EBS MultiComp lets your bass compete with cranked guitar amps
(Dave Molter | Posted 2010-06-23)
Swedish manufacturer EBS has been offering a line of superb bass effects since 1988, and the EBS Black Label Series MultiComp Compressor continues the tradition.
The MultiComp offers three modes: Standard, Multiband and Tubeism, and it will be a rare bassist who doesn't find something to love with at least one of these settings. I put the unit through its paces using a Lakland 55-94 strung with Lakland Nickel Rounds and a Fender Squier P Bass strung with flats and plugged into a Genz-Benz Shuttle 6.0 with two 112 cabs. EBS keeps things simple by providing only two knobs -- Comp/Limit and Gain -- and a three-position switch to select compression mode. A single heavy duty footswitch provides true bypass.
I'm a fan of Tony Levin's bass sound, which is heavily compressed, and I found that the MultiComp delivered that TL Vibe with minimal tweaking while set in the Multiband mode, which EBS correctly says provides the most compression. Dialing up the bass control slightly on my Lakland and using a 3/4-1/4 pickup mix favoring the from J PUP, I was able to produce a fat, yet clear, low end boom with little effort. Running the Comp/Limit knob just past 12 o'clock and dialing back the Gain control to about 11 o'clock worked best for me but, as usual, your mileage may vary.
I found the Standard setting to be most useful for funk applications, especially when using a P bass strung with flats. This setting allows you to compensate for the sustain lost by using some flats, although the TI Jazz Flats I used have plenty of sustain for a flatwound string.
I was most impressed when using the Tubeism setting. Again using my Lakland strung with nickel wounds, I found the bass sustained forever. Not only that, the MultiComp succeeded in bring my apparent sound level up significantly, making it very easy to compete with the two cranked guitars and crazed heavy-handed drummer in my band. Without touching the volume controls on my amp, the signal seemed more clear, more present and more :in your face" than without the MultiComp. I have a feeling that the Tubeism setting would be a hit with metal bassists.
The bottom line
EBS advertises the MultiComp with the line "Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never want to play without it!" and I have to agree. It's a first-class unit that delivers as promised, and I love the sparkle and evenness it has added to my sound. With street price of just under $200 USD, the MultiComp may seem a tad expensive for a one-trick stompbox, but the price lines up favorably with several other similar units. Constructed of heavy-gauge metal and using a heavy footswitch, the MultiComp should easily stand up to daily use. A red LED indicates both that the unit is in use and battery life. My only complaint is that battery access requires a screwdriver, but an optional AC adapter is available, and I assume that most players in this day and age have some sort of pedalboard that provides power to multiple pedals. If you don't have a board or an AC adapter, expect about 6 hours of use out of a single 9 volt battery.
Dave Molter (“Laklander”) is MusicGearReview's Bass Guitars Editor, moderator of the MGR Bass Forums and a freelance writer and musician who has played bass professionally for 45 years. Dave’s bass influences include Paul McCartney, James Jamerson, Chris Squire and Tony Levin. His primary bass is a Lakland 55-94 five-string. Dave uses Genz-Benz amplifiers and Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flats or Lakland Nickel Rounds strings. Feel free to send questions and comments to Dave at email@example.com.