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Jorduan

Darkglass Preamps. Are they as good as the reviews?

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Hello all,

I'm currently very tempted to splash the cash on a Darkglass preamp effect. Either the BK3 or BK7.

Has anyone got experience of these?

I play in a heavy metal band, which requires a lot of distorted sounds. However, I am not happy with losing the true low end power and clarity. Just from researching, the Darkglass products seem to give what I am looking for. If anyone has any other suggestions then please let me know!

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[quote name='Jorduan' timestamp='1485946742' post='3227859']
Hello all,

I'm currently very tempted to splash the cash on a Darkglass preamp effect. Either the BK3 or BK7.

Has anyone got experience of these?

I play in a heavy metal band, which requires a lot of distorted sounds. However, I am not happy with losing the true low end power and clarity. Just from researching, the Darkglass products seem to give what I am looking for. If anyone has any other suggestions then please let me know!
[/quote]

I have exclusively used Darkglass B*K circuits for my drive sound with my heavy metal ensemble. Its perfect for it, not an ounce of low end loss of course, clangy distorted goodness that you can have as much and as little of as you like. Clarity is enhanced :)

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I've not used Darkglass personally, but I found the EBS Billy Sheehan pedals to be good for this sort of thing. They actually split your signal after the input and one gets left alone so you always have clean unaffected signal present, you then just mix in as much of the distortion 'channel' as you want.

There's also a good youtube vid by Erik Arko comparing Darkglass B3K pedal and the standard / deluxe EBS. Should give you an idea.

Good Luck!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Lewt7IQBe4

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Just to play devils advocate. I've owned the Vintage, the b7k and the b3k twice. Couldn't get along with any of them to be honest, but I was sure I must be missing something since they seemed so highly praised which is why I kept going back. It's been commented by fan bois that folks who don't "get it" mustn't be using them correctly... Alas they just weren't for me. I like the way Doug at darkglass thinks, his support seems excellent and I wish him every success, but they are not all things to all people.

I've continually returned to the Ashdown Lomenzo Hyperdrive pedal for my distortion needs, but again it might not work for you. This and my modified DIY BJFE Blueberry clone make a glorious noise when combined.

Edited by Bigwan

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Nothing can touch the B3K / B7K for metal sounds. If it's going to be an always on pedal, you could stick with the B3K and use your amp EQ. I would hold off buying until the Darkglass Alpha Omega comes out though!

PS - If the EBS Billy Sheehan does tempt you, make sure it is the Deluxe version, that phase switch is essential. I bought and returned the original due to it having no low end without resorting to using the fx loops creatively to flip the phase.

Another good one to look at outside of Darkglassville is the Two Notes Le Bass.

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[quote name='Bigwan' timestamp='1485951415' post='3227923']
Just to play devils advocate. I've owned the Vintage, the b7k and the b3k twice. Couldn't get along with any of them to be honest, but I was sure I must be missing something since they seemed so highly praised which is why I kept going back. It's been commented by fan bois that folks who don't "get it" mustn't be using them correctly... Alas they just weren't for me. I like the way Doug at darkglass thinks, his support seems excellent and I wish him every success, but they are not all things to all people.

I've continually returned to the Ashdown Lomenzo Hyperdrive pedal for my distortion needs, but again it might not work for you. This and my modified DIY BJFE Blueberry clone make a glorious noise when combined.
[/quote]

I guess it depends on your bass and what music you are playing. I have a B3K and mostly I don't like the way it sounds with most of my basses. But plug my Warwick 5er with twin humbuckers and steel strings, play some filthy riffs with a pick and it all makes sense! Works well with Jazz basses too, anything with a natural mid-scoop I guess.

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BTW I'm sure if you ask around here nicely there will be someone local willing to let you have a play through theirs to see if it's for you!

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Thanks for all the feedback - its much appreciated! My band is in a metal competition, with the winners getting a place at the Bloodstock festival. I think this justifies spending the money!!!

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For metal the B*Ks no question! I'm finding it more difficult to incorporate my B7K into my sound nowadays though, having moved away from the rock orientated genres, so indeed, not all things to all people.

