GK MB Fusion 800 vs. Aguilar TH500 vs. Genz Benz Shuttlemax 9.2 vs. other
I'm in the market for a new head to replace my TC Electronic RH450 and am looking for opinions from people who've played these heads in a band setting.
I play a soapbar-equipped fretless Zon 90% of the time. I primarily play prog/black/doom metal (think Intronaut, Cynic, and Negura Bunget), rock/fusion stuff (Gordian Knot, The Aristocrats), and solo bass noodles with my loop pedal and ebow. I like to be able to get down and dirty but it's also very important that my amp be able to clean up for playing the solo stuff. My typical EQ has always been very low-mid centric and I have an aversion towards brittle, abrasive highs. This is what drew me to the RH450 in the first place.
However, I don't feel like the RH450 can really reproduce B-string thunder in a metal band situation. My guitarist plays through a 100-watt Orange tube head and 4x12 Marshall cab, so I really need some firepower to punch through the mix, especially given that I would like to be able to do so while playing through an 8ohm Mesa PH212. The RH450 sounds awesome by myself, but loses the low end in high-volume situations.
I've played the titular amps in store situations, where I haven't had the opportunity to really drive them hard. I also didn't have the opportunity to try them through my cab; I got to use a TC RS210, Berg AE212, and Aguilar SL112.
Aguilar TH500: I really dug the fat low-mids and sweet highs. I'm concerned that it may not be quite powerful enough and may lack hi-fi versatility. Some of my favorite bassists sound great with Aguilar gear.
GK MB Fusion 800: I have never liked the GK sound (highs were always too brittle to my ears) until I heard this amp. I'm a big fan of Bryan Beller and he had a pretty convincing write-up on the merits of the Fusion series. I've also heard that this thing is absurdly loud, which is nice.
Genz-Benz Shuttlemax 9.2: Really nice and transparent; lots of power and versatility from the dual channels and parametric EQ. I'm concerned that the value of these units will plummet (as well as customer service) with the dissolution of Genz-Bez. Also worried that it might possibly not be able to compete in a stupidly loud metal situation.
I've also been GASing after the Mesa Carbine M9 despite not having the opportunity to play through it. I'm attracted to the onboard compressor, footswitchable graphic EQ, and power/volume (although I know the unit has had a recent power downgrade due to overheating issues). Would also be nice to pair it with my Mesa cab, if only for the sake of appearances. However, I'm turned off by the cost and possible reliability issues. But mainly the cost.
I'm looking to spend around $600 used, and while I would prefer a micro head, I'm open to more conventionally-sized amps as well. Footswitchable EQ or dual-channel capability is also a big plus for me. Utility for upright bass is a subsidiary concern, but it would be nice. Feel free to make any suggestions if you feel that I left something out.
Thanks in advance for any advice. I know that I can only truly find out what's right for me by testing out gear in band setting with my bass and cab, but that isn't always the easiest thing to do in practice.
All of the amps that you listed are pretty much in different tonal spaces IMO.
The Genz is great head.. but they are now gone RIP....
I have played the TH500 and for me i thought it was loud and good low mids but i can see why it may be under powered for certain styles. Just not a fan...
I Have a GK MF Fusion 800 and it is Very Loud. . The EQ is real nice ,Yes, you can get it to slice like a knife but it can warm up allot with its tube pre.. Even get some good tube grind going...
Out of the micros you listed i think MB fusion 800 is closest to the sound of the Mesa M9 if you run it real clean and no OD.. It has that Carbine top end attack while keeping a full and deep bass end.. Quite a nice amp..
The Mesa Carbine is always just clear as a bell.. with real nice extended deep bass and not boomy at all... IMO, it seems that the Mesa Carbine and GK Fusion800 are more close in sound than they are different...
My preference is the Mesa, but if you want Micro and LOUD, the GK MB Fusion 800 will do that..
Sadly the Genz is no longer being made.. RIP Genz Benz
Out of the heads you mentioned the 9.2 Max is the one that will give you more options.. It has a slightly bigger footprint than the others but it is under 8 lbs and sounds great. It is actually more like having 3 heads in one.. and contrary to what some may think while the company is gone Fender is still supporting them and there are still the same authorized repair places around that existed a year ago .. and there are GB heads to be found... Look in the classifieds here.l
Max 9.2 or Streamliner 900. :)
I am also very interested to see what results of Andy Field being currently employed by Mesa/Boogie. :cool:
Sounds to me like you need a bigger cabinet or two of your 212s. A guitarist with a 4x12 and 100w is absurdly loud. A billion watts is only gonna smoke your cabinet. A new amp can't hurt but more cabinet will get you farther.
All great choices. For a great fretless tone, which is mostly driven by nice warm, present mid mids, more of an organic top end than super sizzle or aggressive upper mids, and good EQ control of the mids and low mids (the mwaw frequencies), hard to beat the TH500. I had an RH450 for a while (nice head), and have posted many times that the TH500 is kind of like a 'better RH450'. More open low end, interestingly enough, more powerful EQ due to less of a baked in voice, and just enough more open down low and up top to make those who basically like the RH450 to say 'yeah, there you go'.
I would think a semi-parametric midrange would be key, and the TH500 has one of the best I've experienced. If you do a lot of aggressive upper midrange grind, and like a big, big low end (i.e., if you are one that plays a fretless but pretty much sounds like you are playing a fretted), the GKMBFusion800 is pretty awesome, and it definitely has a bit more oomph.
