Bass Gear Fall 2015 : Page 12

By Phil Maneri that’s a good sound.” It’s not a tube SVT, but it’s Ampeg, all the way. So, I took it out to a gig with my old double bass. Using an additional preamp to switch phase and engage a high-pass filter, I got an amazing tone out of the SCR-DI. On break, I texted Tom and told him he wasn’t getting this box back. It’s been on every gig since and has become an indispensible part of my amplification rig. It is unusual for me to take to a piece of gear so quickly and so completely. I’ve seen a lot of stu , and didn’t like most of it... A Closer Look It’s not perfect; nothing ever is. I love the look of it. It’s solid and Ampeg-retro-styled. Under the hood lives unremarkable mass-produced electronics. Only time will tell how well it holds up. The battery life is not what I had hoped for. I can’t get through two gigs without significant tone change from dropped voltage. It sounds fine on a wall wart power supply, but I would much rather have internal power on this guy and plug it into the wall. I understand they designed it to be on a pedal board, but I see its best use as a full-time preamp that would not need to be switched in and out. Other players’ use of this box may vary, though, of course. Looking at the updated BA-series combos, the SCR-DI is clearly an evolution of the front end used in those combos. If you are familiar with the “typical” Ampeg tone stack, the SCR-DI’s tone controls should be easy to grasp. In addition to buttons for Ultra Lo (+1 dB at 40Hz, and -10 dB at 500Hz) and Ultra Hi (+5 dB at 8kHz), the 3-band EQ features controls for Bass (+/-14 dB at 40Hz), Mid (+5 dB boost, -11 dB cut at 500Hz) and Treble (+16 dB boost, -16 dB cut at 8kHz). The entire EQ section can be switched in/out using Ampeg SCR-DI Bass Pedal The Company Line The Ampeg SVT has been the bass tone benchmark to beat since it appeared in 1969. Some of the greatest rock bass sounds in history find their origins in the Ampeg sound. The company’s product line has changed quite a bit over the years, but the sound of Ampeg is the common denominator. Their literature calls this DI a, “true Ampeg preamp, delivering a wide range of Ampeg tone.” It also says, “you can dial in tube-like grind with the all-new Bass Scrambler overdrive.” If that wasn’t enough, the aux in and headphone outs make it a useful practice tool, as well. First Impression Our Editor-in-Chief, Tom Bowlus, says, “Check this out,” and lays the box on me. I’m dubious. Decades of using Ampeg all-tube amps have soured me to the majority of things I could use with a bass, and I am inherently skeptical of smaller, solid state devices. I expected this to be another “me-too” box. However, after I plugged in and dialed it up, I thought, “Damn, bass gear 12

Ampeg SCR-DI Pedal

Phil Maneri

The Company Line

The Ampeg SVT has been the bass tone benchmark to beat since it appeared in 1969. Some of the greatest rock bass sounds in history find their origins in the Ampeg sound. The company’s product line has changed quite a bit over the years, but the sound of Ampeg is the common denominator.

Their literature calls this DI a, “true Ampeg preamp, delivering a wide range of Ampeg tone.” It also says, “you can dial in tube-like grind with the all-new Bass Scrambler overdrive.” If that wasn’t enough, the aux in and headphone outs make it a useful practice tool, as well.

First Impression

Our Editor-in-Chief, Tom Bowlus, says, “Check this out,” and lays the box on me. I’m dubious. Decades of using Ampeg all-tube amps have soured me to the majority of things I could use with a bass, and I am inherently skeptical of smaller, solid state devices. I expected this to be another “me-too” box. However, after I plugged in and dialed it up, I thought, “Damn, that’s a good sound.” It’s not a tube SVT, but it’s Ampeg, all the way.

So, I took it out to a gig with my old double bass. Using an additional preamp to switch phase and engage a high-pass filter, I got an amazing tone out of the SCR-DI. On break, I texted Tom and told him he wasn’t getting this box back. It’s been on every gig since and has become an indispensable part of my amplification rig. It is unusual for me to take to a piece of gear so quickly and so completely. I’ve seen a lot of stuff, and didn’t like most of it...

A Closer Look

It’s not perfect; nothing ever is. I love the look of it. It’s solid and Ampeg-retro-styled. Under the hood lives unremarkable massproduced electronics. Only time will tell how well it holds up. The battery life is not what I had hoped for. I can’t get through two gigs without significant tone change from dropped voltage. It sounds fine on a wall wart power supply, but I would much rather have internal power on this guy and plug it into the wall. I understand they designed it to be on a pedal board, but I see its best use as a full-time preamp that would not need to be switched in and out. Other players’ use of this box may vary, though, of course.

