Bonzai – Or experiments with a Turbo TS9

Warning…the music geekery is strong in this post. Abort now if you hate pedals, pedalboard geekery, and the like.

So, I’ve been geeking out, like everyone else over the 2018 new product releases from NAMM. And this lovely piece of gear turned up in my newsfeed.

Mind blown, right? And guitar pedals have been migrating into more and more bassists’ pedalboards. Doug Wimbish and Jon Von Boehm are examples that immediately come to mind. So, naturally, the question came to mind….will this work for a bass?

A quick Google search informed me that this might be a pricey experiment to figure out If this will work for bass. Product page is here…it’s on pre-order right now. Now, that being said…getting 9 pedals in the floor space that this thing takes up is a no brainer…and I do play guitar, so again….fairly much a no brainer. I bounced the Bonzai video for review to a friend…and he also asked, unprompted, “Will this work for bass.” Ok, it’s not just me now.

So before springing for a Bonzai pedal, I pulled down something of a predecessor to it that I happened to have onhand. The Ibanez Turbo Tubescreamer. Basically 4 variants of the TS9 in one box. I purchased this unit used from a friend of mine, and it had been working great for guitar. I just never really explored it with a bass before.

I pulled my chorus pedal out of my signal chain and began experimenting. Now, what I would say….the + mode seems to work best with a bass. Everything else works with varying degrees of success with a bass guitar. For example, Hot mode and the TS mode were ok, but lackluster when put up against, say, a Bass Soul Food. However, everything worked better if I used this pedal as a “wildcard” in combination with the other distortions that were already on my board. As in, click on any one bass distortion on my board; my Locustom Overbass Jr, the modded Bass Soul Food, or the Carl Martin Bass Drive…and then it was magic. Pure, growly, happy magic. It was something like using a spice in cooking…it would combine in different ways based on what I used it with.

A few hours later, the Turbo TS9 went from being in my guitar rig to living permanently on my bass pedalboard. Not the outcome I expected from this experiment.

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