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Review – 3 Leaf Audio Octabvre, Wonderlove and Doom Pedals

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3 Leaf Audio Octabvre, Wonderlove and Doom Pedal Reviews

Back in the late 70’s and 80’s, synth/keyboard bass was in its heyday, appearing on all kinds of records, supplanting the organic electric bass tone we fell in love with in the 60’s and 70’s. While synth bass’s day in the sun didn’t last for too long, there has been an undeniable resurgence of electric bass players trying to cop the synth tones that bubbled up during that era. Nowadays, if you want your electric bass to sound like a synthesizer, you have a couple of options: You can go with a “one stop shop” multi-effect or synth pedal, (for example, the popular Boss Bass Synth, MarkBass Super synth, or the coveted Akai Deep Impact) which contain all of the sonic components that comprise synth bass tone, namely: octave, envelope filter and distortion. Alternatively, you can get those tones from individual pedals in a certain order.   In the last few years, I’ve been dialing in my synth bass sound with the latter method, handpicking different effects geared toward my ideal synth tone. I much prefer the ‘modular’ approach, as it lets me tweak the individual sonic puzzle pieces, AND also lets me use any of those pieces by itself, which I end up doing a lot more than using the full blown synth sounds.

In my quest to find the ultimate octave and envelope effects, I inevitably became hip to 3 Leaf Audio, makers of exquisitely designed and built effect pedals. First thing first: the build quality and componentry is superb. The enclosures are heavy duty and solid feeling, switches and knobs all feel smooth and sturdy, and even the paint jobs and graphics show a keen eye for detail and design. Spencer Doren opened 3 Leaf Audio in 2008, borne of a lack of satisfaction with offerings at the time. It started with mods and tweaks of existing pedals and soon he started designing and producing his own pedals.   He currently offers a range of pedals that, when used in combination, provide lusciously deep and syrupy synth tone. Let’s go through the pedals one by one.

First up is the 3 Leaf Audio Octbavre MKII Octave pedal.

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The Octabvre is based on the tonal blueprint of older Boss OC-2 octave pedals, which are widely regarded as the high water mark for processed sub-octave synth bass goodness for electric bass. Not the fastest or most transparent unit out there, users usually agree that there’s some weird magic in those pedals that just sounds great, and transforms your bass into a straight up booty machine. If you’re wondering about the name, the pedal gets its name from bassist extraordinaire Tim Lefebvre (David Bowie, Krantz Carlock, Lefebvre, Tedeschi Trucks Band); one of the true pioneers in the modern movement of electric bass players seeking righteously synthy bass tones. One thing that sets the Octabvre apart from other octavers is that it features 2 different settings that are switchable via footswitches. On the left side you have a super-fast tracking, warm sub octave that allows you to tailor both the mix level of dry/wet as well as control the overall output level. Kick in the right side, and you get vintage ‘sub-octave only’ OC-2 heaven:   big, dirty, synthy grit with loads of bottom and a tone knob that allows for some adjustment of high and mid frequency presence. With the tone set at its lower range, it is very reminiscent of my MIJ Boss OC2, and just the way I like it!   Sidebar: I always had a love/hate relationship with my vintage OC2. I loved its tone when engaged, but It didn’t track as fast as I wanted it to, it was pretty finicky about input levels, and despite having a great sub-octave tone, in bypass mode I found it to be a real tone sucker. I found I had to keep the OC2 on a true bypass loop in order to not deal with subpar tone when the unit was bypassed. The Octabvre Mk II also features the “Tim Tuning” switch, which, according to Spencer is more true to the OC2 tone. I found the Tim Tuning to be a little deeper and purer sounding, and have less gritty mids than the switches other position. I ended up using Octabvre in “Tim mode” all the time. Spencer also notes that the new Octabvre Mini (a more affordable version with less features) offers only one voicing, and it’s a modified version of the Tim Tuning setting.   When I asked Spencer about the ideas behind this pedal, he told me that he used to go see Lefebvre when he played in NYC at the 55 bar with Wayne Krantz (lucky dog!). Spencer says: “I’ve been a fan of Tim’s playing for years. I used to see him play at the 55 Bar in New York back when I lived there. My playing style is somewhat similar to his and I figured he would dig my creations, so I got in touch with him and sent him a few stomp boxes. We got along immediately and a few months later I started working on the design for the Octabvre. The idea for that pedal came about because I would always see Tim bend down in the middle of a song to turn off the dry knob on his OC-2, and I figured a 2nd footswitch that cut the dry signal would let him use the octaver effect more effectively.” Thus the Octabvre was born!