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This actually looks like a good cheap pedal for metal if you don't want to splash the cash:

Joyo Orange Juice:

http://youtu.be/Uq9CDL4Jdyo

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[quote name='dannybuoy' timestamp='1486109063' post='3229232']
This actually looks like a good cheap pedal for metal if you don't want to splash the cash:

Joyo Orange Juice:

[media]http://youtu.be/Uq9CDL4Jdyo[/media]
[/quote]

To me that sounds miles better than the Darkglass stuff, but I'd have to hear it with my own gear. I've been toying with buying myself one of these as a cheeky birthday present next month.

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[quote name='dannybuoy' timestamp='1486109063' post='3229232']
This actually looks like a good cheap pedal for metal if you don't want to splash the cash:

Joyo Orange Juice:

[media]http://youtu.be/Uq9CDL4Jdyo[/media]
[/quote]

Cool - love the flip covers on them too, stops accidental knob fiddlage!

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[quote name='Musicman20' timestamp='1486114135' post='3229282']
To me, some of the heavier DG sounds go too far and just sound SUPER scooped and almost not like a bass...!
[/quote]

That's what they are supposed to sound like!

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[quote name='dannybuoy' timestamp='1486120678' post='3229364']
That's what they are supposed to sound like!
[/quote]

That must be why I don't like it hahaha! Sounds like a low tuned guitar to me. It almost doesn't sound organic, it sounds very digital like a keyboard. Dirt and fuzz on bass can be the icing on the cake, but there is a point where it becomes....too much.

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It might be my prejudice, but this Darkglass stuff seems to be geared towards what you might call New Metal/Math Rock genres rather than more mainstream musical styles. It does look like lovely quality equipment, though, and I really like the styling.

As an aside, in keeping with MM20s observations on tone, I've serious misgivings about the amount of distortion it is practical for a bass guitar to use in a band situation. Too much fuzz just sounds "fizzy." A bit of grit and grind is one thing, but there is definitely such a thing as too much. In practice, most bands would benefit from having a clean, solid bass tone, especially in heavy music where the guitars are already exploiting distortion.

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[quote name='Jorduan' timestamp='1486069336' post='3229065']
Thanks for all the feedback - its much appreciated! My band is in a metal competition, with the winners getting a place at the Bloodstock festival. I think this justifies spending the money!!!
[/quote]

I am using a Microtubes M900 head in my own local M2TM competition, and we are through to the semi's.

Make of that what you will! :lol:

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For my 2 pence worth I have a DG VMT, B7K and M900 amp, and I also have a Two Notes Le Bass.
You cannot go wrong with any of them and they can all stack together.
You will get a warmer fuller sound with the Two Notes, and a bit more clear fizz with DG as a vast generalisation, but they are all great bits of kit.
Think you have to mix with what animals your guitars are playing as well as how your bass pick ups like the pedals.

For these quality items there is no wrong answer, but varying degrees of right

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[quote name='Jorduan' timestamp='1486069336' post='3229065']
Thanks for all the feedback - its much appreciated! My band is in a metal competition, with the winners getting a place at the Bloodstock festival. I think this justifies spending the money!!!
[/quote]

Won this two years ago. I use a sansamp and a b3k together. Got a lot of praise about the bass after we played our set in the final. If that doesn't sell it I don't know what will :lol:

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[quote name='Bigwan' timestamp='1485951415' post='3227923']
Just to play devils advocate. I've owned the Vintage, the b7k and the b3k twice. Couldn't get along with any of them to be honest, but I was sure I must be missing something since they seemed so highly praised which is why I kept going back. It's been commented by fan bois that folks who don't "get it" mustn't be using them correctly... Alas they just weren't for me. I like the way Doug at darkglass thinks, his support seems excellent and I wish him every success, but they are not all things to all people.

I've continually returned to the Ashdown Lomenzo Hyperdrive pedal for my distortion needs, but again it might not work for you. This and my modified DIY BJFE Blueberry clone make a glorious noise when combined.
[/quote]

I've had exactly the same experience (but only owned the Vintage and the B3K once each ;)). I liked some of the sounds on their own but with the band it wasn't great, and found the James Lomenzo pedal was more my thing, shame it's so bulky. Not saying the Darkglass pedals weren't good, just that they're not for everyone and not everyone loves them (I do like the company and their attitude), and wanted to add a +1 for the Lomenzo pedal as in one to definitely consider.

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There's a lot of food for thought here from everyone, again this is massively appreciated on my end. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the more "fuzzy" overdriven sound and I'm also more than aware of the modern habit metal bands seem to have of over-scooping everything (guitar and bass included).

