Ampeg Classic Analog Bass Preamp Pedal
By Phil O'Keefe |
Ampeg Classic Analog Bass Preamp
Can this little pedal really deliver the big Ampeg sound?
by Phil O'Keefe
If there's one thing that immediately comes to my mind whenever I hear the word "Ampeg," it's bass amplification and classic bass tones. Ampeg has been cranking them out for longer than I've been on this planet (and I've been here a while); some of the most legendary bass tones on record came from their amps. But amps are not all that Ampeg makes. Not too long ago they introduced a new DI, overdrive and preamp in pedal form called the SCR-DI ($279.99 MSRP / $199.99 "street"), and now they've released two new smaller stomp boxes called the Scrambler Bass Overdrive and Classic Analog Bass Preamp. This time around we'll look at the Classic preamp, but stay tuned - we'll have a Scrambler review for you in the near future too.
- Housed in a matte black all-metal enclosure measuring 2.2" x 2.4" x 4.5" and weighing 0.6 lb, the Ampeg Classic Bass Preamp pedal is very pedalboard-friendly - especially by bass preamp pedal standards.
- The white lettering and flat black of the housing give the pedal a very utilitarian look that's all business, and classic Ampeg.
- The four control knobs are equipped with black chicken head knobs with white indicators.
- The Volume knob controls the pedal's output level. Unity gain is at noon, so there's plenty on tap - you can easily connect this pedal directly to a power amp and have plenty of level to drive it properly.
- The remaining three knobs control the Classic's three-band tone stack. The EQ is fairly powerful and all Ampeg.
- The Bass knob adjusts the low frequencies. It can supply up to 7 dB of boost or give you up to 20 dB of cut, and it is centered at 40 Hz.
- The Mid control provides up to 5 dB of boost, or up to 11 dB of attenuation at 500 Hz.
- The Treble knob offers 10 dB of boost or cut at 4 kHz, and like all of the EQ controls is flat when set to the 12 o'clock position.
- There are also two top panel-mounted pushbutton switches. When pushed in, the one labeled Ultra Low gives you a 2 dB goose at 40 Hz, and simultaneously cuts 10 dB at 500 Hz.
- The Ultra Hi EQ switch gives the Classic Analog Bass Preamp a 7 dB boost at 8 kHz.
- You access the battery compartment by removing the four screws and bottom plate, which comes with four pre-installed rubber feet.
- There's not a lot to see inside unless you really dismantle the pedal. The battery area itself is foam-bordered, which is a nice touch. No battery or adapter is included.
- The one notable inside feature is the jumper switch on the left side, which I've highlighted in the image above. It's a -15 dB pad that's disabled from the factory, but the jumper can be repositioned if you find you're distorting the pedal and need more headroom. You may run into this issue if you're using an active bass with a really hot output.
- The power jack is located at the top of the pedal, which is clearly marked to indicate the proper voltage and plug polarity - it takes 9V DC and draws 20 mA.
- The Ampeg Classic Analog Bass Preamp uses true bypass switching. A purple LED on the top of the pedal illuminates to indicate when it's active.
- There's no XLR direct output - to run this pedal direct, you'll need to use a direct box with it, or a computer audio interface with a high impedance input.
- There is a bit of added hiss when boosting the Treble EQ controls to their highest settings.
- There is a slight but audible click through the audio signal path when you engage or disengage the Ultra Lo switch; curiously, this doesn't occur when flipping the Ultra Hi switch. Since these are mainly "set and forget" controls that the average person won't be adjusting all the time, this won't be a major issue for many players.
Ampeg has taken the main sections of their popular SCR-DI pedal - the Classic preamp and the Scrambler overdrive - and is now offering them as individual pedals. For those who want both, the SCR-DI is still tough to beat since it adds features (like an XLR direct output) that are missing from the other two pedals. But for those who don't need the extra features, it's convenient that you can get just what you want without having to pay for things you might not require.
The Classic preamp really is a nice-sounding bass preamp, and the few things I wish it came with are offered in the SCR-DI, so there's really not a lot to fault Ampeg for here. Whether you're using it as a direct recording tool, preamp in front of a power amp, or as an add-on to another amp, it has plenty of gain on tap along with a solid EQ section that really does let you dial up classic Ampeg tones. The Ultra Hi and Ultra Lo switches add even more tonal flexibility. I particularly like the Ultra Lo - hitting that switch adds size and beef without the bottom end and low mids becoming overly muddy. The Ampeg Classic Analog Bass Preamp pedal definitely has that characteristic "Ampeg sound," and at $99.99 "street" it's the least expensive way to add genuine Ampeg tone to your rig. Give one a try, and hear what it can do for your sound. -HC-
Do you have questions or comments about this review? If so, join the discussion in this thread in the Bass Forum, right here on Harmony Central!
Ampeg Classic Analog Bass Preamp pedal ($139.99 MSRP, $99.99 "street")
Ampeg's product web page
You can purchase the Ampeg Classic Analog Bass Preamp pedal from:
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.