JST Bassforge Rex Brown Review

JST Bassforge Rex Brown Review

Joey Sturgis Tones have teamed up with Rex Brown to develop a plugin to help you to recreate his classic bass tones. Rex Brown might not have received as much attention as other members of Pantera but, in my opinion, he was absolutely vital in giving the band their legendary sound. In fact, it’s hard to find a more solid bass player in metal music. Dimebag’s tone wasn’t pretty but it was effective, however, it needed a great bass tone behind it to really give it some warmth and weight. Rex Brown found the ideal tones to do just that and add an extra dimension of his own.

Can the same great tones be found in a plugin? Let’s find out.

Joey Sturgis Tones Bassforge Rex Brown

Open up the Bassforge Rex Brown and you have the now familiar JST layout. There is easy access to controls for the input, output, gate, tuner and presets in the upper portion of the plugin and the signal path runs along the bottom. A quick mention for a great feature of the input control, it has a calibration mode which analyses the signal running into it and adjusts the input level to the ideal setting. It takes seconds to perform and should be the first thing you do before you start adjusting anything else.

JST Bassforge Rex Brown Review

The first element in the signal chain is the Vintage Tube Preamp pedal. You can use this pedal to give anything from a subtle boost or EQ adjustment right through to adding huge amounts of dirt. I wasn’t expecting it but I found it to be a vital part of the plugin. Controls consist of Blend, Level, Era and Drive. Blend lets you dial in how much of your clean signal you want coming through and is a great way to retain a solid tone when you start adding some clank to your sound. Level controls how much signal you’re pushing into the amp module. Era is basically a tone control. I found it best starting with this control pointing straight up and then dialling it in carefully from there. It’s a pretty powerful control and you don’t really need to go to extremes with it for regular sounds. Drive adds in a beautiful tube-style distortion. Although there is a distortion control in the amp itself, I found the best tones came by setting the amp pretty clean and adding distortion from the pedal, then getting the final balance through the amp’s own distortion. They have a very different character and they combine brilliantly.

JST Bassforge Rex Brown Review

Moving on to the amp section, Rex has been a long-time user of Ampeg SVT heads so the influence is pretty obvious here. It’s not an exact copy but with the SVT as a starting point you can pretty guarantee a solid tone if it’s been well designed, and thankfully it has. It’s pretty hard to miss the character control slider with its skull. The eyes glow blue on clean and slowly change to red as you increase the drive up to the maximum Nasty setting. Somewhere around halfway gave great results for a nice clanky tone with some added drive from the pedal. Down low, the cleans give this plugin far more versatility than you might be expecting. It truly is a great sounding clean amp and with EQ you can cover a huge range of different clean tones. I know many people will be buying the plugin for it’s distorted sounds but I think many players who never use distortion at all would love what this amp module is capable of.

Dominating the middle of the amp is the 7 band EQ section. I almost feel guilty but I found I didn’t need to touch this very much. A slight adjustment to one or two of the sliders for a small adjustment to a certain band was enough most of the time. And I do mean slight. It’s capable of shaping your sound in pretty extreme ways but the natural sound of the amp is so solid it doesn’t really need it.

The main tone settings area has four knobs for Drive, Contour, Thump and Bark. Drive controls the amount of signal driving the preamp section. Contour adjusts the mid-range focus. Thump is your low end and bark seems to be a high-mid/treble control. It’s worth spending a while playing around with this section because these controls really do define the character of the amp. The four basic controls combine to give you a huge array of tones which you can fine-tune to perfection. One other little feature worth noting, the amp also has two bank switches. These let you have two different sounds from a single preset and switch between them quickly.

JST Bassforge Rex Brown Review

Moving on to the cabinet section, we find the now-familiar JST Matched Cab. This is the cab JST think fits the amp perfectly and it’s hard to argue with the results. If you do want to change it then there is also an Ampeg 8×10 available with different mics along with an impulse response loader. The 8×10 gives some completely different sound options compared to the matched cab. I can certainly imagine a lot of people loving some of these sounds but I honestly thought the matched cab was the perfect fit.

JST Bassforge Rex Brown Review

Next up we find chorus and reverb pedals. Reverb isn’t my favourite effect on bass. A small amount can sound good to help the bass sit nicely in the mix so it’s nice to have it available, I only used it with very subtle settings though.  Chorus, on the other hand, can sound great. The dual pedal lets you set two different presets and the depth and speed knobs cover a broad range of sounds. Add some chorus to a warm bass tone and the effects is beautiful. Add some to a nasty sounding tone and you can suddenly get a huge sound which is perfect for certain applications. If you need the bass to fill more space then this chorus pedal is perfect.

The parametric EQ section is similar to the 7 band EQ on the amp. It’s always a nice option to have but I found I didn’t really need it. It’s strange really. I’m always pleased when I flick through the different modules on a plugin and see plenty of EQ options, but I’m even happier when I find I don’t need to touch them.

JST Bassforge Rex Brown Review

The final section is a crossover compression module. A standard compressor squashes the whole signal but with this compressor, you can set two different levels and choose the frequency range where they cross over. This is perfect if you want to control an unruly low end but leave the highs relatively uncompressed for example. I really like this compressor. It’s very easy to use and the results are fantastic. It’s perfect for levelling out your performance and helping it sit better in a mix or acting as the final tone shaper thanks to the crossover function.

I’ve got to say, I love this plugin. It has such a solid basic tone to begin with and between to preamp pedal and the amp’s drive control, it’s incredibly easy to dial in the perfect distortion. If you want a really full sounding distortion it can easily do it. If you want that typical metal distortion with a solid low end combined with plenty of ‘clank’ it’s there. Changing the overall character is just as easy and then making final adjustments to really help it sit perfectly in a mix couldn’t be more simple. I was also pleasantly surprised by how versatile it is. Rex Brown is obviously best known for his work with Pantera, but take a look at who else he’s worked with and you can see he’s needed a wide range of tones over his career. I firmly believe you could do it all with the Bassforge. I know a lot of people who don’t play metal will be put off by the name and style of the plugin but I think they’re missing out.

Conclusion

Firstly, if you’re still searching for great recorded metal bass tones then look no further. This really is a no-brainer. Everything you need is included to get an awesome sounding, powerful bass tone with ease. Most importantly, don’t discount it if you don’t play rock or metal. This plugin covers so much sonic ground, it could be the only plugin you need no matter what style of music you play.

Rating 9.5/10

Guitar Noodle Top Pick

The JST Bassforge Rex Brown is available from – https://joeysturgistones.com/products/bassforge-rex-brown

JST Bassforge Rex Brown Demo Video

JST Bassforge Rex Brown

9.5

Rating

9.5/10