Looking at the updated BA-series combos, the SCRDI is clearly an evolution of the front end used in those combos. If you are familiar with the “typical” Ampeg tone stack, the SCR-DI’s tone controls should be easy to grasp. In addition to buttons for Ultra Lo (+1 dB at 40Hz, and -10 dB at 500Hz) and Ultra Hi (+5 dB at 8kHz), the 3-band EQ features controls for Bass (+/- 14 dB at 40Hz), Mid (+5 dB boost, -11 dB cut at 500Hz) and Treble (+16 dB boost, -16 dB cut at 8kHz). The entire EQ section can be switched in/out using The bottom right footswitch. Flanking the three tone knobs are the output Volume knob (which sets the level for the balanced XLR out, the unbalanced 1/4” out and the headphone out) and the Aux Level knob (which only affects the headphone out). If you want a copy of your signal for parallel processing, or just to send it to a tuner, Ampeg has provided an una?ected, instrument-level “Thru” output.

The input side is great with my passive Fenders and the preamped double bass pickup, but my Sadowsky preamp-equipped bass overloads the front end of this unit into clipping, making it unusable. Yes, there is an internal pad, but it’s a pad jumper (with a -15 dB cut) which you can’t easily change, even with a household pair of needle-nose pliers. It’s meant to be a permanent change, rather than something you do from time-to-time on demand. That’s not the best approach, in my opinion. There is room for a switch in there, and I’ll modify this box at some point to put one in it, because it’s that important to me.

I have to admit to not being a fan of the Scrambler™ circuit. I’ve tried to find a way to like it, but it’s not for me. It provides control over the amount of drive and the blend between the clean and “scrambled” signal, but I didn’t find any settings which inspired me to leave it engaged. Fortunately, the bottom left footswitch lets you engage or disengage the Scrambler circuit. If I feel the need for some overdrive/ distortion/fuzz, I have a number of other pedals which do the job more to my liking. Of course, a lot of players seem to dig the Scrambler circuit, so if you are a fan, then that’s one less pedal you need to take to the gig. The Aux In is an interesting addition. You get two input options, either 1/4” or 1/8”, but as these inputs are mixed with the Input signal only at the headphone output, this is obviously a feature for private practice, only.

As the name implies, the SCR-DI features a balanced DI output, which operates in parallel with the 1/4” unbalanced output (so the choice of EQ in or out affects both outputs). The XLR out does have a ground lift option. The 1/8” headphone output is also located on the left side of the unit.

The Bottom Line

Pro players should take this pedal seriously. It’s a very good-sounding basic preamp circuit that sounds very “Ampeg” in pedal format. This box could be a go-to necessity for many pro bass players and a great Swiss army knife for amateurs and weekend warriors. I’m several dozen gigs into this pedal, and I’ve yet to find a situation where I don’t like it. I’ve used it as a stand-alone preamp on “in-ear, no-rig” gigs, and it kills. I’ve used it in the studio and it kills. I’ve used it on gigs where it was the primary preamp for a variety of electric basses and a very nice double bass, and it always gets a great sound. Nothing is perfect, but like I said in the beginning, they aren’t getting this pedal back, even for photographs. It’s currently busy working and earning its keep.

Manufacturer: Loud Technologies Inc.

Website: www.ampeg.com

Model: Ampeg SCR-DI

Made in: China

Enclosure: Die Cast Zinc with rubber feet

Inputs: ¼” Input, 1/8” and ¼” Aux In, 9v-12v DC 100mA center negative power input

Outputs: ¼” Thru, ¼” Line Out, XLR Out, 1/8” Phones

Controls: Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, Aux Level, Ultra Hi & Ultra Lo switches, EQ On/O? Switch, XLR Ground Lift, Scrambler On/O? Switch, Drive, Blend

Other Features: Green LED Scrambler active, Blue LED preamp active

Dimensions: 4.3” D x 7.6” L x 2.2” H

Weight: 2.6 lb.

Warranty: 1-year, nontransferable

Price: $279.99

Read the full article at http://epublish.panaprint.com/article/Ampeg+SCR-DI+Pedal/2311491/278841/article.html.

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