Rating: 4.5 / 5
(Version reviewed: 1.0)
Dimebag Darrell Abbott had a style that no one else had before or after him and both his tone and gear were about as unique as the man himself. A huge part of that legendary guitar tone was Rex’s bass tone and their ability to not only play together but dial in their tones to compliment each other.
The experience and knowledge Rex Brown has when it comes to what it takes to dial in great bass tone comes from decades with his fingers on every dial, switch and fader. Joey Sturgis also knows a thing or two about bass tone so it was a good match.
The GUI and graphics throughout the panels of Bassforge Rex Brown are very well done. Bassforge Hellraiser was a little over the top in the graphics department but for this Rex Brown Signature product, the graphics are sharp, tasteful and simplistic. The spinning saw is a little distracting but otherwise, it’s a very nicely designed plugin in the graphic department.
As with most of the Toneforge and Bassforge plugins, the suite is designed to be a complete signal chain for the purpose of not having to use any outside plugins. The idea here is to provide everything needed to nail for a mix-ready bass tone.
Going panel to panel we begin with the pre-FX section. For this section, there is just a single pedal but that single pedal has a world of options inside it. The single pedal in the section is kind of like an OD/Dist/Boost all in one. Every knob on the pedal has a significant impact on the tone. I really liked using it as a boost pedal, give it a shot and see if you agree! This pedal can be used to create a distorted hellscape, a little extra saturation, a clean boost and other sounds. The blend knob is extremely useful.
Rex Brown used Ampeg for pretty much his entire career as a bass player, an SVT IIPro if I am not mistaken. From the first notes, the Ampeg tone characteristics are right there in your lap so if I had to guess, such an amp would have been used in the making of Bassforge Rex Brown. It looks like the blend of a old peavey, Ampeg and Traynor. You also get two channels to work with in each preset you make.
There’s a little skull that controls a fader. That fader gives the amp loads of extra dirt and aggression in the mid range. I liked it about 2/3 the way up. The EQ on the amp can be used to either finely tune or drastically change the tone. Additional controls for drive, mid sweep, bass boost and hi-mid attack round out what is a really nice sounding amp.
Heading to the cabinet section, it begins with the JST matched cab and what seems to be a prototype for Joey Sturgis’ new currency. In all seriousness, this is a very nice sounding internal cabinet. Designing a single matched cab for a plugin is something many companies do but it always leaves me wondering just how difficult it is to have one impulse response that sounds good at all times with the plugin. It looks like a 412 but I gather that’s just the graphic as it sounds more like a 410 or 810.
The other internal cabinet selection is an Ampeg 810. The image of the “fridge” has always been an image associated with volume and quality but in my case I always recall the time one almost crushed me when I slipped during a load-in. With this fridge, JST have included four mic options to really help deliver a multitude of tones. The Subkick is a nice addition but I really prefer to blend it with another mic rather than by itself. The ability to blend mics on the Ampeg cab would be cool if there’s an update.
The post effects section has a two-channel chorus pedal and a reverb pedal. I used the chorus a ton, it adds loads of fatness and another dimension to the tone. I found it most useful in sections where the bass needed to fill more space in a mix or on a thinner tone to add some low end fullness. The reverb, well.. I don’t really ever use verb on bass but I did find a nice use for this. Try the plugin with headphones, blend in some of the reverb and just jam, it sounds great.
The parallel compression section is more than useful to either compress everything equally or blend the compression into things with a crossover, compression and limiting options. Learn how to use this section and it can be used almost surgically.
I used this badass amp suite for everything from jazz to death metal and I was able to create presets for literally almost every tone I set out trying to achieve. You can go from clean and full to overdrive with mid cut and really just about anywhere else your bass needs take you.
UPS / DOWNS:
It’s a strong plugin with a ton of uses and I would recommend this to any bass player. Don’t let the name fool you, this amp sim isn’t all about only metal, it’s a well-rounded amp surrounded by other well-rounded gear. The idea here was to provide solid bass tones to a wide range of players and I would say JST and Rex Brown have succeeded.
The retail price of the plugin will be on the high side of things but still at around the industry standard for the higher end bass plugins. It’s worth the retail price but right now the plugin can be pre-ordered for $$99USD instead of the $149 retail price. It’s a good deal for what comes in the suite.