Though it mightn’t seem like it, bass overdrive pedals can come in many different packages. Some of them combine preamp with the effect and offer everything you’ll ever need for your instrument. They eliminate the need of investing in couple of devices and provide you with all the necessary tools. Such products can be really useful in many settings, however, sometimes we want something simpler. There are cases when we require solely overdrive and we don’t care about the rest. That can be a gig, in which we don’t need that much tone shaping or a practice where we want our bass to retain all of its qualities, good or bad. Lucky for us, there are intelligent brands out there, such as Ampeg. They came out with SCR-DI a couple of years ago – it combined a powerful preamp with overdrive and was the kind of unit I mentioned in the beginning. But then they gave it another thought, split its functionalities in two, and made the pedal more affordable and accessible. By doing so, they gave us the possibility to choose what we wanted and purchase the product that would directly correspond to our needs. Today we’ll talk about the overdrive part of the legendary unit, namely their Scrambler. As you’ve probably guessed, it’s a powerful, yet simple bass stompbox that knows what we’re looking for. Let’s discuss its features and figure out if it’s as good as the original!
If you asked me what comes to my mind when thinking about Scrambler, my only answer would be scrambled eggs. And since I love them both, I don’t find any issues with that. In my opinion, they even have something in common: they are both rather simple, but if you don’t know how to treat them, you’ll end up with a burnt pan or mashed sound. But due to the character of Scrambler, the latter is way more unlikely than the former. The internal components of this fella make sure that your sound doesn’t get ruined even if you don’t know how to use overdrive with bass. And that, my friend, is one of the biggest virtues a pedal can have.
More importantly, this buddy has all-metal enclosure which means it will be durable. Though you don’t pay that much, it’s still an investment and we all want our investments to pay off. Its design is really sleek: matte black body is topped with black knobs, silver footswitch and white writings. The contrast between the body and labels makes it possible to see everything even from far away, even on dark stages. Plus, the graphics underneath the controls look pretty cool to me, too. Scrambler features analog circuitry with true bypass, which is the synonym for organic and natural sounds. It has Blend functionality, which is an integral part of any great bass overdrive. Let’s not forget that it has standard connections i.e. an input and an output (the latter can also be plugged in with a mixing console, a recorder or an interface) for connecting it to your chain. When it comes to powering options, typically, you can utilize either a single 9V battery or an adapter. The choice is yours! I think I don’t need to emphasize this even more, but just in case you didn’t get it let me tell you that Scrambler is a fantastic piece of equipment!
The control section features all the knobs and switches that you’d need to make basic adjustments in your overdriven bass sounds. Though you don’t get too many tone shaping options, what we have here is more than enough for nailing your performance to perfection. And since Scrambler is precise as hell, you won’t have any problems with accuracy either.
In order to prove that it’s really easy to control, let me tell you what we have here. Firstly, we’ve got Drive, which adds gain to your sound and overdrives it more and more as you rotate it clockwise. Then we have Blend, which mixes together your original signal and the affected one. It can be used for bringing back the qualities of your bass that can be lost in the mix or simply intensifying the effect. Treble is your typical tone control and it adds (up to 17dB of boost) or removes (up to 14 dB of cut) higher frequencies. And finally, Volume controls the level of the overall output. Oh, I almost forgot – Scrambler features an internal pot which reduces the input with -15dB in case your bass has active pickups.
If you want to understand the concept of analog overdrive, you have to play with Ampeg Scrambler. It has subtle, yet textured overdrive that flourishes even more as you intensify the settings. It makes your bass sound more prominent and defined while steeping it with warmth, girth and organic qualities. Even though it doesn’t have precise tonal controls, it still retains the full spectrum of frequencies, be it the lower end or treble. All the knobs perform as one body, which means that regardless of the settings, they go well with each other. The added detail i.e. internal pot adds a ton of flexibility to this unit. Not only can you utilize it with your standard bass, but you can also swap it for an active one without any issues. Scrambler sounds wonderful no matter how you set it – even if you were to tweak it blindfolded, you’d still be able to emit some of the most distinctive sounds.
I’m not even surprised that Scrambler is in the higher league when it comes to bass overdrive pedals. I didn’t expect anything less from Ampeg – they’ve been treating us with mind-blowing bass equipment for a while now. The pedal we discussed above is something that should be in any bass rig. It has hardly any flaws and the ones we might name aren’t even that important. This puppy is what you need if you want to create quality overdrive with little to no effort. If I were you, I would stop hesitating and go for it. Good luck!
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