I'm posting this to Gearslutz and Talkbass with the hope of quickly reaching as many people as possible. Apologies for the double post if you should stumble across it on both sites. I'm looking for an appropriate "first upgrade" to the starter bass amp (Ampeg BA108) we got my son when he began playing bass 2.5 years ago. Our requirements are many and specific and, in truth, possibily unattainable when taken in the aggregate! With that in mind, I'm hoping I can outline my situation and get advice from experts on these forums, whose expertise and understanding greatly exceeds my own! SON He turned 12 last week. He's still several years away from having Paul McCartney open for him on his bands' first World Tour. He plays a Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar short-scale bass. Bass is his second instrument; he's a drummer first. His bass chops are well behind where he's at on drums, but he enjoys playing and is improving rapidly. He has a good ear and intuitively understands how rock/pop songs are arranged. He's a member of the House Band at a local School of Rock chapter and gigs often (50+ shows before his 12th birthday). The setlists are almost exclusively classic rock from the 60's through the 80's, with the occasional crossover pop/country hit thrown in. STUDIO The studio where we practice is approximately 20' x 15'. It has Pergo laminate flooring and a drop ceiling with acoustic tiles. It's a pleasant space but is otherwise completely untreated with bass traps, diffusers, etc. BUDGET I'd like to stay below $600 USD, preferably closer to $500. PIE-IN-THE-SKY HOPE Given all of the above, I'm looking for an amp that meets these criteria to the largest degree possible: - Good tone at any volume, with aesthetics "cool" enough to inspire him to play and, even more importantly, to practice (which he does NOT love). - Small footprint and relatively lightweight. School of Rock provides gear for the shows and band practices he has now but I'm certain he'll be forming his first band within 2 years -- so he'll need to cart this rig around soon. He's still a little guy and can't lug around a cabinet that outweighs him. - Enough power to be heard over a drum kit when practicing and to get the job done at a gig if properly mic'd into the PA. - Something that he will not outgrow for years (if ever), but that is also not overkill. My money-tree withered and died years ago and we aren't playing Arrowhead Stadium anytime soon. - Prefer a 2 x 10 to a 1 x 15, given the modestly-sized studio. It's can get fairly muddy in here. CONTENDERS The leaders in the clubhouse are: - Ampeg SVT Micro VR w/ SVT-210AV 2 x 10 cabinet - TC Electronic BH250 w/ K210 2 x 10 cabinet - Fender Rumble 200 1 x 15 combo or Fender Rumble 500 2 x 10 combo Additionally, a local Guitar Center has a used Ampeg PF350 w/ PF210HE 2 x 10 cabinet selling at $430. It's in good cosmetic shape but I'm concerned there is a mechanical issue somewhere. The volume was well below what I expected. I demo'd it and several others yesterday, including the Rumble 200. When listening to each amp, I zeroed out all EQ settings, disabled any sound-shaping options like "Vintage" on the Fenders, and set gain and master volume to 50%. Even 100 watt combo amps were significantly louder than the PF350/PF210HE. The GC rep said he'd ask their tech to take a look at it today. If the issue is corrected (or if it's pilot error -- I'm no bassist!), I think this sounds like a good deal and a good fit for our needs. SUMMARY So, all I want is an amp that's small and lightweight yet has plenty of power (but not TOO much), has killer tone, looks great, works perfectly in every studio and stage role, is ideal both now and in the future, and that is dirt cheap. Easy, right?