Radial Bassbone OD Review (bass pedal)
Our Verdict and Review Summary
Even if you ignore the overdrive (which we did not), the Radial Bassbone OD is a top-tier bass preamp, capable of effectively replacing a bass amplifier and DI box. For stage or studio, it's hard to do much better.
The Radial Bassbone OD is a combination stompbox that handles multiple roles in a potential bass rig, primarily the following:
- DI box
- Bass drive pedal
All of these components are effectively replaced and fulfilled by the Radial Bassbone OD, eliminating the need for a dedicated bass amp, DI box, or bass overdrive pedal. And yes, it's pricey, but when you consider what you're replacing (or saved from having to buy), the cost is well worth the investment.
For our review, we bought and unboxed the Radial Bassbone OD, plugged it into a Warwick bass and took it for a test run. We tested it via direct headphone monitoring, going straight into a USB audio interface (with studio monitors), and at church sending a balanced signal (via the XLR output) into a PA System.
In this Radial Bassbone OD review, we'll cover all those experiences to give you a picture of whether or not this pedal is right for your bass rig.
To begin, we've built a comparison table with the Radial Bassbone OD and some similar preamp pedals from Radial. Use this to look at pricing and some simple specs for the Bassbone OD and other devices. If you want to buy something, consider using our Sweetwater buttons which cost you nothing extra, but help support our site.
Radial Bassbone OD
Radial Bassbone V2
Radial Tonebnone PZ
Basic Scoring, Pros, and Cons
We'll start our review with a scorecard and some pros and cons for the Radial Bassbone OD, designed to give you a quick picture of this pedal's strengths, weaknesses, and most useful contexts. Note we use a simplified rating system with four categories to help provide a quick picture of where we stand with this pedal.
IDEAL FOR: Bass performance and recording, any time you need a balanced signal or to replace amp/di box/bass overdrive pedal.
What I liked most about the Bassbone OD would have to be the versatility you're able to dial in between the two channels and the separate drive control. You can go really warm and muddy, or you can get brighter and more articulate, then easily switch back and forth between the two.
You get a three-band EQ and gain control for each channel, along with a mid frequency switch and high pass filter (also one for each channel).
And that's really all it takes. Your bass tone can sound like pretty much anything with that flexibility.
For testing, I dialed one side into a muddier, more warm and full bass tone (one that you felt), and then set the other side to a brighter, more responsive tone where you could hear notes more clearly.
With the drive option disengaged, you'll get a traditional clean bass tone from the two channels on the preamp. Though you can use each channel's gain control if you want to push a little bit of breakup into your clean tone without the drive engaged.
Generally speaking the clean tone leans more mellow, and needs to be brightened up with the EQ. A lot of this depends on where you start with the high pass filter, which I started out keeping flat, but tweaked when things sounded too muddy or too thick.
As I mentioned earlier, I was totally happy with the pedal's clean tone before even getting a chance to mess with the drive control.
As a pure bass preamp, the Bassbone OD is a fantastic solution.
Drive Tones (distorted sound)
Distortion tones are obviously modeled for bass and sound good with the deeper frequencies of the lower register. The pedal does a good job of letting the preamp's characteristics stay in the forefront, even with a lot of drive dialed in. Compared to dedicated bass overdrive pedals, you'll lose some flexibility, perhaps in the EQ, since the drive only has a single band of tone control.
You also get a mix control, allowing you to tweak the balance of clean bass and overdriven bass.
I liked dialing this down so that the overdrive didn't cover the natural bass signal. It made me wonder why more overdrive and distortion pedals (bass or otherwise), don't include a mix control. Other than maybe adding a mid control to the drive channel, I don't have much (if anything) to complain about.
Both of the channels have their own gain control, which is essentially the volume at the preamp level. If you push it high enough, you'll get a little bit of breakup, but I'd recommend treating these as output controls for each channel.
As I've already detailed, the control for the Radial Bassbone OD can be broken up into three categories:
- Channel 1 control
- Channel 2 control
- Drive control
Everything you can adjust on this pedal is delegated to one of these three elements. We'll go through each one and detail how they responded during our testing.
The two channels are setup side by side, each with their own slate of controls that are exactly the same on both channels. This includes the following:
- Three-band EQ
- High pass filter
- Mid frequency
The basic EQ options are an expected high, low, and mid, which are extremely responsive and - on their own - give you a wide range of tones to work with. As I alluded to earlier, I could get some distinctly different bass sounds between the two channels, even before getting to the mid frequency and high pass filter controls.
Mid Frequency and High Pass Filter
The mid frequency switch allows you to set the center of your EQ, which means you should set this first before tweaking your three-band EQ, particularly your mid control. For testing, I usually left the mid frequency at 1 kHz, but you can go higher if you need to de-thicken the sound.
For the high pass filter, you'll only need to use this if you want to take bass out of the EQ, perhaps to avoid feedback on stage. For most of the testing, I left this set to FLAT since I wasn't having feedback issues, and the bass in the EQ wasn't overwhelming.
