Sunday, October 13, 2013

Markbass Bass Tube Marker

The Italian bass specialists’ pedal range should satisfy almost every sonic need. We select a subtle overdrive.

Markbass tells us that the Bass Tube Marker is designed to provide ‘natural amp-like distortion’, presumably – given the name –of the valve amp simulation variety. It too is a metal box dressed in familiar clothing, the colour of the top and front being a similar shade to the Octaver, only a little lighter in hue.

Again, the sides, back and bottom are black – a more practical colour choice as these are the planes likely to take the most punishment while being transported. In terms of dimensions, it’s identical to the Octaver – 126mm deep, 81mm wide and 55mm high. As well as being identical in size to the Octaver, the Tube Marker is endowed with the same excellent build quality and overall robustness. Both of these pedals weigh 350g/0.77lbs, so neither are going to have much impact on the overall gigging payload. 

The top of the Tube Marker carries the controls, while the rear has a 9v power input between the input and output sockets (again, you get a battery option, but a power supply unit isn’t part of the deal). 
As with the Octaver, there’s a standard chrome stomp switch while the other controls are of the yellow plastic variety, arranged in a triangle. Drive adjusts the amount of distortion, Tone dictates the high frequency contour, and Level controls the overall volume of the unit. You’ll also find a blue ‘on’ LED situated between the controls. 
To use the Tube Marker effectively, you’ll need to be careful with the Level control. Distorted playing requires a level that matches or is slightly louder than your clean sound, and we found this point to be near to 12 o’clock on the control. Once you’ve done this, the mayhem on offer is actually very musical-sounding, with lots of harmonic life and the sort of warmth you really would associate with an overdriven valve amp

It does the stated job, then, and although we’d prefer to have a Blend control, kicking in the effect doesn’t suck the tone out of your sound. 
Rotating the Drive control clockwise goes from an edgy farting sound to a nasty snarl before entering serious buzzsaw territory – you don’t get maxed-out white noise mayhem, but that is in no way a bad thing. Use the Tone dial (again, clockwise rotation) for a brighter, snappier, more aggressive edge to proceedings and, if you’re feeling really brave or just want the nastiest possible sound, full-throttle both controls. It may be pretty impractical for most occasions, but it’s great fun just flailing away.


This pedal does it's supposed to with a minimum of fuss. Build quality is good, layout is straightforward, and it's simple to use. On the downside, it's a little limited in usage and we reckon a Blend control on the Tube Marker would have turned a good pedal into a great one. Still, if you’re shopping for distortion or just looking to check out some options, a trip to the nearest Markbass dealer won’t be in vain.