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Hartke Bass Attack Review

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Hartke Bass Attack pedal is a pretty good one-box solution for bass players. It works as a  preamp, direct box,  and a sound shaping pedal. After the release of a debut album for a local musician Dred Scott, we, producers of the album, ended up playing first few live shows with him. We started to search for some compact solution for bass guitar since we had no intention of taking our recording studio on the stage. We needed something small, flexible, with decent quality, and under $100 (yes, we drink cheap beer).  After searching for a while, our choice landed on Hartke’s VXL Bass Attack. Besides a decent quality of a sound, this pedal has very flexible routing and power options as well as a number of sound shaping tools. So… we decided to  write an article on Hartke Bass Attack and also check our youtube videos on Hartke Bass Attack Review.

Routing options – Hartke Bass Attack 

Hartke Bass Attack is quite flexible with signal routing. For example it is possible to output two separate signals; processed and unprocessed, at the same time. This is useful both during live performances and in the recording studio. For example, one of the most common applications for using a DI, like the Bass Attack, is getting the signal from the bass guitar into a PA system.  Simply put, the low frequencies produced by the bass are difficult to mic, so use of a DI box is almost always preferable. In addition, the signal going to a PA system can be tweaked by the FOH (front of house) engineer without affecting the sound that musician dials up on stage. Check the figure 1. taken from the manual.

Hartke Bass Attack Review
Hartke Bass Attack, routing example

In the studio it is possible to record both signals at the same time, processed and unprocessed, so it can be tweaked  with additional tools later.

Power options – Hartke Bass Attack

What is really cool about Hartke Bass Attack pedal is that it has three power options. First, it works from AC adapter. Second, it can be powered by 9V battery. Third, it can be powered by phantom power from the mixing board. The last option is really cool, because, while unit on stage is connected to a mixing board via XLR cable, all is needed is to activate the phantom power on the mixing board, and that’s it, no battery or bulky power supply.

Controls – Hartke Bass Attack 

The Hartke Bass Attack Pedal gives you the ability to shape you sound at you desire with three- band EQ for adjustments of Bass, Treble, and Bright controls, plus a Harmonic control that emulates the warmth and drive of a tube pretty well. It also has a shape control that used for adjustment of the renowned Hartke one-knob equalizer circuit with a preset curve that can be swept through the wide frequency range. Just check our video on YouTube, so you can see and hear different options and sounds.

Flows – Hartke Bass Attack 

Our Hartke Bass Attack review wouldn’t be complete without going through some cons. All though Hartke VXL Bass Attack is a great tool for bass player, it does have a little  flow. We believe there is a design problem. The controls on the unit have small dots, that indicate the knob position. In some lighting conditions, those dots are almost invisible. Not a big deal for us, since we set the sound before the show and don’t mess with controls, but for some might be an issue. In addition, the advertised “effect loop” feature that supposedly makes possible to send the signal to another effect processor and then return processed signal back. The issue is that this setup creates an infinite loop causing a feedback, since the return of the effect chain is sent directly to the pedal’s input.


Overall, Hartke VXL BassAttack is a great pedal for it’s price and can be used on live shows or recording studios. Check out our YouTube videos for more information and sound samples.

Hartke Bass Attack review on youtube.

Check out our video reviews for Hartke Bass Attack

Part 1.

Part 2.


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