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Barefaced Machinist Distortion review

The speaker cab specialists diversify with a feature-packed distortion to put some rumble in the low end

Barefaced Audio Machinist
(Image: © Barefaced Audio )

Our Verdict

A great effects pedal, but we'd like to see a little more thought given to the aesthetics.

For

  • Wide range of dirt on tap.
  • Solidly built.
  • Easy to get great results.

Against

  • The perceived value, given the cost.

Last year, Barefaced released a teaser video hinting that it had a new product on the way – and this time it wasn’t a bass cab! Now we know the company was heralding the release of the Machinist – its first foray into bass guitar effects. 

The pedal is the result of a collaboration between boutique effects manufacturer COG and Barefaced. It comes in an interlocking plywood box, like a tiny Barefaced speaker cab. Removing it from the packaging, we have to say that first impressions are a little underwhelming. 

The large format pedal is housed in a plain aluminum project box, with just a single jack in and out, plus a DC input which we assume is for a standard 9V supply, although there’s no guidance regarding this on the pedal itself. 

The pedal is divided into three sections, with controls identified by graphic icons rather than printed text – something Orange has done for some time on its amp heads. There’s no provision for running the Machinist on batteries, although we guess most players will have this as part of a pedalboard setup, so this won’t be an issue. 

Barefaced Audio Machinist

(Image credit: Barefaced Audio )

The Machinist consists of three units in parallel – an overdrive/distortion with shelved bass and treble tone controls, a fuzz with mid cut or boost, and a clean section with a separate volume and low pass filter, enabling you to cut the highs and mids. 

This clean section works in an unorthodox way in that if neither of the distortions are switched on, switching on the clean channel lights up the LED and leaves this section loaded and ready to be added to your sound when you hit the overdrive or fuzz switches. 

All this gives a huge range of usable effects. The intensity of the distortion or overdrive depends on how hard you play, while the fuzz is more of an effect, perfect for when nothing but a Seventies Geezer Butler sound will do. 

In use, the Machinist is very intuitive once you figure out the graphics, and there’s a whole world of distortions and fuzz available separately or in combination with each other. 

The bass and treble shelving EQ on the overdrive allows for accurate adjustment of tonal balance, as does the mid boost and scoop controls on the fuzz section, and once you’re happy with your dirt you can preselect your clean sound and add that filtered sound to the distortion.

If we have any reservations, it’s that the Machinist just doesn’t feel or look like an effects pedal at this sort of price point – but let's hope this doesn’t deter bassists from trying one: There’s a money-back guarantee, after all. If they do, we're sure they’ll be very impressed. 

Specs

  • PRICE: $300 approx including delivery and free one-month trial in EU/UK 
  • MADE IN: UK
  • FEATURES: Clean volume, Fuzz gain and volume, Overdrive/Distortion gain and volume, tone (highs and mids cut), Fuzz mids boost, Fuzz low vs high Tilt, Overdrive/Distortion bass and treble controls; Parallel Clean, Fuzz and Overdrive/Distortion on/off footswitches
  • DIMENSIONS: 5.5” (W) x 4.5” (D) x 2.5” (H)  
  • POWER: 9v-18v DC
  • CONTACT: Barefaced Audio (opens in new tab)

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