Japan's Providence is guru-central to a lot of guitar FX devotees. Now bass players get a look in, with the new Dual Bass Station DBS-1. Dan Veal was first in the queues to try one.
There's a lot to be said for simplicity. In theory an FX unit that does everything from making the coffee to adding just that perfect touch of reverb is a wonderful thing. Until, that is, you get on stage and find it all a bit too hard to cope with in the rush of a gig. Japan's Providence - long a favourite of guitarists with its FX pedals - clearly understand this, and has responded with a bass unit that is simplicity itself.
The Bass Station is described as a bass pre-amp. It has two inputs and a channel EQ with a level control for each and it really didn't take me long to get to grips with its operation of the DBS pedal – I didn't even bother with the manual, it's that straightforward.
The two channels feed in to a single output and the levels of each can be controlled by separate channel volume knobs. OK, simple. If you connect a bass to the channel A input you can switch between the two channels using the A/B foot switch. This is perfect for say, having a solo sound set up with more middle frequencies, or maybe setting up the pedal for slap bass sections in songs on channel B for instance. With that in mind, let's talk about the EQ section. It's a simple three band system that features a semi-parametric EQ. The mid frequency (as well as its level) can be adjusted from low mids all the way up to lower treble frequencies, allowing fine adjustment of your bass tone. I love that you can set up each channel separately too. The exact frequency ranges can be found in our Tech Spec box in this review. Looking at the face-plate, the two smaller knobs below the main controls select the channel middle frequencies. Again, another nice touch being smaller knobs, they are less likely to get knocked.
Channel selection visual indication is via two toggling lights above the A/B button. Green for A, Orange for B.
Using two basses, one per input, you also have the option of switching between one bass or the other via the footswitch. This is ideal if you have instruments with varying output levels or if you need a separate EQ control for the other instrument you are using.
That just leaves us with the Mute button on the left hand side - self explanatory, really. It mutes the output signal completely for changing basses, or maybe for tuning. Oh, and here's another great inclusion: The pre-amp pedal has an output socket especially for connecting to a tuner, so that you can mute your output and tune silently. This socket's signal remains 'live' all the time. I guess you could also use that output as a direct output, pre-EQ settings to go to a recording console or other outboard kit? Really you're not limited and if you can find another way of using the pedal, then go for it!
The pedal comes with a 12V adaptor but no battery option. This is something to consider if you are putting it on a pedal board. Also as I described in the video, considering the fact that the outer case says that the pedal is 24V operation, I am assuming that it features a voltage doubler type circuit for added headroom in the audio circuit. Another plus - certainly this is one of a few pedals that I haven't been able to distort the input of with one of my high output basses! There's a good meaty amount of gain available from the output level and interestingly we happily drove a power amplifier up to gig volume in the studio using the DBS as a full pre-amplifier. Tick in the box for travelling light, Providence!
Tonally, this is a really fine pedal with well thought out EQ centres for bass guitar. In the video review, I thought that maybe this pedal, to be a proper pre-amplifier, should contain a D.I. output. Certainly the DBS is going to be compared to a Swiss-army knife unit like the EBS Micro-Bass II amongst others. Looking back on my review though, actually I think I'd like to leave this pedal exactly as it is. I like its simplicity and so will you. I really look forward to seeing what else Providence has in store for us bass players. You can send me one of these pedals whenever you like guys.