The Fulltone Bass Drive MOSFET is probably one of the finest pedals for bass anywhere in terms of construction. All too often, stomp pedals are described as "built like a tank," but never have I seen this more true than in Fulltone's cases and switches. What makes Fulltone pedals so durable? For one, they make what is arguably the best switches of any pedal manufacturer. Fulltone has perfected the 3PDT Switch which you can read about in detail on Fulltone.com.
Advantages of the 3PDT Switches include:
- Real true bypass - Practically all pedal makers claim true bypass but to quote Fulltone, "99% of all pedals have a crappy buffered output so the pedal's never really off!"
- Brass actuator rods - Actuator rods are made of plastic. Plastic bends under pressure and eventually the shaft will break or come out of its socket, often at the worst possible moment.
- Bakelite housing - The switch is housed in bakelite which holds up to heat and soldering better than its plastic counterparts.
As far as durability goes, this pedal is just getting started. Fulltone makes their own potentiometers. According to founder, Mike Fuller, the industry standard pots "have a 20% failure rate within 2 years ... not acceptable." To this writer, the installation of the pots is the heart and soul of Fulltone pedals. As demonstrated in this image, the pedals are literally built up around the pots. If only houses had such impressive foundations. I haven't even mentioned the heavy gauge steel chassis. This pedal will definitely add a bit of weight to your pedal board setup.
Enough of the Construction. How Does it Sound?
I have to admit, I had never heard of Fulltone before I read about Nate Mendel's (Foo Fighters) touring rig in a Bassplayer Magazine article. Nate's entire setup including basses and amps was so thoughtfully put together - surely his go-to pedal for grit had to be something special. When my pedal arrived by mail, I was not disappointed.
For me, the pedal's main feature is that it is like two pedals in one so that I can set two different levels of gain. Since it is true bypass, my clean sound stays clean and strong. Step on the left switch and I can happily apply a mild, slightly gritty sound. Step on the right switch, and it can be as crunchy as thermonuclear powered Cheetos. Unlike most bass distortion pedals, it can distort while maintaining nearly all of the bottom end.
Another feature that I love about the Fulltone Bass Drive is that it can use any Boss-style power supply between 9-18 volts for increased headroom. I used a 9-volt power supply when I first tried it out and was pleased with the sound. I quickly ordered an 18-volt wall wart and was in bliss. The extra voltage really made the midrange overtones come alive.
Barring the creamy drive of all-tube bass heads, I tend to dislike the driven sound of most every bass amp on the market. But even if the sound is terrific, unless the head has more than one channel, the gain is on all the time. I prefer the flexibility of having multiple gain settings at my feet. Speaking of flexible, I haven't even mentioned the mini toggle switches that control the clipping modes.
The pedal's footprint is a little larger than I would like but I remind myself that it is really two pedals in one. All of the sounds are transparent with huge bottom end. Whereas most bass overdrive kill the booty or sound buzzy or too dark - The Fulltone Bass Drive gets it right.