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EBS Stanley Clarke Acoustic Preamp review

This Clarke-endorsed preamp for upright bass is a rare find

EBS Stanley Clarke Acoustic Preamp
(Image: © EBS)

Our Verdict

Well built, impeccable design – a must-have for upright bass players.

For

  • Excellent blending possibilities at all volume levels.
  • Portable.
  • Robust.

Against

  • None.

Guitar World Verdict

Well built, impeccable design – a must-have for upright bass players.

Pros

  • + Excellent blending possibilities at all volume levels.
  • + Portable.
  • + Robust.

Cons

  • - None.

The challenges of successfully replicating the complex sound of a double bass through a PA system or amplifier are substantial. Whether trying to coax an authentic tone out of a nasal-sounding piezo pickup, or struggling to be heard over a drummer, the double bass corner of the stage can be hard work in sonic terms. This is where EBS’s new preamp steps in. 

As double bassists already know, the market is hardly overcrowded with preamps that work well for our instrument. The Grace Felix is the standard, but at over twice the cost of the unit we’re testing today, it will be prohibitively expensive for many of us. The Headway EDB2 has been the more affordable choice – until now.  

EBS Stanley Clarke Acoustic Preamp

(Image credit: EBS)

This preamp bears the name of a legend of both upright and electric bass, the estimable Stanley Clarke, who has developed this pedal with EBS. It has two analog channels, matching the high-quality signal of a professional mixing console.

I was delighted to find that Channel B has an XLR microphone input with phantom power, meaning that I could run my DPA 4099B microphone through it, while using Channel A for my Fishman Full Circle pickup. For me, this is the true beauty of this pedal, as it gives me a fantastic range of controllable sonic possibilities.

For smaller venues I could achieve a more acoustic sound using Channel B alone. This would suit bowing, for example, which can sound artificial when played solely through a pickup. In addition, setting up close to a drummer is no problem: Channel A enabled me to really push the volume level without the usual feedback problems.

EBS Stanley Clarke Acoustic Preamp

(Image credit: EBS)

Ultimately, I was able to work in an ideal blend between the two channels, offering me the natural warmth of the mic with surprising depth and power from the pickup. I can also imagine this pedal working well for acoustic and semi-acoustic bass guitars.

Troublesome frequencies were easily fine-tuned with the individual high pass/notch filter, offered here for each channel, while a phase inverter switch prevents any phasing issues that might arise when blending the two channels.

I loved the onboard effects loop, allowing me to add whatever effects I wished to both my bowed or pizzicato sound. Finally, the balanced output will guarantee a happy sound engineer when taking a signal from the unit on a gig.

Congratulations to both Stanley Clarke and EBS for delivering an essential piece of kit for double bassists. This exceptional pedal brings high-quality amplification possibilities, for both double bass and other acoustic instruments, at an affordable price – quite a feat.

EBS Stanley Clarke Acoustic Preamp

(Image credit: EBS)

Specs

  • PRICE: $499 / £299
  • MADE IN: China
  • FEATURES: Two channels, 10 MOhm Impedance inputs, Individual High Pass/Notch Filter for each channel, XLR input with phantom power, tuner out, serial/parallel effects loop, balanced output with speaker simulator and ground lift, Aux in, pro grade headphones out
  • DIMENSIONS: 6.6” x 4.9” x 2”
  • WEIGHT: 1.5 lb
  • POWER SUPPLY: DC [included]
  • CONTACT: EBS