Next up is the 3 Leaf Audio Wonderlove Envelope Filter.

review-3-leaf-octabvre-wonderlove-and-doom-pedals-2It’s pretty hard to imagine that so much control and versatility can be housed in a stomp box sized enclosure, but the Wonderlove manages to offer a level of control over its effect that is pretty much unparalleled in the current market. Back in the day, there was the coveted Lovetone Meatball, which offered a similar amount of control over parameters, but is was big and clunky, and these days, fetches astronomical prices on the used market.   The Wonderlove does everything a good envelope filter should do, and a few other cool things. It allows you to control the input sensitivity, the attack and release speed, and the resonance level, and it offers things like: a dry/wet blend knob, a footswitchable expression pedal (to mimic a manual wah-wah pedal), a global tone knob for sonic seasoning to taste, and (most ‘hip-ly’), a selectable buffer circuit with an fx loop.   Why is this hip? Well, say you want to run an octave and fuzz before your envelope, because that’s the tone you like, BUT… doing that causes all kinds of weirdness for how the envelope filter “sees” the input (they tend to like clean consistent signals to work properly), this loop allows you to run your effects in this hypothetically preferred method, while hitting the envelope filter with your clean signal, so the envelope functions consistently and smoothly, no matter if the octave or fuzz are engaged. Overall, I was super impressed with the Wonderlove, mainly because it allowed me to tailor EXACTLY the kind of filter effect I was going for. Most filter pedals opt for simplicity, whereas the Wonderlove goes for maximum tweakability. While this may be off-putting for some, for those willing to put the work in, they are rewarded with a very finely tuned envelope filter sound that has exceptional tone and responsiveness and can be adjusted towards a number of tonal options. After a little learning curve, I was able to dial in bootsy funk, lyrical vowel-like soloing tones, and all kinds of bubbly weirdness. I seriously can’t imagine wanting for another filter pedal after being spoiled by the Wonderlove!

And finally, the 3 Leaf Audio DOOM Fuzz.

review-3-leaf-octabvre-wonderlove-and-doom-pedals-3I’m gonna be the first to admit that I’m not a huge fuzz aficionado. I like a nice dirty fuzz tone, but typically opt for cleaner tones, generally speaking. Whether that makes me a particularly bad or good person to review a fuzz pedal will have to be up to you. Let me make a case for the latter.   I don’t like a lot of fuzz pedals, as they can kill dynamics and low end punch, sound un-natural and have too much of a baked in distortion level. The Doom Pedal really surprised me with its uniqueness and dynamic range. At its lower settings, it has a very reactive dynamic presence, which I like. I was able to “play the effect” by varying how much I dug in with my right hand, and it offered a very responsive experience, which appealed to me immediately. As you crank up the gain levels and open up the tone, the DOOM served up everything from creamy, to snarly to downright synthy glitch. At certain settings it sounds brassy and processed in a very synth friendly manner.  The DOOM really excels in combination with the Wonderlove and the Octabvre.   Using the three in conjunction with each other was straight up addictive, and dished out Moog-worthy synth tones, that would make any keyboard bass fan smile. The grittiness of the DOOM really brings out the tone of the other pedals, and I found myself wanting to play Boogie On Reggae Woman over, and over and over. It’s just a flat out enjoyable pedal combo, which makes perfect sense, given the family tree.

As mentioned above, all three of the 3 Leaf pedals have exceptionally high quality feeling build quality, are housed in heavy duty enclosures with great paint and graphics, and clearly employ top shelf jacks and switches. There isn’t anything to nitpick about with any of these pedals, that wouldn’t be filed under “subjective”, and I can say with confidence that Spencer knocked these 3 pedals out of the park. Whether you’re looking for just the right octave pedal, envelope filter, or dynamic fuzz effect, or a full blown bass synth channel, you seriously owe it to yourself to check out the 3 Leaf product line.   The Octabvre MkII sells direct for $259, The Wonderlove for $299, and the DOOM for $219.   For more information, visit 3 Leaf on the web at www.3leafaudio.com

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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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