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My preamp journey

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by moon-bass, Mar 2, 2021.

  1. moon-bass

    moon-bass Up to the moon and back Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    This came up in another thread about preamps and I didn't want to hijack that thread so I posted a new one.

    I did this because I decided that I wanted to get the flexibility from different preamps - I literally couldn't decide what I liked more, the Fender tone stack, the Ampeg, the Eden .. So I decided to find a solution to my desires. It's worth note that I used to use huge stacks (Mesa 400+ with a pair of 4x10 powerhouse cabs for a long time, also Eden and Trace Elliot) but over the years my needs have changed and I've gotten older and I needed smaller and more portable stuff. -I did modular rack gear for awhile as well, but recently sold all of my rack gear. My ultimate goal was to find a portable rig that sounded great that could also be extremely flexible. I needed grab and go capabilities, but also needed to be able to play everything from small coffeehouse gigs to large outdoor festivals. I also needed the capability to have a small enough set up so that I could bike and walk to gigs. Also, I'm a gear junkie and a tone junkie.

    FWIW, the Quilter BB800 became my amp of choice. Small, light, loud, simple preamp, and has the ability to bypass the preamp altogether. Absolute killer dynamic power section and transparent DI. Also, I have two stand alone DI boxes, a Radial JDI and a Lightning Boy TI, depending if i want to go really transparent or if I want to thicken my tone a bit.

    Now to the preamps, and my thoughts. All of these were fine preamps, not a loser in the bunch.

    Here's what I currently own, only because I can't make up my mind to narrow it down:

    Master Effects Super 300 - SVT in a pedal. Killer tone, great dirt and clean tone. Can't get a bad tone out of this once.

    SIB! Fatdrive - FAT. Fat, thick, sweet, tone, tubey goodness. It's not overly flexible but it sounds crazy good

    Trace Elliot TE7 (?) Graphic EQ pedal - while not technically a preamp, it's a good portion of the TE preamps of old, and really gets that killer TE sound.

    Eden WTDI - nails the Eden tone. NAILS it. Small, cheap, light - what's not to love?

    Noble pre - my #1. I've never heard my basses sounds so alive and 3D. the hype is real, folks.

    EBS ValveDrive - Fender tone stack chewy goodness, real tube, and two modes - one gives you a cleaner sound, the other just a hint of dirt.

    Tech21 Geddy Lee - Everyone raves about the distortion, which I agree is top notch (and that alone would make this pedal worth it) but that DEEP? Heaven. And hey - instant Geddy!

    i also have an Arkham Oracle in the mail, and SushiBox PA and SBVT on order.

    Next post - what I've owned
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  2. moon-bass

    moon-bass Up to the moon and back Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    FWIW, I have a Mesa 400+ (can't beat the all tube sweetness of this amp). a Mesa TT800 (stand alone solution for when I need to share my amp or for other times when I need a single head solution) and a Markbass F500 (grab and go).

    I used Markbass Traveller 2x10 cabs, Barefaced Cabs, and RevSound cabs.
    stuntbass77 and tommyeadg like this.
  3. moon-bass

    moon-bass Up to the moon and back Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    the preamps that I have been thru over the past few years that I did not keep, give or take. There is nothing wrong with any of these, just didn't fit the bill for one reason or another

    Edit: I'm adding the reasons as to why I didn't keep them below. ALL of these sounded great - just fantastic gear here below.

    Broughton SSDI - form factor - wanted something more board friendly

    Broughton P15 - Form factor

    Broughton Messenger - I tried a few pedals with parametric EQ (fretless) so I could find a "one stop shop" for a preamp with a parametric EQ as well as tone shaping capabilities. I found that I really liked some color as well, so this one was too transparent for my needs (I tried quite a few like it). I really wanted to like this as it also has a built in HPF

    Tech21 BDDI - Didn't care for the drive capabilities

    Tech21 Paradriver - same as Messenger

    Tech21 VT DI - liked this one, but ultimately sold this in favor of the Master Effects. If I wouldn't have bought the ME I would most likely still have this one

    Tech21 QStrip - see Messenger

    EBS Billy Sheehan Drive (1st edition) - it was between this one and the Geddy and the Geddy won

    Aguilar Tone Hammer - see Messenger

    REDDI DI (not technically a preamp but I bought it for tone reasons) - Form factor

    MXR M81 - not enough color

    EHX Battalion - i think this pedal is very under rated. I sold this because at the time I was going back to rack gear and didn't need it. I'd buy it again tho if the need popped up. I really like the thick tone i could get from it.

