Ampeg Scrambler Bass Overdrive Review
Ampeg’s latest bass-pedal offering conjures up the gritty overdriven tones the company is known for, but through a compact and affordable box.
Recorded with Fender Mod Shop Precision and Universal Audio Apollo Twin interface
Clip 1 - Drive at 5 o'clock, blend at 5 o'clock, treble at 3 o'clock, volume at 3 o'clock.
Clip 2 - Drive at 1 o'clock, blend at 1 o'clock, treble at 5 o'clock, volume at 12 o'clock.
Clip 3 - Drive at 3 o'clock, blend at 10 o'clock, treble at 3 o'clock, volume at 10 o'clock.
Ampeg released their SCR-DI pedal in early 2015, which—much to the joy of many bassists—bundled a classic preamp, EQ, and overdrive into a rugged and portable unit. Not surprisingly, the stompbox spread like wildfire throughout the bass community as players wanted to get in on the action that seemingly jammed an SVT head and 8x10 into a pedal.
More recently, Ampeg made the move to effectively cut the SCR-DI pedal in half by offering the more compact (and more affordable) Classic Analog Bass Preamp and Scrambler Bass Overdrive pedals. We checked out the $99 Scrambler and its intent to deliver classic Ampeg sound without a backbreaking load-in.
Scrambled to Perfection
It’s not that often that Ampeg rolls out new products, especially pedals, but they make sure they’re done well when they do. With a simple design that players of any ability or level of pedal know-how could use, the Scrambler comes packaged in a roadworthy all-metal chassis with a sleek, flat-black finish. It has a durable-feeling footswitch and sturdy construction, and houses a quartet of knobs for volume, treble, drive, and blend. The pedal is powered by a 9V power supply or battery, and is labeled with white lettering that could be helpful for dimly lit stages.
Grit and Grind
Equipped with a Fender Mod Shop Precision, I plugged the Scrambler into an Aguilar Tone Hammer 350 head (with the EQ flat) matched with an Aguilar 2x10 cab. With all the Scrambler’s knobs at noon, the tone projected definitive Ampeg grit that presented itself even more when I pulled out a pick. Upping the ante, I moved both the drive and blend up to 5 o’clock and the volume and treble to 3 o’clock, which unleashed the pedal’s full overdrive potential and projected a beautifully distorted frequency that impressively maintained its lows and highs. Even when pushing the pedal to its extreme, the signal never broke and my tone never waivered.
Taking it back a step, I kept the treble at 3 o’clock, moved the volume and blend to about 10 o’clock, and dialed the drive to 3 o’clock. This setting created a wonderful layer of dirtiness that was subtle enough to keep it on and forget about it, but still present enough to make my tone quite distinguishable.
To give the Scrambler a go with an active bass, I plugged in a Warwick Dolphin Pro I 5-string. The pedal served up brighter highs, deliciously punchy mids, and held its signal with the 5th string throughout every configuration I tried. My sweetest spot with the Dolphin was found with the blend at 3 o’clock, and the drive and treble both at 1 o’clock.
With an increasing number of options out there, bass overdrives aren’t a new commodity by any stretch. But Ampeg didn’t try to recreate the wheel. They just created a great version of it. The Scrambler is clean, simple, and durable, and the tone profiles it offers are vast. No matter your primary genre, the pedal can do a lot to enhance your sound—whether adding the perfect dusting of grit or full-blown, overdriven bliss. At $99, that may likely be music to your ears.