Small, sturdy, simple, and functional. All words I would use to describe Providence LTD’s newest addition to their bass guitar pedal line, the Anadime Bass Chorus.
I had the pleasure of being able to demo one of these pedals for my first gear review for Smart Bass Guitar this past month after getting in contact with the pedal manufacturer’s representative, Masaki.
This review is my entire account with this pedal. It’s not a short review. It’s a review that covers the entire experience from first receiving the pedal to actually trying out and playing with it’s settings. While most reviews tend to cover the nuts and bolts of a piece of gear, I wanted to try something different. This is my entire experience with this pedal. Everything from unboxing to observations about that process combined with the actual demoing of the settings and sounds of this pedal.
After getting back to my apartment from my mailbox with the pedal in hand, I set down my other pieces of mail and focused my attention on the Post Office Expedited Mail Pouch with the pedal inside.
After peeling apart the wrapping of the post office pouch and taking a look at the package itself, my initial impression was how delicate the box that carried the pedal and accessories in seemed. It was a small, black box just slightly longer than my hand from the end of my palm to the tip of my middle finger with the word Providence streaked across the top of the box in matte reflective white print:
The rest of the unboxing was what you might expect with a new pedal. Below are the contents of the box and what anyone who purchases a new Anadime Bass Chorus will receive: the pedal itself, kept secure in bubble wrap, with the instructions, warranty information and information about Providence LTD beneath it in the box and a small battery kept snug to the left of the pedal in the box:
My first snag with this pedal occurred during the setup: actually getting the battery into the pedal and closing it securely. My familiarity with pedal battery installation (before I bought a power brick) was that of BOSS pedals and Morely. I refer you to my article on Effects Bay for my honest account of working with pedals. With BOSS pedals, you press down on the pedal control, unscrew a screw and change out the battery. With Morely, there’s a backplate that slides out where the battery gets changed.
My first observation was that the back end of the pedal was going to require a screwdriver to get off. While this is a minor in the bigger picture, the first thought that crossed my mind was that what if during a show the battery dies on this pedal and my chain goes flat? The time it would take to get the screwdriver, unscrew the back end of the pedal, seat the battery, re screw the backend and get it all going again would take a considerable amount of time. Compound that with the dim lights of a club or midsized venue, this simple change could take much more time than was intended to have done.
It was a small thought that came into my mind at the time. Though relevant to actually using the pedal out in a live setting, I can’t verify if this is a reality or not. It’s not a reflection of the pedal’s performance at this current time which is, ultimately, what this review comes down to.
My second observation about getting the battery to function was that it needs to be positioned very precisely in order to get the back plate to close. Typically, when you change out batteries in a pedal, you connect it up through the +/- connector inside of the pedal, seat the battery in the designated pocket and you’re on your way.
With the Anadime Bass Chorus, the battery needed to be seated precisely center of the battery pocket. I found that if the battery was just a hair off in either direction, the backplate would not close all the way. It took me about 10 minutes to figure out what exactly was preventing the backplate from closing properly until I figured out this little detail. At first I thought the back plate had a closing mechanism on it or something that needed to lock in place, but that was not the case. It was the positioning of the battery.
While I understand the good intention behind it and the attention to detail on the part of the manufacturer and the designer of this aspect of the pedal, this was one area of the pedal I felt drew it back.
Demoing the Settings
Now we get to the crux of the review: how the pedal sound and play.
First, let’s cover the basic controls and components of the pedal. There are 3 knobs on the pedal:
Speed which adjusts the chorus’ modulation effect. Clockwise all the way creates almost a tremolo effect and counterclockwise cuts it.
HPF which adjusts the chorus’ frequency range. Turning it clockwise, chorus is applied to the entire frequency spectrum and counterclockwise the effect is applied to lower frequencies only.
and a small flip switch labelled Deep. The Deep switch is a 3 position switch that adjusts the perceived depth of the frequency range. Flipping the switch back to the back end of the pedal deepens the frequency range and moving it forward towards the front of the pedal creates a shallower sound field. To keep the Deep off, leave the knob center.
There’s also an LED light on the top of the pedal. According to the instructions, the LED light is supposed to indicate to the user the current modulation speed. If the Speed dial is turned towards 7 o’clock the LED with blink slower and if it’s turned towards 5 o’clock, the LED will blink faster.
On the whole, this is a pretty powerful little pedal with a lot of great chorus-y punch and very fun to play with and experiment with. It does what you expect out of chorus pedals and does it very well. The chorus sound is rich, lush and full and often will pack too much punch as I’ll touch on below. Activating the pedal on and off, there wasn’t a giant signal boost or drop like some lower quality pedals out there. Turning the pedal on and off to start musical phrases or in between notes was seamless and never sucked tone or volume. One thing in particular, the lushness made with the Depth and HPR and Deep controls made this pedal ideal fro someone interested in creating a very spacey effect without having to dial in too many controls.
Below are a few examples of settings I had experimented with an my take on them:
Setting 1: EQ Set to Noon
With all the controls set to noon and the Deep switch disengaged, what you get is a very basic chorus effect. There is an immediate difference from when the pedal is off to when the pedal is on but the effect is not so overwhelming that you might find yourself scrambling for the controls to dial something down or cut some frequencies out.
What you get is a a very delicate flowing chorus effect. Almost as if the clean signal itself resembled a still pond and activating the chorus effect was like throwing a stone into the pond. The resulting gentle ripples and waves is the best way to describe this effect.
