Radial Engineering Bassbone

Bassbone, Bass preamp pedal from Radial Engineering in the Tonebone series.

MGR/Laklander 11/28/2009

Radial Engineering Bassbone : MGR/Laklander's user review

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History: I've played bass professionally for 44 years and a couple of my bands released 45s when that's what bands did, but none was a hit. I currently play in a praise band in a local church and also do studio work. I favor rock but have played just about every style, even -- shame -- disco. Favorite players include Paul McCartney, James Jamerson, Tony Levin, Chris Squire, Joe Osborn, Bob Glaub and Sting.

I first purchased the Radial Bassbone from Musiciansfriend in 2006 when my church band went with a 'silent stage,' requiring all electronic instruments to go straight to the board without amps. The Bassbone offered not only DI but great flexibility. MSRP: $350; Price paid :$260.

I sometimes switch between bass guitar and electric upright bass, and the Bassbone offers two channels with separate volumes and EQs, along with a DI, an effects loop/boost, tuner out, a ground lift and a line out to amp for stage monitoring. Channel 1 has a three-position Contour switch (flat or two preset EQs); Channel 2 has three standard boost-or-cut tone controls). Switching between the two channels is accomplished with a heavy-duty footswitch that activates green or orange LEDs to indicate channel.

The Boost section, also operated by footswitch with a red LED, can be assigned via a three-position slider to activate Boost, Loop (effects) or Both. A separate boost volume control allows you to set the level of the boost, all the way up to distortion if that's what you need (+12DB). The effects out jack uses a standard stereo Y cord for in/out signals. By using the footswitch to activate the chain, you to leave effects 'out of the loop' until you're ready to use them -- a handy thing if your effects drain the tone from your bass even when switched off.

Combining Boost with Effects allows you to pump up the volume for a solo or other feature. The Tuner Out jack allows you to keep a tuner plugged in at all times and send a signal tailored for tuners. The Output 1/4' jack sends a processed signal to your amp and a balanced XLR jack sends the same signal to the board. Even if you're not going to the board, the Bassbone can be used as a handy A/B switch if you use more than one bass.

There's very little not to like, but I had to replace the included 15VDC power supply after a year because the end that plugs into the unit developed a stress fracture and stopped working. Because the Bassbone can't be powered by batteries and a 15VDC power supply isn't something you can find in most music or electronics stores, I had to order a replacement adapter direct from Radial. Radial is located in Canada, and US customs held the package at the US border for three days for unknown reasons, so I had to go a week without the 'Bone. Since then, Musiciansfriend has started to carry the power supply ($19.95), so that's not a big problem any more. The new power supply cord has stress reduction at the point where it plugs into the pedal, so I assume this was a common problem. However, I'd suggest buying an additional power supply when you buy the Bassbone to avoid hassles.

The Bassbone is very well constructed of 14 gauge steel with a black baked enamel finish. Footswitches are heavy duty and rugged, and the knobs won't fall off. Bright LEDs make it easy to see what channel you're using and if Boost/Effects is in or out, even on a dark stage.

Separate channel volume controls allow you to easily match volume of different basses, and the three-band EQ on Channel 2 makes it ideal for tailoring the sound of passive basses when going direct. I run my active Lakland 55-94 through Channel 1 (set flat) and other passive basses, including my EUB, through Channel 2 because of its EQ.

The radial Bassbone is more than just a DI and is ideal for the working bassist who needs flexibility and options. Although some might think it pricey, it's no more so than some one-trick-pony effects units, and its quality and durability is superior to many stompboxes.

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com