As most passive-bass pluckers are aware, rolling down one’s tone knob cuts high frequencies, but it also takes a big bite out of your bass’s midrange. With its ToneStyler Bass ($99 street) and Micro Pedal Bass ($129 street) tone controls, Stellartone has devised a way to maintain those mids.
Conventional tone pots posses a single capacitor—typically valued around .047µF—but Stellartone’s ingenious ToneStyler circuit packs away 15 distinct capacitors, each of which produces a unique frequency contour. By shifting the resonant frequency of your pickups at each of those settings, the ToneStyler profoundly broadens the range of possible tones from a passive instrument.
Installing the Stellartone in a Fender ’62 Reissue Precision Bass was easy—armed with little more than a soldering gun and some pliers, I swapped the ToneStyler for my bass’s stock tone pot in minutes. (For those reluctant to modify their instruments, Stellartone’s Micro Pedal Bass features the same circuitry in an outboard package.) The change was pretty remarkable. At all settings, my modified P-Bass had a noticeably more aggressive midrange punch. While this particular Precision tended to sound murky when its stock tone pot was zeroed out, the ToneStyler allowed its rich low tones to ring more clearly. The ToneStyler is indeed a stellar way to pimp your passive bass with pumped-up midrange response, earning it a Bass Player Editor Award.