Without fail, every year at the Winter NAMM Show, there are a few hot new items released into the bass world that players continuously buzz about before the word-of-mouth hype makes its way around the entire Anaheim Convention Center and reaches ad nauseam extremes. At this year’s show, one of those items came in the form of the BackBeat Rumble Pack. After the 17th bassist asked me if I had heard about it, I figured it was time to do my due diligence and check out what all of the raving was about. A quick Google search proved that the buzz had already caught onto the internet, and the humble KickStarter campaign that BB creator Yerko Sepulveda created to raise $25,000 had rapidly exceeded that figure and hit just under $130,000 upon its conclusion. If that wasn’t enough proof of the validity of this new item, BB’s official website features greats like Victor Wooten and Billy Sheehan touting the rumble pack, which further piqued my interest.
Being a player in a duo outfit with a multi-instrumentalist/singer that predominantly plays in mid-size venues at lower volumes, I immediately understood the potential for this device — so I hit up Yerko right away. A few days later, the BackBeat arrived at my door, and within minutes I had it attached to my bass strap and was ravenously testing it out. However, minutes turned into an hour, and that turned into 90 minutes, and before I knew it, I was late for an important call. That’s probably a common story for users of the BB, because this baby is highly addictive. Responsive to the intimate touch of every single note — from tightly plucked staccato notes, to fast mid-range runs, to deep, booming strokes of the low B string — the BB responds to every tiny nuance of your playing and sends deep vibrations through your back that resonate through your entire body.
With more time on my hands, I tested it out with a range of basses including a Precision 4-string, a Jazz 5-string, a shortscale hollowbody, and an acoustic bass. The BackBeat reacted to each instrument the same, regardless of active or passive electronics. The large control knobs are easy to access from behind, so you don’t need to be a flexible yogi to adjust them, and whether it’s dialed in at low or high levels, the box does its job superbly. Another great feature of the BB is its headphone output, which allows you to practice in quiet places; it also features an aux input so you can plug in your cell phone or other device to play along with tracks. The sound quality is fantastic on both features, and the vibrations from the pack make you feel like you’re hooked up to a massive cabinet, without waking your neighbors at 3:00 AM.
The final test was to use the BackBeat for gigs, and luckily that week I had four lined up in a row. For the first three shows, something astonishing happened — even beyond me feeling every note with clarity and having the perception that I was rocking out with a full stack on a big stage. That magical phenomenon came in the form of my singer asking me to turn up. Me, the bass player? Being asked to turn up? Surely you jest. I mean, I’m not a frequency hog by any means, although I like to feel what I’m playing as much as the next player, but this was truly a milestone. I was smitten with the newfound power granted to me from the BackBeat. The fourth gig, however, took a bad turn, as I had forgotten to charge the unit and was left without it. Like a junkie craving a fix, I was salty and felt at a loss without the aid of the vibrational assistance.
While there are other vibration-device options for bass players in the form of platforms and vests, the BackBeat is by far the most compact, affordable, and accurate option in the game. I can’t say enough good things about it. In fact, within a week, I was on the phone with any bass friend who would listen, telling them to cop one for themselves. Just like that, I had converted into the very NAMM gossip that I addressed earlier, but this product is worth the hype. As a journalist, I try to stay away from hyperbole as much as I can — but between you and me, I would gladly confide that this item has benefitted my playing in profound ways.
BackBeat Rumble Pack
Pros Responsive to every note, enhances low-volume performances, helps you feel the pocket, great for in-ear users
Cons Highly addictive; once you’ve tried it, you don’t want to play without one
Bottom Line While we’re always skeptical to say that a single piece of gear will make you a better bassist, this stellar innovation will certainly aid you in your quest for better feel, a deeper pocket, and more mindful volume restraint.
Construction Cast aluminum
Controls On/off, headphone volume, rumble intensity
Inputs Signal input, true-bypass signal output, 1/8" headphone output, aux input, DC charge jack
Battery 3–5 hours of sustained performance