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Zoom A3 pedal...for DB?!?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by jacochops, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. jacochops


    Jul 2, 2000
    Bryan, TX
    Yup! I am the music director at an International school here in China...brought my EA Doubler and small cab with me to gig. My sound has always been fine...no complaints. But, I had to bring my bass to school for a concert that we're doing, and another teacher at the school (who is a fine musician) recommend that I try out his Zoom pedal. I normally am NOT into those kind of things, but I went through it into the school's big Peavey amp...WOW!!!!! It is THE best amplified tone I have ever gotten! Even better than my Doubler! The pedal has several settings. I put it on "double bass", and pow! The tone was SMOKING! I want to get one so I don't have to bring my amp to gigs any more.

    Any one else here have any experience with this kooky thing? At about 200 bucks, it couldn't hurt.
    kerrycares likes this.
  2. Studiodawg


    Oct 25, 2007
    As Joe Meek might have said... if it sounds good it is good...
    Ric Vice likes this.
  3. MR PC

    MR PC Banned

    Dec 1, 2007
    Interesting. I've experience with one Line 6 sound system with a setting for "Acoustic Bass" among many other modeled sound samples, with accompanied cute screen icons. It's the wave of the future for amplified acoustic music. The Zoom pedal could be an improvement over the Line 6 sound sample..

    ...but I've got to say that playing your instrument and having your dynamics overridden by a modeled sound is annoying, to say the least. The other players in the group, (viola and guitar) using mics have agreed they hate it. It's like having auto fill for your touch. In this particular situation (and others) I have abandoned the use of anything but a good direct box, since any eq (fdeck hpf, parametric eq) I've tried to use to shape the sound is useless, really. Add in the fact that any club owner is now a self appointed genius sound engineer who can sculpt your sound levels with his iphone or laptop...

    For amp use, maybe the Zoom is interesting. I'd like to hear some more impressions jaco after you've used the Zoom for awhile in different venues.
  4. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    MR. PC
    Since I'm not familiar with the Zoom, I didn't realize that it's using modeling on that level. I'm not comfortable with that kind of computerized ASDR taking over, because that's as you say, a digital device, replacing your sound, at least to some degree. What I do like, is the Headway EDB-2's form and function, putting the EQ very close to your fingertips, for occasional tweaks. In europe, it used to be the case that sound engineers, had to have a fairly extensive, background as a musician, so to me, having a iMac and a Alesis dock, doesn't qualify anyone as a sound engineer. I'm in total agreement with you. :)

  5. jacochops


    Jul 2, 2000
    Bryan, TX
    Hey guys...all points well taken. All I know is that I did not struggle with sound like I normally do. I'll report more after spending more time with it, esp. in a more intimate setting. Thanks, all!
    kerrycares likes this.
  6. dunnobass


    Mar 1, 2012
    Based on jacochops' post, I got a Zoom A3 to try out this week at a gig. I used it instead my trusty fdeck HPF-Pre series 2 (which was a big improvement over my Fishman Pro-EQ Platinum). I went straight from my K&K Bass Max pickup, using the Zoom's default settings for piezo pickup and upright bass "body type," with the "wet/dry" dial at halfway. I ran it into my Carvin MB10 + Ampeg SVT 210AV and from there into the PA. In a noisy bar playing bluegrass/string band rock, the sound was great, just like jacochops said. Not "my bass but louder" -- not the holy grail of upright bass sound -- but very authentically acoustic and string-bass sounding. I especially liked how authentic my attack > decay sounded. Lots of compliments on my tone.

    Seems well-made. Sturdy metal case. Messed around with the auto-seeking feedback notch filter at home the next day, playing right in front of my amp, and was impressed with how quickly the Zoom found the offending frequency and killed it.

    I'll try using the DI out straight into the PA at the next gig and see how that goes, but I'm sure I'm keeping the pedal. Thanks for the original post.
    kerrycares and richhansen like this.
  7. tfer


    Jan 1, 2014
    Use it on my NXT EUB and find it adds a depth of realism to it. That and a foam mute to kill some sustain, and I get the amplified sound I want. Love the condenser microphone modeling.
  8. Imoy


    Oct 1, 2010

    I just got the zoom A3 to try out and it does what its supposed to. That is, make the double bass sound like its going acousticly through a microphone , rather than having "the piezo sound". It does it very well. I used it on a gig 2 days ago and got a fantastic amplified tone, better than I have ever had before.
    I have a fully carved double bass fitted with a Dave Gauge pickup, used for playing jazz. The dave gauge pickup is good but it is a peizo pickup an still has that slightly nasal tone, even when run into 10MOhm pre-amp. It just doesn't sound the same as the bass acoustically, or recorded through a mic. Plugging into the zoom A3, with the double bass filter selected, I dialled the "wet - dry" up to about 11:00 on the dial and got a sound that was really like the bass was mic'd, fat and warm. It was then easier to balance the amplified volume of the bass to its own acoustic sound for the gig because the basses own sound and the sound from the amp where of very similar timbre.
    So I'm really pleased with the A3 and thanks to zoom for bothering to put a double bass filter on it as no other manufactures have bothered to put one on their acoustic pre-amps. Additionally the A3 has a fantastic automatic feedback suppressor which works very well, much better than the dial it yourself manual ones. This is very useful to me on louder gigs as my carved bass is more eager to feedback than some others I have had.

