THE TONE STACK 

NEWS, REVIEWS, TIPS & TRICKS FROM THE LAB

Grizzly Bass Meat

September 12, 2014

Make your Bass growl!

 

Let's meet the Grizzly...

Like a beast emerging from the night, a bear with glowing yellow eyes comes through the backlit red logo from a black textured powder coated backdrop.  The heavy brushed, clawed-up stainless steel bottom gives the pedal a clean two-tone look.  Stomp on the pedal and the bear's vicious looking teeth light-up white to let you know the pedal is engaged.

 

Pick it up and the first thing that you'll notice is this thing is built like a bear (pun intended).  The thick 16 gauge steel chassis feels solid and won't buckle under the weight of even the burliest bass players.  You might expect the pedal to be huge, but in reality it fits in the palm of your hand, only 3-1/8" wide and 4-1/4" long.  All the connections are in the back making it easy to fit more pedals side by side than you can with most pedals that have connections on the sides.

 

Five knobs

Start with "O" and "D" all the way off counter-clockwise, "V" and "a" all the way up clockwise, and "G" at about two o'clock.  This setting is absolutely clean.  Why is that a big deal?  Because most distortion overdrive pedals can't do that.

 

The "G" stands for "Gain" this knob can add 12 dB of pure clean boost for solos or be turned completely off.  This ability to turn way up and down will be important for working with the "O" and "D" knobs next.  The "G" acts as a master volume on the output of the pedal.

 

"O" you may have guessed stands for "Overdrive".  As you turn up the "O" the signal begins to saturate like a vacuum tube.  As you crank up the "O" it can get really loud but you can turn down the "G" a little so the volume doesn't jump out when you turn the pedal on and off.

 

"D" by no surprise is the "Distortion" control.  As you turn up the "D" the signal begins to hard clip and then starts to compress.  You might need to bring up the "G" again for some make-up gain to keep the volume the same when you switch the pedal on and off.

 

A great feature of the "O" and "D" is the way they interact with your playing dynamics.  It is possible to play lightly or turn down the volume of your instrument and have the Grizzly clean up completely, even with the "O" and "D" controls maxed out!  That lets you control the effect with your picking, plucking or slapping.  back-off a bit for a clean sound, or dig in a little harder for more grit and growl.  You can add a boost pedal in front of the Grizzly and push the pedal into a heavy metal fuzz effect.  If you have weak pick-ups, you might need a boost if you want more grungy distortion.

 

The control that looks like a "V" is a unique mid scoop borrowed from the Funkulator bass tone shaper.  All the way up is flat, and as you turn the knob down it scoops energy from the mids, but also adds the same amount of energy to the highs and lows - so the overall volume remains the same.  The "Q" of the mid scoop gets tighter as the scoop gets deeper.  This control is perfect for adding a clean punch, taking out the honk associated with slap style playing or smoothing a heavy distortion.

 

The remaining control that looks sort of like an "a" is the hi cut.  All the way up is flat, then as you turn the knob down a gentle 6dB per octave high cut sweeps in from 20 KHz to 400Hz. By itself, the hi cut can simulate a vintage speaker.  Together with the "V" control, these two tone controls are perfect for smoothing the harsh edges of a heavily distorted sound and can give the Grizzly a really nice growl!

 

Behind the scenes

What you can't see going on inside is actually some pretty cool stuff. 

 

Power

The Grizzly introduces an innovative power boosting and protection circuit that accepts standard 9VDC 250mA pedal power and steps it up to 36VDC on the inside for incredible headroom and dynamic range!  Don't worry about hurting the pedal if you use tip positive, tip negative or even AC power!  Whatever you plug in, it all gets converted and regulated to 36VDC.  You can even plug in 18V, but there's no reason to, all it will do is make the pedal heat up more.  For best results, use a standard 9VDC 250mA (or more) pedal power supply.  If you are a battery guy, the Grizzly is too hungry to survive on a regular 9V battery, but pedaltrain makes a great little rechargeable battery that fits neatly under the Grizzly's footprint... Check out the VOLTO.

 

Wave shaping

The heart of the Grizzly is an analog computer, like the one used in the Holy Fire 48 and Holy Fire 9 pedals.  Think of the "O" and "D" knobs as variables in a mathematical equation, combined with the input, and your performance on the bass.  A completely analog signal processor is programed with these variables to re-shape the input waveform into the overdriven or hard clipped sound that you want.  Don't confuse this computer with a digital one... an analog computer has no sampling or latency errors. 

 

The real advantages of wave shaping are how it can be made completely clean, fine-tuned to saturate just like a vacuum tube, or achieve heavy clipping without adding a ton of circuit noise.  Try turning the volume on your bass all the way down so there is no hum from the pick-ups and listen to the noise of the pedal alone... it is almost non-existent.  If you are hearing any noise, it's probably from cables or other pedals in front being gained up through the Grizzly.

 

Wave shaping is what makes the Grizzly a very musical pedal that responds to your touch.  As mentioned before, play with a softer attack and velocity for a cleaner sound or dig in to get as much grit as you need.  You control the effect with your playing dynamics and/or by dialing the volume on your instrument. 

 

Analog wave-shaping is like having a tube preamp in the signal chain, but without all the downsides.  Now, inconsistent tube quality from one batch to the next or deteriorating specs over a tube's short life span will be a thing of the past.  And, if you plug directly into a sound system or use a solid-state amplifier the Grizzly is a great alternative to buying an expensive, bulky and fragile tube preamp.

 

To sum it up, this pedal is more of a pro audio, studio quality preamp than a guitar pedal.  The full range of frequencies available make the Grizzly just as potent for guitar as for bass.  I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if just as many guitar players use the Grizzly Bass pedal as do bass players.  Built like a tank.  Sounds awesome!  You won't be disappointed.  If you have any questions, please leave a message below.  Cheers!!!

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