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To say that Geddy Lee has a unique bass sound would be an understatement. Whether it’s his Rickenbacker 4001 or 1972 J-bass, one note and you know it’s him. When Geddy partnered up with Tech 21, his elusive sound became far less elusive, as the DI-2112 Preamp now shares the tone with bass players of all backgrounds.
The top mounted controls cover Level, Blend, Mid, Drive, Treble, Bass, and Mid Shift. OK, you’re probably wondering about the “deep” section, which has its own level and saturation controls.▼ Article continues below ▼
This area has Geddy Lee’s EQ curve set to his preference but does allow the user to tweak the level and saturation to their own taste. Simply put, it’s a dual set of signals (pun intended to the Rush fans) running in parallel: deep and drive. A small bank of buttons cover functions such as mute, a tight option, and a +10Db boost for the 1/4” outputs, and a -20Db pad for the XLRs, and to finish it off, a ground lift switch. The blue LED indicates the power, and pulses during playing, indicating the device is outputting signal. Not only can it run on a standard 9v power supply, but for added headroom, an 18v power source is the way to go, and it can be powered from two 9v batteries as well.
The backside has the input along with a selection of 1/4” outputs, one dedicated for tuner, mix/drive, deep out, as well as dedicated XLR outputs for the drive and deep signal paths that gives plenty of options.
Our test basses included a modest Yamaha BB404, hot-rodded Warmoth J-bass with DiMarzio pickups and Nostrand active EQ, Rickenbacker 4001, a fretless Phil Kubicki Ex-Factor, and of course, a Geddy Lee Signature Fender Jazz Bass. Tech 21’s manual includes suggested settings to start from thankfully, and with Mr. Lee’s “standard” setting we were blown away. Just the right balance of grit on the top end, while maintaining a warm, yet deep low end. The drive control has a very strong presence at higher settings; after 2 O’clock it really adds in the dirt!
Kicking in the tight function really added in extra definition, taming some of those lower frequencies from the drive side of things. Hotter pickups and active electronics obviously push things harder, meaning dialing the drive and some of the EQ settings back a bit overall. Passive versions really didn’t need to be pushed harder on the EQ, but when we did start digging deeper in the EQ, the audio quality was maintained with no issues on noise or hiss.
Tech 21’s background in getting great DI tones really comes through here, and makes it far easier and simpler to get those elusive natural, and classic tube-y bass sounds without extra effort or hardware.
Shooting for cleaner tones isn’t a problem either, if you lower the drive settings, the big, and deep bass sounds still reside, with the clarity and definition. The overall audio quality is superb, and as it’s an all-analog design, there’s no issues of latency or lag.
Will it make you play like Geddy Lee? Unfortunately, no. However, that (his) sound is in there, which can give that responsive, and quite dynamic, classic driven bass tone. But there are plenty of great tone shaping options, regardless of the bass, the player, or type of music.
Excellent EQ flexibility, plenty of usable and practical bass drive/dirt, connectivity options galore.