Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sadowsky Preamp DI Box Pedal Review


Roger Sadowsky’s basses are the best built and sounding bolt-neck instruments you can buy. Their craftsmanship is impeccable, and their electronics have a unique tone that works for any bass sound I have needed to achieve.

If you want to get a taste of this sound without dropping 4000 bucks on a new bass, you can buy their electronics package and install it in your bass. But what if you have a vintage bass that you don’t want to modify, or what if you are not sure it is the sound for you? Well, you get on the wonderful internet and buy the Sadowsky preamp / DI pedal!

This pedal is a quality piece of equipment. It is not terribly big, measuring about 4.5 x 4.5 by 2.25 inches, and coming in under two pounds. It is heavy duty, with a crinkly black finish, nicely silkscreened graphics, and little rubber feet on the bottom to keep it from sliding around.

Inside are the same electronic circuits that you would find inside a Sadowsky bass. It is easy to set-up -- just plug in your bass and connect the box to your amplifier and /or mixing board, and you are ready to go. There is a single ¼-inch input as well as XLR and ¼-inch outs, and a tuner out.

The controls are simple too, with bass boost, treble boost and volume knobs, a ground lift switch for the DI, an ON/OFF switch (pre-amp bypass) and a Mute switch. The Mute switch works nicely with the tuner out. Anyway, it will not take a lot of knob-twiddling to find your sound with this one. Heck, you might have more knobs on your bass.

The Sadowsky preamp / DI pedal operates on a 9-volt battery, and there is a low battery LED indicator. Why doesn’t everybody do this? It will accept an AC adaptor, and Sadowsky recommends that you buy it from them. It is about 10 buck more than a generic one you might buy, but if you are going to get one, buy theirs. Most power supplies that you buy are switching units, which will add noise to the circuit. Sadowsky sells a regulated linear power supply, so it will be quieter. By the way, they recommend that you use only the battery for the quietest operation. I never plug my pedal into the wall, and the battery seems to last pretty long. If you are playing all day, every day you might want to buy the power supply.

I have tried it on all of my basses, and it added the Sadowsky sound to all of them without extra noise or weird tonal changes. I focused mostly on my Fender 57-reissue P bass and 62-reissue Jazz Bass. By experimenting with the knobs on the basses and on the preamp pedal I was able to get pretty darned close to the sound I get from my Sadowsky P bass and J bass. Of course they are heavier and the necks are not nearly as nice, but that is a different story. This box does everything that it is supposed to do.

I have seen a few guys whining on the internet about there not being a mid control. Well, guess what? Sadowsky has been building basses for decades without a mid control and they seem to work just fine. By the way, the reason that there is no mid is because they use a FET circuit (like a solid-state tube), instead of an op amp circuit. So, there is no way to wire a mid control so that it would not affect the treble and bass curves. So deal with it: either you like the Sadowsky sound or you don’t. Most bassists do like it…

The tuner out is nice, and there was not extra noise added to the signal when switching the preamp on or off or when going to mute mode. The pedal has a very sturdy feel, and it should last a long, long time. It will be worth every penny, should you choose to buy one.

The Sadowsky preamp / DI pedal has a list price of $289, and it can be purchased directly from the Sadowsky shop on Long Island, or from select dealers around the country. Check one out -- you will be glad you did!


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