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Grizzly Bass from Creation Audio Labs Roars on Many Levels

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Grizzly Bass from Creation Audio LabsIn the sea of overdrive, distortion and fuzz pedals, it’s hard to find the one that will fit your needs. The large bulk of them look the same, have the same layout and sound fairly similar as well. And when you try to layer more than one of these effects together, you usually wind up with a lot of sonic mush. Enter the Grizzly Bass from Creation Audio Labs, the pedal that is going to make you rethink how a pedal can work, and also how different sounds can work together.

Based off the success of previous pedals Holy Fire, MW1 and the Funkulator, the Grizzly Bass gives tube-amp simulation without the weight and fragility of tube amps. Immediately, the pedal itself demands attention; it almost completely lights up when you plug in the power supply! The teeth of the Grizzly light up to show the effect is ON, which is a nice touch. The layout of the knobs is very well laid out; top row (l to r) is gain, overdrive, distortion with the bottom row (l to r) at mid sweep and hi-cut filter. It initially took me a little bit to learn how each of these knobs reacted; the usual “Gain, Treble, Bass, Grit” style of control was gone. However, once I started turning knobs, it was apparent how much more intuitive this type of layout is, but also how versatile.

For example, the GAIN control on the Grizzly is the master volume; you can have all the other knobs turned completely off and use just the Grizzly as a boost pedal. Or, if you add in the MID SWEEP, you essentially have Creation Audio’s Funkulator pedal at your disposal. Toss in the HI-CUT FILTER to start making your hi-fi sound a little more analog. Or, if you’re already rocking a passive bass, use it to emulate the tube sounds you might enjoy from that extremely heavy amp that sits in your rehearsal space.

But, once you start playing with the OVERDRIVE and DISTORTION circuits, you really see where the Grizzly starts to roar. The typical distortion pedals use gain and clipping to achieve the desired effect, which usually ends up with a lot of noise that in the filtering process, thins out the tone. Ever try to play a bass through a guitar pedal and wonder where all your tone went? That’s what’s happening. The Grizzly approaches it in a different way; shaping the waveform in order to achieve the same sonic results, but retaining your tone in the process (as the website says, “all the way down to 20Hz”).

With this different approach to creating overdrive and distortion, how does it really affect your tone? It makes it extremely musical. Every nuance in your attack, whether you’re a finger or pick player, will translate into the Grizzly. Play a little lighter to lessen the grit and dig in for the chorus to hear some more. Listen to the huge wash of overdriven distortion ebb and flow to your every phrase. The Grizzly is going to easily become one of those pedals that you end up “playing,” to capitalize on the abilities that it has.

So, in a sea of similar effect pedals, where does the Grizzly Bass from Creation Audio Labs wind up? It’s not strictly an overdrive pedal, a distortion pedal, a boost, a mid scoop or even a hi-cut filter. Sure, you can use just one of those effects if you want, and you’ll be very happy. But the combination of more than one is what sets the Grizzly apart from everything else in the market. The ingenuity of the folks at Creation Audio have brought forth a new way of thinking how a distortion type pedal should look, act, and most important, react to the musician. The end result is something that many people are going to be using to replace multiple pedals on their board.

Grizzly Bass from Creation Audio Labs
Direct Price – $195 (introductory offer; jump on it!)

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New Gear: Phil Jones Bass X2C Dual Compressor/Effects Loop

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New Gear: Phil Jones Bass X2C Duel Compressor/Effects Loop

Step Into X2C With Phil Jones Bass Dual Compressor/Effects Loop…

Phil Jones Bass latest pedal innovation is the X2C Dual Compressor with Dual Effects Loop for performance and recording. The X2C incorporates advanced compressor circuit technology and provides comprehensive tone control with a dual crossover feature which divides the signal into frequency bands ranging from 100Hz to 500Hz, ensuring exceptional clarity and dynamics in tone refinement. 

With insert jacks on each band, the X2C unlocks limitless creativity, enabling players to use various FX pedals for custom tone sculpting. Additionally, it functions as an electronic crossover, ideal for driving high-performance, 2-way bass rigs.

PJB’s Dual-Band compression design is more flexible than standard single-band compressors and provides a more natural and transparent sound. It also provides greater control over shaping and managing dynamics where standard compressors affect the entire frequency spectrum of an audio signal.  

