For those of your who aren't aware I do also play bass, and also do keep tabs on what's going on with today's bass gear. One company that has always stood out to impress me is Aguilar Amplification. I was first introduced to Aguilar Amplification through an ex-bass player of mine, and since then I have been hooked. I will never forget the vintage warmth and modern bite that his rig was capable of producing. After this I started noticing Aguilar gear in almost every studio, stage, and session I set foot in. Aguilar amps and cabs are true high class stallions, built with high quality components and parts, and able to knock out grade A sound. So when I discovered that they also had their own line of effects pedals, well you know I just had to jump on that. In the short time I have become familiar with Aguilar's pedal's I have come to love them. These are pedals that sound great through just about anything you stack them up with, play them through, and play them with. We're gonna be spending some time looking into these pedals and sharing with you guys all the mojo that lies within. Prepare to dig into some Aguilar Amplification.
- Contour: Broad spectrum mid scoop centered around 900Hz
- Presence: +6dB/-20dB >4kHz
- Level: Controls overall output volume
- Saturation: Sets grit/overdrive amount
- Engage: On/Off switch
- LED: Indicates effect is on
- Enclosure: Heavy duty steel construction
- DC In: Standard 2.1 DC Jack (-)
- 9V Battery: 120 Hr life/easy to access thumbscrew compartment
- Enclosure: Heavy duty steel construction
- Components: High quality/Top notch
Not once in demoing the Agro did I come across an ugly/unusable tone. This goes for all the other instruments besides bass that I ran it through as well. The first thing that caught my eye though was the pedal's construction. Aguilar really went far and beyond to deliver a quality product here, two thumbs up. The Agro sports a tuff-as-nails steel enclosure that is more than ready for hours of gigging and abuse. The Agro's design is based around the same saturation channel that can be found in the Aguilar AG 500 bass head. This means the Agro sports top notch components, giving it lots of range and tons of mojo. Each knob is feels strong, the footswitch feels fantastic, and it's battery compartment can be easily accessed for quick battery swapping. Other instruments besides the bass that I ran the Agro through included guitars, lap steels, and keyboards. With each of these instruments I was able to get positive results, and some very memorable tones. One of the reason's for this pedal's wide range of use and ear friendly tones are it's contour and presence controls. It is these controls that give this pedal the ability to knock out everything from vintage grit to modern crunch, separates this pedal from many others I have tried.
For those of you bass playing cats out there I know how tuff it is to get a good dirty signal from your bass guitar. Especially those of you who are guitar player's first that have tried to channel your guitar dirt tones into bass rigs. Well this here little box is one of the first bass overdrivers that has ever let me get the same type of tone and feel that I have gotten from my guitars. A Jazz Bass, a Stingray, and an old Danelectro bass are what I used for demoing this pedal. For amp's I went with a Ampeg SVT, and a new Fender 350w Bassman TV (which I thank my good buddy Chris for). The first bass and amp combo was the Jazz Bass and Ampeg. I dialed in a warm, spot-on classic rock vintage tone, and ran up and down the fretboard listening and feeling for the differences in each note's projection. The single Jazz bass's pickup produced a focused, round, and thumpy tone that just filled the air with good vibes. Next I engaged the Agro, starting with it's level at unity, saturation at about 15%, and presence and contour at noon. I got a nice mellow grit, and still had my root tone. With the contour and presence knobs I was able to perfectly shape and match the overdriven tone to my root signal. Everything from the character of my root tone, to the size and feel, was still present once engaging the Agro. Only now behind me was a wall of warm gritty crunch. This sound worked beautifully for stacking up with dirty guitar tones, beefing up chorus sections, and for adding killer sounding accents to any lick of riff. Next I took the Jazz Bass into a medium overdrive and heard things get even better. The more saturation I pushed from the Agro, the more of everything I got from my tone. With the saturation at about 50% I was still able to hear and feel my amp's tone. Instead of pedal's distortion taking away from my natural sound, it handed it more of what made it special. Even with the saturation at full blast I was able to hear and feel my amp's tone beautifully. I dug into my fretboard and felt everything become bigger, badder, and beefier. Having the contour and presence controls on board made it a cinch for dialing in my own signature tones. The Stingray bass I pretty much ran the same type of setup, only in the end it was able to hand me much more aggressive sounds. Having the choice of switching into two different pickups also helped with taking the Agro much further. To my surprise though my favorite had to be stacking the Agro up with the vintage Danelectro DC bass. Through both the SVT and Fender Bassman TV the Dano screamed and howled like a champ. You guys don't know how hard a time I've had trying to get usable overdriven tones from this bass. Again it was the Agro's presence and contour controls that came to the rescue. I was able to adapt the pedal perfectly to the Dano's signature sound, and add in spot-on crunchy, dirty, and gritty signals with no problem. Something about the lipstick pickups really blended insanely well with the versatility of this pedal. Setting up the pedal just right also dished out a healthy collection of distortion/fuzz tones. All in all this pedal did beautifully. It adapted to each bass in it's own special way, gave my amp's a larger range of tones, and let me perfectly fine tune the exact amount of grit needed.
