This is going to be one epic OD battle of awesomeness. Three of the biggest Kool-Aided pedals on TalkBass plus one dark horse German box of rock. I'll start off by saying that I've played on the B3K and Elements, have tried out the Swell's brother (the B-TOD v1), and have seen enough on the Grombass to be able to hypothesize that all four pedals will be amazingly great and this won't be so much of a battle to see which one is better, but more of a descriptive thread to give readers an idea of what pedal fits what style of music, what rig you're using, and/or what sound you're looking for the best.
So as much as I use the word "battle"...this is more of a head to head to head to head descriptive review of these four supremely great bass overdrive pedals.
But first....the pre battle thoughts: Swell B-Peg
(post TBA) - No one has seen much on this particular model of Swell pedals but I've had my hands on a B-TOD before and I can say that it was hands down the best tube (amp) emulator I've ever played on. It really did make my solid state Eden rig (at the time) get that grindy tubey sound I needed for some of the songs I was playing in my band. It beat out the B3K, at the time, but that was a different rig that needed that tube sound and a different band that played a lot of 90's alt rock sounding songs that needed that warm grit. The B-TOD was the highest gain of the Swell pedals, and WAY gainier than I needed, so I sold it off to raise funds for the new Swell B-PEG (the B-PEG is the newly released model by Swell that's goal is to recreate the classic sound of a vintage SVT). It should be in within the next week or so.
I bought this new for $380 (after shipping). They haven't been out, yet, so there really isn't a used market price. Darkglass B3K (post 35)
- This pedal doesn't need much intro on here. It's beloved. Like I said before, it lost out to the B-TOD in the last battle, but that wasn't because it's an inferior pedal...it was more that the Swell fit the alt rock band I was playing in and my Eden rig needed that tube sound the Swell brings. I'm playing on a Mesa Boogie Bass 400+, now, and in a more modern indie alt band....so I think the tide may be turned. I can say, I have never played on a pedal that made other pedals sound as good as the B3K does. Most ODs I put at the beginning of the chain, but having this thing at the end REALLY gave a cool character to almost everything I put before it. And it's that dark character that everyone loves (or doesn't like) about it. It's like the pedal that gives me that sound that I always wanted....but it's never fit what I'm playing....gaaaaaaaaaah. If only I could start a Bouncing Souls cover band. My 2nd run at this pedal should be in this week.
You can get this guy new for $295. I mine for $260 in the classifieds. Dr Scientist The Elements (post 49)
- I love this pedal. It gets a lot of love on ILF and is starting to gain a little steam here on TB but it's just SO versatile. It's the most versatile and most affordable of the ODs mentioned, so far.....I mean...there's not a lot to say. It's a cool dude. It doesn't fatten and tube up your sound like the Swell or give it that dark character like the B3K....it will leave your sound the most intact of the bunch. The EQ on the pedal is extremely useful and amazing, as well, and gives you the ability to REALLY dial in the tone you're looking for. I've played a lot of pedals that are useful but not fun. I've also played a lot of pedals that are fun but not useful. This one is that very very rare pedal that's both. I can leave it on a light OD and crank out some Possum Kingdom at a 300+ venue and feel supremely confident that fellow bass players in the crowd are jealously trying to figure out my gear and then when I get home I can crank up the gain and pretend I'm freaking Glen Tipton and KK Downing from Priest and rock out some lead parts.
I got mine for $180 used and they go for $225 new. Onkart Gromt Grombass (post #79)
- This guys gets no love on here...or not a lot....as evidenced by the amazing deal I got on this and that it stayed at a great price for about a month in the classifieds....but the people that do own them, swear by them, and almost seem more loyal to the product than the Swellheads or B3Kinites. I can't give too many impressions on it, as I've never played one, but it claims to be insanely versatile and to leave the bass's tone completely intact. We'll see how it goes....
This guy lists at $270....not sure if that includes shipping....I got one for $180 used. Just added: smallsound/bigsound F*** OD
- I just ordered this guy. Will do some pre thoughts, soon.
The battle will begin this week. I'm hoping to post clips of them all. Again, though......I keep using the term "battle" but none of these pedals suck. They are all extremely well made and are highly touted by their users. Playing styles, rigs, and just plain likes/dislikes are probably the ONLY thing that would separate them in a true head to head battle as they all have their own distinct tones and characters. My hope is that a totally uninformed reader could look at this and feel comfortable making a decision on what is best for them based off of my review of each pedal.
Please share your own thoughts on these pedals.