One of the most important tools in a bassist’s arsenal is a well-built DI unit. These devices make it much easier to control the bass signal in the overall mix by both removing line noise and providing better handling of the instrument’s lower-frequency range. The engineers at Ampeg recently upped the ante by offering something more than just a simple DI. Their new SCR-DI pedal is essentially a preamp that merges a DI unit with an SVT-inspired tone stack, EQ, and bass-overdrive circuit.
Master and Commander
The SCR-DI’s die-cast zinc enclosure scores off the charts in terms of ruggedness. You’d be hard-pressed to find many other pedals on the market with an enclosure as solid as this.
The EQ and Bass Scrambler overdrive circuits each have dedicated footswitches.
The EQ side features a full spread of dials for volume, bass, midrange, and treble, along with a control for auxiliary input volume and switches for engaging the pedal’s ultra-lo and ultra-hi frequency boosting circuits. The Bass Scrambler side—borrowed from Ampeg’s BA series combos—is controlled with two dials for drive and wet/dry blending.
Armed with a Fender P and a 300-watt Verellen Meatsmoke head running into an Ampeg 8x10 cab, I was able to coax out satisfying tones that were reminiscent of a late-’70s SVT, courtesy of the pedal’s ultra-lo switch. It’s no coincidence: The pedal is definitely voiced for producing the SVT’s big and bold rumble, and it does a terrific job of capturing that vibe when coupled with a high-headroom power amp, like the one within the Meatsmoke.
Keeping the Meatsmoke’s EQ knobs neutral at noon, I found the pedal’s controls were sensitive enough to handle most of the tone shaping. The wide-frequency sweep of the pedal’s EQ also made it possible to dial in tones that were wildly different from the bypassed tone, effectively giving me a second clean channel to switch to whenever I needed it.
The SCR-DI’s Scrambler overdrive circuit scores high marks for its usability and punchy delivery. Bass overdrive effects often sound timid and tend to rely on weak, low-gain circuits. Thankfully, the SCR-DI’s Scrambler circuit has neither of these regrettable qualities. I was able to sweep from light growl to mammoth grind via the gain knob. The blend control allowed me to bring in just the right amount of dry signal foundation to keep the tone clear and defined. The drive circuit was indeed useful, but compared to a RAT or Big Muff, I felt the voicing lacked a little character. That said, it gets the job done better than many other standalone bass-overdrive stompboxes.
When used solely as a pedal for practicing and performing, the SCR-DI is worth the price of admission alone. As a studio tool, however, it’s worth its weight in gold. With a direct XLR connection from the pedal into my PreSonus interface, the signal from my P was vibrant with little coloration. The tone changed with a very amp-like response when I switched between fingerstyle and playing with a pick, and the bass and midrange bloomed as I strayed further from the bridge and closer to the neck. Most importantly, the signal was dead quiet during silent parts. And zero pesky background noise or hum equals happy bassist.
For the price of a couple of Benjamins, the SCR-DI is a no-brainer for bassists looking to add a DI to their stage and studio rigs. Its construction feels bulletproof, its preamp and EQ have a supremely wide breadth, and its overdrive circuit can cover much more ground than many standalone alternatives. Hands down—in my humble opinion—it’s one of the better bass DI options on the market today.
Watch the Review Demo: