Nordstrand Starlifter Preamp Exclusively at Bass Direct - 2 and 3 band EQ, active/passive switching for bass guitar, Bass, Treble, Mid, Passive tone, Volume, Pan controls. London, Manchester, Birmingham, USA


Pickups | Preamps | >Starlifter | Nordy Mute | Acinonyx Bass

Nordstrand Starlifter Preamp £285 + £5 UK shipping

Export price GBP £237.50

For orders outside the UK we will deduct the UK and confirm your shipping cost.

Explore galaxies of tone with the new StarLifter bass preamp/DI pedal, offering top notch sound quality with a simple accessible feature set with clear and easy to use controls. It provides a killer clean DI signal that can either bypass the EQ or take advantage of the powerful tone shaping qualities of the carefully designed contour switch and the 3 band eq which features a sweepable midrange control. The line out provides plenty of gain to make any amp or powered cabinet sweat. A tuner out, mute switch, and switchable input impedance add real work flexibility. Get on board the StarLifter and take your tone to the stratosphere. Includes EU 2 pin Power supply.


Tel: 01926 886433


SIGNAL FLOW = Input → impedance switch → –10dB pad → tuner out → EQ & Contour → DI/Output 


MUTE — Mutes all output except the tuner out. In MUTE mode, the mute LED turns red, as do the side lights.

ENGAGE — Turns on the EQ, illuminates the green LED, and turns the side lights green. When the pedal is disengaged, signal still passes through the gain circuitry and the volume knob remains functional.

ENGAGE allows switching a “flat” and EQ'd sound on the fly.

VOLUME – The signal level at the output jack (DI level is not affected). There is quite a lot of gain at hand here. We intend the StarLifter to provide more than enough gain to drive a power amp cleanly and loudly. (More on that later).

CONTOUR — A 3-way switch allowing a selection of “flat”(off), “vintage”, or “modern” settings. “Flat” passes an uncolored signal with no additional eq present, beyond that set with the EQ controls. The “vintage” setting is a "frowny-face" EQ curve, designed to provide a darker tone with a low-mid bump emulating a classic heavy tube amp setup with an 8x10 cabinet. The “modern” setting engages a carefully chosen mid scoop with treble and bass boost, providing quick access to great slap, R&B, and Gospel tones.

TREBLE — Provides +/– 15dB shelving boost and cut with a 6kHz corner frequency. MID — Provides +/- 15dB boost and cut at the frequency selected by the mid freq knob. 

MID FREQ — Selects a center frequency between 150Hz–2.8KHz for the midrange bell filter.

BASS — provides +/- 15dB boost and cut with a corner frequency of 70Hz. 


INPUT — Plug your instrument in here. (But you already knew that).

IMP SWITCH — Changes the input impedance from 1MΩ to 10MΩ. Use 1MΩ for passive or active electric instruments and the 10MΩ setting for piezo pickup systems, e.g., the typical upright bass pickup.

PAD — Decreases gain at the input by 10dB for high-output instruments. Use the StarLifter without the pad unless it becomes audibly necessary as would be indicated by the presence of unwanted distortion. 

TUNER OUT — Allows connection to a tuner or for any other need requiring a parallel output. Remains active at all times.

12-15VAC POWER SUPPLY INPUT JACK — Connect the included 15VAC 300mA power supply here.

GND LIFT — Lifts the ground connection (pin 3) at the DI jack. Can eliminate a noisy ground loop, but should remain unused unless necessary.

PRE EQ — Allows DI signal to bypass eq section of pedal providing a flat, uncolored signal for recording or FOH You can still have the EQ’d signal at your amplifier. The EQ'd signal can be sent to FOH or "tape" by leaving this switch out (disengaged). 

PAD –20dB — Reduce the signal at the DI jack by 20dB for better interfacing with some equipment. 

DI JACK — Connect your mic preamp or recording interface here. 

OUT — Main instrument output. Connect into front end of amp or line level input on recording interface. A lot of gain is available and you can easily drive a power amp or a powered cabinet. Look for an amp in or an effects loop return to bypass the front end of your amp for a super clean and deeply musical sonic quality.


Rocket Surgeon StarLifter Review

David Abdo

July 10, 2019

Premier Guitar July 2019

Carey Nordstrand has been making a significant imprint on the bass community since he opened the doors to Nordstrand Audio in 2005. While respected for his finely crafted instruments, it’s his pickup designs that launched him into the low-end stratosphere. Today, Nordstrand is also making a mark further down the signal chain with Rocket Surgeon, his series of bass and guitar effects pedals. Most recently, the line was enhanced with the introduction of the StarLifter, a bass preamp/DI pedal with simple features and stout tone.

