Review: Maxon Hybrid Bassdrive BD10

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Even though it’s a guitar pedal, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Ibanez Tube Screamer. As with most iconic pieces of gear, the Tube Screamer’s notoriety comes mainly from its famous devotees. I could list them, but it’s well known to be an integral part of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s tone. ’Nuff said. What most don’t know, however, is that Japanese company Maxon was responsible for the original Tube Screamers and many of its subsequent variants. The BD10 is a sort of hot-rodded, bass-focused Tube Screamer with several key details in common with the original, hallowed TS-808 version. The original Tube Screamer’s tone came from the innovative work of its designer, Susumu Tamura. First, he used the then-new operational amplifier (op amp), rather than the discrete transistor-based designs of the ’60s. By placing back-to-back silicon diodes in the op amp’s feedback loop, he achieved symmetrical, smooth clipping. Coupled with well-chosen post-distortion filtering, the resulting tone sounded more like an overdriven tube amp than any previous pedal. Many enthusiasts point to the TS-808’s use of the JRC4558 op amp as some kind of secret mojo. I tend to think that’s a red herring, and that the vibe comes from the circuit design, but it’s worth noting because the BD10 employs the same op amps.

And what of the BD10? Like the Tube Screamer, it can be dirty and aggressive while retaining articulation and touch sensitivity. The distortion can sound spitty and snarled or just slightly furry and colored. The ability to blend the clean tone with the overdrive offers a distortion sound that doesn’t sacrifice booty for grit. The low and high controls are simple and effective. Simply put, the BD10—in all its vanilla, unassuming non-glory—is now one of my favorite bass distortion pedals. Like many guitarists before me, I’ve been bit by the 808 bug.


Hybrid Bassdrive BD10

Street $170
Pros Excellent and wide-ranging array of smooth distortion sounds; articulate, but aggressive
Cons None
Bottom Line It may not look like much, but the BD10 is one of the best bass overdrives on the market.


Throughput Buffered bypass
Input 1/4"
Output 1/4"
Tone controls clean level +6dB; drive level +14dB

Made in Japan