Three rocking chunks of metal for the arena performer in you, stamped on by Joel McIver
The nice folks at Zoom Corporation, a company which sounds like it’s on the planet Alderaan but which is actually in Hertfordshire, have sent us some tasty gear for review, so let’s give their stuff a whirl. First up is the frankly amazing Valeton Dapper Bass Effects Strip (£160), a multi-effects module which is small, solid, easy to use and stacked with loads of functionality. You could comfortably smack a stage invader around the head with it if necessary (legal disclaimer: we don’t recommend that you actually do smack a stage invader etc etc) without it breaking, unlike the hideous black plastic multi-effects units that I grew up with in the 80s.
Plug into this friendly green chunk of metal, taking note of the effects loop, thru function and XLR out as desired, and enjoy the fact that the control pots light up in each section when you activate it, rendering an LED unnecessary and also making the little knobs easy to find when (not if) you’re frantically trying to adjust them on a pitch-black stage. From left, you’ve got a chorus, octaver, EQ, envelope filter with fuzz on/off, tuner, boost and compressor, all of which function exactly as you need them to. Sure, the chorus only has a single depth control, so you don’t have advanced shaping of the effect, and the envelope filter isn’t quite as powerful as the dedicated filters we’ve seen – but the octaver is ace for a synth tone, the EQ is far more meaty than it has any right to be and the boost has tons of power. All for £160? You’re laughing.
The KDHK Abyss Bass Overdrive (£178), with its massive, distorted noise, is quite capable of disturbing cows at 100 paces, as indeed it should because it’s got the initials of Kirk Hammett of up-and-coming ‘thrash metal’ hopefuls Metallica on it. Relatively simple to operate and built like a bomb shelter, the Abyss (note: geographical features are always good for a heavy metal name) works by tweaking Gain, Dirty, Clean and Treble controls plus a Hi-Lo selector. The reason why you’re paying £178 for the Abyss, instead of £35 for a day-glo plastic distortion from Overdrives ‘R’ Us, is because it contains two circuits and bi-amping tech which means that your clean and dirty (aka dry and wet) sounds have their own paths. This, it says here, makes them sound bigger when they reconnect at the other end. We certainly enjoyed the pedal’s ability to balance or unbalance the two signals as per your personal taste, and the overdriven tone itself is a genuine thing of beauty – smooth, jagged and subtle as you prefer, and with almost no loss of bottom end. That’s why you’re paying the big bucks.
On which note, the Zvex Basstortion, which comes in at £209, is a sweet little pedal designed to replicate the sound of an overdriven Ampeg SVT, according to its makers. There’s certainly something to this claim, and there’s no doubt that it gives you a great range of tones, from slightly clanky to ‘the full Lemmy’. The Bright/Dark tone-shaping switch is especially satisfying for quick use on the fly. However, the Abyss does a similar job at 30 quid less and has a wider range of options, so unless you’re a Zvex freak, look elsewhere before investing.
Valeton Dapper Bass Effects Strip, £160
Features | Chorus, Octave, EQ, envelope filter, tuner, booster, compressor, effects loop, XLR out
Dimensions | 320mm(D) x 65mm(W) x 42mm(H)
Weight | 690g
Power | 9V DC
KHDK Bass Overdrive, £178
Features | Gain, Dirty, Clean, Treble, Hi/Lo option
Dimensions | 120mm(D) x 63mm(W) x 38mm(H)
Weight | 276g
Power | 9V DC or battery
Zvex Basstortion, £209
Features | Volume, Tone, Drive, Bright/Dark selector
Dimensions | 119mm(D) x 60mm(W) x 46mm(H)
Weight | 249g
Power | 9V DC or battery