REVIEW: Digitech BP355

Bass players often seem to be given the short end of the stick when it comes to multieffects and recording-friendly products. There have been a few cool units over the years, but more often than not bass players are criminally short-changed when it comes to under-foot processing power. No more! DigiTech’s BP355 is going to change all that. Part preamp, part multi-effects unit, part looper, part recording interface, it’s an innovative piece of kit that covers a lot of basses… uh, bases.

Amp models? It has 21, based on – you ready for this? – Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, Fender Tweed Deluxe, ’63 Vox AC30 Top Boost, ’65 Fender Blackface Twin Reverb, ’77 Marshall Master Volume, Ampeg B15, Ampeg SVT, Ashdown Bass Magnifer, Demeter VTBP-201S, DigiTech Clean Tube, DigiTech High Gain, DigiTech Solo, Fender Bassman, Fender Dual Showman, Hiwatt Custom 50, Mesa Boogie 400+, SWR Basic Black, SWR Interstellar Overdrive, Sunn 200S and Trace-Elliot Commando (as well as a Direct voicing with no amp model to speak of).

Available cabinet models include sounds based on Mesa/Boogie w/Celestion Vintage 30 speakers 4×12″, Acoustic 360 1×18, Ampeg 8×10, Ampeg Portafex 1×15, Direct (no cabinet), Eden 4×10 with horn, Fender Dual Showman 2×12, Hiwatt Custom w/Fane Speakers 4×12”, Marshall 1969 Straight w/Celestion G12-T70 4×12”, SWR Basic Black 1×15, ‘57 Fender Tweed Deluxe Reverb 1×12”, ‘59 Fender Tweed Bassman 4×10”, ‘63 Vox AC30 Top Boost w/Jensen Blue Backs 2×12” and ’68 Sunn 200S w/JBL-Lansings 2×15″. You’ll notice that some of those are guitar amps. Well yeah: the BP355 doubles as a full USB recording interface (although if you want to plug in a mic you’ll need a cord with a 1/4″ plug rather than XLR, but that’s no biggie). You can use this unit for all your one-track-at-a-time recording needs. Obviously if you want to record a full live band you’ll need something a bit more specced out that this. It even comes with Cubase LE to get you recording instantly. Nice.

The list of pedal models is pretty huge too, and since this is the interwebs rather than a magazine, I can list them all:

Volume: DigiTech Full Range, Volume Pedal. Wah: Dunlop Cry Baby Wah, Vox Clyde McCoy Wah. Compression: Boss CS-2 Compressor/Sustainer, DigiTech Compressor, MXR Dynacomp. Noise Gate: DigiTech Auto Swell Gate, DigiTech Noise Gate. Distortion: Arbiter Fuzz Face, Boss DS-1 Distortion, Boss MT-2 Metal Zone, DOD 250 Overdrive/Preamp, DOD Classic Fuzz, DOD Gonkulator Ring Modulator, Demeter Fuzzulator, DigiTech Death Metal, DigiTech Grunge, DigiTech Redline Overdrive, Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, Guyatone Overdrive OD-2, Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer, Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer, MXR Distortion +, ProCo Rat, Roger Mayer Octavia, Voodoo Labs Sparkle Drive. Chorus: Boss CE-2 Chorus, DigiTech Dual Chorus, DigiTech Multi-Chorus, TC Electronics Chorus. Flanger: DigiTech Flanger, DigiTech Triggered Flanger (awesome – why don’t more companies offer triggered flangers?) Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress, MXR Flanger. Phaser: Electro Harmonix Small Stone, MXR Phase 100. Pitch: Boss OC-2 Octaver, DigiTech Detune, DigiTech IPS, DigiTech Pitch Shift, DigiTech Whammy. Vibrato/Rotary: DigiTech Rotary, DigiTech Vibrato, DigiTech Vibro / Pan. Tremolo: Vox Bias Tremolo. Envelope: DOD FX25 Envelope Filter, DigiTech Auto Yah, DigiTech Envelope Filter, DigiTech Step Filter, DigiTech Synth Talk, DigiTech YaYa. EQ: 4-Band EQ. Delay: Analog Delay, Boss DM2 Analog Delay, Digital Delay, Echoplex Tape Echo, Maestro EP-2, Modulated Delay, Pong Delay, Tape Delay. Reverb: EMT 240 Plate Reverb, Lexicon Ambience, Lexicon Hall, Lexicon Room, Lexicon Studio.

Controls include the expected parameters for effect type, effect level, amp type, gain, EQ settings, etc etc etc. The menu system isn’t particularly tricky to figure out, although the looper brings with it a little bit of a learning curve. You can choose to operate the BP355 as a preset-serving machine (with 70 factory and 70 user sounds), or as a stompbox-style unit with access to Distortion, Chorus/FX and Delay stomp switches (which double as the preset selectors and looper controls). There’s also a big chunky expression pedal which can be used for wah, Whammy and volume applications as well as controlling parameters such as the dry/chorus blend. Oh and in Preset mode you can toggle between two virtual amp channels. Very handy.

Ok, enough spec checking. How’s it sound? Well the BP355 is capable of some great hi-fi sounds. In some instances it practically sounds like a mixed and mastered track from a recording. This can be a little offputting if you’re used to the raw and rocking sounds of real amps and pedals, warts and all, but it’s great news for your recordings and live performances. The direct out dishes out heaps of bass (you can switch between output settings optimised for a mixer or an amp, through either XLR or 1/4″ outputs), and it sounds great in headphones too. Some of the more rock-based tones may be a little too neat for some players, but at the same time there are some really great distortions that metal players will love. Some of the fuzz tones have a great Muse-like edge, while presets with names like Flea and Cream give you a fair idea of what to expect. The compressed and scooped slap-and-pop sounds are great in a studio sheen kind of way, while the Whammy effects are likely to sap a whole weekend away from you with their coolness. Oh and the combined chorus/delay effect settings are utterly amazing for nailing Joy Division/New Order bass sounds.

The BP355 does a lot of different things very well, and while some aspects like the looper and toggling between the different modes will take a little bit of brainwork for the first few days of ownership, it feels like it’s built to last a lifetime, with the sonic flexibility to handle whichever stylistic changes you might go through along the way. The USB interface capabilities are also extremely useful and they’ll ensure that the BP355 has a place on both your pedalboard and desktop.


[geo-in country=”Australia” note=””]This is an extended version of a review originally written for Mixdown magazine.[/geo-in]

[geo-out country=”Australia” note=””]CLICK HERE to buy the DigiTech BP355 Bass Multi-Effects Pedal from Musician’s Friend.[/geo-out]