Bypassing the PAM control puts you in the hands of the SB’s basic Tone knob, which functions in a simple treble roll-off manner, so this is possibly also passive mode. No bad thing: the snarling, earthy sound and the pleasingly even response across the neck is more than fair reward. While there’s a slight zingy element on the thinner strings, this adds snap to the clarity and doesn't over-dominate what is a fairly smooth basic response. All the ingredients for serious rocking are in place, and although backing off the tone knob stifles the edge, it creates successively warmer options that'll suit rockers of a bluesy persuasion or anyone after a retro feel. Full cut is, as always, impractically woolly and to be avoided.
Clicking the mini-switch to bring in the six-way PAM selector definitely involves some 'active' EQ element. The first setting on offer – the click nearest the bridge – is again woolly and indistinct even with the regular tone knob set on full. We’d guess that this notch involves a substantial low mid-cut at 186Hz, and the result is pretty much unusable for anything but the bassiest dub manoeuvres.
The second setting, a severe chop at 229Hz, is also limited… it's a touch more defined than Position 1, but it's still pretty sub-aquatic. Position 3 seems to exhibit a small boost at 340Hz rather than a cut as half of the SB's snarling edge returns with the tone knob flat out, although the sound is honky and restrained. Backing off the treble evens this out, but the trade-off is a much quieter output.
Real life finally returns at Position 4, and the increase in burpiness suggests the named frequency point (496Hz) has taken a hit. There’s plenty of body to this sound and the nasal quality isn't too annoying, so this notch suits melodic groove playing or even a mild attack of finger-funk. The honky, burpy sound of Position 5 indicates that a boost at 723Hz (high mid). Again, it's not too nasal, the bass end is lively and aggressive and the clean smoothness of higher strings suggests that higher frequencies have been cut a little. The result is a decent, contemporary rock tone in its broadest sense. Finally, the metallic zing, raspy bark and a hint of brittleness to higher strings on Position 6 indicates a small boost at 1.4Hz but this time it’s fat enough to create a practical sound with lively harmonics that’ll help cut through a dense wall of guitars.