Connect with us

Gear Reviews

Review: Empress Buffer+

Published

on

Empress Buffer+ Review

Empress Buffer+ Review…

Buffer pedals: What do they do exactly, and do you need one in your rig? I wanted to explore this subject because it seems like passive P and J style basses still rule the day and are more in fashion than in recent memory, and also because it seems like pedalboards of varying size and complexity are becoming the norm for working bass players. When you play a passive instrument through a series of bypassed effects pedals (or a long instrument cable, for that matter), the relatively weak or ‘high impedance’ signal loses a little bit of its oomph with each foot of cable, each connector, and each bypassed electronic component it passes through on its way to your amp, due to capacitance. Whether you’re an effects junkie, a tonal purist, or an IEM user lovingly crafting a great amp tone with pedal-based amp modeling effects, you can think of a buffer as a “conditioner” for your passive signal- something that preserves the full dynamic range and tonal integrity of your basses. Whether a buffer pedal will benefit your setup comes down to 3 basic questions: Do you play passive basses; Do you use pedals; and/or do you use long (15-20’) instrument cables? A buffer at the front of your pedalboard ensures that your pristine passive tone will be preserved through all those components and arrive at your amplifier as Leo Fender intended it. Similarly, if you play a passive bass with no effects and a 20’ cable, you’re probably losing a bit of your signal due to the capacitance in the long cable, and a shorter cable to a buffer (then a long cable to your amp) will ensure that your bass tone stays strong, clean, and full range.

Enter the all-analog Buffer+ from Empress Effects, which is designed to be a “complete I/O interface for your pedalboard, while maintaining the highest fidelity to your guitar’s signal”. 

The Empress Buffer+ is a well-thought-out solution for players who want to retain the purity of tone they get from plugging their axe straight into their amp while using their pedal setups. 

buffer_-signal-chain-block-diagram

 If you play an active bass, which by nature has a lower impedance (hotter) signal, you may not get as much benefit from an active buffer stage, but a pedal like the Buffer+ can have other advantages.

The Buffer+ is robustly built, as are all Empress products, and its well-thought-out features and form factor make a lot of sense. Both the input and output jacks are located on the right side to serve as a nice tidy “patch bay” for your cable comings and goings from your board. The “Input Loading” mini pot fine-tunes the “load” placed on the pickups. Fully clockwise yields the cleanest fullest sound, and things get a little less bright and full range as you dial it back from there if you want to tone things down a touch. There is a +3/0/-3 dB Input pad switch that can even out signal levels between different instruments or set the right amount of volume to optimally interface with your effects. A selectable noise filter cuts any hiss that may be generated from the pedals in your chain.  On the left side of the pedal are the Send and Return jacks for your FX loop. There is a buffer stage at the input of the pedal, as well as following the Return jack, to ensure that your signal gets preserved going into the effects loop and coming out of it. The Buffer + offers up to 30dB of gain, post FX loop, courtesy of the soft switch footswitch. A tuner output is located above the Send and Return jacks. Holding the footswitch down for 1 second engages a silent mute function.  

There is another cool use for the Buffer+, as a “1 in, 3 out” splitter box. If nothing is plugged into the Loop In jack, the pedal will generate 3 full bandwidth outputs (Amp Out, Loop Out, Tuner Out) which can be mighty handy for signal routing in some stage and studio setups.

All in all, the Buffer+ is another in a long line of winners from Empress and may be an excellent solution for tone preservation, cable management, boost, and noise suppression.  

As pedal-loving tone nerds like me can attest to, the drag with running a sweet board is that it can sometimes result in losing a little bit of clarity and life, compared to plugging your bass directly into your amp. The Empress Buffer+ can help mitigate those losses in tone and keep your sound full and punchy. For all the work you go through to make your bass sound great, you want to make sure you’re not losing clarity, richness, and detail.  

The Buffer+ retails for $149, and they offer a stripped-down version of the Buffer without boost, input loading, noise filter, or input pad for $99. If you’re running a passive P or J bass and some pedals, and still want your bass to sound great, you might want to look into what the Buffer+ can do for your setup. 

For more information, visit online at empresseffects.com/products/buffer-1

Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Bass Videos

String Instrument Humidifiers

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Bass Videos

Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Gear

New Joe Dart Bass From Sterling By Music Man

Published

on

Sterling by Music Man introduces the Joe Dart Artist Series Bass (“Joe Dart”), named after and designed in collaboration with the celebrated Vulfpeck bassist.

Above photo credit: JORDAN THIBEAUX

This highly-anticipated model marks the debut of the Dart bass in the Sterling by Music Man lineup, paying homage to the Ernie Ball Music Man original that all funk players know and love. The bass embodies many of the original model’s distinctive features, from its iconic minimalist design to the passive electronics.

Joe Dart Artist Series Bass

The design process prioritized reliability, playability, and accessibility at the forefront. Constructed from the timeless Sterling body, the Dart features a slightly smaller neck profile, offering a clean tone within a comfortable package. The body is crafted from soft maple wood for clarity and warmth while the natural finish emphasizes the simple yet unique look.

Engineered for straightforward performance, this passive bass features a ceramic humbucking bridge pickup and a single ‘toaster’ knob for volume control. Reliable with a classic tone, it’s perfect for playing in the pocket. The Dart is strung with the all-new Ernie Ball Stainless Steel Flatwound Electric Bass Strings for the smoothest feel and a mellow sound.

Joe Dart Artist Series Bass

The Sterling by Music Man Joe Dart Bass is a special “Timed Edition” release, exclusively available for order on the Sterling by Music Man website for just one month. Each bass is made to order, with the window closing on May 31st and shipping starting in November. A dedicated countdown timer will indicate the remaining time for purchase on the product page. Additionally, the back of the headstock will be marked with a “2024 Crop” stamp to commemorate the harvest year for this special, one-of-a-kind release. 

The Joe Dart Bass is priced at $399.99 (MAP) and can be ordered globally at https://sterlingbymusicman.com/products/joe-dart. 

To learn more about Joe Dart, visit the official Vulfpeck artist site here https://www.vulfpeck.com/.


Continue Reading