    Ampeg SCRDI - between this and the ME, the ME won

    GK Plex - wanted something less GK sounding, for lack of a better explanation

    Darkglass B7K Ultra - I really liked this one as well, but the dirt didn't inspire me - I was looking for more of a tube break up OD

    Darkglass Alpha Omega - Same as the B7K

    EBS Microbass - too transparent

    Mesa Boogie Subway - upgraded to Subway +

    Mesa Boogie Subway +- too big for my board

    Radial Bass Bone - wanted more tone shaping capabilities

    Empress Para EQ - too transparent

    ISP Beta Bass - this onee was good, but for some reason I was never happy with the color

    Eden Module Terra Nova - WDTI is smaller

    DHA VT1 - too big for my board (at the time). REALLY wish I had this one back

    Nathan East NE1 - didn't have enough tone shaping options

    Doesn't include rack preamps, I sold the last of them because I am not longer using rack gear.

    I am sure there are some I am missing, but these are the ones that, for one reason or another, did not make the cut.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  4. What was it in the P-15 that made you pass it on?
  5. BasturdBlaster


    Feb 19, 2012
    Crandon WI
    Of all the preamps, which in your opinion actually have enough output to truly feed a PA style power amp?

    Mesa I know can with it's xlr line out but I have yet to find another "pedal" pre that can.

    On that thought, what would be the "best" way to take a typical pedal pre and increase it's output to feed a 1.4v sensitivity power amp?

    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  6. moon-bass

    moon-bass Up to the moon and back Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    I'm going to modify the post above to comment on the ones I didn't keep and the reason why. I should have anticipated that :)

    The P15 sounded great - sounded as good as the SVP-PRO rack preamp. The form factor didn't suite my needs - I wanted something smaller and more board friendly.
    Bonsist, 1983L2000 and tommyeadg like this.
  7. moon-bass

    moon-bass Up to the moon and back Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    I never tried running directly into a PA style amp, but I would guess that most any pedal with an XLR out can drive one (some exceptions I am sure). I know the Noble and Arkhcam can definitely drive a PA Power amp, I would think the Broughtons would be able to as well.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
    Bonsist and BasturdBlaster like this.
  8. that's a lot of stuff !!!

    I had a much shorter journey...

    Yamaha PB1 - very cool live but not for recording
    MXR M80 - ok, felt like I needed something more
    Yamaha NE-1 - loved it! but it was stolen :(
    Sansamp RBI - great unit, used it for years! Still have it!
    Tone Hammer - lives on my pedal board, always on, main source of tone
    SWR Grand Prix - just got it, had some issues, so off to the tech!

    **special shout out to GB Shuttle preamp, very flexible and sounds great!**
  9. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan DNA Endorsing Artist Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    Hey @moon-bass, sounds to me like you just need a gig bag for your preamp pedals and an amp with a power section you can plug them into (effects- return). You could even have a low-power amp, medium-power amp, and high-power amp and just take whichever one fits the venue. Another option would be to get some 12" powered speakers where you can bring 1 to 4 along, plug your preamp into one and just pass the signal along to as many others as you need for that gig. Or you could get an amp that you like the sound of most of the time and will cover most of your venues and then plug the various preamp/DI stompboxes into the effects-in of that amp to change flavors as needed. I'd highly recommend one of the 800-watt class D amps like DNA's DNA-800 (I am a DNA Endorser you know;)) or whatever other brand you like. That way you're looking at an amp that can be easily transported in a shoulder bag and a suitcase full of preamps...soooooo many choices!!

