses.  I found it to be mostly identical to the single bag, except the fit is a little different.  Overall it’s roomier, offering some extra space inside to accommodate the bulge of carrying two basses.  One mentionable difference is the thicker, more padded backpack straps on the Dual, they smartly made them a bit sturdier to accommodate for the extra weight.  The most unique feature about the Dual, however, is the Z form™ zipper system.  Whereas most double bags have one or two zippers on one side that allow access to the interior with a thick divider separating two compartments, the mono utilizes two separate zippered compartments, accessed on either side of the case.  This is a cool feature, and has some advantages, such as your basses being totally isolated from one another.  At first I found it a little awkward, but quickly adapted to its design.  It’s a cool idea, and certainly unique.  In general, the Dual does its job splendidly, its thick padding, high quality materials and metro looks earning mega brownie points with all those who inspected it.

Mono Producer bag

MONO was kind enough to send along their producer bag at my request.  The producer has the unmistakably cool exterior that all mono products share.  Essentially a messenger style bag designed to help electronic musicians organize and protect their DJ gear (like external hard drives, headphones, etc) I took one look at the producer bag and immediately saw its value for modern day bassists.  Inside it has a laptop sleeve, and a main compartment large enough for a pile of cables.  The outside of the bag is studded with 4 large accessory pockets, perfect for organizing and safeguarding your DI, an effect or two, some tools, and whatever other small items are gig bound.  To me, this is much preferable to throwing all your expensive accessories in a main compartment of a bag or case, all your nice bass toys tumbling together like a pile of river rocks to and from your gig.  The only thing I wish is that the main compartment was a tad roomier.  Front to back, I’d say (for a frame of reference) that it’s big enough for two college text books, but not much more.   I used the producer for the purpose of organizing all my electronic stuff for a gig and it worked great.  There was just enough room for my laptop, some cables, pedals, and tools…..even my leftover Indian food!

Overall I like the MONO products very much. The M80 single is near the top of my short list for gig bags due to its great padding and protection, along with its sleek profile, exceptional quality, and cool styling.  I’d like to see slightly larger main pockets on the outside of the bags, but otherwise I can’t say there is much I would do to improve on their smart design.  The single and the double cost $189 and $289 respectively, while the producer bag runs $139.

More info can be found at MONO’s website: monocase.com

Jake Wolf welcomes your comments and questions… drop him a line

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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Bass Videos

String Instrument Humidifiers

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String Instrument Humidifiers

String Instrument Humidifiers

After living in some very humid parts of the country for decades, we moved to a dryer, much sunnier location. As a result, I started noticing some fret sprout on my string instruments and recently did a video on fret sprout correction.

It occurred to me that I should take a more preventative approach to string instrument humidification. Of course, I turned to my instrument maintenance experts, Music Nomad Equipment Care, for a solution and they suggested their Humitar series. (Note: They sent two press samples and I purchased the remainder online.)

Join me as I look at these useful tools for keeping my string instruments in tip-top condition.

The Humitar series is available online at Music Nomad Equipment Care, as well as Amazon.com

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Bass Videos

Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

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Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

CrystalBright Rombo Picks

PR Sample

Playing bass with a pick is still a touchy subject in our community. I believe you should be able to use whatever you need to get your sound. Even though I mostly play with my fingers, I like to check out innovative new picks that might have something new to offer, sonically speaking.

Judith and Carlos from Rombo recently contacted me about a new material called CrystalBright that they have been researching for the last 12 months and offered to send some prototype picks. After trying them out, I put together this video with my findings.

For more info check out @rombopicks

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