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This article was originally published in issue #60
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Like many bassists: Billy Sheehan, Tim Commerford, Chris Wolstenholme to name a few (and little ole me actually haha); he favours running more than one signal path. To oversimplify, one path runs to a clean bass amplifier sound which is rounded and full in the lows and the other path to a driven guitar-esque amp tone arrangement.
Sounds and feels like a whole stack of amps but without the heavy lifting.
Control over the depth of the mid scoop in mix mode would be a nice addition.
Tech 21 are welcomed once again to the Basement with the Tech 21 DP-3X - dUg Pinnick Signature Pedal, another creation from their long proven history of amplification emulation. This time though, it’s not just Tech 21’s creator in chief Andrew Barta delivering this one but also a partner riding shotgun in the form of Mr. dUg Pinnick. Dan Veall lets us know more.
Please don’t make me introduce Douglas Theodore “dUg” Pinnick though. His Bass tone should have already been studied as part of your daily bassist digest. While you’re at it, this man can sing! (He’s notably on Dream Theater’s “Lines In The Sand” and Billy Sheehan’s solo album “Holy Cow!” Track “ Turning Point”, while we are on the subject of bands with great bassists.
King’s X for me have an easily identifiable bass tone that Dug has built up over many years of touring: very much “real world testing” if you will. Like many bassists: Billy Sheehan, Tim Commerford, Chris Wolstenholme to name a few (and little ole me actually haha); he favours running more than one signal path. To oversimplify, one path runs to a clean bass amplifier sound which is rounded and full in the lows and the other path to a driven guitar-esque amp tone arrangement. The two are blended carefully to create one huge sound that is rich and is able to fill its sonic space in a band situation. Ideal for cutting through in the mix but still provide that all necessary foundation in the lower frequencies that are so important.
Tech 21 and Dug have partnered to distil years of blood, sweat and tears, big bass tone and dynamics into one small pedal. An incredible feat given the piles of gear Dug has used to create this sound up to this date! Favourably, it took me a reasonably short time from the moment I powered the pedal up to produce a pretty good recreation of Dug’s signature sound. (If you are at a loss, well it turns out there are even some pointers in the manual for you).
In my review video, I appreciate that this is Dug’s signature pedal, but I have intentionally treated the unit as if it wasn’t - Not because I mean any disrespect, moreover, because I want to show you that it can do so much more. I don’t think it is a one trick pony, as it were.
On to the controls then:
As I’d mentioned above, Dug is known for running a clean bass tone and a driven sound blended in. Thus, once we have adjusted our pitch with the easy-to-read onboard tuner, we are straight into dialling in a big bass tone.
There are three footswitches across the bottom of the pedal. Firstly, the button to enable the tuner as mentioned above. Then the centre stomp to engaged the pedal itself and to the left a ‘mix’ foot switch for punching in and out the “second signal path” we touched on earlier.
With the pedal engaged (mix not enabled) it’s a bit like plugging into a sweet sounding bass preamp if I am honest. A well-executed EQ with lots of boost available and a compressor that is subtle from one end of the dial to very squishy at the other end - it makes for quite a pleasant experience actually, especially when the gain is edged up to warm the signal a little. I plugged the pedal into Tech 21’s VT Bass 200 combo, and within a short space of time, I feel we had a punchy bass tone happening.
When you have decided to take a moment from tweaking the initial bass sounds, it’s time to punch that mix control. You will notice a big change in tonal character. The mids scoop. The low end comes up, as does the gain and top end rasp. The initial ‘tube amp’ sound shape-shifts into a gritty behemoth!
Need more grit? Well, there’s more drive on tap in the form of the gain boost button, which Dug likes to leave engaged all the time. You’ll be able to turbo the saturation into Billy Sheehan territory if you push the gain knob all the way up.
I would highly recommend spending time with the DP-3X. It’s one of those that you’ll want to experiment with as actually there are a wide range of mid-tone, slightly gritty sounds that can be had from it, rather than the immediate assumption that it’s about just being a full-on assault.
The input and output connections as expected are 1/4” sockets though thoughtfully (much like Tech 21 Sansamp devices), there’s an XLR socket for sending Direct Injection (DI) signals to either front of house PA, or a DAW in your home studio. There’s a ground lift button too. You can use the DP as a silent practice device too as it has the ability to drive headphones. On the subject of headphones, there’s one other situation I would absolutely use the DP pedal. It could replace backline in an IEM set up. Indeed, currently, the majority of gigs I have been playing have been straight from my pedals, to FOH and my 64 Audio In-Ear monitors.
How cool would it be to rock up with just your bass, cables and this pedal. Pretty perfect a set up for fly gigs I would say! There are further options discussed in the manual too including plugging directly into a power amplifier or by-passing a traditional amplifier’s own preamplifier section which makes this pedal really flexible.
Dug’s own testimonial says it all: “..We had a little car, guitars and drumsticks, that’s it! There was not a club or a bass amp that I played through that the DP-3X didn’t give me the tone that I wanted.” You can really take “your sound” with you anywhere on this basis.
Dimentions: 1.25" x 7.75" x 2.5"
Weight: 0.75 lbs.