When a bassist with a massive catalogue of music, years of professional experience and an ear for tone launches a signature product with a highly regarded manufacturer of bass gear, it’s probably wise to stop, grab a coffee and take note of what it is. Well, that’s exactly what our very own Dan Veall did as he reviews the EBS Stanley Clarke Signature Acoustic Preamp Pedal.
Whilst in our current lockdown, I got my hands on the brand new EBS Stanley Clarke Signature Acoustic Preamp pedal. Owing to the limitations placed on us by social distancing and lockdown, I have taken a slightly different angle with my review, opting to demonstrate the pedal using one main configuration - but I was so impressed that it became obvious to me that the signature pedal we have here for review was more than just a device to be used with double-bass, it’s main selling point. So, I set about trying the pedal out with my electric bass, the Gillett Guitars fretless acoustic featured in the video and even my full-bodied acoustic guitar and found so many useful ways of utilising the device.
Let’s sweep through the details as smoothly as the fine semi-parametric equaliser available on each channel: Yes, we have a two-channel preamplifier pedal here with functions that are specifically designed to benefit the acoustic bassist yet, as I pointed out above, useful for a range of other instruments too—even vocals. I must apologise for a little confusion; in my video, I did call channel B ‘channel one,’ meaning the uppermost channel. Which aside from the master volume on the left-hand side for the amplifier output, features active bass and treble controls for boost and cut at centre frequencies and the semi-parametric as mentioned earlier for the mid frequencies. EBS keep getting this right: I want a semi-parametric mid that dips down into the bass region. The bass and treble controls on most preamplifiers are shelving, but the mids here have a Q of 0.8, and I can reach all the way down to 70hz. Perfect, especially as I have a bass that likes a little more in the 180hz region of low end. The preamplifier has a clever filter section, too, with two modes. The first is a much needed high pass filter with a 12dB/Oct roll off of the lows as the dial is progressed from “off” up to 450hz. Flicking a toggle places the filter into a steep and sharp band cut mode that is very useful for notching out feedback. Alas, somewhat humorously in the absence of any feedback or noise in my studio space, I was unable to capture clearly the notch effect with my own instrument, as feedback tends to be a narrow peak frequency rather than the breadth of tone from a single open string! Yes, there are limitations to lockdown reviews so bear with me on that one. Notch filters are useful, I promise!
The Acoustic Preamp is a studio-grade device operating at professional signal levels for greater headroom for instruments such as bass guitar that deliver a lot of low-frequency energy. Both channels have a massive 10MΩ input impedance which will overcome any loading issues that other preamplifiers may have on acoustic pickups such as passive piezo elements.
Channel A (or channel two as I misnamed it on screen) carries the same feature set with the inclusion of an Electret Power option at the flick of a switch. Connection via the input socket for that channel on the right-hand side of the device.
On the subject of connections, Channel B will happily receive signal from its 1/4” input, but we have the added benefit of a 48V Phantom Power balanced line input via XLR on the top edge. Again, a toggle switches between those two inputs quickly.
In terms of signal chain configuration, the two channels are separated until blending pre-effects loop, which incidentally is switchable between series and parallel operation. Furthermore, configuration options are extended when selecting different inputs for use in conjunction with the A+B push switch on the side of the pedal. Running both channels in series with each other as well as parallel is just two options available.
If that wasn’t enough, not only can I feed an amplifier directly from the 1/4” output, there’s an onboard DI output via XLR (that I am using in my video), an auxiliary input for external audio devices and a headphone socket.
The DI output features the usual ground lift functionality and we are treated to a gentle speaker emulation switchable on the path too. I used it in my video to demonstrate that it doesn’t drastically colour the signal leaving my bass tone intact, perfect for acoustic instruments.
Silent tuning is available by the Tuner output and the pedal can be muted whilst doing so.
There’s no doubt that EBS has thought of pretty much everything short of the kitchen sink here and probably had to think about space and how to cram everything inside the shell, which is the same size as the MicroBass III, another superb preamplifier I have reviewed.
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