Hey all. For those of you that don't know about this preamp I figured I'd give you my experience. I have less and less time to spend online here but I wanted to write about a great product that I think deserves some more attention. For the record, I have no affiliation with Alan at AC Guitars or with John East who helped design and makes the preamps.
Almost a year ago I bought a six string bass from my friend Brian Ristola. I needed a six and he had just finished building one. It originally had Bartolini quad coils and an Aguilar 0bp-3 preamp in it. I never heard the Aguilar because I had him install an Audere Classic in it to check out. I picked up the bass and played a gig with it a couple of days later.......I was miserable. I couldn't get a sound that I liked. I immediately took the bass back to him and had Nordstrand dual coils put in. The tone got better for my tastes but I was now having problems with string pull from the Nordstrands and I wasn't completely happy with the bass still. The body wood was swamp ash and I didnít like the soft attack of the bass. I decided to try some Delano dual coils (wanted to try some pickups with ceramic magnets). The pickups were a definite improvement for me but the soft attack of the bass was still too much. I was on the verge of selling the bass and I was looking around for another builder to build me a new bass. While talking to Brian Ristola he had mentioned to me that he was going to be getting a new filter based preamp from Alan at AC Guitars. I was curious but not entirely interested as I had never considered a filter based pre. I had never really used one and was fairly happy with the standard preamps I'd tried. I had to head up to Brian's place anyway to get some work done on my bass so I checked it out while I was there. Suffice it to say that we were both very impressed by the preamp. We tried the Jazz plate version with a Fender MIM J bass. I was immediately impressed how the preamp could alter the general tone of the bass. It was not like any other preamp I had heard before where the tone of the bass stays as is with simple changes to certain frequencies. This is what piqued my interest as I was wondering if there could be a way to change some characteristics of my own bass. I than realized that through the three different pickup changes to my bass I had never thought to change the preampÖ..so, I took the plunge. As a last ditch effort I installed the ACG preamp.
The night that I installed it I had a gig. At the gig I immediately noticed that my bass reacted more quickly to what ever I would play. This was exactly what I had wanted. I moved around the knobs a bit to find a basic tone that was more akin to my sound. It didnít take long and I was off. I had never been so happy with my bass. It gave me everything that I had hoped for from the beginning. My sound was now bigger, quicker and more dynamic (the Delano pickups helped as well but certainly were much more so with the new preamp).
Iíve now had a few months with the ACG preamp. For my initial comments check out this link: New East designed ACG preamp
My main concern was whether I would be able to find different sounds on the fly and if I could, more importantly, find them again if I wanted. With some time now under my belt I can safely say that I can get any sound Iíd want with this pre, and many more, in an instant. Itís not necessarily a one knob turn but I can find what I need very quickly. Bear in mind, Iím not someone who likes to use a lot of sounds live. I make minor changes here and there. I get most of the sounds that I need by using the pan knob and by changing my finger attack and hand position. However, Iíve found that making any changes that I need from the preamp is quick and intuitive.
One other thing that I had mentioned in the other thread is that I was hesitant because of the price about buying the East knobs. Money well spent. These are a necessity as they have indicators that help you retrieve sounds on the fly.
Last week I got to use my bass for a week long recording session. This is where I really got to use the preamp. Again, I made minor tweaks here and there but feel that I started to find the best parts of this preamp. I got many usable sounds. I was so happy with the end result. There were many reasons why but I certainly got the best sounds Iíve ever gotten on a recording. The preamp was a big part of the chain for me.
I would love to see more people get a chance to try this preamp out. Weíre all so used to a conventional 2 or 3 band preamp. I know that I personally thought that Iíd miss having those known factors to adjust on the fly. I liked being able to boost the mids if Iíd need or add some low end girth to the sound of my bass. I thought that Iíd lose that with this preamp. I havenít. While I certainly canít make a lot of changes eq wise all at once, thatís not what Iíve done in the past anyhow. For me, if I have a great sounding bass to begin with (which I felt that I had when I put the Delano pickups in) than what I need from a preamp is to simply alter that tone slightly from center for different coloration. What I got from the ACG pre was exactly that, as well as a tighter sound, the ability to have more dramatic changes in the inherent tone than Iíve had before, as well as a new way to think about changing the sound of my bass. I consider all of these things to add up to an extremely useful tool that helps to express what ever Iíd like at any given moment.
Iím having a bass built to my specs this year and the one given that will transfer over to my next bass will be this ACG preamp.
If youíd like more information on the preamp than go to http://www.acguitars.co.uk
If youíre looking to get them in the States than go to http://www.bestbassgear.com