The Tech 21 Bass Fly Rig v2 is an updated version of the company’s original Bass Fly Rig. Designed to be an easily portable replacement for traveling with an amplifier, cabinet, and pedal board, this multi-effect pedal does a lot of things, and it does most of them very well with (mostly) straightforward, intuitive design. The unit is 13” long, weighs 20 oz and is powered by a 9v power cable, included in the box. Tech 21 also helpfully includes a set of adapter plugs for use with international outlets. This power supply is the only way to power the pedal; there is no battery housing or option for phantom power. You may want to pack an extension cord if 6 feet isn’t long enough for you on the power cable.
At a first glance, the fly rig is compact and very solidly built. Knobs move easily but are not loose, and the housing feels like it could take a beating. The fly rig and accessories come packaged in a nice tin, but I may try to fashion a padded carrying case as the tin is rather large for my gig bag.
First in the signal chain is a compressor. This is very simple with an on/off footswitch, a volume level knob, and a compression level knob. According to the manual this is an FET style compressor, and when turned up the compressor gives a little bit of grit to the signal. I am unable to find any information about the compression ratio, but to my ears the compressor sounds nice turned on at about 9:00. This section of the pedal also includes a button marked “in pad” that reduces the incoming signal by 10db for high-output basses.
Next in line is the SansAmp preamp section. This section is the star of the show and it includes an on/off footswitch as well as a channel switch. The SansAmp allows you to dial in your EQ with High/Mid/Low knobs as well as a button to go between Bass Driver DI and VT character modes, the former offering deeper, warmer tones and the latter being punchier with more emphasis in the mid range. A second button adds “bite” for a boost in presence. You can set level and drive individually for each channel, making it a simple matter to swap between clean and overdriven tone without bending over to fiddle with knobs.
On the back of the unit, there is an in/out for an effects loop, in case you wish to add additional pedals to the mix after the Compressor and SansAmp, but before the rest.
Next in line is the Octafilter. This is the least user friendly area of the pedal and it suffers somewhat by trying to cram too many features into one foot switch. You can turn off or on the fuzz and octave divider, and adjusting the Q knob gives an envelope filter effect. Refer to the manual for the best ways to use this, but as users of the first iteration Bass Fly Rig have noted, the octave divider sounds pretty awful on its own. Fuzz and envelope filter are better, and with everything turned on you can in fact get a passable moog synthesizer sound – this is really the only good use of the octave divider feature. However, due to the cramped design of the Octafilter and sensitivity of the knobs on this device, the most reasonable expectation for this is to pick one of the uses, dial in your preferred settings before a show, and have it do that one thing. Fiddling and dialing in a different sound mid-set is impractical. Also included in this section are a button with a speaker that can turn on or off the SansAmp cab simulation. This effect is really subtle and most of the time I honestly can’t tell a difference. Including this was one of the upgrades from version 1, but it replaces the headphone out option. I’m not yet sure I consider this an improvement. There is also a button for XLR ground lift.
Last in line is the chorus pedal. This is the most straightforward section of all, with a single knob for wet/dry mix and an on/off foot switch. Fortunately, it sounds pretty good! Holding down the footswitch engages the chromatic tuner, which works great.
Overall, this is a really fine product and for $300 you certainly get your money’s worth, considering that discrete SansAmp units alone cost around $230. Add in the compressor, ability to switch between two different drive/volume levels, effects loop, chorus and tuner and it’s quite a deal. The Octafilter section is the only piece of this that doesn’t really rise to the level of the rest of the unit, but if you’re happy picking between a decent envelope filter, fuzz tone or a synth tone, it’s certainly useable. My one gripe with the design of this aside from the Octafilter’s confusing layout is the placement of the high and low knobs on the SansAmp EQ – both of my amplifiers have the position of these knobs in the reverse order, going low-mid-high from left to right. On this it’s high-mid-low which throws me off for a second or two, but I’m sure I will learn to deal with it. I would also have been happy to add a few inches to the overall size of the pedal to accommodate a battery housing. And as long as I’m wishing, a separate character mode switch for each SansAmp channel would be a nice feature.
Gripes aside, this is a really well made pedal and for many players it will check many, if not all of the boxes for your pedal needs. For those who need extra, including the effects loop makes this a very efficient design.
All you need in one little stomp box?
- 4.5/5, 4.5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 6, 2021
- Build Quality:
- + Lots of tonal options from the SansAmp
- + Solid construction
- + (Mostly) intuitive design makes this easy to use
- + Good if not totally complete set of effects featured
- + Very compact and portable
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- - Octafilter section is less intuitive than the rest of the pedal
- - Short power cord and no option for battery power
- Pedal Type:
- EQ / Controls:
- Low/mid/high, plus two channels of drive.
- MSRP: $425 Most online retailers: $299
-Sansamp preamp with channel switch and two character modes
-Effects loop in/out
-Octave divider, fuzz and envelope filter
-XLR out with optional ground lift, 1/4" cable out
- Other Specs:
- 13" long, 20 oz total weight. Power supply unit with 6' cord and international plug adapters included.
The Tech 21 Bass Fly Rig v2 puts an entire bass rig — amplifier and effects — at your feet. All you need to do is add your favorite electric bass guitar, and you're good to go! Vaunting Tech 21's renowned all-analog SansAmp technology, the Bass Fly Rig v2 provides you with two footswitchable channels of authentic bass amp tone, with two SansAmp Character modes for added versatility. A Bite switch and an active post-EQ section give you all the sound shaping you demand. You also get a great-sounding FET compressor, a robust EFX section, and an effects loop to put the final touches on your sound. A built-in chromatic tuner rounds out the Bass Fly Rig v2's generous feature set. If you're searching for the ultimate in convenience but don't want to sacrifice tone and features, the Bass Fly Rig v2 delivers the goods — and you won't need a roadie to carry it!Barry Beaven likes this.