Electro-Harmonix Bass Soul Food

When Electro-Harmonix rolled out its Soul Food last year, it was billed as the company’s take on the perennial hype of the famed Klon overdrive pedal, where original versions now sell for staggering sums on the used market. After years of other pedal builders “borrowing” EHX designs, it was time for them to play.

Not long after the Soul Food became a big hit, EHX didn’t rest on its laurels, deciding to build a version for bassists as well. And while the more jaded might assume that maybe all they did was slap the word bass on the outside of the pedal, there are indeed a number of improvements specifically for the bass player. That said, guess what? It works pretty well for guitar players too, which is how I demoed this pedal.

Not owning an original Klon, I recently purchased one of the most popular “Klones” on the market just to see what all the fuss was about. I realize that the Klon is intended to work best with a cranked tube amp that is already somewhat in the overdriven stage, so the pedal gives it a little more “sparkle,” putting it into that sweet spot that so many crave. For my situation, playing at gig levels is not always possible, so for home or recording purposes I have found it difficult to use a Klone to its full potential. Until now.

Many folks use the Klon more as a boost than a regular overdrive—and it still works great this way. However, adding more gain became more satisfying because I could blend the amount with my clean signal, finding a good mix with either single coil or humbucker-equipped guitars.

Another new feature on this pedal is an input pad switch that cuts your decibel level by 10db, useful when using active pickups. This helps prevent the signal from overloading the pedal, and one of the main reasons why this pedal is geared towards bassists. But again, I found this great when using with guitar too, as I could turn up both the Gain and Volume control, and then dial in how I liked things best with the Blend control. I’m not sure which version I preferred, because the -10db option gives a little less of the overall effect, useful for home and recording purposes. Setting it at the normal range does make everything seem a bit more alive. Bottom line; it’s nice to have options.

What we like: The Blend control—unique I believe, to all of the Klones out there—allows you to dial in as much of the effect as you wish. The great thing about this feature—and why it will be desired by bass players and guitar players alike—is that it preserves your low end. A Klon-type pedal normally accentuates the middle range of the audio spectrum, and while it doesn’t cut bass, it can feel like it, because only the midrange is enhanced. I liked the Blend control set somewhere around noon.

Concerns: Not many. I did have a loud pop when engaging the pedal, which went away after tuning it on and off quickly. Other than that, I didn’t have any concerns with the Bass Soul Food. Personally, I would prefer this even for guitar over the original Soul Food, it just gives you a little added flexibility and was easier to use for home and recording applications.

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