Alex O

Tech 21 Sansamp Bass Driver (programmable)

4.3/5, 4.3 from 3 reviews

Recent Reviews

  1. Outbush
    Really like this.
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jan 9, 2018
    Build Quality:
    • + Very versatile. Easy to program.
    • - Not a fan of the footswitches.
    I've used on of these having upgraded from the single channel version I had before. I use it in front of an EA Doubler with a Wizzy 10 and Wizzy 12 M-Line.

    The EA amp and speaker set-up is absolutely beautiful for my EUB but was a little dry for my American Standard Jazz bass. The Sansamp is used very much as a modeller to overcome that limitation and I have an SVT, a traditional Fender Bassman and a 60's - 70's distorted sound very much reminiscent of Cream programmed in. There are a vast array of sounds in it and, actually, I regret not buying the Deluxe which is not really much more expensive but would give me a few other settings I think I'd enjoy.

    However, I'm not a big fan of the foot switches which I have had some problems with when the humidity has been up. I live in a dry, dusty environment and perhaps the dust gets into the switches and the humidity turns it into "mud". What-ever, Sansamp were very quick to respond and helpful with a fix and it works so can't complain about that.

    Would I recommend it? Yes, especially if you are after the sort of tool that will give you authentic sounds for bands with a wide range of song styles. Will it turn a J-Bass into a P-Bass or visa versa? No, not to a bass-players ears but you'll fool most of the audience.

    Recently I've started playing a P/J bass (Ibanez 755 NTF) and I actually use it a little less now. However, to give some context, with a band like my previous band that spanned country and 60's to contemporary I would not be without it.

    Would I love it even more if it had the parametric mid like the recent single channel model? You bet!
    eadg52 likes this.
  2. edervjo
    Bass rig in a box
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Dec 3, 2016
    Build Quality:
    • + Simple, consistent, 3 channels of fantastic tone. I can get my tone from a bass rig, or a studio.
    • - No mid freq control. Rear 1/4" jack cover broke on 1st gig.
    I have used the rackmount Sanamps in various studios setting before, both the RPM and the RBI.And was very impressed with the range and power.
    I was a little bored with my tone, but didn't want to invest in another rackmount single-tone preamp. I wanted something much more portable AND a variety of voices. This pedal is that!
    I can dial the same tone out of my live rig, that I get going direct!! That means what I am getting onstage is what is going from FOH.
    I like the 3 channels, I use a crunch, a smooth and an "extreme", perfect for mood shifts in a live setting, without being a shoegazer worrying about a billion pedals.
    For those that need more variety, they do have the "Deluxe".

    I have a RPM as well, so the pedal does leave me a bit wanting for the mid controls of it's big rackmount brother, but again, if the point is compact simplicity, this pedal is the industry benchmark.
    Price Paid:
    eadg52 likes this.
  3. Alex O
    Could quickly become your most used pedal.
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Nov 8, 2016
    Build Quality:
    • + 1) Amazing utility 2) Durable metal casing 3) Analog signal path is very nice for purists 4) Tonal options are good 5) Very practical DI 6) Models with more and less options also available.
    • - 1) No midrange frequency control 2) Digital memory occasionally glitches
    I have had this pedal for almost 5 years now. I bought it to keep from lugging my rig around to casual jams when I moved away from home. Since then it has become the core of my main rigs sound and has traveled with me to every nook and cranny I've played, and refuses to quit.

    *Skip to the bottom for final impressions and

    This is a tough review to write because there are so many lenses that you can see this pedal through. You could review this as a DI, a pre-amp, an EQ, a boost, or an overdrive. While all aspects of this pedal are not equal, the total value in this pedal is more in the overall utility this unit can provide to any bassist in every area of their performing career. As such, I will break this review down into the main roles my Programmable Bass Driver plays for me.

    1- Pre-amp (Great!)
    As a weekend warrior musician I find myself playing a lot of venues and jams where my amp volume is more than sufficient. As such the bass driver mostly plays the role of a pre-amp.

    My signal chain will typically consist of a Passive J-Bass -> TU2 -> Bass Preacher -> Sansamp -> an assortment of different time and filter effects -> (front of) SVT CL -> Thiele style 115.

    This signal chain gives my exactly the fundamental bass sound I've always wanted with a little bit of grind to subtly ease the bass into guitar frequency range. the specific role my Sansamp plays here is boosting attack with highs and adding some drive before running into the front of my amp. For this purpose I find the blend knob to be extremely useful, especially paired with the drive control.

    A common complaint concerning the Sansamp is that there is no mid control. As a pre-amp, I'm kind of inclined to agree that this is a strange feature to lack. If being run with with a power-amp or into an effects-in this could be problematic. However, if it's being run into the front of an amp, into a recording interface, or into a mixing board, there are other adequate ways of adding mids to the Sansamp signal.

    ex: an SVT provides sufficient mid-range control itself to compensate for the lack on the pedal. Simply run in front of the head to take advantage of its EQ.

    To be fair, this has been amended on newer models. They certainly get bonus points for listening to its player community!

    While I basically never change basses mid-set, I will in my practice time. Having 3 channels available on a pre-amp saves time in switching, especially between a active bass with Aguilars, and a fretless active with Barts.

    My only other complaint is that sometimes the digital memory for one of the toggle switches will glitch, and render the preset switchable. In hindsight I could probably have returned this right away and got one that works, but I figured it would go away and I didn't want to wait for a new one so I kept it. It's been almost 5 years now though, so any warranty I had is totally gone.

    2 - DI (Very Good)
    For my purposes I don't get much use out of this DI alone. As I mentioned, my Sansamp serves the purpose of adding missing aspects to my tone and as such isn't representative alone of the core sound I pursue. Honestly, I run a JDI and a Sansamp in parallel to get the DI sound I like without re-tweaking the Sansamp.

    The Sansamp is a very good DI. On it's own it provides far more tone shaping options than what you'll be presented with at your typical small venue, and in my experience bringing a Sansamp onstage is also a quick way to get on good terms with your sound tech (so if the price seems steep to you, just think of all the beers you wont have to buy your tech anymore!). In following with what I feel is a core Tech 21 strength, this DI is loaded with useful features. Ground switch for sketchy rooms, 1/4" boost and xlr pad when your signal is too hot for the board or too quiet for your amp.

    3 - Overdrive/Boost (no opinion)
    Now, since Tech 21 don't technically advertise this as a true overdrive I'm not going to rate it as one. However, with the big yellow drive text front in center I figured I'd have to try. What I found is while great in moderation, I wouldn't recommend the Sansamp as a primary OD - especially if running through a PA. The volume boost required to get the "hair" from the circuit is a bit to jarring for an audience, and wont do you any favors with the sound guy either. I've personally switch to a standalone OD.

    The Sansamp is a great boost, however. You can make tiny adjustments to raise the sensitivity of dynamic influenced effects like envelope filters or delay, or you can just use it to as a clean boost (again, not recommended when using the DI).

    Final Impressions
    The Sansamp Programmable Bass Driver is an all around useful pedal. I wouldn't say it is perfect, but it nails it's functions as a preamp and DI and has great tones to offer up if you're willing to think outside the (stomp)box. For the wandering musician it is stomp proof and durable, and has a lot of utility packed in a small footprint.

    I highly recommend if...
    1) You want something in front of a poweramp
    2) You only play DI gigs or home record
    3) get stuck playing with backline gigs and want a consistent tone.

    Consider this if you are also considering...
    1) Aguilar Tone Hammer
    2) Darkglass b3K/b7k
    3) MXR M80
    4) Ampeg Bass Scrambler
    Price Paid:
    220.00 CAD (when the dollar didn't suck)
    3 members found this helpful.
    Robbie_Sinclair and paul like this.

Item Details

  1. Pedal Type:
    Qty x1, 9V
    272.00 CDN
    -Direct Out
    -Drive, Bass, Treble, Presence, Blend, Level
    -Phantom/Ground Switch
    -XLR Pad Switch
    -1/4" Boost Switch
    -Fully analog signal path/True Bypass
    -Digital memory for recall of 3 settings
    Other Specs:
    -Metal casing