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Skjold Pro Sound.. outboard preamp!!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Biker4Him, Oct 18, 2005.


  1. Yes Pete Skjold (who makes some of the most playable and versatile basses I''ve ever played) is now in the preamp market. A while back there was a thread talking about all the things that players would want in a preamp. There were tons of ideas and since then Pete has been working on developing a killer preamp. I was able to play through the first prototype a few months ago at the Dallas area GTG. It was really nice. Very musical, but not anything that made me jump head over heels crazy about.

    However; we did talk about doing a smaller non-rackmount version of the pre once he got all the bugs worked out, and tweaked all the goodies.

    Well, this weekend I drove down to the Arlington Guitar Show to pick up my brand new Skjold Pro Sound "Session Pal" this one is the prototype.. but Pete finally got all the bugs worked out of it.
    [​IMG] It is tube preamp, with point ot point wiring, all handmande here in the USA. And it is a HUGE improvement over the rackmount prototype I played through a few months ago.

    This is the same preamp as the rackmount version.. only smaller. The rackmount version will be a 2U rackmount pre. This one is smaller than the Acoustic Image Focus SA it is sitting on. Anyway.. here's the scoop on the "Session Pal".

    Outputs: there is the standard 1/4 out to run to your Power Amp. There is Di out with ground lift. (The DI is pre EQ... as most soundmen prefer), and there is a headphone out.. so you can use this to practice with, and NOT need an amp. (really cool idea!)

    The two knobs on the front of the preamp (to the left of the input) are: gain, and then master volume.

    The four knobs on top from left to right are: bass, mid, midrange frequency selector, and treble. The midrange frequency selector has three options.. they are voiced around 100, 200 , and 300 hz. so you have a lot of options for boosting and cutting the mids. A lot!!

    The three toggle on the top are mute (a true mute.. not a tuner mute), an eq bypass, and a bright switch.

    And.. then there's the handle. Which at first seemed like a cheesy idea.. but it looks good, and I actually use it.. so I'm glad it's there.

    I can
    t remember what kind of tube Pete is using in his preamps... it's an oddball.. and if my memory is correct it's a 12SX7.

    Now.. as for actually using the cute little black box... I set everything flat... left the mid selector on the lowest of three freq ranges.. plugged in my Skjold bass... turned the volume on the "Session Pal" full up, and turned on the pre, and the power amp. I left the gain full off, and let everything come to life. (oh.. for all those fans of "blue"lights.. this pre has it's very own blue light.. and it's pretty bright.)

    O.K.. so I started plucking the E string, and turned the gain up... I was impressed from the beginning... I could actually crank the gain full up, and the volume full up.. with everything set flat... and get NO distortion. NONE!! It was stupid loud, and at volumes you would never need live.. but it was soooo musical.. and like I said.. NO Distortion. (oh.. I was running into a Schroeder mini12 and Schroeder 1210.. with the 1210 on top of the mini).

    So.. I turned the gain down.. leaving the volume full up.. Expecting the tone to lose some life... I was wrong. I started playing... just goofing off basically.. and decided to give the tone knobs some turning. I started with the mids... I am really surprised at how much vesatility there is in the mids.. for some reason I thought that with the selector being kind of shelved at 100,200, and 300.. there wouldn't be much difference.. but the difference is huge..

    But alas, I had to quit goofing off, and get some work done. You'd think my clients would know by now to leave me alone, so I can just play bass all day.. but alas.. they do not!! (which I guess is good, so I can afford all this stuff).

    I'm going to give it a more in depth workout tonight.. in a full band setting. In the meantime.. I thought I should share what I do know about it.. and some pics.

    It came just in time for next weeks studio work. That's a lot of what I had in mind with this thing. I'll be using it a lot for studio work, for practice at home, and also for gigs where I don't need to bring a full rig. I can use the headphone out as my own monitor, use the Di out to the board.. and I'm done.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    all pic's are thumbnailed.. so you can click them to enlarge.
     