Celestial Being
The planetary themed StarLifter’s layout is quite intuitive. Nordstrand’s 3-way contour switch lays a timbral foundation, from a scooped sound with a bass and treble boost (modern) to a punchy, mid-friendly vintage setting. The switch can also be disabled for a colorless presentation of the instrument. Tone shaping is achieved through its 3-band EQ, and expanding the EQ’s flexibility is a mid-frequency control—essential for dialing in preferred midrange tastes. A right-side-located volume dial to balance the signal rounds out the control set.Nordstrand injected some practical fun into the StarLifter by installing light bars on opposite sides of the box to indicate activity: Engaging the pedal turns the bars green, while muting the box shifts the bars bright red.

Most preamp/DI pedals house switches for pre/post EQ, ground lift, and padding the signal, but the StarLifter also added two other components that make it stand out. An impedance switch adjusts the input to 1-megohm or 10-megohm operation, which is crucial for optimizing the pickups of different instruments. High outputs can be tempered with a second pad switch, which is located after the input and impedance section. Speaking of output, it should be mentioned that the StarLifter sends an output strong enough to drive a power amp or powered speaker.

Cosmic Explorer
I was surprised, at first, by how heavy the StarLifter felt in my hand. It’s not a big deal if it’s being used as a standalone pedal, but at 2 1/2 pounds, it could make schlepping a pedalboard a bit more cumbersome. Regardless of any possible transport concerns, the extra mass instills confidence that Rocket Surgeon’s latest is a rugged pedal. Batteries won’t add to the weight since the StarLifter is not designed for battery power. It runs on an included 12-15V AC adaptor. This could be problematic if you forget to pack the provided wall wart, so, well, don’t forget to pack the provided wall wart.

In my experience, few preamps at this price achieve this level of transparency.

Despite these minor concerns, this blue box absolutely excels in the tone department. I explored the StarLifter’s functions in my studio through a Bergantino rig—comprised of a B|Amp head and HD112 cab—and connected the pedal through the return jack on the rear of the amp. A 1964 Fender Jazz bass and a Fender PJ Elite were the basses of choice.

One of the most important characteristics of a preamp/DI pedal is that, when in its “flat” setting, the inherent qualities of an instrument are preserved. I was pleased to hear no significant difference in tone when alternating between the inputs of the B|Amp and StarLifter. In my experience, few preamps at this price achieve this level of transparency.

The EQ is easy to operate, due in part to the way Rocket Surgeon voiced the three bands. There is an ample amount of boost and cut (+/- 15 dB) to provide enough booty or brightness without over-coloring the sound. I found the mid EQ to be particularly beneficial, as I was able to dial in the ideal frequency from 150 Hz to 2.8 kHz to add bump to the flatwound strings on my Jazz, or beef up the bark of the Elite PJ’s bridge pickup.

Pino or Jaco?
Pre-shape settings are nothing new in preamp features, but the StarLifter’s contour switch could arguably be the best on the market. The scooped modern mode is a slapper’s delight, as it’s handy for a quick EQ shift for on-the-fly thumb slinging. Also, one of my favorite features of the StarLifter pedal is the vintage setting, for how it added a perfect touch of syrup to the tone of my basses. Using the vintage contour setting in conjunction with the 10 megohm input impedance gave the sweet tone a quick attack. Pino and Jaco disciples will appreciate this combination.

In Nashville’s Lower Broadway bars and honky-tonks, backline often takes a beating, and the din of bickering bachelorettes, car horns, and neighboring bar bands can provide a wealth of sonic challenges. So, I took the StarLifter along to play shows with both a country/rock group and a hip-hop tribute band. The pedal was plugged into a couple different rigs including a Fender Rumble 500 and a Gallien-Krueger 1001RB (each with EQ set flat), and both clubs supplied a Gallien-Krueger Neo 412 cabinet. A Squier Contemporary HH Jazz bass and a Steinberger NXT electric upright were the selected test instruments.

While much of my studio experience with the StarLifter was confirmed in the live settings, there were a few takeaways that increased my appreciation for the pedal. The sound people at both clubs were impressed with StarLifter’s DI, and remarked how its full and clean presentation of tones required little adjustment on their end. From a performance perspective, the 10 megohm input gave the Steinberger EUB a pronounced attack, and the vintage contour setting warmed the deceptively acoustic tonality of the bass.

The Squier was rewarded with increased versatility, as a boost in the bass and midrange delivered a deeper fundamental to the modern-sounding instrument. Engaging the vintage mode beefed up the neck and bridge pickup when needed, but turning the contour switch to the modern position quickly returned the Squier to an on-call slap machine. In both live settings, I appreciated how the StarLifter permitted me to establish a strong foundation within the mix, so I could focus less on my gear and more on making music.

The Verdict
It’s a bit pricey, a tad heavy, and unconventionally powered, but the StarLifter also has the makings to be an almost indispensable device for one’s signal chain. It’s not often I have a pedal that compels me to use it at every show, but the simple features and robust tonal production inspired me to make room for the StarLifter in my gig bag. Rocket Surgeon has made a strong impression with the StarLifter and, for this bassist, it’s a definite contender for best-in-class.