Ampeg SCR-DI Scrambler DI Bass Effects Pedal

Hands-On Review: Ampeg SCR-DI Bass Guitar Pedal with Scrambler Overdrive

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An innovative combination of preamp, overdrive, DI, and practice tool—this all-in-one, rugged stomp also puts a huge range of classic Ampeg tonal textures at your feet.

Ampeg SCR-DI Scrambler DI Logo

By Stephen Lynch

Bass tone and Ampeg have been pretty much synonymous for decades. The company’s tone stacks, preamps and speaker cabs have played a key role in setting the standard for what’s considered killer bass guitar sound. As a result, when I heard about it being dubbed a “Swiss Army Knife for bass,” I was keen to get a first look at Ampeg’s new SCR-DI Scrambler DI pedal.

The once over

The SCR-DI is solid the way you want a stomp to be. The die-cast zinc chassis gives an impression of bullet-proof solidity. The size of a smallish but thick paperback, Ampeg has embedded a lot of goodies beneath its refreshingly straightforward layout. A pair of solid-feeling foot buttons engage the preamp and Scrambler functions while LEDs indicate when they’re activated. All the side-mounted I/O is clearly labeled on the top of the unit while access to the 9v battery and input pad for active basses is underneath. You can also power it with an optional adapter.

A DI with ambition

Ampeg SCR-DI Inputs and Outputs

Sure, it’s got “DI” in its name and it does that function perfectly well by connecting to recording and live sound gear via its XLR out. But the SCR-DI has a lot more going on. Wet and dry ¼” outputs allow you to run dual routing for two simultaneous amp sounds, one with EQ and/or Scrambler treatment, the other unaffected. Or you can split your output between your amp and monitors. There’s also a ground lift for dealing with hum. This thing can serve as a complete routing system for your pedalboard!

But Ampeg was thinking bigger yet, looking for a way to tie together several other functions high on the wish lists of lots of bassists. Tone shaping is a high priority on many of those lists. So Ampeg built in a 3-band EQ that draws on its legacy preamps, and then made things really interesting by adding the acclaimed Ultra-Lo and Ultra-Hi tone circuits from its vintage gear.

Ampeg SCR-DI XLR and Line Outputs

Running a Fender Jaguar bass with P and J pickups through the SCR-DI and a 1 x 12 bass combo, I was able to get some very convincing Portaflex and SVT-like tones. Kicking in the Ultra-Lo circuit brought on a healthy dose of SVT rumble and sag. Backing things off a little still leaves you with the harmonic complexity that has made Ampeg’s tube heads a holy grail for bass fatness.

Aside from the three EQ knobs, there are also Volume and Aux Level knobs, the latter a nice touch for balancing sound when you’re working with pre-recorded backing tracks. Also supporting practice is is a headphone jack that delivers a summed signal of your instrument, the SCR-DI’s contributions and any backing tracks you might be using. That makes jamming with pre-recorded tracks easy and a lot of fun.

A scramble into dirt

Ampeg’s BA series bass combos earn high marks for their onboard Scrambler overdrive that gets the kind of serious grind reminiscent of the SVT. Having that same circuit built into a modestly priced DI is the kind of bonus any bassist could love.

Using the Scrambler section’s Drive and Blend knobs, I found I could dial in everything from subtle fur to more in-your-face grindy, fuzzy overdriven sounds. The beauty of the Scrambler circuit though, is that even driven hard, your foundational tone is still there.

While the SCR-DI is perfectly at home in the classic setting of a rock band, it’s capable of much more. Experimenting with both my fingers and a pick, coaxing out a huge range of sounds was possible. I got a great punk bass sound with clanging upper frequencies and plenty of heft in the bottom. Going for the round, attack-free sound of reggae bass, I found focusing on the P pickup and playing closer to the neck gave me the floppiness and thud of a 15” speaker.

Just for grins, I ran a carved top SG equipped with Burstbucker pickups through the SCR-DI. The Scrambler section proved to be a lot of fun with that too. I was able to generate big, grindy tones that would sound right on the money in a riff-heavy stoner-rock context. Using the wet and dry outputs simultaneously can give you a huge sound. Though I didn’t try it, drop tunings should be made to order for the Scrambler circuit too. So watch out if you loan this stomp to your guitar-playing buds; it may take some heavy threats to get it back!

 

Studio potential

Used simply as a preamp front end in your home studio setup, ahead of the interface, the SCR-DI can be invaluable. On its own, set flat, it sounds terrific. It’s a great way to punch up and warm up your signal before it hits your DAW or other recording setup. That’s especially true for passive basses with their low-level output.

Onstage, if you want to treat your tone ahead of the sound guy, the SCR-DI is ideal. No longer at his mercy, you can dial in your tone then have him set you flat at the FOH board.

Conclusions

Given its reasonable price tag, you’d probably consider the SCR-DI a decent deal even if you were just getting the DI and other I/O connections it gives you. Factor in the full-blooded Ampeg preamp/EQ plus the Scrambler overdrive and you’re looking at a whole lot of bang for the buck.

But it’s really about the functionality. Between stage, studio and practice space, my guess is that with everything this pedal can do, it’ll fast become a fixture in your bass rig. And with its gig bag-friendly proportions, it’ll easily take on the role of constant companion. Highly recommended.

Musician’s Friend has the Ampeg SCR-DI ready to ship at the guaranteed lowest price anyplace. It’s also backed by our 45-day no hassle return policy—love it or send it back.

Features

  • Bass preamp pedal with EQ, tone controls and Scrambler Overdrive
  • Send your tone direct to a PA or recording system with the balanced XLR output
  • Send a split of your signal to monitors or your amp with the 1/4" outputs
  • Choose from a broad range of revered Ampeg bass tones
  • An ideal practice tool with 1/8" aux input to jam along with your music player

Specs

Inputs:

2 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8"

Outputs:

1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" (Line), 1 x 1/4" (Thru), 1 x 1/8" (Headphones)

Batteries:

1 x 9V

Height:

2.2"

Width:

7.6"

Depth:

4.3"

Weight:

2.6 lb.

Tags: Electric Bass Effects Pedals Ampeg

Comments  

# Paul 2015-10-09 12:36
I don't understand the thru. How do you use an effects chain with this pedal and an amp including a tuner?
Reply
# Kelly 2016-06-01 05:43
Plug your tuner in first, then the DI (unless you are going straight to the board, then you would put the chain in front of the DI), then run your effects chain to amp. Usually you want to keep your effects behind the DI unless you are going straight to a board to maintain signal integrity. If you are going to a board, the DI should be the last thing in the chain as it is the sending unit for the signal. In reality, if you use quality cables, even for your chain, you should be fine anywhere you put it. This is an outstanding unit, and I use it in studio by itself or live in my effects chain. I also use it as a practice amp. I run my iPhone in the AUX and headphones out the other side. Best investment I have made in gear so far. I'm thinking of buying a second, so I have a dedicated practice machine.
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