Being a bass player is a hell of a lot harder than most people would have you believe. The rigs are heavier, people unfairly write your parts off as easy or disposable, and you have to deal with your band mates’ wide variety of egos. On top of all that your particular frequency set is partially inaudible and what you can hear is "supposed to sit behind everything else", at least in the context of a standard rock band. Dialing in the narrowest of sweet spots under that set of circumstances is a mission, even if you can get the drummer to stop making sawdust for two seconds between songs. The sweetest relief for sub-focused sound-smiths comes in the form of a humble stompbox preamp like the Bass Attack 2 from Hartke.
Plain and simple, 9V DC powers all the right tools for tonal tinkering. From right to left, the signal passes through an austere set of bass, treble and level knobs allowing you to control >30hz and above 20kHz, all at the flick of a footswitch. The contour switch adds an extra dollop of thickness and restraint thanks to Hartke’s signature mid curve that acts almost like a healthy touch of compression around the dead center of your spectrum. The middle footswitch affords you access to a mid boost and/or cut between 200-800hz, which is great for zeroing in on the hole in any mix and any room. On the left you have a pretty hefty overdrive section that swings all the way from tasteful, tube-like heat to gnashing, burly distortion. Dial in a certain amount of clean tone on top for definition and there you have it, a simple yet effective recipe for just about any taste. There is a balanced XLR out for sending either pre/post-effected signal to the desk and a parallel TRS out if there’s room for you to run stereo on stage.
The only thing this unit lacks is any glaring bells and whistles but that’s pretty much the point. It is designed to be the meat and potatoes of your tone, the bedrock upon which you build your empire of rumble and this is precisely the success of the design. With everything at noon and the mid and drive switches disengaged, the pedal is 100 per cent transparent. All it takes is the tiniest pinch of salt on any of the EQ knobs to improve, if not simply refine what you already have going. From there everything is designed to help you carve out a niche for yourself, not only in a mix or in the context of your band, but as a whole. The delicate combination of choices within those unassuming dials is so varied that your sound can be uniquely yours every time it’s engaged.
As with everything that makes it out of the Hartke smelter, the Bass Attack 2 is nothing if not reliable. Sturdy as a packhorse, reliable as an old friend and packed with only the choicest, most useful ingredients. It takes what other preamp pedals do and trims the fat, all the while offering you everything you need to get the job done. And, it won’t tell anyone you’ve just been playing root notes the whole time.
Hits and Misses
Simple, effective and essential tonal control.
Nothing new or innovative as bass pre-amps go, just the essentials.