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The Fishman Fission Bass Powerchord FX does some funky things by building grinding, root-fifth chords from single notes. It’s the kind of sound that makes it virtually impossible to not start ripping out fat riffs that are both bass lines and crunchy power-chord rhythms all at once.
Unlike most sub-octave pedals, Fishman’s Fission Bass generates pitches above the note you’re playing. By engaging the Octave Up/Effect On footswitch, you get the fundamental plus a note an octave above it. Combine the first and second footswitches, and the Fission creates a fifth above your note—along with the upper octave. With the first and third switches engaged, you get the fundamental, the upper octave, and a fifth above that octave.
But wait—there’s more. If you engage all three footswitches, the Fission creates notes one and two octaves above your fundamental, and then throws in a fifth between the two octaves. Sweet! Some bassists have compared the Fission to the legendary, out-of- production Akai UniBass, which is often fondly referred to as a “rhythm guitarist in a box.” It’s an appropriate description for the Fission Bass Powerchord, too—especially when dialing in the Overdrive control. Just imagine playing in a power trio when it’s time for a guitar solo: Rather than leaving the guitarist to fill all the space around the bass line, simply kick in the Fission Bass and you can lay down a rich foundation for the guitarist to riff on.
It’s interesting that a pedal like this comes from Fishman, a company best known for natural-sounding acoustic gear. But they’ve clearly done their homework. The Fission delivers the company’s usual quality in a sturdy metal case. And the four knobs, three footswitches, and three jacks feel durable and reliable. Happily, the 9V battery lives underneath, and there’s a snap-off lid and slip-in contacts—so there are no battery leads to get pulled out of the circuit board. It was also nice to see instruction details printed on the bottom of the box, which is very useful unless you decide to attach the Fission to your pedalboard. Setting up the Fission seemed daunting, initially, but the manual’s Quick Start section made things easy. It suggests setting the Noise Gate and Overdrive controls to 9 o’clock, turning Tone all the way up, and keeping Effect Level all the way down. A stealthy, Trim knob on the right panel governs gain—just play normally and adjust it until the clip light only blinks on occasion. All of that done, it’s a simple task to tweak possibilities and blend in the desired effect with the dry signal.
With a solid signal level, the Fission Bass tracked very well. It was fun playing classic, sustain-filled power-trio riffs, too. While the overdrive sounded a touch digital on its own, it would blend acceptably within a band setting. In all, the Fission Bass Powerchord FX is a quality effect that can quickly easily help you expand your role as a bassist.
you’re looking to expand your musical palette and love the idea of letting your bass fill more sonic space.
you’re playing in a thick mix and need a focused, conventional sound.
Street $279 - Fishman - fishman.com
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