For fingerstyle playing, the chorus effect doesn’t shine through as much as it could to my ears. I often found myself plucking harder than I normally would have to dig out some really good chorus tones adjusting the Depth control along the way.
Slap bass and chorus pedals were meant to be together. The hard percussive slap effect combined with the equally sharp pop really bring out the chorus’ atmospheric qualities and add almost a dulled but poignant edge to the two techniques. Slapping with this effect pedal on was an absolute joy and only got better as I continued to experiment with the settings.
For chordal playing, again, the pedal shines. When lots of sonic frequencies are active at a time, the chorus pedal has an opportunity to affect many different ranges of frequencies at a given time, giving the chord an immense feeling of depth without having to do much to EQ in additional settings. As an aside, the Deep switch only made this effect even better.
Setting 2: Depth Set to 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock
The Depth control was the heart and soul of this pedal. Adjusting this particular knob is what ultimately effected just how much ‘chorusey’ sound you we’re going to get out of the pedal.
For fingerstyle, this is where the pedal seemed to thrive the most. What was lacking with the control set to noon in the earlier test, was now made up ten fold. Finger style playing particularly in Eb or Db instantly reminded me of the sound track to every movie from the 1980s because the Depth setting combined with the style of playing created an almost 80s synth-like quality.
Basslines like Michael Jackson’s ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Billie Jean’ sounded almost spot on with the settings the way they were here.
For slap and chord-heavy playing, the pedal did not slack here either, particularly with chords. While more Depth certainly did add more to the bass playing sound, there were times when the Depth seemed too overwhelming and began to carve away much of the definition that slapping and popping provided.
Conversely, the more intense the chorus effect was set to, the better chord-based playing seemed to sound. Slow, melancholy chords sounded just as well as dexterous, layered chords including interwoven highs and lows. The fullness never slouched here.
Setting 3: Speed at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock
The Speed setting was the most difficult setting on this pedal to find a place for.
Whether playing fingerstyle, slap or chords, I had the most puzzling time trying to figure out what was the best way to use this effect. While the picture to the left shows one setting I had the pedal’s Speed control on, I experimented with this knob very extensively. The best result I found in most cases was keeping the Speed down towards 8 o’clock.
That setting gave just the right amount of speed change: for long chords, there was enough wobble and flow to give the chords some additional musical body and for finger and slap style, the speed changes didn’t interrupt the playing and give an unwanted wobble effect.
Setting 4: HPF at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock
The HPF setting was the most interesting to play with next to the Deep switch.
For slap and for fingerstyle playing, I would recommend to the bass player to experiment with this control more than any others. For context, the HPF setting controls the chorus effect across the sonic spectrum. Clockwise leads to chorus spread through the entire frequency range and counterclockwise means that the chorus effect spreads only to the low end of the sonic spectrum.
Keeping the HPF setting between noon and 4 o’clock spreads the chorus effect through most of the sonic spectrum coming from the slap and pop and as a result, the slap and pop sound very complete. The cutting high end frequencies that come from a pop are covered in enough chorus as is the low boom frequencies that come from the slap sound.
Fingerstlye was a bit different. In the higher register of the bass, the notes sounded much fuller and much more whole compared to the notes down low. When playing quietly or playing particularly low notes on the neck, even with a four string, the chorus effect seemed to cause the notes to loose their definition and articulation. While this didn’t seem like too much of an issue at home in a sterile playing environment, I tried to imagine this in a live setting and the first thought that came to my mind is the same one as before: too much of this chorus effect amidst other pedals possible in a bass’ signal chain and the acoustics of the room could do more damage to the way the audience hears the bass in the mix than good.
Again, while this is an extrapolation and I can’t verify this one way or another in this review, I say that any time too much HPF could be something to be aware of especially if you’re a bass player that sticks to the lower register more than the higher register or plays a lot in drop tuning or a 5 string.
The Deep Switch
The last component of this pedal worth noting is the Deep switch. It’s a switch off to the upper right portion of the pedal that controls the perceived depth and range of the chorus effect. When I engaged the Deep switch, to my ear, it seemed more like a boost or a gain switch to whatever chorus settings that I happened to have arranged at a given time. The Deep control did feel a little overwhelming from time to time and did occasionally feel like the Deep switch undid much of the EQing and tone control dialing in that I had worked on up to this point in the test.
Moreover, for experiment sake, I plugged in another pedal, a BOSS overdrive pedal, to see how the activation and deactivation of the Deep control would affect the tone of the bass. What I found was that the Deep switch, though powerful, has a tendency to muddy and cloud out this overdrive pedal’s effect. Moreover, the signal got considerably more out of hand and needed to be re-dialed in over and over.
For softer playing, the Deep control serves best. It adds that additional body and dimension to the chorus effect and to the style of playing being used. Slap, finger or chorus, the Deep control functioned very well at lower volumes with the Speed turned down, the HPF kept to about 10 o’clock and the Depth kept at about 9-11 o’clock.
This is a great little pedal and definitely worth checking out. The chorus effects are rich and full-bodied and compliment a wide range of playing styles. My only caution would be that the chorus effect can get a little too overwhelming pretty easily. If not properly EQed, the chorus effect can cut down note to note definition when playing slap or aggressive fingerstyle. The pedal thrives with many combinations of settings for chord heavy, solo bass performance playing and with slap playing. Fingerstyle, on the whole, users of this pedal might find themselves playing around with it a little bit more to get that feel-good mix of definition with articulation and tone.