    These kind of digital boxes, to make your piezo guitar sound like its been mic'd up, are made by several manufactures. (Fisherman aura, TC electronics Bodyrez, Boss AC-2 ? to name a few).
    For those who don't know and are interested, they work using a digital filter, which can re-EQ the signal from the instruments piezo pickup in a way that would not really be possible with an analogue filter. The problem that they fix is this. An acoustic instrument has a certain timbre to its sound, that you hear. A microphone can "hear" this timbre too, in a very similar way to your ear so when you amplify an acoustic guitar or double bass with a microphone, its sounds pretty much the same as the acoustic sound, only louder. Using microphones for recording these instruments is often the preferred method in the recording studio, rather than using the piezo. However using microphones for live stage use is fraught with all sorts of problems and really needs the continuous presence of a sound engineer to make it trouble free.
    So we have the piezo pickup, fastened into the bridge of the guitar, double bass or other acoustic string instrument. The piezo pickup is very sensitive and picks up virtually all of the harmonics of the instruments, but due to its physical position does not produce a sound of the same timbre as hearing the instrument acoustically, because all the various harmonics it outputs are now in slightly different proportions to what you would hear when listening to the instrument through air, acoustically. Using your standard tone, parametric or graphic EQ can improve the piezo sounds timbre but it will not sound like listening to the acoustic sound. Also most piezo pickups exaggerate the dynamics of certain frequencies, so the amplifies instrument feels a bit different to play too. It sounds good, better than no amplifier, but it will have the "piezo sound".
    The digital filter, as in the zoom A3, is designed to re jig all the harmonics of piezo pickups signal into the same proportions as if they had been collected from a microphone placed near to the instrument. Each digital filter is designed to work for a particular instrument, hence many of these type of boxes have a lot of different "corrective" filters selectable. In contrast analogue filters, tone controls, are just too broad ranging to make this kind of correction. If one were to try and do this correction with specially made analogue filters, then the filters would be very extreme and introduce severe noise and phase shifts to the audio signals harmonics which would stop it sounding good and distort it in different ways. So the digital filter is much more effective for this kind of application.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2015
    kerrycares likes this.
  9. I was told by a well-known danish Bass player, that the Zoom B2.1U is better for bass than the B3. Never tried both side by side but got a B2.1U and use it primarily for EUB.
    I think the B2.1U doesn't have the feedback processor, but my experience with a Behringer Shark was disappointing, so I don't expect something better in a multi effects unit.
  10. bullyspud


    Oct 15, 2011
    paris, france
    remounting this old post to see if anybody is still using this and with what settings?
    i bought this pedal because it is really the cheapest thing that has:
    -possibility of mixing mic and piezo
    -footswitches for auto feedback killer , mute/tuner/boost
    -can also be used for guitar
    -works as a DI box

    i am usually playing in bars, restaurants and function gigs so i dont always have time for a sound check or must make adjustements on the fly.
    Kristian likes this.
  11. SmokinJazz


    Mar 17, 2013
    I've been using the Zoom A3 because I needed an out to the board and my amp didn't have one. I'm using a Phil Jones Double Four as a little stage monitor and the A3 out to the house (and to the amp). It works well and I like the fullness of the sound. Plus I already owned it for an acoustic guitar I have - so figured I would use it for the double bass and I am not disappointed. I usually just have some EQ to level out a weaker sounding E and A strings (I've tried some different strings, but that isn't cheap). I have a few different sound banks, one is dialed up with a bit of chorus for some of the tunes and another has a bit less level on the EQ for when I bow on another song (my bowing really blossoms fast and can get loud - technique is needing some work). It is nice to have the boost button also for when my solo lines come around. I haven't played with any of the other effects - but it might be interesting to throw in something more edgy or electronic in a funked up Depeche Mode song we do (we have an eclectic collection of tunes). Most of my life, I've been more of a purist, but this gives us sound options I hadn't considered before and could be interesting - it would be kind of a shock to have a double bass pump out some tremolo or phaser tones - maybe fun in the right situation.
  12. Kristian


