Amp advice? Mark Bass vs. Ashdown vs. Ampeg
I live in Johannesburg, South Africa, where gear selection is limited and considerably more expensive than in Europe and North America.
I'm looking for a bass amp for my Fender Bass VI, which I would send to both the bass amp and my Fender Deluxe guitar amp. I also send a synth to both. We play something like Afro-psychedelic-pop (at least that's what they were calling it in France on our last tour). It definitely gets loud and noisy at times.
Looking at what I can find out here:
Mark Bass Little Mark III with a Mark Bass 2x10 cab (floor model)
Ashdown ABM 550 Combo (EVO III 500, 2x10 cab, but a combo, which I can't find anywhere on the net)
Ampeg (I could probably only afford something like Ampeg PF-500 Portaflex and PF-115HE Stack, which I found on the net. They don't have it in the shop but might be able to order)
On tour I was often given and Ampeg SVT CL with decent cabs and a Fender Deluxe and I LOVED that sound, but that's way out of my price range.
Any help would be much appreciated.
I'm running a Litttle Mark III with a Markbass 151P cab (115 with piezo tweeter) and doing well. The 115 might give a bigger bottom than a 210, depending on which 210. Hard to say. Some folks don't care for the Markbass sound, though. But, I don't get it. Sounds great to me, and it's very, very reliable.
I guess I'm most wanting to know about quality/reliability for money. I can hear the differences but have no experience at all with ashdown or mark bass.
I've been reading here and seeing bass amps are about the same as guitar amps in terms of sound... as many opinions as people. :)
I've had the same 2 guitar amps for almost 20 years. I'd love to buy something that'll last.
Well not to throw a wench into your plans but you need to look at more than a 210 or one 115. You know the SVT CL sound and like it so IMO it is easy to imagine you would be with the many that would be frustrated by MarkBass cabs. I would suggest for budget reasons two PF 115 cabs and the PF 350. MarkBass heads sound fine (not like a CL, but have plenty of voicing options) so you could go with the Mark head and other maker's cabs.
Thanks B-String, I'll check on that. It might push it out of my price range but perhaps I could get one PF-115 and add another later.
Is this kind of Ampeg setup an obvious choice above something like the Ashdown or is it simply a tone choice? I read one or 2 posts about Ashdown's quality being less than admirable.
I've played Ampegs forever..CL, 4Pro, 350T and always into 8x10 cabs. I swithced to a Mesa M9 because of problems with the 4Pro and one night BAM!! and a puff of smoke. Ran down to GC to get something to make it through the gig and got a silverface LM111 for $399 and HOLY SH$T.>.the thing sounded awesome. I wondered if I had been too elitist with my viwes on big amps, so I bought a GK Neo 4x12 to save my back. Lesson learned. Giant amps and cabs aren't necessary to get that huge Ampeg tone a lot of people I know crave. (I know, I Know, you guys have been saying that FOREVER on here, but i had to hear it myself to believe it. I'm always running a bunch of stuff before the amp anyway (VT Bass, Joyo dyna Comp, Boss EQ etc.) so now knowing how the Big Bang rules, itd be tough to ever go back. Most people would consider my rig too big, and they may be right, but it suits me perfectly. I play in a 70s Arena Rock Tribute band ....superjamrocks.com....shameless plug....I recently bought the MB BigBang when I had a warranty swap on the Mark111. (Thank God for honored warranties!) Bottom line...MarkBass Big Bang is awesome. The GK Neo cabs are pretty great too. Listen with your own ears. Hope you find what you are looking for!
Another vote for Markbass here.
I have gone through at least a half dozen different amps in the last two years trying to find the right combination of tone and portability. Late last summer I picked up a used Little Mark III and it has been my favorite by far. I run mine through a pair of GK 112 Neo cabs but I'm sure the Markbass cab would sound great too.
They're all good amps. Maybe a little small for a very very loud band but they're not quiet rigs, either. If you like the SVT, a PF500 is a good way to go to cop a similar sound. Used to run two PF115he's for a while...really good and balanced sound with a rather big low end that you wouldn't expect for a sealed cab. The PF210he has a little tighter bottom end if you're looking to get closer to the 810e sound, and the other two PF cabs are ported and have the most low end.
Don't have recent experience with the Ashdown but I've played the Markbass 210 combo several times and used to have the little 112 combo. Dug the head but never quite got used to the sound of the cabs with the extra high mids. Good for not getting lost in a mix, and I loved them at first for that, but were hard to tame down when I wanted. That said, a lot of folks dig that sound and they make a very good product. Ultimately it just wasn't my thing.
There's not one amp on the market that has not had a bad amp or a few come along and I find it hard to believe that of the three you mentioned you only heard about a couple of issues with Ashdown.
Search some more and you will see what I'm talking about
And me being an Ashdown endorser has nothing at all to do with my above comment.
Thanks guys, I'm happy to hear it. I've been searching as much as I can.
So far the Ashdown sounded best to me in my price range. I haven't been able to test the ampeg setup I mentioned and might not be able to. Another common problem here... if it's not standing in the shop you have to order it, pay for it, and keep it even if you don't like it. All the smaller ampeg stuff I tried in my price range were not suited to my needs. I'm gonna send some famous friends on Monday to see if they'll get it in the shop without paying first.
Little Mark is the most reliable of these, but the Ampeg sounds best (to my ear). Ampeg seem to have fixed the reliability issues with the PF series, and I currently have a PF800/PF115HE that has had no issues, and absolutely screams. It will easily fill a 200+ person bar with no FOH support, and that's good enough for me.
A buddy of mine has the Little Mark/210 combo, and it's nearly as loud, but nowhere near as clear as the Ampeg. It is very boomy and muddy - although that can be cleaned up somewhat with proper use of the EQ.
I had an Ashdown ABM 500 Evo III, and I hated it. The EQ really isn't as intuitive as it looks, and it is biased toward a trebly, upper-mid heavy sound.
Thanks for all your comments. I thought I'd let you know what I chose in the end, also in case some one else might be looking for similar advice.
I went for the Ampeg PF500 and PF115HE. I would love to have tried out the ported PF115LF but they didn't have stock and would only MAYBE get them in March. I did get to try the PF210HE, which I didn't like much at all on it's own but in combination with the 115 it was really good.
All in all, the Ampeg sounds good, works well with my Bass VI and is very light. The Ashdown also sounded great but was crazy heavy and it was a combo, so not as easy to swap out/upgrade cabs later on.
Solid choice, I'm sure you'll be very happy with it.
Great! Congrats on the new gear! I just picked up a PF500 too!
Hook us up with some pics of your new gear!
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