What defines the best bass distortion out there? Is it even possible to answer this question with clear-cut options and features? If I’m being honest, I don’t think so. It’s highly unlikely that the list of those properties will be the same for everyone – in fact, it will differ significantly, since we all have certain priorities that we choose over other variables. But for me the quality that often defines the best bass distortion pedal is simplicity. I know, I know, we’re all tired of the clichéd quotes such as ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’ and so on, but there is truth to them. The most beloved and admired pedals are mostly the ones that are straight-forward. At first glance, they don’t have anything special, but a closer look always shows us that it’s their attitude and approach that determines their worth. The reason why I explained all of this is because today we’re dealing with an extremely user-friendly unit. Boss BB-1X is rather simple – it doesn’t overcomplicate its layout or features just to stand out among the crowd. But it still offers top-notch performance as a bass distortion pedal and convinces us in its value. If you want to save some space on your pedalboard, work with something that will make your life way easier or just purchase a reliable device, then you have to stay with me. Let’s begin!
I think you’ve already guessed from my intro, but I’ll still underline once again that Boss BB-1X doesn’t offer any bells and whistles. But everything it has makes a lot of sense in practice, especially when combined with a bass guitar. Due to the peculiarity of this instrument, it’s crucially important that your pedal knows how to treat those low frequencies and add effect without depriving it off its original ambience. And that’s what this puppy is all about. The team behind this pedal understood really well that it’s quite easy to mess up a bass sound. That’s why they have incorporated a processor that analyses low frequencies, your dynamics and playing styles all together and creates sound accordingly. This means that distortion is added in details rather than at once, producing defined results and avoiding muddy mess. What’s more, BB-1X comes with special tuning that makes sure your bass sound doesn’t come off artificial. It does its best to retain the organic qualities of your instrument and pair it with distortion for maximum results.
Moving on to more specific features, this bad boy has two output jacks: standard one and Line Out. The latter can be connected to PA or a recorder, which means that your sound is really polished. This output incorporates all the tools that are needed to retain bassy feel of your instrument and blend it with distortion seamlessly. It’s worth noting that BB-1X has a compact size, which means it will save you a lot of space on your pedalboard. It does also have the same build quality as its siblings, meaning that it won’t break apart even if that’s your goal. This is a type of a pedal that will never disappoint you – once it finds its place in your rig, it will be really reluctant to give it up for something else.
The simplicity I raved about earlier is maintained in control section, as well. Every encoder is laid out on the surface and you don’t have to play guessing games to understand what is what. Neither do you have to spend days reading the manual – it’s only one-page long and it will take you a couple of minutes. Setting up this fella is a child’s play as well – connect all the cables and you’ll be ready to rock. To make sure you understand the full scope of capabilities you get with BB-1X, I’ll break down each control and discuss its functionalities.
First one on the panel is a dual encoder. The upper one is a Level, which modifies the overall output of distortion. The lower one is Blend, which mixes together dry and wet signals. It can be utilized to balance original and distorted sounds and, thus, add even more dimension to the whole thing. Drive adds gain to your sound, which means it can enhance the strength of distortion. Then we have Low and High knobs that amplify or attenuate bottom-end and trebles, respectively. This way you can achieve the perfect mixture of those frequencies and accentuate them in the parts that are lacking something. Finally, BB-1X has Boss’s signature wide footswitch that activates or turns off the unit.
The sound of BB-1X is really hard to describe with words. Not that it’s something from another universe, it just has some characteristics that are hard to articulate, but I’ll still do my best. To make it easier to understand its sound, I would say that it resembles the feel of B7k from Darkglass Electronics. Don’t get me wrong – these two aren’t the same. But they have similar vibes if we consider the fact that they both offer the ability to use EQ and distortion separately. This means that BB-1X can be utilized as a preamp in case you simply want to craft your bass sound, but it can also be employed as a powerful distortion tool. Some might even say that it can get too extreme, but it’s up to your taste, my friend. The main thing is that it doesn’t lose clarity at any point and doesn’t turn into muddy disaster at any point. Your bass will benefit from this puppy a great deal – trust me on this one!
To sum up everything said above, BB-1X from Boss is yet another powerful distortion tool from the brand. You’d think they wouldn’t be capable of something new after all these various models, but they managed to provide us with something unique and wonderful. This fella is so easy to use you’ll enjoy every minute spent in its company. Once you experiment with its EQ and Blend functionalities, you’ll find out that it provides you with way more options than you initially thought. Don’t be afraid to unleash the beast hidden in its body. Good luck!
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