Two-channel preamp and routing matrix from BassLab and Greg Howard

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Demo video of version 1

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The new version of the StepABout features a sleeker housing, with modular components and an easy access battery compartment. Also, the headphone/tuner jack has been split into two separate jacks, a mini plug for headphones and a 1/4" out for the tuner, which can also function as an extra unswitched mono output of both channels. The bass and teble controls for each channel are now on separate pots instead of the higher profile stacked pot.

This versatile floor unit combines two studio-quality, low-noise preamps with a 2-in/2-out routing matrix for live and recording applications. The StepABout™ was conceived as a device to suit the unique signal processing needs of Chapman Stick® players, but it quickly became evident that bassists and guitarists could also benefit from its features.

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Rear panel (click to enlarge)

The housing is built of thick anodized aluminium with solid powder-coated aluminium end-pieces. All connector jacks are panel mounted for durability.

The four footswitches open individual signal paths from the two inputs to the two outputs. They are pop-free on/off switches, and are positioned so that one single stepping motion can also change two switches simultaneously.

BassLab's BassXX (pronouced "bass-ics") preamps have an extremely low noise floor and tube-like dynamic response, but have no discernable hiss even at extreme 15dB high-frequency boosting. The natural sound of the preamps is warm, full and clear. Because the StepABout's input impedance is much higher than most guitar and bass processors, passive pickups will retain their natural frequency response and tonal character, which means less need for equalization. And when you need to equalize your signals, the BassXX preamps do it in a very musical way.

Each input channel's sweepable midrange filter boosts broadly but cuts more sharply, providing an extra dimension of musical tone sculpting. The treble filter does the opposite, boosting like a parametric but cutting like a passive roll-off tone control. A few modifications to the original BassXX were made for the StepABout to better match the full-frequency output of The Stick, which make the unit even better suited to electric and acoustic guitar and even acoustic bass processing, without altering its low end compatibility with electric bass.

These accommodations to the sonic characteristics of various basses and guitars also enables the player to switch between them in live performance without having to make any adjustments to amplifier or effects settings. You can match output levels and shape the tone of any two mono instruments or one stereo instrument. The excellent dynamic response and low noise of the BassXX preamps also provides an ideal front end for direct recording and processing through computer based live effects processors.
The BassXX preamp is co-designed and produced by Andreas Richter.

The StepABout's routing matrix consists of four pop-free on/off switches. Each of the two inputs has two switches to send the signal to outputs A and/or B for any combination of inputs and outputs: 1) from both inputs to both outputs, 2) to split channels, 3) to reversed split, 4) to full bypass. The mono tuner/headphone output is always active, and can even be used as a third unswitched output with its own level control.

Bassists can conveniently match instruments with different tones and output levels for compatible instrumentation on-stage and in the recording studio, using the built in pair of custom quality preamps.

Guitarists can switch back and forth between their guitars, or from acoustic to electric, without having to unplug anything. Having the ability to shape your tone before that first stomp box can greatly improve your sound.

Any instrumentalist who has to manage more than one signal path can take advantage of this very flexible front-end processor.

The tone controls for each input can be bypassed, making it possible to mix instruments with active and passive pickup systems.

Both of these jacks are a mono mix of the two preamplified signals, and are always active regardless of the output switching. The headphone output is always active, so you can check your signal before going live, or use the StepABout as a practice headphone amp. the

Power is provided by an external 12 DC power supply or 6 1.5 volt AA batteries.


Inputs: Two 1/4" TS (mono) jacks (1,2 in)
Input impedance: 2.2 MegOhm

BassXX™ Preamps (2)
Bass control:
—30 Hz, ±12dB - 100Hz ±9dB (-3dB point)
Parametric mids: 240 ... 1100 Hz, ± 12dB
Treble control: 8kHz, ± 15dB

Main Outputs:
Two TS unbalanced 1/4" jacks (A,B out)
(can also accomodate standard TS plugs)
output impedance: 47 kOhm unbalanced
frequency range: 5Hz to 40kHz ±1.5dB

Headphone and Tuner Outs:always active
mono mix of both inputs, with mix volume control for headphone.
max gain boost over preamped signal: 20dB
Headphone amp: DC-coupled for loud
clean output. impedance: >32ohm

7 in (17.8 cm) deep
7 3/4 in (19.7 cm) wide
2 1/2 in (6.4 cm) high
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Frequency plot of the three eq bands (click to enlarge)

How to Order the StepABout

For customers in Europe, please contact BassLab in Germany at: [email protected]. Telephone: +49 561 56535. Website:

For customers outside of Europe, please contact Stick Enterprises, Inc.
The price direct from Stick Enterprises is $775 US plus shipping. This includes a DC power supply (batteries not included).

"StepABout" and "Take your sound in a new direction" are trademarks of Greg Howard. Chapman Stick is a trademark of Stick Enterprises, Inc. BassXX is a trademark of Richter Electronic Engineering (Ingenieurbuero Richter).