Fender Downtown Express

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Snakeman1066, Jan 19, 2019.

  1. mmbass21

    mmbass21 Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2016
    FedEx delayed my DE so I just got it today. I plan on powering it with my DC brick since it has plenty of mA available on my board. I also have the Friedman power grid 10 on a larger board that I'm not using right now that is 350mA per outlet. I guess a coupled outlet plug that it came with would then supply enough power but I think 350mA would drive it fine.
  2. mmbass21

    mmbass21 Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2016
    I will say Fender has done some good work here. This will not be an easy decision. This would essentially replace the smoothie and grizzly bass.

    The compressor is simple and effective, I'm actually quite surprised I like it in a different way than the smoothie. Not squishy at all with the blend for a good parallel compression like the smoothie. The gain knob is interesting and I need to experiment more with it. If you turn it up you can get some interesting distortion from it.

    EQ adds a nice dimension, I'd probably use it more as a boost since the super stack is so good and I like where that EQ sits.

    Overdrive is interesting, doesn't quite sound like the rumble or bassman overdrive channel and I'm not sure that's what they were going for. It does keep the bottom end and it isn't harsh until you hit around 3 o'clock. I prefer subtle dirt for my style so ymmv. The grizzly bass and Southampton fifth gear are my favorite pedals for subtle dirt and the DE can do it with a different flavor. The grizzly is super deep, I feel it can add bottom end depending on the settings. The DE has a much brighter OD even with the tone turned down in comparison to the grizzly and I like that for mix cutting.

    Overall I like it, definitely need more time with it and a gig to see if it's a keeper. Really hard to replace the smoothie, I love its flexibility and that tone knob is magical. That's my 2 cents. Hope to hear more from others.
  3. azwhofan

    azwhofan Supporting Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    The DE specs out at 400mA, but you're getting it to work with 350mA??
  4. mmbass21

    mmbass21 Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2016
    I actually didn't try it with that board. The board in the pic has the MXR DC Brick which has a total of 2000mA. It's not an isolated output power supply but it's been dead silent for me since I put this board together.
  5. Mosfed


    Apr 21, 2013
    Washington DC
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    Get a one spot and forget about it. No reason to go fancy if you are only looking to power this pedal.

    And no - it does not have a tube in it.
    BrentSimons and ppiluk like this.
  6. emil_fh


    Apr 22, 2019
    I got this pedal yesterday and I like it so far. With a Fender MIM Precision bass and into an Ashdown 15" 180 W combo, it sounds great.

    I had a quick look inside and the circuit board fills the whole unit with lots of components, several ICs and something that looks like a FET, could not tell if it is DSP-based or analogue from that quick look.

    I have not got much to compare with, but I really like the blend dial on the compressor unit, something that is not all that common. I am finding the compressor affecting the signal even when turned down, with some amplification. With lower threshold there is some "clicking" as the compressor limits the signal, blending with dry signal does not remove this completely, rather I have to raise the threshold. If playing fast notes I find that the compression does not fully recover between the notes. This is the first compression pedal I owned so perhaps this is normal when the attack and release can not be adjusted. With threshold not set too low, and blended about halfway or less I really like the compressor. Or with high threshold even possible to use 100% wet signal and have a great sound. With threshold, gain and blend, which type of compressor do you think this is?

    I like the overdrive, but can not say the overdrive is soft and warm, and also have an effect on tone even with gain turned down. I feel like all the content is maintained and it does not become harsh or overly metallic sounding. With high gain the overdrive is fuzz-like and I am able to get a sound close to Cliff Burton or the intro to Around the World, really enjoy the sound here. Like I said, not harsh at all but rather square wave I would say. With no blend the bass might have to be turned down a notch not to become a bit flubby.

    The EQ is powerful and can cut and boost a lot. I only needed small adjustment around 12 o clock to tune the sounds. I can not tell the frequency where the bands are working. There is some hizz of course when turning the treble up lots, bit this might be my amplifier just as well.

    If not using the drive knobs, I had to turn up the Master quite high to get the same level as without the pedal. But there was a lot of gain the be had with drive and level in overdrive circuit and gain in the compressor circuit.

    I really liked the ability to be able to switch between compressor before or after overdrive, I did prefer one of the settings, but can not remember which at the moment (EDIT: to me compressor after the overdrive sounds much better, but there is room for using both, with overdrive before compression, the overdrive is very touch sensitive and the level of overdrive can be adjusted with the level of attack, using compression before I find the overdrive is on a constant level, not as dynamic, but very even). I have not used the DI, but absolutely great being able to switch where in the signal chain to send the signal out, before, after, or in-between effect circuits.

    Build quality is absolutely top notch, solid chassi, top seems scratch proof, and should last forever. Only fault, the dials where not exactly at the same location when turned to 0. Took them off and back and could adjust it but not 100% perfect, not a big deal. LEDs on the dials are great, and can be switched off too.The LEDs for the stomp can not be turned off when the circuit is on, for a good reason. But these LEDs are very bright. Perfect for stage, perhaps not for at home use.

