Clip 1 - Music Man StingRay with both pickups dimed going into SWR SM500 set flat. Gain-1 activated and level set at 3 o'clock, tone 5 o'clock, master 12 o'clock.
Clip 2 - Music Man StingRay with both pickups dimed going into SWR SM500 set flat. Gain-2 activated and level set at 5 o’clock, tone 5 o'clock, master 12 o'clock.
From 2006 until 2012, Swell Pedals produced sought-after boutique effects centered on tube-based circuitry and vintage tonality. After a short hiatus and relocation from Nashville to Cleveland, builder Mike Olienchak rebooted his pedal operation under the name Myco with a new business model and plans to release a pedal for guitar and one for bass. Myco’s lone pedal for bassists is a tube overdrive called the Bepa, which is a Russian word meaning “faith.” The Bepa is inspired by classic amps of the ’60s and ’70s, and picks up where Swell’s V3 Overdrive series left off.
Simple, Rugged, Tubular
The Bepa (pronounced veer-uh) looks and feels like it can take a beating from even the heaviest-footed players, thanks to its burly construction. Myco’s theme of user-friendliness is apparent in the simple control set, which consists of level dials for gain-1 and gain-2, tone, and master volume, and a pair of footswitches. Instead of a graphics freak-out, the durable box is subtly stamped with a hammer and sickle symbol, which pays homage to Olienchak’s Russian lineage and to overdrive pedals of the past.
To capture the throwback sound Olienchak has been chasing his entire career, the Bepa is constructed with all-analog circuitry and contains a single 12AX7 vacuum tube. And thanks to the 3PDT true-bypass switching, the pedal sidesteps unwanted noise when switching between the two gain channels or when the unit is bypassed.
The Bepa also houses a pair of 1/4" Switchcraft outs labeled amp and rec. While the amp out feeds your rig, the rec provides a speaker-simulated output that is ideal for recording. Using both outputs while tracking allows you to blend, mix, and match to your ideal tone. Note to fans of battery power: The Bepa can only powered via a 12V adapter (included).
Back to the Future
I paired the pedal with a Fender Deluxe P going through an SWR SM500 head (EQ set flat) and 8x10 cab. With the gain-1, tone, and master knobs set to 3 o’clock, the Bepa produced a very natural-sounding overdrive that was far from overpowering. This setting would be spot-on as a tone enhancer for rock, alternative, or indie players to leave on throughout the duration of a set. The grittiness did increase after pushing the gain-1 and tone knobs to full tilt, but not to wildly distorted levels like contemporary minded pedals might at those heights.
When I engaged the gain-2 footswitch and moved the correlating knob and the rest of the levels to 3 o’clock, I immediately heard similarities between the Bepa and the Swell overdrive pedals of the past. Gain-2 proved to be the ballsier of the two as a huge increase of drive powered through the speakers with a stout midrange and a full-bodied low end that didn’t lose any of its resonance. The tube build of the Bepa makes for an incredibly organic overdrive tone with no pull back or unnecessary compression.
The Bepa is decidedly subtler than many of its contemporaries in the bass-overdrive pedal arena, so I plugged in an active Music Man StingRay to hear it with a louder, brighter instrument. I was able to produce much dirtier sounds with this new pairing, as well as some more bite. My personal sweet-spot was found by engaging gain-1, diming its corresponding level, and setting the tone knob to 9 o’clock. The midrange tone at this setting was tenacious in attack when using a pick, the low end maintained its depth, and the high end packed loads of bite—perfect for a gutsy tone that’ll stand out without stepping on the toes of other instruments.The Verdict
Whether it’s dialing up a particular subtle sound or maintaining a gritty tone by serving as the cornerstone of a pedalboard, the dual-gain Bepa will likely not disappoint those looking for tube-overdrive bass tones with a focus on replicating vintage amps. (If a flamethrower of overdrive distortion is what you’re looking for, you might want to hunt around a bit more.) The Bepa’s sturdy build and clean, simple design make it a breeze to use and worry-free no matter how rough you are with it. The price tag of $299 might seem a little steep at first glance, but pedal geeks—especially those with a penchant for all things tube—will probably gladly flip the bill for this homage to classic drives.