BBE Mind Bender Just Arived

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by popsongsmith, Jan 6, 2008.

  1. popsongsmith

    popsongsmith Senior Member

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    Well, it's here--the new BBE Mind Bender chorus/vibrato. Here are my initial impressions.

    I've been jones-ing for a good analog chorus for a while now, so when BBE anounced the Mind Bender, I just had to pick one up. I thought the $150 pricetag was a bit steep for an untested product--although Guitar Player gave it a good review--but I found one new on eBay for $75, so I was in like Flynn.

    Just for reference, I've been through a number of chorus pedals over the years, including an original CS9, a ChoralFlange, a Boss BF2 set to sound like a chorus, as well as various digital rack and floor pedals which shall go unnamed. The CS9 was my go-to chorus for many years, but after a while it just sounded to "80's", and couldn't stomach the level/treble boost any longer. The ChoralFlange was nice, but seemed to be missing something I could never put my finger on. The BF-2 is a tone-sucker, and the digital gear was all just shite in the final analysis.

    The first thing I noticed about the BBE was that it reminded me of the CS9, but without the pronounced level/treble boost. This is definitely a "pitchy" sounding chorus, as opposed to a "phasey" one. There is some noticeable hiss when the pedal is engaged, but I would consider it on the quiet end of the spectrum.

    The range of the speed and depth knobs on the BBE seem unconventional in my experience. Most analog chorus pedals I've tried seem to sound best with the rate at around 10 o'clock and the depth at 2 o'clock or so--at least for a traditional chorus effect. The BBE gets the traditional chorus sound with the speed at 7:30 and the depth at 12 o'clock, so it's definitely more sensitive depth-wise, and it's got more room at the upper end of the speed range. I thought it might not have enough room on the slower end of the speed range, but it gets about as slow as I think I'll ever need it to. The increased depth range serves up the over-the-top warbly mess that I find to be utterly useless.

    I would characterize the tone of the Mind Bender chorus as good, but not exceptional. It produces a nice rich chorus sound, but it's certainly not the thickest or smoothest I've tried. Among it's strengths are that it doesn't dramatically affect the natural tone of your guitar, so there's no radical volume or EQ boost when the pedal is engaged. It's also true-bypass, which is a huge benefit. Yes, it does the faux-Leslie thing at higher speeds, but if you've ever played through a real Leslie, it's really an unfair comparison. The only considerable downsides are that it won't do ultra-slow speeds, and there might be slightly too much short-delay "doubling" for some people's tastes.

    Oops! I nearly forgot. The Mind Bender doubles as a vibrato pedal as well, and you can footswitch back and forth between the two. Two LEDs indicate which one you're using. I've never tried the super-rare Boss vibrato pedal, upon which the vibe sound of the BBE is allegedly based, so I don't have a reference point of comparison, but I honestly didn't care for the Vibrato side of the Mind Bender. It seems to me that the Vibe tone is simply the chorus MINUS the dry signal, and there is a noticeable short delay between the time a note is struck and the time the sound comes out of the speaker. This delay would confirm the "chorus minus dry signal = vibrato" theory. To my ears, the vibrato sounds somewhat thin, and quite useless--just a warbly mess-- at higher depth settings. It sounds decent at lower speed and depth settings, but not nearly as good as the chorus at the same setting.

    So there you have it. In a nutshell, the BBE Mind Bender is a nice sounding, comparatively quiet true-bypass analog chorus pedal with heaps of speed and warble on tap, and a somewhat lame footswitchable vibrato option. It also includes the AC adaptor, which is a nice touch. I don't think it's quite worth the current street price of $150. If you can grab one for $100 or so, it's well worth it, and if you can score one for $75 it's a no-brainer.

    P.S. Ther's a YouTube demo clip from BBE that pretty accurately represents the sound of the Mind Bender. If you look carefully, you'll see the controls set as I described earlier: speed around 7:30 and depth around 12 o'clock. Here's the link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uNCImu-B2I
     
  2. Wesman61

    Wesman61 Member

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    Hey PSS, I got one recently . My only experience with chorus is a Boss Chorus Ensemble and a Visual Sound H2O. I really love the shimmery sound of The MB. Do like it better than The CS9?
     
  3. popsongsmith

    popsongsmith Senior Member

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    Yeah, I'd have to say I do. I felt that the CS9 just smothered the natural tone of the guitar, and it gave it a significant boost in level and trebles. Now mind you, "smothering" is a funny thing, because not unlike slathering barbeque sauce on a ****** piece of meat, if your tone is weak to begin with, a box like the CS9 might be just the thing. I find that the MB complements my tone, rather than completely overwhelming it. Ultimately, I think in order to get a truly stellar analog chorus, I'll need to step up to the plate and spring for either the Diamond Halo or the Analogman. Those two--and perhaps a few other boutique boxes--seem to be head and shoulders above the pack.
     
  4. thezeng

    thezeng Member

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    is the mind bender really tb? because there was a review in guitar world which said true HARDWIRE bypass and on another guitar site which said the same..
     
  5. popsongsmith

    popsongsmith Senior Member

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    what's the difference between "true bypass" and "hardwire bypass"?
     
  6. popsongsmith

    popsongsmith Senior Member

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