    Have not yet used tuner output, but mute works, and should still send signal to tuner, I must hope.

    Would be interesting to know if there is any digital conversion or if completely analogue.

    I recall now that the pedal was connected to the input for passive bass on the Amplifier, perhaps it would be better to use the input for Active bass which have -20dB I think it is. Got some noise when turning up gain and treble, perhaps this could help not to overload the input even when the bass is passive.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
    Jesuguru, ppiluk, Nunovsky and 4 others like this.
  7. emil_fh


    Apr 22, 2019
    Wondering what those 4 LEDs are, they are inside the unit.

    I am no electrician, but looking at the ICs and googling I find the largest one being an analog multiplexer/demultiplexer, one being a VAC (for compressor?) and most being the same type of OP amp, some different types though. There are a few smaller ones, and one medium size I can not read.

    The VAC sits straight in the middle of the compressor knobs and led, so is this compressor of the VAC type, could the 4 LEDs have anything to do with compression?

    There does not seem to be any ICs on the back.

    Does anybody know how to tell if this is all analogue or if there is DAC-ADC involved.

    There exist small converters with only 8 legs, but no DSP chip what I can see.

    It does ask for lots of current. 400 mA I think. Is that a clear sign it is digital, or is that common for several effects and gain stages?

    What do you think?

    image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
    mmbass21, Correlli and Nunovsky like this.
  8. mmbass21

    mmbass21 Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2016
    Wow, you really broke it down, very cool.

    I need to tinker more with the settings on the compressor and I haven't experienced any clicking with it. I want to tame the overdrive a little bit more but I think it'll sit well in an overall mix (which I'll find out about on Saturday's gig). If it only had a blend knob on the overdrive channel it would be very close to perfect for what I need.
    emil_fh likes this.
  9. emil_fh


    Apr 22, 2019
    I agree, blend on the overdrive would be perfect. With just the tiniest amount of compression and some eq (+ mid, -treble, bass to taste), I got a great sound on my Pbass, at least for fitting into the mix when playing along YouTube videos. Easy to go overboard with compression though.
    punchclock likes this.
  10. DizzySalt


    Mar 25, 2019
    Why I can't even find A demo on Youtube??I sooooooooo need a DEMOOOOOOOO!!!!
    40Hz, ppiluk, G-Dog and 1 other person like this.
  11. DizzySalt


    Mar 25, 2019
    It's even on eBay already.
  12. So...I just got back from my local music store. I played around with the pedal for about a half hour and overall, I was pleased. The compression was nice and it was easy to find a usable tone without too much work. The overdrive is quite sensitive and a little tweaking goes a long way with! The real killer feature is being able to choose where the compression goes, either before or after the overdrive. I tested this and it can make a huge difference in the tone you get. The EQ is pretty simple and does what you think it would do and playing with it does make an impact on the tone.

    I didn't get to test the XLR part even though that is likely how I would be using it. I tested the unit into a Super Bassman into a 4x10 cab.

    I think I will go back and test the pedal running into a PA before I pull the trigger but the pedal has already shown it has potential.
    BrentSimons and azwhofan like this.
  13. mmbass21

    mmbass21 Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2016
    I will have PA results after this weekends gig. If it isn't good I'll use the DI on my WD800.
    BrentSimons, azwhofan and ppiluk like this.
  14. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Washington, Utah
    John K Custom Basses
    ppiluk likes this.
  15. Here you go guys

  16. DizzySalt


    Mar 25, 2019
    BrentSimons likes this.
  17. Nunovsky


    Sep 4, 2004
    Sounds good to me! I really liked the compressor tone and the OD.
    I really think that for the money it's dificult to beat. I have to try one.
    BrentSimons likes this.
  18. 3wavylines

    3wavylines Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2007
    For my taste, it’s easy to go overboard with the compression and the overdrive. I’m looking for a subtle compression with a hint of overdrive.

    I have the drive and gain turned all the way down, and I still wish they could go a little lower. If I roll back a little on the volume on my p-bass, that gets it to where I want it.

    You can hear the compression kicking in before the gain reduction light goes on.

    I like the tone I am getting, but I wish I didn’t have to have the knobs minned-out.
    mmbass21 and BrentSimons like this.
  19. My boys! Its great to see a demo. I like how it sounds but I wish they would have included a few more features? I know I know I'm nitpicking and it would have increased the price but it looks like it has enough real estate to include a tuner ( it has the mute switch already ;)) a headphone out and an aux in for silent practice. I just love those features in a floor preamp. Guess I'll be sticking with my Plex for a bit. ;)
    Best wishes,
  20. mmbass21

    mmbass21 Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2016
    +1 finally
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jun 16, 2021

Share This Page