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Wampler The Low Blow Bass Overdrive/Distortion

Issue #37

Handbuilt in the USA, Brian Wampler delivers a new distortion pedal just for us bass players. You'll already know my thoughts on bass distortion pedals if you are a frequent visitor to our bass cellar, the dungeon of deep - the Guitar Interactive Bassment!

I've been using dual signal paths for my bass gear for many years when it comes to needing a big fat and punchy tone while using distortion, but one of my big complaints in the past was that guitar distortion pedals, no matter how aggressive sounding, just couldn't cut it with the low end. That's just how it is due to their circuit design. It wasn't too long before bassists caught on to the fact that you can keep the powerful bass low end when punching in the distortion by running a separate clean bass signal at the same time - either using a second amplifier or splitting the audio somewhere in your pedal path.

Thankfully there's now quite a selection of bass orientated distortion pedals that save the need for fancy amplifier and cabling networks, enabling us to do everything with one box. The Low Blow is one such - but it's a whole lot more, too.

Under the bonnet of the all-metal, high quality casing, high grade components have been selected for the best and most musical response. The graphics look cool and despite the top of the pedal having a lot of controls, it doesn't take too long to figure everything out, technophobes!

Looking at the pedal as I did in the review video, I started with the active three band EQ which also works on your clean bass tone while the pedal is engaged. I suggested in my review that this means the pedal actually makes a superb pre-amp on its own. As part of the clean EQ section there is also a notch filter - you could also call this a 'shape' control - that does a really good job of setting you up with a 'big' yet not bloated bass sound.

Dial in a bit of EQ and it's time to head over to the knobs marked blend and gain. There is a “gain structure” switch too. From zero, turning the blend control up adds a distorted signal path on top of your clean signal. The gain knob governs the amount of saturation from a mild grit to a full on high gain distortion, while reaching for the gain structure switch gives access to two very different types of drive. Wampler suggest the smooth has more of an 'overdrive pedal' like character and the 'jagged' setting will give you a more aggressive bite. Don't just dive straight for that jagged setting for filth though, as I found some nice settings using a low gain on the jagged option as well as cranking the gain control on the smooth setting too. Once you have found the right amount of drive, I also found that spending a bit more time with the active EQ can further sculpt the bass tone (both the clean and dirt).

This latest pedal from Wampler maintains the company’s reputation for great build quality and it certainly means business. there’s no doubt that it stands its ground against some of the other full featured bass drives out there today, so listen to the video and if you like what you hear (and we did!) make sure you add one to your audition list.


Issue #75

Peter Green / Ivar Bjørnson

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