EHX and Darkglass Effects

Joel McIver gets his size 10 Doc Marten ready to stomp on two luxurious effects pedals – one classic and one new

Electro-Harmonix’s Big Muff is such a staple of the bassist’s sonic armoury after all these years that it’s hard to imagine how the unit can be significantly improved. This latest incarnation of the pedal responsible for a million overdriven tones is a work of art, though, offering all the range of sounds that bassists have been using since the 1970s plus a few welcome extra features.

darkglass 2Prominent among these is the Gate control, a rotary noisegate that pulls off the rather unexpected trick of cutting down your signal chain’s extraneous noise without detracting from your sustain or tone. The Crossover function has also evolved, allowing the user to apply filters to high and low frequencies, set a preferred tone and step away from it when needed. We also liked the -10db cut switch for anyone whose active pickups are just too damn hot, although this always strikes us as a bit like driving a car with the accelerator and the brake applied at the same time… anyway, we recommend the newest Big Muff unreservedly, especially as the thing is built like a tank and comes in at under a hundred quid. A simpler, but pricier, companion to the Big Muff is the Darkglass Vintage Microtubes pedal. Darkglass is a relatively recent entrant into the bass effects market, but with several high-profile players giving their products the thumbs-up, it’s time we paid them some attention.

The Vintage Microtubes pedal is an eminently useful bit of kit, claiming not to emulate specific amp models, but rather to enable a gathering of era or genre specific tones that the user can then apply to a given scenario. Where the Microtubes excels is in a warm, 70s-sounding rock tone with plenty of crunch, but its wide range of options permits a clear, cutting profile all the way through to the ‘full Lemmy’.

big muffAccompany it with a wah and you’ll be most of the way to a ‘Pulling Teeth’- era Cliff Burton, but this doesn’t mean that it lacks subtlety: add a touch of effect to a mostly dry signal and it will merely lend you a touch of clarity. It’s a solidly-made pedal, too, and the blue LED and silver case combination means that you might even be able to see the thing through all that dry ice that your singer insists on.

Technical specification

Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi

PRICE | £90

CONTROLS | Volume, Blend, Tone, Sustain, Gate, Crossover HPF/LPF

POWER | Battery or external power

WEIGHT | 570g

DIMENSIONS | (H)40mm x (L)144mm x (W)118mm

Darkglass Vintage Microtubes

PRICE | £199

CONTROLS | Level, Blend, Drive, Era

POWER | External power

WEIGHT | 240g

DIMENSIONS | (H)36mm x (L)59mm x (W)112mm

BGM Rating

Bass Big Muff Pi

BUILD QUALITY | 8/10

SOUND QUALITY | 9/10

VALUE | 9/10

Darkglass Vintage Microtubes

BUILD QUALITY | 9/10

SOUND QUALITY | 9/10

VALUE | 7/10

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