    I'm an Eden/DNA guy and have the WTDI which I've used to get that Eden sound out of all kinds of other brands of amps as well as FOH. Even did some recording in a professional studio in 2019 and used that to go directly to their board because my cab would be in the same room as the drums and they were worried about bleed-over. I usually run my Eden EQ's flat with a little boost dialed in at 250Hz. The WTDI lets you choose between 500Hz (low-mids) and 2KHz (high-mids) for the mids boost/cut. So I set it at 500Hz, dialed in a little boost, and the recordings sound fabulous (using passive MIA Jazz). They came out to see what the heck I was using that sounded so good. The owner shook his head and said, "doesn't Eden want to sell amps anymore?".

    But since your taste varies from time to time and venue to venue, just having a reliable amp to use and then change out preamp stompboxes sounds like a pretty good plan.
    moon-bass likes this.
  10. jacoby75

    jacoby75 Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2010
    Coldwater, MI
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Guitars, DR Strings
    Yes, but did you ever try the Billy Sheehan INTO the Geddy? Holy heckballs! Smooth, grindy, midrangey, singing, ringing, cutting distortion. I have the Billy Sheehan Ultimate Signature . . . or ultimate deluxe or something like that. Whatever the latest light blue one is. That one into the Geddy (among other things in my chain) is pure bliss. I mean, I have yet to find an actual need for that tone outside of my bedroom headphone jamming, but if I ever did, like that 90's cover band I'm still hoping might materialize some day, it's amazing. It's that distortion that rings out forever and harmonics start popping out. I love it. Not a lot of call for it in church though. Maybe I'm just going to the wrong church.
    SiSoldier, Bonsist, jcburn and 2 others like this.
  11. moon-bass

    moon-bass Up to the moon and back Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    I did find a great amp (actually three of them). The Mesa TT800 for when I need a standard amp (sharing a backline for instance) and a Markbass F500 for a grab and go gig bag amp. The Quilter BB800 is my go to amp to pair with my pedal boards. Small, 800 watts, transparent, very usable EQ if needed, and you can bypass the preamp. Love it.

    I use two different pedal boards, a larger one that the Noble is a permanent fixture on, and a smaller board that I swap the Preamps out on the regular. The smaller one fits very well into a Mono Tick.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
    Rip Van Dan likes this.
  12. jthisdell


    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    OK, the ToneHammer is nothing like the Messenger, nothing, both great and the P-15 is beyond great, not a pedal, set it on top your head and let 're rip.

    The Messenger or P-15 will drive any power amp.
    Zbysek likes this.
  13. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2004
    Bayside, New York
    I've been using the Quilter BB800 all winter at home. I often use the headphone jack which is conveniently located on the face of this amp. Nice and simple amp with great sound, plenty of power and a small footprint..
    I tried the EDEN WDTI and was unlucky in my quest with this pedal..I had two lemons and was done with that model. The Sadowsky Pre also delivers.
  14. moon-bass

    moon-bass Up to the moon and back Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    Didn't say that they were alike, but that my reason for not liking them was the same.
    Bonsist likes this.
  15. stuntbass77


    Nov 6, 2007
    Nice thread, like the detail ! Thanks for posting!
  16. Bonsist


    Jan 28, 2021
    I can't thank you enough for making this thread & sharing your discoveries with us! Bookmarked both of your posts. Some of these I haven't even heard of before so now I have a lot of homework to do.
    moon-bass and carsonchilders like this.
  17. pisces_bass


    Jun 8, 2019
    Central WA
    Is your Trace preamp the SM7? If so, it shares a lot with the old SMX control layout. Have you had an opportunity to compare with the TE Transit B?

    Fun thread!
    moon-bass likes this.
  18. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    I get there with the Nordstrand Starlifter Bass Pre/DI into Crown XLS 1500 or QSC GX5. No problem with gain.
    moon-bass and BasturdBlaster like this.
  19. Killens84

    Killens84 Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    I just got my Arkham Oracle in yesterday. Man that thing sounds good!
    moon-bass likes this.
  20. I will +1 the Eden WTDI, but it is noisy. Not ideal for recording.

    I just got the Tech 21 Q/Strip. It is a great tone shaper. Recorded direct with it just now. Serious studio bass tone!
    moon-bass likes this.
  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.

    Apr 14, 2021

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