Amp For Bluegrass

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Quinn Roberts, Jun 22, 2021.


  1. Hi all, recently I've been researching various amps to use in a mostly bluegrass setting. I'd also like it to be somewhat versatile (sounds decent bowing, can run a bass guitar through it, etc), but that isn't my highest priority.

    My current setup is a Rumble 500 head running into two older Rumble cabinets (the 112 and 2x8). I'm not a fan of the coloring provided by the Rumble, but I'm mostly pinning that on the amp not the speakers.

    I was originally looking at the Markbass CMD 102p, but am now torn between it and the Acoustic Image Clarus SL amp and trying to use it with my current cabinets (though I plan to upgrade the cabinets later on down the line (they can't last forever)). I've always heard nice things about Markbass amps, but the "natural" tone provided by the Clarus has my interests peaked.

    What's the consensus on Markbass setups for double bass and in a bluegrass/acoustic setting? How does it's tone compare to the transparency of the Clarus? And finally, am I out of my gourd thinking the Clarus would keep that clarity with my current speakers?

    I'm also open to any other amp recommendations you all have to offer, though I don't really want to spend much more than the 102p.

    Thanks!
    Quinn
     
  2. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    I recommend any of the AI products. I can’t comment on driving another cab, because I have only used my AI heads with AI cabs. I expect they would work well.

    Because of some encroaching physical limitations as I age (74), I’ve recently added a Yamaha SLB300 EUB for gigging. Sounded great through my AI gear, but I wanted to find the smallest, easy to transport combo amp. So I bought a Phil Jones Double Four for use as a stage monitor and to feed a PA. IT is amazing, and as un-colored and natural as my AI gear.

    Long answer to your question, but my vote would be AI.
     
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  3. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    Should have added that 50% of my gigs are bluegrass, Western swing, roots, etc.
     
  4. Gollihur has 14 day trial for AI. Guitar Center has a pretty good return policy (MarkBass). There's no reason you can't try the heads with your speakers.
     
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  5. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I find that Markbass amps, with the exception of the Nanomark 300 are voiced with Electric Bass in mind. Many Talkbass members swear by them. Having used them as backline amps as festivals I’d prefer the AI amps, as their EQ section complements Double Bass. Just my take however, the Nanomark is affordable and sounds great with DB.
     
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  6. jthisdell

    jthisdell

    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    I don’t think the genre dictates much, the issue is DB amplification in general. IMHO DB benefits from a very hifi type of speaker, find the best cab you can. My personal faves are Bergantino, the head is much less important, I’ve played my older Rumble 150 v2 through Berg and Barefaced cabs and have been happy, just don’t engage the scoop/punch settings.
    A few years ago I sold a Berg NV115 cab to a DB player, he tried it with my ToneHammer and it sounded great. He was unhappy with his AI rig which was why he bought my cab but when he got home and tried the Berg with the AI head he said it sounded great.
     
  7. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I play bass in a bluegrass band with either an Eminence or a standard DB (fairly loud at times, younger, more progressive style players )and after lots of experiments I landed on a Genzler Magellan 350 as the ideal head for me. More than enough power (350 watts into 4 ohms), very neutral but has lots of tone shaping options when I need them, lightweight and affordable. I tried an AI and found it too sterile for my tastes - and pretty expensive. I had a MarkBass many years ago (not recent enough to give a reasoned opinion) but I’d be surprised if they worked well for DB. Many bass players like them, though.

    I landed on Genzler 102 array speakers as best for my needs - 1 can handle small gigs, 2 sound amazing. I usually run a line into the pa, just to keep my stage volume down since I’m the only one using an amp. I’ve never tried the Rumble cabs so no comment there, but my sense from reviews on TB is that they’re fairly colored.
     
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  8. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Basically, it boils down to a $250.00 difference in price and AI having essentially a lifetime warranty with a more refined EQ section. I think if I were playing drummer less gigs I’d probably go with the new Headway EDB-2 H.E. Preamp into the mains and monitors with the option of using a powered speaker.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
  9. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Yes.
     
    jthisdell likes this.
  10. Keith Rawlings

    Keith Rawlings Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 3, 2019
    Acoustic Image equipment changed my life. It’s lightweight and sounds great. Check it out.
     
  11. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    AI amps kick @$$ and have the best warranty in the business. Fry it on a Sunday gig, mail it back to Rick on Monday and most of the time he'll have it fixed and back in your hands by Friday night, usually free of charge regardless if you are the original owner or not; try that with anyone else on the planet. Think of a poor man's Walter Woods with much better customer service.

    They have a thriving used market so you can almost always get your $$$ back if you don't like it. Get the two channel version- it will give you the option of using 4 separate instruments so when the guitar player needs help or you have a guest player, there is room to spare. The built in high pass filter is a bonus. For small gigs I often use it as a micro PA.

    For me it is also extremely cool that they are a couple of hours down the road; worst case scenario and I can drive to the shop for help that day....

    BUT....personally I think AI cabs suck....whimpy, weak, and every one I've ever owned blew up from moderate use. They prioritize light weight over everything else, so you get a mediocre cab that works well for coffeehouse gigs and as soon as you try to turn it up to mid levels watch out! Fragile wins over lightweight...So....I use my AI head with everybody else's cabs- a pair of acme B1s for modest upright gigs for amazing sound, a big GK 410 for rowdy electric bass gigs, and the ACME B1s PLUS a massive ACME B4 when I want crazy deep low end with a big drummer, and occasionally with an old Ampeg SVT 8 x 10 as a backline monster or at rehearsal. I drive them hard and I've only had one gig in 400+ that the AI gave me any trouble. That was a very hot summer day outside left in direct sunlight; 'moved the amp to the shade and all was fine.

