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SansAmp Programmable Review


Tom Capasso

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I stated on this thread that I would be borrowing Getz' pedal. The borrowing has begun.

 

I started by reading the manual on the train (0-9 and gb would be so proud). That set me up so I could know what was going on when I plugged in.

 

The first two times I tried it I used headphones (my wife is taking grad courses and is always reading or typing papers, the poor girl). For the first I used the Tascam Trainer, for the second I used my EA iAMP500 (which has music-in and headphone jacks). I've mostly used presets or manual-suggestions.

 

So far, so good. The distorted bass and flip-top were a bit too loud (I corrected that by adjusting the level). Distorted was OK, but not something I'd often use. The fat bass was too fat - it'll be muddy live and is muddy in my headphones (Senn 570s). The bassman setting wasn't my cuppa. The SVT and (adjusted) flip-top added interesting color to my sound.

 

The pedal works well, the foot switches are nice (I have played other pedals I didn't care for in this regard), and the programming stuff is easy. It should be with just a few knobs, but the save mechanism (hit the switch twice) and the ability to see what the program is (turn knobs until the light stops flashing) is cool. The changes to bass and treble are not what I'm used to. It's not only the design of the sounds - it's something more. I've spent the last few years with amps and basses that are cut and boost. This seems different somehow, and different than some of the cut-only things I've played. Not bad, just different.

 

An interesting aside is that I love the SVT setting. As Getz says, it sparkles more when you dig in (he says that's just like the real thing). I've rarely played an SVT, so this was quite eye-opening (after 36 years playing the instrument - Ace and Tenstrum are laughing at me now). I have not tried to get this sound from my EA - that will be part of my next experiment.

 

What do I need this for? In my band, I need three options beyond my natural amp tone. A clean boost, light overdrive, and heavy overdrive (somewhere straddling OD and distortion). I think I'll find those tones in this pedal, and the switching will make it easy to use during gigs.

 

Next up (this afternoon) is to run with the EA and Bergs so I can hear it through speakers. Then I'll try to create my "three sounds". I expect to start with the suggestions and go from there.

 

I'm also going to bring my full rig and the pedal to band practice tomorrow night. The studio we use tends toward mucky cabs, and I want to hear what the SansAmp sounds like with my band.

 

One other aside. When I was playing, I came across the Jethro Tull Aqualung CD, and used that for much of my "testing". Along with being a great album, the varied dynamics and sounds stood out. It was a great album to use for this testing, since many songs lent themselves to bypass for verses/OD for chorus (or something like that). Many other CDs that I love would not have provided that sort of "step on it" opportunity. And yes DCR - I still fumbled Cross Eyed Mary. I would have worked on it to recover the ability to play it, but my intentions were to test the pedal.

 

Thanks again to Getz for the loan.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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No problem, and nice review. It is not much of a coincidence that I sold my old SVT rig soon after purchasing my first SansAmp BDDI.

 

I would like to add that the pedal I lent to Tom is mounted on a custom MauryBoard pedal-board with the optional power-supply, custom hand-painted vintage boutique tuner and carrying case.

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I think I need to see a pic of the MauryBoard before plunking down any money. Or maybe I'll wait for the Behringer More-E-Board.

 

Tom that's a great review. I used to own a BDDI myself. Any chance of you posting clips after you have found your three timbres?

"For instance" is not proof.

 

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Originally posted by 09:

Tom that's a great review. I used to own a BDDI myself. Any chance of you posting clips after you have found your three timbres?

That's not a horrible idea by any means.

 

Tom, if you are available, we can make this happen. I'll bring the RE-20 and we'll make some noise... direct and then through a reference rig.

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Originally posted by 09:

I think I need to see a pic of the MauryBoard before plunking down any money. Or maybe I'll wait for the Behringer More-E-Board.

That was so much better than my lame request. ;)
- Matt W.
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I have been using one for a while now and really like it. I use the "Fat Tube" "SVT" and "Clean" settings. I don't need much for effects or distortion or modeling (remember I sold a Pod AGAIN a couple months ago) so I just wanted a simple and small front end for my little rig.

 

The most orverdrive I need is for Ben Folds Stuff like "Army" and I find the SVT workds great - I just dig in a little extra and there it is. The Fat Tube is great for general stuff. I use the clean for jazz.

 

I think it's a great little unit.

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Dude. I MUST have a MauryBoard.

Do they come in black?

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Originally posted by Tom Capasso:

Ace and Tenstrum are laughing at me now

Tom

No laughing here Tom.

Is that SVT setting supposed to emulate the amp and cab or just the amp?

 

I've played a few Ampeg amps that I've liked, but none of them has touched my Fender Bassman 1200. That thing really does bring the RAWK. When it comes to amps, I'm pretty much a Fender man (although I am curious about those SansAmp thingies and the Line6 Pod stuff).

However, my love of Ampeg SVT cabinets knows no boundaries! For me, there are no other cabs! ;)

 

I would like to hear some sound clips as well. Come on! Don't be stingy! Give us some ear candy!

