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Filtered into overdrive nirvana?

As we all know, the eye listens, and the pedals of Flattley from Staunton, a village in Gloucestershire, England, are quite tasty to look at. Quite rightly, the manufacturer proudly points out the elaborate painting process. And what do the three bass pedal test candidates sound like?


First of all, the cases of the Platinum Range are given a primer with several layers, which are repeatedly sanded and polished by hand. The graphic is then applied to it by hand using the water transfer process – if you search for “Flattley Hydro Dipping” on YouTube, you can find several examples of this fascinating process, which produces slightly different, and therefore individual results every time.

Also charming is the use of their own metal potentiometer knobs, which are engraved with the function – cool idea! The toppers for the footswitches are also engraved and made of metal, when the same is actuated, a circular halo glows like a halo around the switch and thus discreetly but clearly indicates the activated effect.


First up is the Filtron pedal, an auto-wah/envelope filter. The paint job is a deep, intense blue with metallic holographic interlayer and silver paisley skulls. The decay slider controls the sweep of the filter; Attack adjusts how sensitive the effect is to the stroke; Range regulates the frequency at which the effect starts. The mini switch next to the range knob switches between Hi and Lo, i.e. a higher or lower angle of the knob.

The adjustment range of all controllers is large, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Advantage because the pedal can produce a really wide range of filter sounds, disadvantage because it requires some patience until you find “your” sound. In addition, it is quite possible to set very sharp, but also completely bassless sounds, which are suitable as a real, eye-catching effect, but are devoid of any carrying capacity in the band. But that’s just one facet, there are also rich, fat quacks in it, both fingerstyle and slapped (or picked, tapped or whatever).

It is important to take some time and work with all the controls until the desired effect is found – a short play in the store could lead to false impressions.


The Bass Chief comes in a silver metal flake finish with Mexican sugar skulls as decoration, again perfectly executed and with intense depth. The pedal is an overdrive with a parallel signal path: at the input it is disconnected, one path goes through the distortion, one path remains clean. The degree of distortion is controlled by the gain control labeled “OVD”, with “BASS” and “TRB” (Treble) the distortion sound can be varied before it is brought back together with the clean sound at the “BLND” (blend) in the upper left. On the right you only hear the distortion sound, on the left only the clean sound – but who would want that?

At the top center is the volume knob, which sets the entire output volume of the mixture. The distortion starts on a low flame with slightly crispy results until it ends up in medium-heavy overdrive just before distortion. It gets exciting when the tone controls come into play. Should the tone be rather singing-soft with mild fuzziness? Extra fat thickened? With rather scoopy mids? Ultra-aggressive biting? Anything goes with the two controllers!

If you set both extremes – bass all the way up, treble all the way out or vice versa – it becomes problematic either with the definition or with the foundation, but there is still the blend control. Even with a small amount of clean, the problem dissolves into pleasure. The opposite way, to underlay a strong clean sound with some or even hearty distortion, works the same way. The good controllability and the good basic sound make the Bass Chief an extremely flexible bass distortion pedal that can cover a wide range.


Last but not least, I got a delay for the test. There are some very different songs in which a delay is an integral part of the bass line, for example ‘One Of These Days’ by Pink Floyd, ‘Wild Boys’ by Duran Duran, or ‘Pneuma’ by Tool. Still, echo generators aren’t necessarily found on many bass pedalboards. And if they do, it’s usually pedals for guitar that can also cope with low signals without loss due to their digital design.

Flattley, on the other hand, developed an analog delay pedal explicitly for bass and gave it the promising name Bass Nirvana. As hippieesque as this may sound, the graphics with all the one-eyed skulls don’t look like it. Here, too, the finish shines with depth and impeccable execution. The controls are self-explanatory: Delay specifies the delay time, with a maximum of 420ms. Repeats specifies the number of repetitions, Tone the treble of the echoes. Volume adjusts the effect to the pure bass signal, there is no difference to the pedal being turned off when it is turned off.

Turned up, the journey goes from very inconspicuously underlaid thickening that is practically not audible as a separate echo to very clear delays. But one thing remains the same in every setting: a very high depth and rich warmth even when the tone pot is turned up to full volume. I don’t want to stop listening to the echoes, but the test doesn’t write itself …


What beautiful pedals! An adornment for every pedal showcase! And of course for every pedalboard, because it’s not just the look that is right with the flattlei. The Filtron Auto-Wah comes with a wide range of adjustments and can be precisely tuned to bass, playing technique, and sound presentation, but is also a little fiddly for me. You have to accept that.

The Bass Chief is more relaxed. With an equally wide range of achievable sounds, I get results faster with him – always new, for always inspiring sounds, which range from inconspicuous to unmistakable in the band context. The secret surprise of this test is the Bass Nirvana. At first, I was skeptical about what a delay, albeit a bass-specific one, could give me. In my jam band, however, I was quickly enthusiastic about the rich, analogue echoes. You can actually lose yourself in it in a meditative way and, like with Bass Chief, let yourself be inspired for the next sonic adventures.

The prices are for handmade, hand-wired, and hand-painted and graphic pedals in a family business. Clear test recommendation!


● Inspiring Sounds ● Visuals
● Concept
(Bass Chief & Bass Nirvana)


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