  2. KAOSBass

    KAOSBass

    Mar 10, 2005
    Amarillo Texas
    price range?
     
  3. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Awesome, Henry! I can't wait to get mine! ;)

    Please share more as you get to spend more time with this unit. And, as I seem to be saying a lot lately, might I compliment your excellent taste in gear! :D

    Tom.
     
  4. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    tagged in.
     
  5. SoComSurfing

    SoComSurfing Mercedes Benz Superdome. S 127. R 22. S 12-13.

    Feb 15, 2002
    Mobile, Al
    I only spent a few minutes with the rackmount, but was very impressed. The EQ section was probably the most versatile I've ever used, and really liked the true mute switch and EQ bypass. Nifty features. I can see where the bypass would come in very handy if you're working with two basses, one active and one passive. IIRC, the markings on the mid-select of the rackmount were 100, 250, and 400, but I'm not that certain. I also can't recall what tube Pete said he was using.

    Biker, I wish I'd known you were heading to the show! TBer LBPark and I were working a booth in the other room all weekend, and I'd love to have met you!
     
  6. I was hoping to get some pics of your rig. This thing looks
    awesome!! Especially with the Focus SA and Schroeders.
    You have my dream rig! Do you have any idea about price
    for the preamp? I would think this is something that MANY
    PEOPLE would be interested in.

    Thanks for the awesome post(with pics).
     
  7. lbpark

    lbpark Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2005
    Mobile, Al.
    +1 on everything!
     
  8. Well, I probably paid MORE than what Pete will be selling these for. I think Pete was nice enough to pawn all the R&D costs of the small box on to me. Now that all the glitches, bugs, and re-do's are done.. it will probably hit the street for less than what I paid. However; I think in the end.. this is the direction a lot of bass players will be going. Smaller, lighter, and no compromise in tone.

    Give Pete a call or email, he's a great guy to deal with, and he can tell you what the price is going to be on this, and the rackmount version. I believe that Mr. Tom Bowlus is going to receive the first rackmount version.. and if I recall correctly.. there was one more little bug to work out before the rackmount version was final. (However; I could certainly be wrong.) Honestly I wasn't too worried about Tom's getting done... I think he has enough gear to get him by for the next few weeks!!:D

    O.k... I'm off to get some work done, and then it's off to give this thing a proper trial with the band.

    Stay tuned... more to follow.
     
  9. Well, my wife and I showed up around 2:30 on Sunday, and we basically did a "run through" of the show... before stopping at Pete's booth to pick up my little box. I honestly didn't think I was going to make it, but a last minute change in plans helped me to get down there. It would have been cool to meet ya, and lbpark.
     
  10. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Ferndale MI.
    Artist: Xotic Basses/AccuGroove
    Balanced out????
    No mention of one. I'd hate to still have to carry my GT Ditto Box with me as well as that pre.
    Sounds sweet!!
     
  11. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    This is true!

    Which has been taken care of, I believe.

    Yer probably right! :p
     
  12. Woops.. sorry I failed to mention it.. but yes.. balanced DI out.. here's apic of the side which shows the two 1/4's out (one is for headphones).. and the DI out with ground lift.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    The Republic of Texas
    It good to hear Pete has got it together with the Preamp.

    I was wondering if it went by the wayside and now here I am with more gas. :rollno:

    Sounds like it should be sweet -- how does it compare to the Read Purity?
     

  14. Massively cool!
     
  15. Wilbyman

    Wilbyman

    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    That is cool, gotta say. Could use some graphics tho.
     
  16. Well, this one is a prototype.. the rest will have graphics.
     
  17. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I am very interested in this and I hope that more preamps this size start to come out. I'm curious though, by the look of the pictures you posted you have the poweramp dimed, the volume on the pre dimed and the gain is up more than halfway. Does this preamp have enough volume?
     
  18. SoComSurfing

    SoComSurfing Mercedes Benz Superdome. S 127. R 22. S 12-13.