PJB’s dual compressor enables the player to shape specific frequency ranges of an audio signal which allows for compressing the low frequencies while preserving the high frequencies, or vice-versa. Treating the low-end with a dedicated band also allows for heavy compression without affecting the midrange frequencies, which carry the attack of the sound. 

Effects can be plugged into the insert jacks on the X2C and controlled separately. As an example, the lows can be adjusted separately for an overdrive pedal while the highs can be controlled for a chorus. 

Dividing the audio spectrum into fundamental frequencies and harmonics is also effective in the enrichment of slapping techniques. The low frequencies can be compressed without changing the dynamics of the “slap”. By controlling the low frequencies and focusing the attack on the slap the amplifier will sound louder while avoiding overloading of the amp or speakers. The low band can be compressed without the harmonics being affected. In addition, the send jacks can go to different amplifiers/speakers for a bi-amplification set up.

Compact and potent, the X2C embodies studio-grade excellence, setting a new standard for dynamic processing in an uncompromising, portable pedal. The street price is $359.99.

Visit online at www.pjbworld.com

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New Gear: Aguilar Amplification Next-generation Tone Hammer and AG Series Amplifiers

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New Gear: Aguilar Amplification Next-generation Tone Hammer and AG Series Amplifiers

New Gear: Aguilar Amplification Next-generation Tone Hammer and AG Series Amplifiers…

Aguilar Amplification is excited to unveil the next generation of Tone Hammer and AG series amplifiers. These amplifiers are designed to meet the exacting standards of today’s bassists, enhancing their musical expression through in-demand features and fresh new designs.

The latest innovations in the Tone Hammer and AG series include the introduction of the Aguilar Cabinet Suite, dual XLR outputs, expanded connectivity options, and power section upgrades. These features not only provide superior sound quality and flexibility but also maintain the classic Aguilar performance that musicians have relied upon.

Key features of the next-generation amplifiers:

Aguilar Cabinet Suite: This new software allows players to load Aguilar ’s custom-designed SL/DB cabinet impulse responses (IRs), or their own custom IR files. This feature is available through both XLR and headphone outputs, offering new tone shaping and cabinet emulation options.
 
Dual XLR Outputs & Expanded Connectivity: Musicians can now tailor their tone and utilize cabinet IRs for their monitor mix, while also sending a pre-EQ ’d signal directly to the front-of-house. This dual functionality ensures optimal sound for both the artist and front-of-house. The new amplifiers include auxiliary input and headphone output options for silent practice. They also feature mix controls to fine-tune the listening experience, ideal for both practice and performance.

Upgraded Power Sections: Previously exclusive to Aguilar’s 700-series, the upgraded power sections in the Tone Hammer and AG 500 now support a 2.67 ohm load and include universal mains. These enhancements make the amplifiers perfect for international touring, offering seamless voltage adaptation.

“The new Tone Hammer and AG series amplifiers are a testament to Aguilar ’s commitment to world class sound and performance, providing bassists with the tools they need to define their sound on the global stage,” remarks Jordan Cortese, Brand Manager, Aguilar Musical Instruments.

The next-generation Tone Hammer and AG series amplifiers are available for purchase through www.aguilaramp.com and Aguilar’s extensive dealer network worldwide. For more information about the new amplifiers and other Aguilar products, please visit www.aguilaramp.com.

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Luthier Spotlight

Luthier Spotlight: Ellis Hahn of LEH Basses

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Ellis Hahn of LEH Basses

Meet Ellis Hahn of LEH Basses…

In this issue, I have the honor of interviewing Ellis Hahn of LEH Basses.

Ellis Hahn of LEH Basses

You’re obviously not one for name-dropping, but you’ve built basses for some legendary musicians from Colin Greenwood (Radiohead) to Tim Lefebvre (David Bowie, Tedeschi Trucks, Black Crowes). How does it feel when your instruments are played on big stages by these icons?

Not gonna lie!  It really feels pretty amazing. Being at a venue and feeling a bass you made through the sound system rattling your chest… it’s surreal.

