The new Ashdown Funk Face SZ, also known as the Stuart Zender signature bass autowah, sports a simple layout, yet has masses of control, making it a very interesting pedal indeed. Stuart was one of the founding members of Jamiroquai, which means he probably knows a thing or two about funk.
Stuart is famous for his funky basslines on those early Jamiroquai tracks. That kind of playing style needs a choppy, funky autowah that will stay tight and keep your bass tone in the groove, without getting sloppy and allowing your funk to fail.
This is, for me, a sweet and easy-to-use control panel that is well laid out. There are controls labelled Output, Drive and Sensitivity and twin footswitches, one for Wah to engage the effect and the other labelled Valve for adding drive.
The drive is provided by a single 12AX7 preamp tube, adding some warmth and gain as well as harmonic overtones. Of course, the real star of the show is the auto wah, which reacts to how dynamic your playing is. Use the the sensitivity and volume controls to dial in to taste. You also get a Pre/Post valve switch on the side of the SZ Funk Face that allows you to choose whether the valve overdrive is added pre or post-wah.
This pedal has, as you’d expect, a true-bypass switching system that won’t colour your tone when it’s not engaged. You can run it off either a 9V or 18V power supply, so a pedalboard-friendly unit.
There is a very brief official teaser demo of the pedal below. I like what I hear, but I would really like to hear a lot more. The price is pretty high for a single pedal, but if you’re scouting around for tight, funky autowah for your bass tone, this could well be worth a punt.
RRP GBP 299
SZ Funk Face product page