Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI
Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI

SansAmp Bass Driver DI, Bass Amp Simulator from Tech 21 in the SansAmp series.

MGR/Golem 09/06/2004

Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI : MGR/Golem's user review

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$89 used at Guitar Ctr Albany NY.

Had gone to one of their clearance
sales and was just browsing around.

I knew Tech 21 NYC stuff is very OK
because I'm already using their Bass
Compactor, a compressor with EQ.

It is both tube simulator and a DI box.

I know what my Fender Bassman tube amps sound like, and know their limitations.
The Bass Driver is a decent mimic, not
quite 100% fool-your-ear, of the Bassman
sound, but it can produce that tone over
a much wider range of volume levels and
at any level of drive-effect you choose.

The Bassman itself increases the drive
sound linked to increases in volume that
are not always appropriate for the venue
or the audience. The Bass Driver solves
this dilema and I find the trade-off [of
very slightly "inauthentic" tube sound]
to be well worth the greater flexibility.

It has a 2-knob EQ [bass & treble] but I
find that the "mid" knob of any 3-knob EQ
is my most valuable control. This is not
really a limitation if the bass that I am
playing has a midrange EQ control; and if
the bass in use has only a single passive
tone knob, then even the 2-knob layout is
an upgrade in tone control.

Like all Tech 21 stuff, rock solid. USA
built with heavy metal exterior, solid
punch-button type of foot switch, very
quiet [super-low background noise].

Has a 9v DC input, or runs from Phantom
Power when using its XLR output jack, or
runs from internal battery.

Also has 1/4" output, plus another 1/4"
out for dry [bypass]. The 1/4 and XLR
outputs of course carry a user-dialed
mix of wet and dry controlled by a blend
knob. There are also knobs for overall
output [dry bypass jack not affected],
for drive intensity, and knobs for bass,
treble, & "presence". Presence adds a
lot of finger noise if you dial it above
the 1/3 position [with roundwounds].

Clean overall gain is less than from any
other pre-amp that I've tried [Fishman,
Baggs, and Aguilar] since this is really
a DI box and not a pre-amp. However with
a medium amount of drive, and some boost
on the bass, it's about the same level as
an outboard pre-amp.

This is a very useful, flexible device.
That comment despite my general attitude
that effects are for losers!! I don't
care for anything that masks or that even
transforms the instrument's voice. But
in truth, even your choice of amplifier
somewhat transforms the voice of your ax.

Before you trade your light-weight solid
state amp for some monster tube amp, you
owe it to yourself to see if this box is
all you really want or need. Do be aware
that it might shred a cheezy speaker, but
it can turn a decent rig into a great one.

This review was originally published on