I recently got the chance to have Tim Lefevbre pick up his bass at my shop. It was so great to see him take to it right away. I literally dropped him off at rehearsal with it an hour later. When  I got a chance to see him play it the next day with the BlackStar Symphony Orchestra: The Music of David Bowie… let’s just say it was an absolute high note. I think I was smiling for two days straight.

The bulk of my experience building basses for legendary musicians comes directly through my time building for Sadowsky. While I was there I got the chance to build basses for Jason Newsted, Will Lee, Tully Kennedy, Verdine White, Tal Wilkenfeld and definitely some others whose names are escaping me right now.

One of my favorite builds was for Colin Greenwood of Radiohead. He wanted a bass that felt like and sounded like his vintage P bass but that was a bit less worrisome on the road. He brought in one of his favorite P’s for me to get to play and listen to so that I could recreate it…but as a Sadowsky.

That was also a fun lesson for me- there’s a lot of geometry you can tweak in the neck pocket that can drastically change the feel of a bass. The neck pocket, more than anything, was the main difference between a “normal” Sadowsky and Collin’s vintage P. Dialing in the neck pocket for the right feel was crucial. Colin was so at home with his P bass that other instruments felt “wrong.”

Collin came to pick up his bass while Radiohead had a multi-night gig at Madison Square Garden. I still have the backstage pass to that show next to my workbench pegboard, right next to my BlackStar Symphony Orchestra ticket.

Ellis Hahn of LEH Basses

Is there a quintessential L.E.H. musician? Who are you building for lately?
Oh gosh! I get this one a lot, and I don’t want to build for a specific subset. A lot of things have become polarized in the past several years and music bridges gaps. I just want to make a bass that anyone can feel at home with. That’s my goal. I want my bass to be able to adjust to you and age with you and be the thing you can pass down to your kid who is going to do something I cannot even fathom with it.

Ellis Hahn of LEH Basses

You are also a musician on top of being a builder. How does that influence your building?
I’m not the greatest musician, but my greatest talent as a musician is being able to be a blank slate for playing styles. I can play-test a bass or a pickup combo and leave myself and my music out of it. Very neutral fretting and right-hand technique.

Another lesson from my time at Sadowsky was our “listening tests” for new pickups or tone woods.  As a new guy, it was “ear-opening” to be in a room with all my colleagues listening to someone play bass and hear the differences between the players and the pickups. By learning to make myself neutral and generic, I could find the nuance in the sound.

Ellis Hahn of LEH Basses

What role does your dog play in the process? It must be important.
Hahaha.. Yes! She is crucial. Burnout is not a joke. She helps me remember to take a breath and step away periodically. This is normally communicated by dropping a tennis ball at my feet and tilting her head slightly to the side. That’s her way of reminding me that whatever nuance I am squinting over is not as important as our ongoing game of fetch.

What’s the coolest part of an L.E.H. bass that tends to go unnoticed?
I’m not sure if it is the coolest, but my favorite aspects are the way that things line up together. Things that you don’t really think about unless they are off. For instance, if there is a pickguard, it lines up perfectly with the control plate. That’s because I get the plates cut, prepare them for plating, and check that the fit matches as the edges are de-burred and smoothed. I also have a new magnetic battery cover that fits into the backplate, and that is of course a perfect match.

One thing that is tricky but fun to line up is the treble side of the neck pocket where the heel is parallel to the body. If the body sticks out in front of it, that’s a deal breaker. I anticipate the thickness of the body’s poly finish versus the neck’s thin nitro finish and undercut it to make it either a perfect match or a slightly inset from the neck. It makes everything feel cohesive as you play up the neck near the body.

Okay now tell us about the faders.
I thought you’d never ask! I love those things! That was an idea that I came up with in order to simplify the controls and make adjustments easy for players at all times. I like the visual element too, because not only does it look cool, but you can see the EQ right there on the body of the bass.

Ellis Hahn of LEH Basses

What do you tell a client who’s a little wary of a bass that looks too out there?
First off, I guess I’d say to quit worrying!! Then I’d have to ask, what’s so “out there” about my basses? I know the headstock is a lot, but that mass helps the bass sing and pretty much eliminates dead spots. I also know the faders are a new thing, but trust me.. once you try it, you’re gonna love it. A client recently told me that he was a little wary of my faders but once he got it out of the case he said that it felt very, very easy to dial in what I was looking for on both the faders and the knobs.