It seems very cliche typing this out, but even in a single band environment, not every song is going to have the same sonic dynamic requirements, let alone for varying parts of individual songs! As a rule of thumb though, for my sound I seek a powerful bass, with an almost throaty overdrive, all the while maintaining the low pump and thwack for each time I hit the strings. The only real way to test which piece of equipment is best suited for this is to put it through the paces all full pelt with the rest of the band!

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[quote name='Jorduan' timestamp='1486458465' post='3231854']
There's a lot of food for thought here from everyone, again this is massively appreciated on my end. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the more "fuzzy" overdriven sound and I'm also more than aware of the modern habit metal bands seem to have of over-scooping everything (guitar and bass included).

It seems very cliche typing this out, but even in a single band environment, not every song is going to have the same sonic dynamic requirements, let alone for varying parts of individual songs! As a rule of thumb though, for my sound I seek a powerful bass, with an almost throaty overdrive, all the while maintaining the low pump and thwack for each time I hit the strings. The only real way to test which piece of equipment is best suited for this is to put it through the paces all full pelt with the rest of the band!
[/quote]

This.

However. It's worth noting that within the live music, gear buying public, metal is huge. It seems to be the one genre actually played live by young people and that's always been true. Every where I've lived since the 80s has had a metal scene, even if it's got nothing else.
There is a demand for that sound.
I do not play metal, but three members of my band including me) have a background in 90s hardcore and thrash, so we occasionally use those elements - albeit tempered by another 25 years of other music - and I have exactly the issue described. Huge scooped bass distortion just gets totally lost in huge scooped guitar distortion, even with a blend control. I'm looking for something gritty but solid and to date, the Darkglass gear hasn't really convinced me. The caveat here is that all the demos online are showcases and don't give you an idea of the sound in a band context*. Given the price of the pedals, I'm not willing to take a punt and am scouring the s/h market for likely alternatives. Perhaps they are as good as people say, but 300 clams is a lot to take on trust.


*Cannibal Corpse notwithstanding.

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I used to use a fairly scooped sound with a Sansamp BDDI, but if I were to go back playing hardcore and punk, (I don't play the slower heavier stuff unless it's more like QOTSA dirty bluesy rock) I'd use a Sansamp BDDI (the latest one with mids helps!) or the VT Bass pedal...I really think Tech 21 nailed the tones of slightly slightly hairy notes all the way to much more grind.

Personally, I think Darkglass need WAY more demo videos with bassists using Fender Ps, Js, Rics and Stingrays...you'd be surprised how many heavier bands just using a P bass and have some hair on the notes. The P bass just 'sits' in the lower mids properly to me. Using much more scooped tones from dual pickup active Dingwalls is pretty niche, despite the popularity of Dingwall in the heavy genre recently.

I still think one of the best metal bass tones I've heard is Billy Gould's old aggressive tones....that is one of the best examples of a heavier overdriven bass that cuts through the recordings like a knife! Very punchy and tight. Funnily enough Billy now uses Darkglass! I'd like to hear his tone with it.

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There's a user on Talkbass FaithNoMan that has loads of Billy Gould style Darkglass clips on his Soundcloud.

The B3K/B7K is scooped, but it is a rather narrow scoop at a certain frequency, paired with a big peak in the upper mids - it has no problem standing out in a mix as a result. There are frequency plots knocking about (again on TB).

I for one think the B*K series sounds best with a bass that has a natural tendency towards a scooped sound already, like a Jazz with both pickups on. I do not like the sound of it with my Precision at all. The Vintage is a better fit, but I found that too muffled up top (although I haven't tried the latest VMTD revision with the B7K-style attack switch). The Pike Vulcan however, is a beast with a Precision, loads of snarling mids that remind me of Geezer's more modern tones on Black Sabbath's 13. It is based on the Darkglass pedals, but the colour control on it blends between a 'less scooped B3K' and a 'brighter more agressive Vintage', which makes it very flexible.

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From what you have just said the Le Bass will do the job for you.

If you wanted a Toe in to the water, get a regular b3k or VMT, second hand £150-200 and would be fairly easy to move on without much loss.
I got mine second in that price bracket and my Le Bass just a shade under.

If you want a cheap pre-amp with heft which can distort a bit check out the Hartke VXL, I got mine for about £30 and it can shift some sound

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