Swell B-Peg V3 Bass Overdrive Pedal Review
If you''ve been bitten by the SVT bug but don''t have the funds or upper body strength to commit to a full rig, Swell''s B-Peg V3 solution might be what you''re looking for.
$0$0 $0It wasn’t long after learning my first arpeggio that I started thinking about what my rock ’n’ roll life was going to look like. When I first opened up Van Halen’s Diver Down and saw that photo of a packed stadium and a happy band, I knew it was for me. And as I got a little older, learned a few songs, and watched countless videos on MTV of bands playing to thousands of adoring fans, I realized I had to have a proper bass rig to satisfy my eventual fandom. I knew I needed an SVT.$0 $0 $0 $0Fast-forward to three days after my 23rd birthday when, in a freak accident, I crushed a vertebra in my back. Not long after recovering from the accident, I was determined as ever to buy my first “real” bass rig. But as soon as I tried to lift the SVT I was checking out, I knew I would never actually own any gear that weighed that much. I’ve heard many musicians joke that they are only paid to move equipment back-and-forth, and that playing is just a bonus. With that thought in mind, I’ve always purchased gear I could move without the help of a forklift. My dreams of owning that SVT sound were unfortunately dashed with the constraints of my lingering injury.$0 $0 But with the cut switch flipped on, the tones evened out and the highs rang out loud and clear, giving my fills and arpeggios more life and vibrancy. $0 $0 $0Fortunately, those dreams were recently reignited. With the release of the new B-Peg V3 overdrive from Swell Pedals, I found that getting that SVT-esque sound was possible while still being easily transportable.$0 $0The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of$0 Similar to Swell’s other pedal offerings, the B-Peg V3 Overdrive is housed in a sturdy, powder-coated metal encasement and its die-cast aluminum construction and interlocking lid ensure complete RF shielding. Even with the pedal’s internal 12AX7 tube, the rugged design of this 100 percent analog unit left me little to worry about when transporting and handling it from gig to gig. With a Fender Jazz through a Trace Elliot GP12 SMX 4001 head and an SWR 4x10 cab, I used the B-Peg right out of the box and ran it through its paces at four live shows—two small clubs and twice in festival settings. $0 $0Remember, This Is a Teenage Fantasy, So Make it Easy$0 For anyone who’s always wanted the big sound of an SVT, but not wanted to pay for it, or in my case, heft the “bigness” of it, the B-Peg V3 pedal delivers in both tone and ease-of-use. And within seconds of plugging it in, I knew exactly what it could do. Alongside the gold-plated Switchcraft jacks for the input and output is a record-out jack with speaker simulation, all of which are top-mounted. And though the B-Peg V3 does come with a power adaptor—often a bonus when it comes to effects pedals—it does not run on battery power. That’s not a deal breaker for me, but a small disappointment nonetheless. A great feature of the B-Peg V3 is the pair of separate gains that are selectable via true-bypass footswitching. Need one sound when playing the verse, and something a bit more aggressive for the chorus? Done. And the dual gains can be switched back and forth quickly and easily with the clearly marked controls. The on/off footswitch illuminates in red indicating the pedal is powered up, while the Gain-2 footswitch lights up in green when the second gain’s settings are engaged. Am I easily impressed? Maybe. But there is beauty in simplicity, and as a gigging musician, I love when something is engineered to be “idiot proof.” Amidst the confusion of a poorly lit stage, it can be easy to forget which stomp does what. Using a pedal I wasn’t familiar with in a live setting, it was nice to have my options be so clear. $0 $0I Sound Like Me, But Awesome$0 Using the Gain-1 control knob for settings below 12 o’clock and the Gain-2 for anything above noon, the B-Peg V3 filled up and rounded out the pickups on my Jazz with a fuller and warmer tone. The gain settings below 12 o’clock amplified my entire sound and filled out the low end nicely, while higher-level settings on the second gain gave me a similar feel with an added aggressive nature—excellent for driving lines. $0 $0 $0Ratings$0 $0Pros:$0 Great tone with plenty of control. Easy to use and well constructed.$0 $0Cons:$0 No 9V battery option. Priced for the professional player.$0 $0Tones:$0 $0 $0Playability/Ease of Use:$0 $0 $0Build:$0 $0 $0Value:$0 $0 $0Street: $0 $349$0 $0SWELL Pedals$0 swellpedals.com$0 $0 $0Along with control knobs for tone and master volume, the B-Peg’s pair of 2-position toggle switches for fat and cut allow for some additional tonal variety. While the fat switch is onboard to add low end, I found it to be unnecessary for the most part. The pedal provided such depth and a definitive thud to my sound that the fat switch seemed to be just a step too far. However, I imagine it would be a great asset for someone with cheaper pickups or in need of a huge boost. Because the pedal already adds so much roundness and phatness to the tone, it would be easy to imagine that the higher frequencies would have difficulty cutting through. That said, I was impressed with the way the highs performed before I even touched the cut switch. But with the cut switch flipped on, the tones evened out and the highs rang out loud and clear, giving my fills and arpeggios more life and vibrancy. $0 $0Though I kept the pedal’s master volume dialed back at smaller club gigs, the festival environment allowed me the flexibility to crank up the master and really hear what the pedal could do. With each note, walking line, or driving line, the tone cut through everything else going on. I was going through a Trace, but my huge sound was reminiscent of a mid-’70s SVT. The thud of the drummer’s kick with my bass tone was enough to make us both look at each other and smile right when I first plugged in. Always conscious of the job the sound engineer has to do, I asked the engineer at the first gig if I was too loud. “Nope,” he said, “you sound better than I’ve ever heard you.” $0 $0The Verdict$0 Am I going to be playing at a baseball stadium filled with fans dying to hear my greatest hits? It’s not likely for me or the other 99.99 percent of people that pick up an instrument. With the Swell B-Peg V3, I felt like I could get some of that tone that’s fit for an arena with its unrefined, dreamlike warmth—the SVT tone of my adolescent dreams, but without breaking my back. And that was awesome. So if you are looking for a simpler way to get to that classic overdriven sound, with plenty of control on tap, Swell’s B-Peg V3 pedal just find a home on your pedalboard. $0