Ellis Hahn of LEH Basses

For more than several years (sixteen to be precise) you worked at Sadowsky Guitars. What was that like?
Initially it was amazing. I got to level up my skill set in one of the best shops in the world with the best people and the best tools. But after leveling up, I wanted to push further. It wasn’t possible to go beyond the designs there. Yes, I could change my building technique and improve in very small ways, but in order to improve in a big way I had to move on and explore for myself. That’s why I started making my own designs. The biggest improvement I made, or rather, the biggest realization I made that led to an improvement was collaborating with Roger Sadowsky and Chip Shearin in designing the Sadowsky Single Cut.

On paper, the task was simple: make a single-cut bass with 24 frets and a bolt-on neck. What I didn’t expect to find was that the giant neck pocket improved the classic Sadowsky 24-fret model significantly. It added sustain, it reduced dead spots, and it made the long neck of the 24-fret much more solid. All that added up to making that bass much more acoustic and organic.

I kept that experience in mind when I designed the original Offset. I maximized the neck pocket and made the most solid neck-to-body contact that I could while still maintaining the aesthetic of a double cut. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier about the end result. I feel like I found the happy spot between cool Fender vibe and a solution to Fender-style-build problems

You’re known for a lot of things in regard to your builds, but tell us how you came up with your body design. Where did the offset shape originate?
With the Offset design, I’m attempting to evolve tradition. The goal is something immediately recognizable and, to be honest, just plain cool. Fender designs aren’t the most comfortable, balanced, or playable, but they are iconic. I took where they left off, offset the curves more for balance, carved the back for more comfort, and added a bunch of small improvements that I had learned over the past several years building Fender-style instruments.

Alright, so this isn’t exactly bass-related, but what’s with the space thing?
Ha! Yes….. Ok! I am weirdly obsessed with space. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved space exploration. In the 80’s I went to garage sales and was on the lookout for National Geographic Issues from the late 60’s that had amazing images and would tear out records of sounds from space. Never did find a lunar landing issue fully intact. But that’s ok, now there’s the internet.

I guess I use space imagery as a backdrop for what I do because space imagery feels like endless possibilities. My 10-year-old self would totally dig it.

Ellis Hahn of LEH Basses

Ok, final questions: Where can we find you on social media and how can our readers order a bass?
Important questions! Thanks for asking. My only social media thing I do is Instagram. I’m @lehguitars. And ordering a bass is the fun part. If you have an idea for a build or questions about my instruments please email me: LEHguitars@gmail.com.

I like to walk clients through all the ins and outs of their options and make sure we’re building the right bass for them. That way when the bass is complete, I can be sure that they are getting exactly what they want and need in their new instrument.

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New Gear: Spector Doug Wimbish USA Custom Series Basses

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Doug Wimbish, pictured with the new Spector Doug Wimbish USA Custom Series basses

Spector offers Doug Wimbish USA Custom Series basses…

Spector, a leading authority in bass guitar design, unveils two new Doug Wimbish USA Custom Series basses. Synonymous with bass excellence since 1987, Wimbish collaborated with Spector’s USA Custom Shop to create the DW-4 and DW-5 models, echoing the iconic instruments that have been favored heavily throughout his recording and performing career.
 
These signature basses faithfully replicate Wimbish’s originals, down to the smallest details like neck contours and nut widths. Customized EMG pickups, developed in collaboration with Wimbish, capture the distinctive sound that has shaped his monumental musical impact. These models invite players to explore the feel and response that have defined Wimbish’s signature style over the years.
 
Available in 4-string and 5-string versions, each model boasts unique features & finish options. The DW-4 comes in Amber Stain Gloss and Black Stain Gloss options, while the DW-5 offers Dark Blue Stain Gloss and Faded Natural Gloss. Every purchase includes a certificate of authenticity signed by Doug Wimbish. Wimbish comments, “Spector took the time to get every little nuance right, and that to me is dedication and being thoughtful enough to know ‘I want to nail it,’ and they did. I’m able to pick these instruments up for the first time and play them like I’ve already had them for years.”

For more information, visit spectorbass.com/doug-wimbish-usa-signature-series/.

Photo: Doug Wimbish, pictured with the new Spector Doug Wimbish USA Custom Series basses

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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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