Distortion Mix and Tone Control
On the drive section of the pedal, you have three total controls:
- Drive: How much gain or distortion gets dialed in
- Mix: Balance between distorted and dry (or clean) signal
- Tone: A single band EQ for just the distorted sound
While it would be nice to have a second band of EQ for the distortion, we really liked the mix control since it let us get a more subtle response without a ton of thickness and without overpowering the clean signal.
The i/o setup on the Bassbone OD is simpler than it looks. Here's what you have to work with:
- Stereo inputs
- Unbalanced output
- Balanced XLR output
- Headphone out
- Tuner out
- Effects loop (send/return)
To test the Radial Bassbone OD, I primarily used the headphone out, just because it was the simplest way to monitor the pedal, especially with a home office and kids running around the house. The headphone jack is an eighth inch jack, which will fit most headphones without an adapter.
The balanced output on the back of the preamp can go directly to a PA system, without the need for an amplifier or DI box in the middle. On the side of the pedal, the unbalanced quarter inch output would be used if you wanted to send the preamp signal to another amplifier. We used the balanced output to test the Bassbone OD, going to an audio interface and a PA system.
Effects Loop (send/receive)
Just like you would see on another bass amp, the effects loop runs a send and receive jack that lets you easily add effects pedals to the Radial Bassbone OD. We did not test the effects loop for our particular review.
What's it most ideal for?
This preamp replaces or eliminates the need for a lot of gear, making it an ideal fit for any situation where you need a direct solution for monitoring or recording bass. Any time you need to run a bass signal into a PA system or a USB audio interface, the Bassbone OD is a good option.
We should also add that the overdrive functionality is an important part of this pedal as well. While we think it has value even without the overdrive, that's clearly a major part of the equation when we're talking about getting value from it.
Good fit for recording?
The balanced output allows you to make a direct connection to a USB or Thunderbolt audio interface, which makes recording very simple. There is no other gear you would need to get the signal from the Bassbone OD onto your computer or recording device.
Also thanks to the balanced output, the Radial Bassbone OD can be connected directly to a mixer/PA system, making it a fantastic option for live performances without the need for a separate DI box.
Sound on Headphone Monitoring
What does the Bassbone OD sound like when monitoring from a set of headphones?
During my testing, I used headphones most of the time and got a pretty good response directly from the pedal. To be certain, direct headphone monitoring is more about convenience than tone quality, but the sound is still quite good.
At no point did I feel like the headphones were detracting from my experience or hindering what I was hearing.
While some of this depends on the quality of headphones, I would say most large form studio headphones are a safe bet.
Studio Headphones (large form)
To test the Radial Bassbone OD, I used a set of AKG k240 studio headphones, which are pictured here:
These are generally going to be better for monitoring bass, just because they have such a wide frequency range and can more faithfully project the lower frequencies. In my experience, the tone was full and thick, just like you would expect the bass to sound in open air.
Earbuds (in-ear monitors)
I also tested with in-ear monitors, the earbud style headphones. These didn't sound quite as good as the studio headphones but were still passable.
Hearing a pedal's tone in open air is, in my opinion, a preferable way to play and to test gear. The Bassbone OD sounded great when piped through my Mackie studio monitors, and I didn't notice any kind of a drop in quality after directly monitoring through the headphones. Alternatively I could have gone from the unbalanced output into another bass amp, but I used only the balanced output for this particular review.
Gear Used for the Review
To test the Radial Bassbone OD, I used all of the following gear:
- Warwick 5-string bass
- Elixir bass strings
- Dunlop picks
- Hosa cables
- PreSonus Audiobox USB Interface
- Mackie Studio Monitors
- AKG k240 Studio Headphones
All of this played at least somewhat of a role in the testing process. It's important to note that the bass guitar used will have a lot to say about the final tone of the Bassbone OD, and that you can't "out-amp" a low quality guitar.
But for my Radial Bassbone OD review, I made sure there weren't any components that would handicap the pedal's tone.
Only for advanced bass players?
Is the Radial Bassbone OD only for advanced bass players? While it's expensive, I would argue that the Bassbone OD has a wide range of application, perhaps even for intermediate players. Anyone who wants to record or perform live with a bass should consider this pedal, especially if they want a distortion option to go with it.
Bass distortion or preamp?
And this brings up a good question: Is it primarily a bass preamp or a bass overdrive pedal?
I would argue that this pedal is a preamp first and an overdrive second. Yes, it's specifically designed to overdrive a bass, but with two channels and a full, three-band EQ provided for each one, it has all the properties of a bass preamp that seems to add distortion on as a secondary feature.
Still, those who need a preamp that can drive a distorted signal are the most ideal buyers for the Bassbone OD.
Final Thoughts & Questions
Radial didn't take any shortcuts with the Bassbone OD. And while $400 is a lot to ask, it's not too much for a two-channel preamp, a DI box, and a fantastic-sounding bass overdrive pedal. We love the combination of those three features that Radial has put together, and would recommend it for any scenario where those elements are needed.
For stage or studio, this is a fantastic solution.
If you have questions about our Radial Bassbone OD review, feel free to drop them in the comments section below. I'll jump in and help out as much as possible.