    It works great for bass, but I also use it for guitar and mandolin very well for 95% of my gigs. On the rare exceptions, I bring my mid '60s Ampeg fliptop or a Thunderfunk head, but the AI ALWAYS gets slipped in the gig bag as a backup....
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
  12. Thanks for the replies everyone! It seems like the overall consensus is that AI is the way to go here. Though a little more research may be in order here; the Nanomark has my interests peaked a bit now too.

    I saw mention of the Genzler cabs above. I was looking at these earlier and they really had my interests peaked; I love the sound of my Bose line array system. How many have experience with these speakers (the Genzler)? I'd be using this setup without the assistance of a PA, so how big could their single 10" speaker fill up?

    Again, thanks for all the replies folks!
     
  13. D_Bag

    D_Bag

    Feb 8, 2013
    Lawrence, KS
    Gallien Krueger legacy 800.
     
  14. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I used a single 10-2 for a while and it could cover smallish gigs by itself, but larger outdoor gigs pushed it pretty hard (keep I’m mind that my band mates - banjo, guitar, dobro, mando, two singers - play pretty loud). Two of the cabinets can handle just about any size gig with or without pa - and two sounds way better than one, even at lower volumes. My takeaway from this is that its asking a lot for a single 10 to handle double bass amplification at any kind of volume.
     
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  15. Thanks, I'll keep this in mind going forward.
    I guess it could help to mix it with another cab that can push more sound, but that almost seems like a sin to dilute the Genzler's tone.
     
  16. I was looking at this preamp some too (saw many people mention the addition of a preamp can do miracles). Were I to get the Clarus, I'd almost certainly jump on the EDB-2 inevitably simply because of the blending capabilities. Hoping to one day delve into the world of mixing mics and pickups I figure I could get away with just the single channel Clarus that way. With that in mind, it sort of looked like the Markbass combo was capable of that without any special adapters that the two channel Clarus would need. Granted the EQ section is, to say the least, minimal were you to run two lines into it (the Markbass).
     
  17. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    IMHO the AI cabs don't suck, but you need to keep their limitations in mind, as they are clearly not designed for high SPL situations.

    If you do math, they have a super low sensitivity rating compared to just about any other bass cab on the market. Their top of the line cab is currently the Double Shot and its listed max SPL is 118dB. It also claims 600W power handling, which is probably a bit optimistic given the design.

    Here is how to estimate the sensitivity rating: The decibel change for 1- 600 is approximately 28dB. Subtract the dB change from the max SPL. 118-28= (90dB 1W/1m). This is most likely the approximate sensitivity rating of the cab.

    I haven't used any of the current AI cabs, but I did have the pleasure of using one their original Contra combo amps. The person who bought the amp intended to use it in big band. He purchased the amp and a matching extension cab. It was not loud enough and the amp would go into protection mode and shut down in the middle of songs for a few seconds.

    But for jazz trio, the Contra was fabulous. Probably the best grab and go amp I have ever played. I was super light and easy to carry, and it sounded awesome at low volume. I would not say it was totally transparent though, as it had its own unique voice.

    Would I buy one of the AI cabs? Probably not. Given the limited SPL the DoubleShot can produce, I can't see spending $600 on it. If I was in the market for a new cab to use with upright today, I would probably consider the Genzler BassArray line or the Euphonic Audio NL-112. Neither is what I would consider inexpensive.

    I am sure some of the Bergantino cabs would also work really well (also not cheap).

    I have had good results with my old GK 700RB/112 combo, so I suspect some of the GK NEO cabs might work well with upright.
     
  18. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    A single BA10-2 is only rated for about 120dB, which is 2dB louder than the AI DoubleShot. Also the BA10-2's power rating is only 250W. A pair will up the power rating to 500W and the Max SPL to about 126dB. This is fairly loud. There is also the BA210-3 and BA210-3SLT, if you want a single cab solution that is fairly equivalent to the pair of BA10-2s.
     
  19. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Thanks for adding this - your technical analysis in these situations always help provide some real basis for understanding what we hear. I had a Doubleshot for a while, and while I loved its form factor, your comment reaffirms why I didn't keep it. For a 210, it just simply didn't put out enough volume. I agree with your comment about a single 210 being equivalent to the 2 - 110s. I had a RevSound 210 for a long while that was more than adequate for any size gig that I do and sounded great. But it was harder to haul and I do like the flexibility of 1or 2 cabs as needed. It was on par with the pair of Genzlers, and if I were a sane man, I probably would have just kept the RevSound and been more than happy.
     
  20. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Mine blew up trying to keep up with two jazz guitar players using a 20 watt Fender amp. That is not a high output situation; more like a minimum output. To me, that sucks! When you advertise the Ten two as 500 watts and it falls apart next to a bedroom practice amp that is a fail....

    I've owned or gigged with several versions of the coda, the contra, Ten two, and the extensions. Everyone of the boast huge versatility and capability but on the job none of the cabs lived up to the hype. I'm not playing metal or punk next to a Marshall stack, just modest jazz gigs. More than once I was sent home by the band leader DURING THE GIG and told to come back with a different rig before the next set or "you're fired". I came back with the set of acme B1s (not known for high output or efficiency by any means) with the same AI head and they were happy. NOBODY boasts that B1s are high output!

    500 watts should keep up with a serious drummer, not a uke player and an old battery powered Pignose....

    'Not trying to cause a conflict, but my experience has been that they make fantastic heads but mediocre cabs for delicate old geezers with back problems; not something I can recommend to anyone that is asking for a road worthy rig.
     
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  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Aug 1, 2021

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