As a bass player I tend to use effects quite sparingly. My pedal board contains a harmonizer (which plays with the pitch) an overdrive (for moments of aggressive fuzziness), an envelope filter (the 1970s in a box) and a reverb pedal (which expands the sound in a nice spacious was for solo or melodic moments). Each of these gets used for no more than a few bars of music but, to my ears, makes a significant difference.

I have moments, usually when plugging all this in, when I just want to plug the bass into the amp and keep things simple. Doing this has a long and distinguished history amongst other bass players and even with me.  I’ve played hundreds of gigs with nothing fancier than a tuning device attached to the bass. When I mention this urge to my guitarist pal he nods in an understanding way and murmurs, “boring.” So I stick with the pedals.

The dangerous thing is that my pedal board has a space on the left hand side just big enough for one more pedal. “I don’t need another pedal,” I say to complete strangers. They give me funny looks. I like the way this gap suggests I am not driven to just buy gear for the sake of it. That I am in control.

So I celebrate the empty space and it’s symbolism even as I start researching small, powerful delay pedals which I don’t need. I pat myself on the back for not giving into temptation after watching demo videos of such pedals. Then I stare with disbelief at the jiffy bag that has just arrived which contains my new pedal. Sigh.


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