The TH500 and the Genz9 series uses the same power module, and if anything the TH500 outperforms the Shuttle 9 in non-compressed low end. The Shuttle Max 9.2 is pretty killer though, and has lots of EQ power, although it is quite bright out of the box. Moot point, since Genz is no longer in business.
So, for fat, warm, organic tone and very good ability to bring out the mwaw and woodiness of a fretless tone, hard to beat the TH500, and it would drive virtually any 4ohm 410 or 212 to full performance.
If you want a bit more sparkle and boom (i.e, a bit more 'hi fi' as we use that term on Talkbass), the MB 800 series amps kill.
From my experience with my Roscoe, which has that Zon sort of organic, punchy midrange voice, it would be the TH500 all the way for me if you were using a single 4ohm cab (or two smaller 8ohm cabs)
If I were in the OP's shoes, it would be the M9 Carbine and two (2) Powerhouse 2x12s for sure. It would give you lots of tonal options, plus gobs of SPL/headroom - just what you need for holding your own against a 100-watt Orange guitar amp + 4x12 cab. :eek:
But if it's to be a micro amp, then get the MB Fusion 800. Of these three choices, it's the only one (IMO) that meets all your criteria: raw power, the ability to get gritty and stay clean, tonal (i.e. frequency) versatility, etc.
The Aguilar will do old-school warmth and grit, but might not clean up as much as you like. And it won't go as loud as you need.
The Genz Benz has headroom, tonal versatility, and a great clean hi-fi character. But it will never get quite as aggressive as either the Mesa head or the GK head.
+1 in that if he is going to continue to use a single 8ohm 212, then 8ohm power is key, and the GK is very impressive at 8ohms.
Actually, I agree with the above...more cab needed IMO!
Agreed...more cab will be a huge help.
I wouldn't think you'd be able to find a used M9 for 600 bucks.
I also love the TH500 a lot...whether it will be enough power is debatable.
Thinking MB Fusion is your best if you can find one used in your budget.
I had a Mesa M6 Carbine for at least a couple years and gigged it a lot. Very impressive headroom and iron transformer slam on the low notes. THere is an upper midrange bright voicing that no matter how I EQ'd it, I could never get away from. For me, that was part of why I let it go. The biggest reason was it was the biggest amp physically. Even in a 2u SKB rack case, it was way overkill in terms of size for my wants and needs. I'm the guy who schleps PA gear, stands, cable bags, lights, in addition to my bass rig. So I went small.
Brief stop with an Orange BT500 which really has been a superb, wonderfully powerful amp. 500W into 4ohms, OR 8ohms! Very loud, and somewhat organic with a little more upper bass/lower midrange and some baked-in grind when you step on it. But really a great amp.
BUT ...I recently went smaller and moved to the GK MB Fusion 800. I am VERY pleased. Powerful beyond my needs, but I am a big fan of headroom for the punch and immediacy I get at low to medium volumes which is the norm for my gigs.
Very clear, but I can dial down the treble to warm the amp up a touch. and I can dial in a dirtier "B" Channel that is footswitchable. I love the illuminated dials so I can quickly see where the knobs are set, the Mute switch lights up to let me know when I am muted and can tune discreetly. The DI has been superb, (has a Pre-post selection) ...and small and light!
I bought the GK MBFusion gig pouch and it makes my life simple! My band mates LOVE this amp. Normally they do not comment much. But with the MBFusion 800, they commented that they hear me very well across stage and that my tone is very clear and sweet.
I am thrilled with the MBF800 and I am letting go of the Orange. The MBF800 is more versatile and it's eq seems to offer more flexibility and range of sounds versus the Orange BT500. (not that you asked, but it's always nice to have another data point)
PS; I am also in the camp of being rather non-plussed by the TH500. (Granted, very different voicing. So that may account for my opinion. But I also felt the GK MBF800 had more sonic slam, punch and growl 'with a touch of sparkle' versus the TH500. The TH500 to me sounded a bit more dry and lacked 'air'. Then again, in a Live band mix, the TH500 may sound more like a well recorded bass that is punchy and warm.
Still, I largely prefer being able to dial down and tame a little sparkle and presence from the MBFusion 800 than to try and introduce more clarity, sparkle and presence in an amp (TH500) that does inherently represent those sounds. If that makes sense?
The 9.2max is by far the best amp I've ever owned, its not even close. Its a NEVER sell
Some great food for thought here, guys. Thanks for all the advice. I'm leaning towards the GK for form factor and volume, at the moment. Bryan Beller did a pretty convincing write-up on the Fusion heads. But I don't think I'd be willing to pass up on a good deal on the Aggie or Genz either.
Anybody have any experience buying from RMC Audio? With the February coupon and membership I could have a TH500 for $575 new.
Could anyone give a rough volume hierarchy of these heads as well? I will probably try to get my hands on another PH212, but I'd like to have some real horsepower in the meantime. I need any head I get to be at least a good bit louder than my RH450 at 8 ohms.
Also, is the MB Fusion 800 much louder than the 500? The latter is cheaper and easier to find used.
Just found a buyer for the TC, so I need a replacement quick. ;)
EDIT: Just pulled the trigger on a used Fusion 800 from Bass San Diego on ebay. Looking forward to hearing this thing!
No disrespect intended towards TH500's. I played through one for an hour non stop and never thought twice about it.
But when I A-B'd side-by-side, I largely preferred the feel, sound, punch, presence and sparkle of another amp. And that does not mean I like Hi-Fi bass. Not at all. I also like a sound that sits thick and warm in a mix. But articulate at the same time. (All words used to describe TH500's and those who love them achieve great bass tone!)
How does the GK MB Fusion 800 compare to the TecAmp Puma 900 regarding tone?
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