Behringer VB1: The missing bass pedal

When I first look at it in a catalogue, I mistaken i by my beloved VP-1. However, the Behringer VB-1 Vintage Bass has little in common with the VP-1, apart from the relatively large metallic case and the scarcity of controls. Like the VP-1, this is a relatively large (at least by today’s standards) grey metal box with one stomp switch, one knob and one small switch on the side. It is also a mono machine (but you probably won’t buy a second unit just to have it working in stereo).

So, what is the VB-1 Vintage Bass. Well, as the lettering on the front panel says: it is a Dual Dynamic Filter for bass guitars. However, there is no individual control for each filter… nor much documentation on their characteristics.

So let’s dig into the details. As I wrote above, there is only one knob and one switch (two, if you count the stomp switch). This switch ass allows one to engage a distortion circuit, which is relatively subtle, but lends some grit to the sound. As for the knob, it is labelled SENSITIVITY, leaving one thinking it is used only for controlling the trigger on an envelope generator for the filter’s cutoff. Has you can hear in the video demo, that is not the case.

Indeed, the SENSITIVITY knob appears to be almost a macro knob, affecting not only the trigger for the internal envelope, but also the filter’s cutoff and resonance settings. In my experience with the volca bass, having the sensitivity at 0 sets the cutoff as low as possible, making it impossible to hear the volca’s sound. As we increase the SENSITIVITY setting, the filter base cutoff is set higher, the filter EG is trigered more often and also the resonance increases.

This is when the pedal starts to show some of its good points: it is a nice sounding analogue filter, with a decaying envelope which is triggered when the incoming volume passes a certain threshold. Since the Volca Bass is velocity-sensitive when playing over MIDI, this is a way to have some velocity sensitivity affecting the timbre (as the Volca connects the velocity to the volume/expression without a way to routing it to the filter cutoff). The decaying envelope gives a nice 1970’s or 1980’s vibe to the sound, and because it needs a volume boost, is is not triggered when playing legato, allowing for a more expressive play.

In fact, my conclusions after this short review is that this is a good pedal for playing the volca with a MIDI controller. It will give you a lot more expressiveness to your sound, if you know how to use it. I wouldn’t recommend this pedal for general-purpose filtering, as the sound will become dated and boring in no time.  I also do not recommend using this pedal on a synth that doesn’t link velocity to loudness. Moreover, it is far better to use this pedal on a bass-oriented synth such as the Volca Bass, or the Novation Bass Station II, rather than on a machine that will likely end playing a high pitched lead sound.

This is a rather rare pedal, which came out of production a few years ago. It does appear from time to time on e-bay, though, and it usually goes for around 55€, although good deals on this pedal aren’t rare to find. ;)