Tenstrum

 

"Paranoid? Probably. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face."

Harry Dresden, Storm Front

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Nice review Tom. IIRC, I definitely like the drive sound on the Sansamp much better than the drive sound on the MXR M-80 (although I liked the M-80's clean sound just a tad better). If the programmable BDDI had been available when I was looking I probably would've bought the Sansamp (the MXR has a clean and a dirty channel).

 

Yes, you guys please do post some clips! I'm thinking the Ampeg SVT model on my Zoom B2.1u modeler pedal is reasonably accurate, so perhaps we can compare! :thu:

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Oh sure - you think 0-9 is clever, but my gems are unappreciated. Sweet indeed!

 

Thanks to everyone for their kind comments about the review.

 

Maury - let's talk about getting together for a recording session. At least one of the reference rigs should be mine. Or my iAMP500 with your Bergs.

 

I do not have any recording facilities, so I am dependent on Maury. I'm not holding out on all of you, but it may take some scheduling. thanks for your patience.

 

I have not considered yet the issue that is mounting on this thread - namely, the mounting. The problem with the MauryBoard is that I will need a padded bag. I will consider it. Right now the lack of funds for purchase may delay this deal.

 

I spent some time today in my living room with my two Bergs (HT and EX 112), iAMP500, and the MauryBoard-ed SansAmp. Sorry to step aside already, but one thing I did to start was to somewhat "finalize" my bassic sound. That meant some tender adjustments on the Demeter on-board, and some gentle shifts on the EA Amp. Some of you with decent memories must be shocked that I own a 4 band parametric amp that has 6 additional tone shaping buttons, since I always wanted simplicity. Two things - the sound flat is pretty damn good, and even I seem to understand the EA EQ setup.

 

So, I played a few riffy sorta things with the SansAmp on bypass, then set about getting my three tones. First was "clean". The manual has a clean boost, so I dialed that up and put it on SW 1. Too loud! No problem - dialed down the level, and drew the picture of the settings - first one done.

 

Next for that tube-grit slight OD. I dialed in the SVT - once again, too loud. Adjust the level. Made a few other adjustments - mostly softening it a bit. The settings I finished up with were still sometimes distorting (in a bad way), so I turned the EA gain down. This is a hot little box (and my bass has an 18v pre, I'm plugged into the "passive" jack for more oompf, so I'm pushing it). Second done.

 

I start to realize that I don't truly need anything more distorted than the SVT, but I try many of the other offerings in the book. I end up with something that's more of a "half drive". Many of the suggested settings set the blend on "full drive", and tone down the distortion with the drive and tone controls. I built one that has the blend straight (50%), and the drive and presence just enough to add some edge. This is more my "light OD". Done.

 

I played along with a few tunes to see what I liked. The clean boost will get some use for sure. The pseudo-SVT may be used for entire songs, with a slight reduction in volume (on the bass).

 

Noise? I get some noise without the pedal in line. When the presence and drive were up, there was a bit more. Funny - as I changed settings, the noise would come on, then disappear - not sure why, but the result was pretty quiet. With my programmed settings, the noise increase on the pseudo-SVT was barely different than bypass. Fine for my rock band.

 

Tenstrum - the SansAmp settings are attempts to make the tone "like" a familiar amp or style. Nowadays, when we use the word "emulate", we tend to mean software that recreates the sound of an amp, and separately the sound of a cab (see: POD). I can't say what the TECH-21 engineers were going for - I'm guessing they are trying to sound like an SVT amp and cab. How do they do? Ask someone who knows SVTs better than me!

 

I'm looking forward to band practice tomorrow with my rig+MauryBoard!!

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Hi there folks, I have this thing and i was looking for a few setting suggestion and has specific dial position. I have a keyboard amp that i use at home and i cant seem to blend it right. Every time i play in church, i can hear the noise on the house speakers. I would like to use the blend to the best possible setting. I play this with my quantum 6 by the way. thank you guys.

tinymay

 

i just want my bass, more bass, and of course, wife.

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I know the POD can emulate a particular amp or cab or both. Just curious what the Tech-21 guys are trying to emulate.

Does the manual specify? The POD will have settings for "SVT amp" and then you can select "SVT 4x10 cab" or "Fender 2x10 cab".

Or does the SansAmp just say SVT?

 

We're still waiting to hear some ear candy! :)

Tenstrum

 

"Paranoid? Probably. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face."

Harry Dresden, Storm Front

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Tenstrum - there are 6 knobs - Drive, Bass, Treble, Presence, Blend, Level. No computer, no LED interface. The manual says something like "SVT-style" - probably due to trademark issues. Every "setting" shows a knob position.

 

Will advise about sounds. "Ear candy" may be too kind a term.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Hi all - if I could chime in, I've just received my sansamp thurs. and I'm getting used to it. So far its everything Tom has alluded to...very nice! One question - I've got a BBE bmax pre and I want to add the sansamp into the effects loop for more options. opinions? and does anyone know if this will bypass the tone controls on the BBE?

