you’re looking to expand your musical
palette and love the idea of letting your
bass fill more sonic space.
BY DAN BERKOWITZ
you’re playing in a thick mix and need
a focused, conventional sound.
The Fishman Fission Bass Powerchord FX does some funky things by building grinding, root-fifth chords from single
notes. It’s the kind of sound that makes it
virtually impossible to not start ripping out
fat riffs that are both bass lines and crunchy
power-chord rhythms all at once.
Unlike most sub-octave pedals, Fishman’s
Fission Bass generates pitches above the
note you’re playing. By engaging the Octave
Up/Effect On footswitch, you get the fundamental plus a note an octave above it.
Combine the first and second footswitches,
and the Fission creates a fifth above your
note—along with the upper octave. With
the first and third switches engaged, you get
the fundamental, the upper octave, and a
fifth above that octave.
But wait—there’s more. If you engage all
three footswitches, the Fission creates notes
one and two octaves above your fundamental, and then throws in a fifth between
the two octaves. Sweet! Some bassists have
compared the Fission to the legendary, out-of-production Akai UniBass, which is often
fondly referred to as a “rhythm guitarist in a
box.” It’s an appropriate description for the
Fission Bass Powerchord, too—especially
when dialing in the Overdrive control. Just
imagine playing in a power trio when it’s
time for a guitar solo: Rather than leaving
the guitarist to fill all the space around the
bass line, simply kick in the Fission Bass
and you can lay down a rich foundation for
the guitarist to riff on.
CLICKHere… or scan this QR code with a mobile device to hear audio clips of this pedal at premierguitar.com/nov2011.
It’s interesting that a pedal like this comes
from Fishman, a company best known for
natural-sounding acoustic gear. But they’ve
clearly done their homework. The Fission
delivers the company’s usual quality in a
sturdy metal case. And the four knobs,
three footswitches, and three jacks feel
durable and reliable. Happily, the 9V bat-
tery lives underneath, and there’s a snap-off
lid and slip-in contacts—so there are no
battery leads to get pulled out of the circuit
board. It was also nice to see instruction
details printed on the bottom of the box,
which is very useful unless you decide to
attach the Fission to your pedalboard.
With a solid signal level, the
Fission Bass tracked very
well. It was fun playing classic, sustain-filled power-trio
riffs, too. While the overdrive
sounded a touch digital on its
own, it would blend acceptably
within a band setting. In all,
the Fission Bass Powerchord
FX is a quality effect that can
quickly easily help you expand
your role as a bassist.