Here is where this pedal was able to absolutely capable of blowing me away. Just for kicks I always like to plug any bass pedals I have into guitars and other stuff. Most of the time I find they just don't blend well with anything but basses though. This was not the case here. I had just finished running the Agro full blast saturation through one of my basses when I plugged into my Les Paul. All I have to say is Adam Jones from the band Tool. I don't know what about the pedal reminded me about his tone but it did to a T. This is what got me into some major experimenting with this pedal. Soon I came to find that the Agro wasn't pregidous against anything you ran it through. Through guitars, humbuckers and P90's were my absolute favorite, it did well with other pickups but these were the two that really stood out. With my Les Paul and semi-hollow body I was able to get vintage hard rock tones, modern rock tones, blues tones, slightly gritty rhythm tones, and screaming lead tones. With a little bit of analog delay thrown into the mix I was able to dial in some f the most epic lead tones I've ever heard. Once again it was the presence and contour controls that made it possible to dial in tons of different dirt tones. I also came to find just how wide a range the saturation control had by playing it through my guitars. One cool trick I was able to pull by setting the Agro's controls just right was a spot on Clapton "woman tone". I was able to do this without touching my guitar's tone knobs which gave me the exact woman tone feel, only with more definition. Something else that worked quite well with this pedal and a guitar was stacking it up with another dirt pedal or booster. Both in front of or behind another pedal I got killer results. My favorite though was definitely using the Agro to push an already slightly overdriven tube amp. By manipulating the pedal's controls I was able to get a extended amount of control over my overall tone, just beautiful. Then there was my single P90 sporting Junior copy, ohhhh momma! For those of ya'll who dig a knarly, nasty, honking good dirt tone you will absolutely love this. Now, I have dialed in some midrange powerful dirt tones in my time but never anything like this. The P90 pickup in my guitar just sounded like it was ready to fly out of the pickup ring. My speakers shook and growled with sweet aggression, while my hands controlled just how much was to be delivered. This is something I have always dug about P90 pickups, they can easily be controlled with just a flick or shake of your hand, and through the right amp can do wonders. Having the Agro in line made all of this that much better. My guitar's grit stung and bit the air like a banshee on the run. A little bit of tone knob or volume knob shaping and I had just about any sound I wanted. From here I took the Agro to some slide, then to some lap steel. The delivery in the sound that the presence and contour controls give you are perfect for molding the baddest sounding syrupy, thick'n'rich lap steel dirt tone. This was true through both clean and dirty amp tones. The lap steel or playing any type of slide is something that always needs it's own special approach, whether it be the tone or touch. Having the right tools not only makes things easier, it also presents motivation and drive like no other. This is true for all instruments of course. I guess what I'm getting at is this pedal really helped me to pull those special tone from my mind and gave me the sounds to get the job done, PERIOD! I highly implore you cats t try this pedal, whether it be for your bass or guitar. You'll find an amount of control that will have you thinking "Why aren't all other pedals like this?" The Agro is definitely it's own special thing and for that I give Aguilar Amplification all the props in the world. Keep'em coming guys!
For more info Aguilar Amplification's products go to www.aguilaramp.com You will find an array of awesome products on the Aguilar website, videos, and sound clips. Stay tuned for more from Aguilar here on AWC. Rock on!!!