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P-Bass with a Nitro Booster 'Preamp' - Test Drive - Review

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Antisyzygy, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    I just wanted to share this because when I was doing research I found absolutely no information on installing this mod on a bass. I just went for it blind, maybe someone else can find info on this now.

    I had a Guitar Fuel Nitro Booster (I have no affiliation) installed in my Fender Standard P-bass in hopes of getting a few different EQ presets onboard. In particular I wanted a scooped sound for slap playing available without needing to go to the amp or pedals. I don't use pedals very often, maybe I should, but this mod was cheap and fun to experiment with.

    Before you P-bass folks crucify me, I still have my unmodded, passive P bass strung with flats sitting on my guitar rack!

    The circuit costs 20 bucks on Ebay, and they also sell it as an add-on for their bass preamps.

    Home Page

    The Mod :

    The Nitro Booster is a little PCB on a switch that gives a 5 dB boost when it's powered on. It operates on a 9v battery, but doesn't draw much power. It has a 3-way switch to select 3 different EQ settings. The EQ settings are reputed to be at the same gain, so you shouldn't notice volume changes when switching between them. Obviously when you turn the sucker on there is a volume boost, but I didn't notice any volume changes between EQ settings.

    Here is what it looks like installed.

    I also had a battery box installed in the rear of the body. My fall back plan was to stick a stacked volume/tone and treble/bass preamp with bypass in this bass, so the battery box is going to be used even if this tone circuit is no good.

    The switch between the tone and volume selects one of three EQ presets. In the middle is Flat, down is High/Low boost, and up is Mid boost. The second switch near the jack is a on/off switch so I wouldn't lose that magical passive P tone. Additionally, I had a stereo jack installed so the circuit will automatically power off when unplugged.

    Sound Clip :

    Attached is an audio clip of me playing the same riff with the different settings. It's recorded in Studio One through a Focusrite Scarlett audio interface. I put a 2x10 cab modeling amp on it, amp EQ is totally flat, I didn't change how the preset "mics" the modeled cabinets, and on the bass the volume and tone are dimed. There is no compression or any other processing or effects.

    The first riff is finger style, the second is a crappy slap line I just made up on the spot. Settings go in this order for each riff :

    1. Passive
    2. Active - Flat
    3. Active - High/Low Boost
    4. Active - Mid Boost

    Apologies if the volume is off on that sound sample, I was in a hurry. I had to go put the kids to bed. I'll try to post some more sound clips tomorrow if anyone is interested.

    Thoughts :

    The different EQ sounds are more subtle than I anticipated. I guess I didn't know what to expect.

    I enjoyed the active flat boost mode. It's just a bit hotter, but it's not too over the top. It sounds a bit different than passive mode to my ear aside from the volume boost, but I'm having trouble putting my finger down on what it is. A little more "brilliance" perhaps.

    I thought the High/Low boost was a bit harsh on the high end, but it does do a good enough scoop that I am going to keep this mod. Compression may help, I can roll the tone off a bit, or I might try installing some sort of capacitor for when the bass isn't in bypass mode. I need to spend some more time experimenting with it.

    The real surprise here was that I really like that mid boost mode. I thought I wouldn't bother using it but now I think I might use it a lot. I didn't record it here, but if you play near the bridge with the mids boosted you get a nice honky sound out of this bass.

    What do you all think?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
    mikezimmerman likes this.
  2. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    Further Thoughts :

    I ended up playing with the High/Low boost mode a bit more. Turning the tone pot down about 1/8-1/4 turn (it's stock MIM wiring) removes the harshness and keeps a nice scoop, and a good amount of high-end for the clicks and pops. I will likely not bother installing a treble cut cap for when the nitro booster is active (not bypassed).
  3. How do you switch from active to Passive?
  4. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    The extra switch near the output jack is a active/passive switch. There are wiring diagrams for it on the Guitar Fuel site.

    The switch inbetween the volume and tone is the EQ switch.
  5. Gotcha, my bad. I'm on my phone and just looked at the thumbnail, not the big picture.
  6. thebassbuilder


    Mar 7, 2012
    Spartanburg SC
    guitar builder, Meyers Guitars
    I think I like the sound samples from favorite to least in the order you played them. Really the first 3 all sound great and have just the right amount of something to each but the Mid boost sounded to hollow for me. Sounds like a nice investment to me.
    Antisyzygy likes this.
  7. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    Oddly enough that's about the order I use them in from most used to least used. I like the High/Low boost for slap or fingerstyle but I have to roll off the tone a bit, about 1/8th to 1/4 turn to tame the brilliance down a bit. The mid boost mode I haven't used once in a song, but I play around with it every once in awhile.

    The mid boost mode actually also cuts out highs and lows I guess. I didn't really like it either at first, it's sort of "boxy". It sounds terrible when used for slap however I was able to get some usable sounds finger style, mostly playing closer to the bridge or closer to the neck to add back in the treble or bass frequencies respectively. I don't play with a pick or with distortion but it might work for those tones.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2015
    thebassbuilder likes this.

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