    Feb 15, 2002
    Mobile, Al
    Can't speak for this one, though I'm sure it's the same as the rackmount, but when I was messing with the rackmount (Tom's), the master out was about 12:00, with gain somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00, and the one channel of the Carvin DCM600 (I think) up around 11:00. This was through an Ampeg 2x12, and there definitely seemed to be enough volume. This was probably adequate for a moderate rock band, and it looked like there was plenty room left.
     
  19. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Yup. And wood knobs! :ninja: :D
     
  20. Silly drummers.. always messing with knobs..

    I'm going to answer your question.. and give some insight after using it tonight playing with the guys.

    I usually keep the power amp all the way up.. and adjust with the pre. Using the Session Pal.. I seem to be (so far) finding myself using the gain at about 3/4, and the volume at about 1/3. And then.... have been turning down the volume on the bass itself to about 2/3 instead of all the way up... that way I have easy access when the guitarists start to get in volume wars.. I just turn the bass all the way up... and they tremble in fear!! They have seen what this micro rig can do.. and they know I will blow them away if they want to get in volume wars.. and besides.. we'd all rather keep our hearing for another year or two.

    That said.. both of the guitarists are fairly loud using 100watt 2x12 combo's.. and the drummer is using a DW custom kit that he hits pretty hard. He's not a soft drummer..but I've played with a drummer that actually had to re-head his kit every gig, and cracked cymbals fairly regularly. (talk about a moron!!) So we are probably an average volume band. And yes.. this micro rig not only keeps up.. it will win the war.

    There is PLENTY of volume on this thing.... When I cranked it all up full blast.. everything pegged... I could not stand to be in the same building...

    Here's what I seem to find interesting with the "Session Pal". I've found on a lot of other preamp.. once you turn the gain up past a certain point.. it really just kills your tone, and it's not useable past that point.. it loses all the dynamics, and instead you're just left with mush. So.. instead of being able to use the gain full up, you have to quit turning it up... and then use the volume.. The gain on the "pal" is completely useable all the way up. Your tone never starts to break up, or lose any definition. Instead... it's like your tone just keeps growing.. and growing...

    The eq section is subtle. But not weak. The bass knob is very nice.. I was able to increase the low end while still maintaining great definition, and punch. I don't really like a mushy low end... although I do like the Schroeder 12's... so I guess I'm actually somewhere between the 4x10 kind of low end, and the 12 or 15 type of low end... although the Schroeders 12's do seem to be as punchy as any other 12's I've tried.. (although I have not tried them all). So.. My defined and punchy may not be your defined and punchy.. but you would just be wrong!!:D The midrange I kind of went over all ready. The selector and the boost/cut knobs offer all kinds of options. The bright switch seemed like any other bright switch.. however... I'm not the most prolific slapper and popper on the planet.. However I didn't notice anything "icky" sounding.. so I just left it on. The treble knob is fine also... I like to control the treble onboard.. so I basically just left it flat and left it alone.

    I could see where this box would do magic to a passive bass. Especially with the mid controls. It's still a pretty cool box even with my Skjolds and my Sadowsky.

    Now..compared to the "Purity" I loved, but parted with.. this "pal" is very similar.. in that there is not a massive amount of eq... but the "Pal' does have a lot more eq options than the Purity had. And the tone seems to be just slightly more alive. (if that makes any sense).

    I've owned (and/or still own) some other very nice small portable preamps.. both tube and non-tube. Of all of them.. it seems the "Pal" is the loudest. (not with noise.. ) By that I mean I can get louder using the same Focus SA into the Schroeder 1210 & mini 12, with the Skjold preamp, than I can with any other pre I've tried. Actually.. with the SA before I sometimes seemed to want for a little more power or headroom. I've had no such desire with the Skjold into the same rig. And.. the tone is crystal clear without being sterile. Even when you turn up to insanely loud volumes.. it still has excellent tone.. that's what impresses me the most of the box.... how much volume I get now compared to before..and how it all sounds good.. even with the gain cranked.

    I'm pretty stoked about the box. It really came alive tonight playing with the guys. I liked it before.. but now I know it's a keeper.