Get a great bass guitar tone every time with Trondheim Audio Devices’ SkarBassOne pedal

Sometimes, looks can be deceiving. On the outside, Trondheim Audio Devices’ SkarBassOne might look like a pretty ordinary bass guitar pedal, but there’s actually a whole lot going on beneath the surface.

Made in Norway, and the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, SkarBassOne is a compressor, EQ and overdrive all rolled into one, but at the same time more than the sum of its parts. In fact, even if you had separate pedals for all of these processing tasks, you wouldn’t be able to replicate what SkarBassOne is capable of.

This is a pedal that will quickly become your go-to. If you’ve ever turned up to a gig and discovered an amp setup that just won’t play ball or tried to record at home or in the studio and not been able to get the tone you want, SkarBassOne is for you. Having it in your bag means that, wherever you go and whatever you do, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to get the tone you actually want.

For the sake of simplicity, the parameter names have been kept simple, and operation is easy. There’s a one-knob FET compressor (designed by Trondheim Audio Devices and similar in character to the UA 1176) with a simple LED indicator. Don’t worry about db gain reduction - just listen and look at the light and you’ll know when you’ve got it right.

Then there’s the Mix knob. No, this doesn’t mix between the dry and wet signals - it enables you to control the balance between bass and treble with a single control. Turn clockwise and you get more treble; turn anti-clockwise and you get more bass. That’s it. Super-fast and impossible to misunderstand.

The Mid filter knob, meanwhile, feels almost magical, and enables you to achieve a truly surgical tone with, yes, just one control. If your bass is struggling to cut through or your bandmates are constantly telling you to turn it down, it’ll help you out in an instant.

It works by surgically clearing space in the overcrowded low-mid to mid frequency range, leaving your bass guitar to provide a dominant and fat low-end. Now when you boost your volume you’ll actually be heard. It’s almost like a Jedi mind trick.

In reality, it’s because the Mid filter is not a traditional bell filter - it’s actually a steep high-pass filter for the pedal’s high-frequency internal channel (post drive). You’ll struggle to find this kind of tonal control anywhere else.

When the Mid knob is fully clockwise you actually have a full band frequency response, so there is no way to boost the mids. Once you start to move the Mid knob anti-clockwise, however, you are effectively moving the high-pass cutoff frequency higher. This might sound counterintuitive - and it is from a technical point of view  - but it makes sense when you start to think of it like traditional EQ (move clockwise and you get more mids; turn anti-clockwise and you get less mids).

Then we come to the Drive control. Distortion can be difficult to get right on bass guitars. It can psycho-acoustically increase the audibility of a signal, but it can also end up destroying the bottom-end. SkarBassOne gets around this problem by splitting up the bass and treble frequencies and only processing the treble, so you end up with a clean and punchy low-end and crisper high frequencies. One further knob enables you to tweak the tone of the drive circuit, giving you even more flexibility.

It’s important to note that, when the drive circuit is not engaged, the Compressor, Mid filter and Mix knobs are still active.

So yes, there’s a lot going on - a whole matrix of under-the-hood processing, in fact - but that simple interface should reassure you that with SkarBassOne, it’s super-easy to get a great tone. And, the good news is that MusicRadar users can currently get it at a 20% discount (regular price is $359)

Head to the dedicated landing page, fill in your name and email address and you’ll be sent a code that you can use on the Trondheim Audio Devices website. The number of codes is limited though, and this offer ends on 15 December, so make sure you register for yours now.