So I discovered the relatively new MXR M281 Thump bass preamp, more or less by complete accident, browsing randomly through pedals in my prefered online music grear web shop Thomann's product catalog, a bass preamp that allegedly should be a take of the, in the world of guitarists at least, legendary FET based Echoplex preamp, that originally was the preamp serction of an old tape echo delay, but since has been used as the secret tone sauce by countless of guitarists in various versions and shapes, but the Thump being a more bass oriented and specific variation of it, basically featuring the same EQ section as their M81 Bass Preamp.
At first I was pretty convinced on ordering one of these pedals as my go to preamp, after watching all of the, relatively few though. YouTube demos featuring it, and really liking what I heard from it.
To me it seemed like it had a very unique coloration that seemed to somewhat interact with the EQ, instead of just being a pistinely clean and sterily neutral preamp, just reproducing the signal you feed it dutifully and flawlessly, exactly and strictly according to how you dialed in the EQ section, but giving you no form of extra service, beside just exactly what you asked of it, leaving no trace of anything that could reminiscent some sort of unique soul or adding any kind of impression of an interesting character, just like someone doing the service they get paid for while mind-numbingly giving it or you no sort of personal care, thought or special attention, absent-mindedly seemingly performing their duty alone by reflex, just like someone who really hate their job, but still have enough sense of duty and responsibility to at least fulfill what their job description dictates as requirements for their position, would.
However I found out that, out of those people who had tried out this pedal them self, the actually seemingly surprisingly few who had bothered voicing their opinion about and impression of it anywhere on the internet, either seemed to absolutely love it, declaring it their new favorite tone shaping and always on pedals, or, which seemed to make up about the the other half of those few people, seemed to absolutely hate it, the most common complains seemed to concern serious unpleasant clipping issues and a thin basic tone.
So I am kind of confused which to believe, I kind of got a feeling that neither camp is really lying, but that they might just have very different tonal preferences, and that there might very well be some truth to the pedal having a tendency to clip if fed with a too hot signal, despite MXR actually marketing it as sort of outboard alternative for passive basses to obtain tones similar to that of basses with active onboard preamps, and that it, as far as I understood it, is adviced to be use it as the first pedal in the signal chain, right after your bass, so might just be that the people complaining about clipping issues didn't really bother following the general recommendations of how to use it, and somewhat might have misunderstood the intended concept behind this preamp.
Judging alone from the YouTube demos I have been able to find featuring it to me it sounds great, but then the complains, from about the other half of the fairly few people I have been able to find, who have first hand experience with it, and bothered voicing their opinion about and impression of it, seemingly thinking it is a straight out awful pedal, makes me hesitate pulling the trigger.
The guy in the first video I link to below is one of those people who absolutely love it, even if he does point out the need of turning the bass control of the pedal up relatively high when using it to get a low end that matches that of the bypassed signal.
But like him I personally don't really see the problem with that, as long as it is still capable of giving you a tone that you feel is an improvement compared to not using the pedal, I mean surely the controls are there to be used, and personal I would only need to get one absolutely great tone out of it. and don't really expect it to be capable of every possible tone variation in existence, and am not really interested in massively thunderous lows from my bass anyway.
This guy seems to have a good understanding of what this pedal is capable of, and why some might consider it a better option as a tone shaping device than a perfectly neutral pristinely clean preamp, and even if fairly subtle, I think he actually manage to get his point through of this difference with audible examples, comparing it to the MXR 81 Bass Preamp, as the Thump does seem to add an extra layer of depth or dimension to the tone that makes the pristinely clean and perfectly neutral MXR M81 Bass Preamp sound somewhat dull in comparison.
Yes, I know we are talking subtleties, and I am aware that the YouTube sound format, listening through headphones through a computer, properly isn't the best media for revealing such subtleties, and that I guess the other quite prominent effects he runs on his bass doesn't make that issue any better, but I at least can clearly hear the characteristic influence the Thump has on the tone, compared to the MXR 81 Bass Preamp.
And like him, I am not actually intending to use it as my main and only tone shaping tool, but more as an instrument to perfect the tone I already got.
Here's the video I talk about:
And here's a couple of other demos where it's the only pedal being used, in case some people find the above video confusing audioatively speaking (because of his choice of having other rather prominent effects affecting his bass tone simultaneously with demoing the Thump), especially fond of the sort of punchy tone at the start of the first video bellow(even if I am not particularly fond of slapping in general):
Now this might look like I started his thread to convince people that the MXR Thump really is a great pedal, but that is not actually my intention at all, my intention was to hopefully get some clarification of my hopeless confusion about all the people who hates it, which seems to be just about half of all the people I have been able to find bothering to voice their opinion about it, out of the fairly few I have been able to find overall.
So all I have to go by is a few YouTube demos that makes it sound great, and the opinion of a few people who absolutely love it, and think it is an amazing pedal, and then an equally few amount of people who absolutely hates it, and think it is utter garbage.
I suppose it would have been easier for me to get a more realistic picture of the pedals capabilities and general quality if it had been on the market for a longer period of time than is the case, having had more opinions from people who actually tried it them self to make sense of what specifically seems to be the pedals strength and weaknesses, and what and why more specifically people love or hate it for.
So yeah, I hope someone will be able to at least make me a bit less confused about what to make of this pedal, and I hope that perhaps someone might even be able to make it more clear for me in which cases/settings/scenarios I should expect to get good results from this pedals and in which cases/settings/scenarios I would probably be better off getting something else to put the finishing subtle touch on my tone to perfect it.
If it will be of any help with helping me determine if this pedal might indeed be useful for me, I intend to use it for my 28,6" scale 5 string Ibanez GSRM25 Mikro Bass, that I have string with gauge .090 to .030 strings, and tuned 2 half steps above regular 4 string, E standard, tuning, as in F#1 to D3, with it's 2 stock J pickups wired in series directly to the output jack socket of the bass (though, while not 100% entirely sure, I don't actually think it got a specifically hot output, kind of not significantly low. but in no way significantly hot either, I guess kind of a pretty common regular medium kind of output for a passive bass).