    Dec 5, 2008
    Sounds like a great product, it even has 48 phantom power.
    But it looks like it's discontinued... :(
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    @Lmoy - I have to say, if you're still around, that I am amused by the fact that you British spellcheck "corrected" Dave Gage's last name to Britspeak...
  14. I picked one up real cheap, I use a SENN e604 drum mic clipped onto the bridge facing the soundboard, sounds pretty good to me. When I need a little more thump and vol, piezo into the Double Bass patch set at 50% wet, takes that honk out of the piezo, and dial in with the mic. The DI out of the A3 is balanced, so I'm going out of the A3 into the desk and into my Genz Benz AMP and 15" cab, no feedback, big , fat, upright sound. Good for Country & Bluegrass. Not bad considering it wasn't made for Bass.
    Further investigation as I don't play much electric bass, . . . its crap for electric bass, it might have some nice effects but unfortunately as a preamp and having to choose magnetic or flat pickup changes the tone of the bass compared to straight into the amp (which sounds great btw). When it comes to doubling, which will be in my near future I'll need something better, probably a Radial Engineering Pre. So this Zoom A3 does a pretty good job for Upright bass though I'll be moving it on.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  15. kerrycares

    kerrycares Lover of God, People , Music and Bass Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2006
    How much different is the effect on the tone of the bass compared to the more expensive Tonedexter ?
  16. The Tonedexter seems to shine for acoustic instruments, and the few reviews I've read and Upright players that have used them, eventually move on from them. I think with Bass and in particular Double Bass too much processing can spoil the tone. The best tone on Upright will be from a well positioned mic, some people go straight to the Front of house with that and use a piezo for foldback. Depending on stage volume some people only need to hear the acoustic sound of the bass with a little from the PA, some need more.

    I supported a band last week and their Upright Bassist went into a DI box, no stage AMP and he sounded wonderful in the PA. His bass had a very strong, warm natural sound, I think he was using a realist pickup.

    Alison Kraus and Union Station for example use in ear monitoring and Barry Bales rents a Kay Bass and takes his pedal board with him, last I heard he used a mic and piezo. As for me, I use a mic/piezo into a bass amp mainly because my particular ply bass is not very loud. If I want a slightly more natural sound I'll mic it up and have that through the amp with a little piezo for added thump. When I'm in control of the PA and mix I'll DI out of the amp head and have the stage amp barely ticking over for some bottom oomph. When I support other bands and at the mercy of another sound engineers I'll bring my amp in case I'm not in the PA and I can fill the room a bit. So many variables, but at the end of the day, I want the least amount of processing and to sound good, to my ears.

    To tie all that in, the Zoom A3 allows me to mic the bass and use a pickup. Sounds ok for now until I find better or something more useful for doubling. The Zoom uses a sample model on the pickup channel that eq's out the honk, the mic is more or less flat. It's a bit of a one trick pony for bass, unless you like using effects on DB. :))
    Kristian and kerrycares like this.
  17. I picked up a used Zoom A3 recently, and I am really enjoying it as a pre / DI on double bass with a mic. The mic input bypasses the modelling, but there are a range of effects, including 2 channels of parametric eq (switched freqs, not sweepable). Handy features include built-in tuner/mute, adjustable boost, 24 or 48V phantom, 40,80 or 160Hz HPF and headphones out. It can run on 4 AAs but with 48V phantom on, it was touch and go whether it would even start up on AA batteries alone. The good news is it can run on USB power, so I have been using a $50 USB 'power bank' instead of the wall wart power supply. After a few gigs, i am down to 85% charge.
    The DI out is pretty hot. When close to maxed, the unit has enough gain to use with a dynamic mic. I can hear a little high-pitched whine through good headphones, don't know yet if that is only the headphone amp or widespread in the output.
    Despite having a lot of effects that I would never use, it is a very handy unit. Zoom discontinued the A3, so I hope my one lasts
  18. kerrycares

    kerrycares Lover of God, People , Music and Bass Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2006
    Just found one for $99.00 so i’ll give it a whirl!
  19. For $99 thats a bargain and useful for mic / piezo, an excellent DI with built in tuner. Yea, thats great value. I get a nice mic tone in my amp thru 1x15”
  20. Just got back from a 1 hour acoustic duo gig at a local festival. e906 mic into the zoom then to the FOH desk. I used the 80Hz hpf setting with the Sennheiser.
    My powerbank has now dropped to 82% (it's very economical with dynamic mics - phantom and headphones draw more juice from the battery).
    Afterwards, the sound guy said the DI signal seemed very clean, so I think it must be the built-in headphone amp which is bringing in a little noise.
    Kristian likes this.

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