Thanks,

Dan

1974 Fender Jazz

2003 Musicman StingRay

2006 Gibson LP Studio VM

Carvin DCM1000 amp

GK 410 SBX Cab

SansampPBDDI

Ampeg B100R

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Originally posted by Tom Capasso:

Tenstrum - there are 6 knobs - Drive, Bass, Treble, Presence, Blend, Level. No computer, no LED interface. The manual says something like "SVT-style" - probably due to trademark issues. Every "setting" shows a knob position.

 

Tom

Aaahhhhhhhh!

Now I see the light. :D

It requires "manual tweaking of the various knobs" versus turning to a specific emualtion setting.

Gotcha!

Tenstrum

 

"Paranoid? Probably. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face."

Harry Dresden, Storm Front

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Tom and/or Getz:

 

After you've saved a certain setting to one of the footswitches, how do you determine what the setting is after you've moved the knobs? In other words, how can you tell what the current saved setting is? Say, for instance, you wanted to change the drive setting on SW1 just a little...do you have start from scratch and just re-save it? Or does an LED light up when the knob is back to the saved position, or something along those lines?

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Originally posted by Dave Sisk:

Tom and/or Getz:

 

After you've saved a certain setting to one of the footswitches, how do you determine what the setting is after you've moved the knobs? In other words, how can you tell what the current saved setting is? Say, for instance, you wanted to change the drive setting on SW1 just a little...do you have start from scratch and just re-save it? Or does an LED light up when the knob is back to the saved position, or something along those lines?

 

Dave

Dave,

 

The LED's flash faster as you turn the knob closer to the saved setting. Pretty cool.

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I''m back. Let's start by expanding on SteveC's explanation (which is correct and matches what Bill Leigh said in his review, but I didn't exactly understand it).

 

You set the knobs, you push a footswitch twice - saved. You push the next footswitch - the knobs are pointing like FS1, but the led (and sound) tell you that you are operating FS2. You decide to change FS2's settings a bit, so you start to turn a knob - start with the Drive (on left). As soon as you turn it, the led starts flashing. The unit doesn't care that the knob isn't matching the program until you change something. So you get the Drive where you want it, and the the led is blinking. You turn other knobs - the led keeps blinking, but it's because of the "other" knobs, not due to Drive. Every time you turn a knob, the LED "turns its attention" to what you are doing. Hit the FS2 twice, and you've set a new program.

 

I took my rig and the MauryBoard to rehearsal Friday night. It wasn't the test I'd hoped for due to a number of factors (one guitarist got stuck at work and couldn't make it, we were in a smaller room than usual, and we sucked). In the band setting, I did learn a few things. My basic (bypass) sound is pretty good in my band. The clean boost setting is great, and will see the most use. The pseudo-SVT setting may need tweaking (mostly lowering the level) and become my OD style. I can't decide about the "light OD" - it may work for some songs, but may not be worth the trouble (not so different than bypass). I may change it up for something nastier. Since we didn't play that many songs, I didn't have the opportunity I'd hoped for.

 

Overall, it worked great. The footswitches are easy to work with, the LEDs are clear, and it does what I need it to do, which is handle multiple sounds without turning knobs between songs.

 

I have not tested any of the other "digital" pedals in this price range - The digitech BP200 may be the only thing close, but it doesn't interest me.

 

Now to save the cash! (and get with Maury to record samples).

 

Thanks again

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Tom:

 

Just so I understand...when you reach the saved value for the knob, does the LED stop blinking at stay lit? Is there a different LED for each knob, or all the knobs share one LED. I'm still trying to get the mental picture of how you know when you've turned any particular knob back to the position that was actually saved.

 

I haven't been particularly impressed with the Digitech BP80 nor BP200. The BNX3 might be a different story. The older BP8 is excellent if you can tolerate some of the quirks that come with an older piece of technology. You can find BP8's pretty cheap on Ebay (and in fact, I might be selling mine now that I'm liking the Zoom B2.1u so much). You should try out one of the Zoom B2.1u's as well if you're considering any of the digital pedals...I'm quite impressed with that pedal.

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Dave - there is one light, and it stays on solid when the knob you are turning matches the program.

 

I considered a BP8 for a while. There was one in my local GC that I tested briefly. I didn't program tones with it, but I could imagine it would do the job. I am somewhat seduced by the simplicity of the Programmable SansAmp.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Thanks Tom. Yup, the completely analog character is quite appealing. That's actually one of the reasons I liked the BP8 so much...it sounds very analog even though it's digital, unlike the current BP80 and BP200, IMHO.

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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The simplicity of the SAPBDDI is a major thing for me. It is also light, small and sounds pretty decent.

 

I have tried the Pod (a number of times) and it just doesn't do it for me. I am tempted by the Boss GT-6B or the ME-50B but am not sure. They still do more than I need.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello there,

 

just bought a SansAmp BDDI, seemingly the last one available in London. They are rather popular.

 

I was immediately impressed and it didn't take long to decide to buy it. Lots of good sounds found already and it's dead easy to use.

 

Just wanted to say thank you Tom for the review.

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