VOLUME: This is the master volume that controls the output of the pedal. The lower you set the Gain knob the higher you’ll want to run the Volume. For the best clean and on edge-of-breakup response, turn the Volume all the way up and start with the Gain control at minimum and then slowly bring up the Gain control to the desired response. This will give you the most authentic Bassman experience!In general, for best results the pedal should be set to be *slightly* louder when on compared to bypassed.
GAIN: The Gain knob controls the gain, obviously, but circuit-wise it is identical to the “Bright Volume” control on the tweed Bassman. So, turned down low, you’ll get those great sparkly cleans, turned up midway or so and you’ll get that elusive touch-sensitive response where you can play clean or dirty just by varying your picking attack. And cranked all the way up you’ll get the gain structure of a Bassman on 12, thick and overdriven, but still sounding very California.
TREBLE, MIDDLE, and BASS tone controls:
These controls reproduce exactly, part-for-part, the tone circuit (“tone stack”) of the tweed Bassman. If you’re familiar with the tone controls on that amp, you’ll already know how these work! The circuit was carefully tuned around this tone stack to give great tones, no matter how the tone knobs are set. Don’t be afraid to try things like full Mid and no Treble or Bass, or even full Treble with no Mid or Bass. You’ll find a huge universe of useful tones to make your part stand out in the mix.
In general, the higher you set the Gain knob, the less Bass you’ll need. And, the lower you set the Gain knob, the less Treble you’ll need. So, the optimum setting of the tone controls will be determined by where you’re running the Gain knob. This is true for the real amp as well!
The Middle knob can be thought of as a sort of other “gain” knob. The higher the mids are set, the more dense and focused the tone will be. So if you’re going for the maximum cranked sound, try cranking the Middle control as well as the Gain. Conversely, if you’re going for the cleanest sound, try reducing the Middle but boosting the Treble and perhaps even the Bass control.
You could just set all the tone knobs at noon and go from there but also try this: start with all the tone knobs at minimum. You’ll hear that the pedal is producing the full tone but it is not getting out. This is because the tone stack is later in the preamp, after the two gain stages, as opposed to later black- and silver-face designs which put the tone controls way up front in the preamp. Anyway, so with the tone knobs at minimum, play and begin increasing the Treble control until it feels about right. Turn the pedal offand on so you know the difference between the bypassed sound and what the pedal is doing. Then slowly bring up the Middle until the sound fills out enough. Finally, you may decide you don’t need any Bass boosting at all. An exercise you can try to get abetter feel for the tone controls is turn the pedal on and off and try to set the tone controls so it sounds the same on as it does off. You won’t get the exact same tone but you’ll learn a lot by trying this exercise and find that the tone knobs can often be set much lower than you would initially think.
There is a trimpot (accessible by removing the bottom plate) that allows you to fine-tune the amount of presence or high treble frequencies that the pedal produces. It is factory set to provide the best tone inmost circumstances. However, everyone has different guitars, amps, and tastes so we've given you control over the final brightness of the pedal. We recommend that you don't adjust the presence trimpot until you've spent a good amount of time with the Formula 5F6 in your rig. After playing it at home, at rehearsal, and at the gig, you'll know better if you need to adjust it or not. You may find after a while that the pedal isa bit too bright with your rig or for your tastes. If that's the case, you can adjust the trimpot to reduce the brightness a bit. This is different than adjusting the Treble knob. The Treble knob is in the tone stack section of the circuit and it actually adjusts upper midrange frequencies. The presence trimpot is a final brightness control and adjusts around the 3khz range. Or if you find that you need a bit more brightness to cut through your band and the drummer's cymbals, go ahead and adjust the presence trimpot to be a bit brighter. The factory setting is exactly halfway on the trimpot.
Ahh! It’s time to talk about the Secret Lead mode! There’s a switch inside that switches between Stock Bassman (S. Bass) and Secret Lead (S. Lead) mode! It will transform the Formula 5F6 from vintage low-gain goodness into a re-breathing monster from California! The gain gets pushed way up and the tone stack is reconfigured to a new voice that has a bright edge with plenty of fullness. Now, the astute among you will say, “So it turns it into a Marshall?” Good thinking, but that’s not what we did here. The goal was to supercharge it while still making it sound “American”. It’s anew unique voicing and a hell of a good time! Warning: It might get loud ;-)The mode switch can be accessed by removing the four screws of the bottom plate. It is located up at the top corner of the pedal. It's a tight fit to get fingers in there so a small flat blade screwdriver can be used to access the switch.
You can power your Formula 5F6 with any quality power supply designed for use with effects pedals. The output should be a negative tip DC from 9 to 18 volts. If you want more volume, headroom, and percussive attack, try running an 18 volt power supply. A 9 volt power supply will have a slightly softer sound that saturates more easily - it's sort of like the difference between a 50 watt and 100 watt amp! Definitely try it on 18volts though - there's quite a difference! 18 volts is great for playing with the band. You'll get great attack and clarity with power to cut through the mix. You can also try a battery that is drained down to as little as 3-4volts to get an even softer sound that is great for late night jam sessions when you don't want to wake anyone up! Or use a power supply that is capable of providing "starved" voltage. It's sort of like running a Variac and you get the same benefits - a "browner" sound and less volume! We encourage to to try these different powering options to see what you like the best!