Bassists who enjoy a chunk of crunch in their tone will be delighted to hear that amp manufacturers Aguilar have given a sleek new look to their pedal range, which includes the Agro Bass Overdrive.
The brief, Aguilar tells us, is to replicate the Saturation channel of their AG 500 head in a pedal: quite a challenge by anybody’s standards. Can they pull it off?
The Agro has clearly been designed with efficiency in mind rather than a pointlessly high number of features.
Apart from the engage switch (which illuminates a very cool blue LED), and the usual in/out and DC power sockets, the pedal has four controls – Level, Saturation, Presence and Contour.
The matte black chassis, with its bevelled edges, new-look Agro logo and premium machined knobs, creates a great first impression. The whole thing feels sturdy and well-engineered.
The overdrive effect itself is versatile and sounds great. In its upper range, the Saturation control turns you into Lemmy on Ace of Spades, or Chris Wolstenholme on Hysteria – although with more low-end in both cases.
We’ve all played through drive pedals that remove your bottom-end at the flick of a switch, causing your bandmates to assume you’ve fallen off the stage. Not so with the Agro. When you step on it, you still sound like you, only a beefier, more powerful version.
The Contour control drastically scoops the midrange EQ when applied counterclockwise and leaves it flat at the other extreme. The Level pot offers a cone-shredding volume spike if you inadvertently switch it to max.
Overall, we really like the tone and vibe of the Agro. The controls are sensibly set up to provide plenty of usable sounds through their entire range – not always the case with bass overdrive.
If you’re after a great-sounding, flexible and dynamic overdrive, you really need to check this pedal out. The sounds on offer are rich and saturated yet articulate and defined, with a gratifying amount of your bass guitar’s own tonal character allowed to shine through.
However, before we lose all sense of objectivity, there’s a downside to point out: it’s not cheap. The retail price is $334.99, and even though all of that money seems to have gone where you want it to to go – making the Agro sound great – that’s quite a lot of cash. Having said that, while you might find flashier-looking pedals for this kind of money, you’ll have to look a lot harder to get one that sounds much better.
- PRICE: $334.99 / £255
- ORIGIN: USA
- TYPE: Overdrive pedal
- CONTROLS: Level, Saturation, Presence, Contour
- FEATURES: Contour control: broad spectrum mid scoop centered around 900Hz, presence control: + 6dB/-20dB >4kHz, Gig-saver bypass
- POWER: 9V DC power supply
- CONTACT: Aguilar Amplification