When most people think of effects pedals, bass players don’t usually come to mind. It’s a much rarer thing to see a bass player with a slew of effects than it is to see a guitarist without any. Still though, there are plenty of great effects out there for bass players to get their hands on and plenty of players that take advantage of them. For those bass players out there who have yet to mess around with effects or are looking for a good starter pedal at a great price, the Zoom B1X Bass Guitar Expression pedal is a great choice. This is not a 100 percent hands down professional pedal, but it’s more than good enough for gigs and for the price, you really can’t beat it. Read on and check out some of the finer points of the Zoom B1X Bass Guitar Expression pedal.
The Main Features of the Zoom B1X
The biggest draw of this pedal is the amount of features packed into it at a price that’s cheaper than most single effects pedals out there, but with that said, expect there to be a few drawbacks along the way. The Zoom B1X comes with 46 different dedicated bass effects that range in sound quality from outstanding to “never going to use that effect again,” although all in all, I’d say about a good 35 of them are more than useable. You have all of the expected effects from wahs to whammys, distortion to compression with plenty of settings to adjust each enough to make it sounds pretty good, except for maybe like half a dozen or so that will sound mediocre at best and a bit too digital. One of my favorite features of the pedal is the compression. A great tool more than an effect, it keeps your bass signal at a consistent range in level which comes in handy for more bass driven back beat music such as jazz or even certain types of rock, although any kind of music will benefit from a consistent bass level. Also featured is a built in chromatic tuner that does its job and is pretty easy to use as far as tuners are concerned – no problems there.
Another feature that should be pointed out is the built in drum machine. Yes, it’s not going to replace your drummer by a long shot, but coupled with the pedals ability to let you play through headphones, you’ll begin to see what Zoom had in mind when creating the B1X. While having the drum machine on, you can easily mess around with other effects and pretty much jam out quietly in your home. I have to admit, it was actually very fun to mess around with all the different drum tracks and effects settings without having to hear complaints from the neighbors for once.
Also packed into the pedal are 13 different amp/stomp box emulators that again, range from great to just alright, although none where as bad as some of the effects were. You have your tube amp setting which is probably among my favorites. Sounds a bit like a fuller overdrive, which is great for classic rock. The “Pop” setting was another of my favorites as I prefer a clean and jangly bass sound. The fusion was among the strangest and can’t really see too many rock bassists using it live. Other amp emulators include Jazz Plus, Rock, and even about five separate distortions.
Some other features include the ability to create and save patches containing your personal effect and setting combination for easy retrieval later. Comes in handy for shows but it takes a bit long to retrieve them for my liking, especially in a live gig setting.
Zoom ZFX-3 24-bit/96kHz digital multi-effects processor
46 Effects types / 8 Modules
40kHz frequency response
Built in drum machine & Harmonized pitch shifter
46 effect types
13 amp/pedal modeling sets
On-board expression pedal
80 patches (40 user defined and 40 preset patches)
Operates on 4 AA batteries or included AC power adapter (AD-0006D)
The Mechanics of the Zoom B1X
Well, you get what you pay for I should say, but don’t let that detract you from giving this pedal a shot. The plastic covering looks a bit cheap but it is actually pretty strong and has survived more than its share of heavy hits. Compared with the average bass multi effects pedals, the B1X is pretty compact and will easily fit in a backpack or gig bag, although it’s nowhere near as small as a single effects pedal.
Those unfamiliar with multi effects pedals will want to take advantage of reading the included manual. It’s not that the pedal is impossible to use, it’s actually quite easy once you get the hang of it compared to pricier multi effects units that can be downright confusing, but if you want to take advantage of its many features, the manual is a great way to start. It has detailed explanations of every effect, helpful tips and techniques to get you started and an overall great way to get a nice feel for the entire scope of the pedal.
The Zoom B1X comes with an AC adaptor but can be powered using 4 AA batteries, a bit different from most that use a 9 volt, but considering how this sucker went through the batteries, a 9 volt would have probably lasted me a week at best. What I’m getting at is unless you have to use batteries, it’s a better choice to use the included adapter.
The Value of the Zoom B1X
The built in tuner and compressor alone will cost you more if bought separately than the price of this multi-effects pedal. Consider the fact that it has 46 effects, 13 different amp/stomp box emulators, the ability to play through headphones, the added drum machine and plenty more, you honestly can’t expect a better buy for less than $80. Yes, this is not your pro level musician’s multi effects pedal of choice, but it was never meant to be. There is plenty in here to like that any bassist can use for a live show environment, most notably the tuner and compressor, but the B1X really shines as a personal bass effect machine for home enjoyment. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun messing around with a pedal that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg, and that alone makes the B1x a great buy. While not perfect, there are enough good qualities built in to keep you entertained for a very long time.