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Anxieties about my new Little Mark II (or am I experiencing buyer's remorse?)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by naturalkinds, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. naturalkinds


    Jan 22, 2009
    Savannah, GA
    Right now, there is an excellent price on the Little Mark II at Guitar Center. Since (a) I was on the lookout for a new amp head, (b) read so many good reviews on the amp here on TB, and (c) had some money injected into my bank account for payday, I figured it would be natural and basically prudent to pick one up without demoing it in the store. So I did exactly that: paid the $499, and walked home with a sealed box from Italy.

    I connected the LMII into my Markbass 210 traveler, and then plugged up my only bass (a MIA Jazz Bass Standard with ash body and Nordstrand pickups). My initial thoughts were positive:

    * This amp is beautifully constructed -- definitely more than seems warranted for its reasonable price tag.

    * This amp is loud -- certainly more volume than my previous GB Shuttle 3.0.

    * This amp has its own sound -- a dark timbre which I think would still carry over a stage in an appealing way.

    * This amp is simple to use -- of course, it lacks a mute switch, but I, like KJung, use a Sonic Research tuner between my amp and my bass, so this wasn't much of a worry.

    * The sustain was incredible.

    However, after using it for about 10 minutes, I began to have a mild panic attack. I simply could not dial in a tone that I liked, and then some of the characteristics of the amp started to annoy me (perhaps on account of not finding a desirable tone). A few observations:

    ** The amp did not sound good to my ears with the EQ knobs at noon -- not in the way that my teacher's Aguilar AG 500SC set flat sounds beautiful and rich through my same cabinet. The AG has this complex, rich sonorous quality that really seemed missing on the LM set flat.

    ** I could not find a useful sound unless the VPF and VLE were adjusted. I know those knobs are there to use, but I felt like I was relying on something of a gimmicky feature to hear what I wanted, which is undesirable to me. It felt kind of like using the 'Sound Enhance' feature on iTunes.

    ** It certainly felt less 'hi-fi' than my Shuttle. Articulated staccato passages sounded slower and sloppier. But maybe this just indicates how use to my Shuttle I had become, and not that this amp isn't for me.

    The truth is that I am not planning to return this. I am happy with the price I paid for it, and, moreover, suspect that this anxiety is probably more related to my buyer's remorse than an accurate psychological response to the amplifier. But I need some help! I feel crazy to be posting on TB that I wasn't blown away by this amplifier!
  2. jgroh


    Sep 14, 2007
    I bought one recently as well for the same price as a matter of fact...but I didnt have the opportunity to play with it at home solo before taking it to band practice (my cabinet is at the practice spot) and Im glad I didnt. Something I have learned (the hard way) is that it really doesnt matter how it sounds solo, it matters how it sounds in a mix. Mine sounds great.

    The amps I have had over the years that sounded great solo, didnt sound very good playing with a band, and vice versa. Not saying this is the case, but I would wait until you are playing with others in a live setting to make a determination.
  3. Hmmm... I find this amp way more neutral than the Shuttle. It's very even from top to bottom (as shown by the Bass Gear Magazine bench test).

    It does not have that big upper mid bump that the Shuttles have, but has PLENTY of sparkle up top (the Marcus Miller tone guys LOVE the LMII). It also has much more ooomph and extension in the low end, which probably is causing that little mid voiced 210 to strain a bit.

    However, every amp isn't for every person. The LMII's EQ is more like a channel strip in logic. It is meant to keep the amp sounding relatively even from one context to the next, not to radically change the tone (although I guess if you crank the filters, they will really change the whole nature of the amp).

    If you don't dig the sound of it set pretty 'flat' (i.e., all the tone controls at noon, and the filters off, with maybe the VPF at 8 o'clock... just on a smidge), then my guess is the amp is not for you.

    Cool thing on the GC 30 day return... so nothing lost if you end up not digging it.
  4. Also!!!!!!!! Remember, that VLE is nothing more than a treble roll-off, just like the tone controls on passive Fenders. Totally OFF is flat.

    Something tells me you are using those filters incorrectly. If you are saying the LMII is not as 'hi fi', but are engaging the 'VINTAGE speaker emulation control', then this is user error. Both filters should be OFF for the amp to be 'flat'.

    That VLE is strictly there to remove upper treble sheen and upper mid brightness from the tone of the LMII, especially if you have a more modern, tweeter loaded cab, if you want a darker, more old school tone.

    And remember that the VPF is just an enhance circuit like the Eden, TF, etc. It actually does the same thing as that center button on your Shuttle (contour or whatever they call it), but has the advantage of being adjustable, versus the 'all or nothing' of the Shuttle. A VERY little bit of the VPF goes a very long way, especially with a little cab like the particular 210 you have.

    Hope that all helps you at least evaluating the head and deciding if it is for you or not.
  5. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Mike Lull GK Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups Darkglass

    Well its not going to sound anything like the Aguilar and your not going to get that sound from the LMII with tone tweaking its EQ.

    To me Tone is first #1

    Then construction, portability, ect...

    So consider is it really what you want??? Or is the Aggie what you are looking for.

    To be honest I picked up the LMII as a secondary amp (after liking the tone) for its porta bility. However I have come to like it more when I started using it more with the Bergintino cabinets.

    Have your tried setting flat and slowly started dialing in the VPF?

    I love the VPF on the LMII and although its not for everyone I love it.
    (Lots of folks are afraid of losing thier mids and not cutting when the use VPF) again its has a lot to do with your cabinet suggestion.

    Give it time its not like your playing a crazy wood bass with a very distinct and/or different tone (not that there is anything wrong with that)...You playing something very reliable with solid tone.

    Try it in a gigging situation at least once then ask yourself what your think.
  6. Absentia


    Feb 25, 2009
    I had a similar reaction when I bought my 102P combo, initially it was amazing, then as things go you adjust to the sound and you become a little disappointed until you try your old gear again.
    The problem with Markbass stuff IMO is it's too clean sounding, you get you and your bass out of it.

    And it really shines in a big room like a gig.
  7. naturalkinds


    Jan 22, 2009
    Savannah, GA
    Thanks for all of your advice so far. I do think there is sage advice in waiting to hear it in a mix. What drew me to it was hearing how another bassist sounded with the same setup in a jazz band. It just filled the room beautifully.

    And thanks for the encouragement in the testing process. Like I said, I'm rooting for it. And I'll take your advice and experiment A LITTLE BIT with the VLE and VPF, so I don't feel like I'm twitching too much.
  8. Blah114


    Feb 7, 2008
    never judge an amp unless in a band setting..
  9. Surly


    Feb 2, 2007
    South Florida
    Like an SVT, all about the band setting
  10. claytitan


    Mar 12, 2008
    The LMII is a good amp. Not for everyone though. I just didn't like the sound. I went with the GK 1001 which works better for me. I will probably get the LMII as a backup sometime. I can see how the LM would cut well in a band setting. If they ever add a mute switch....

  11. The soon to be released LMTube has a mute switch and more fully featured DI than the LMII, and I assume if you add a bit of the blendable tube tone to the mix, you might get a bit more of that 'GK growl' out of the amp (just guessing there, have not heard one).
  12. Absentia


    Feb 25, 2009
    mmmmmmmmm can't wait to try it, gonna be sexy.
  13. jesso


    May 30, 2008
    Don't stress dude. My Ampeg V4BH sounds way better on its own than the LM2, but in a real life gigging situation I go for the LM2 every time. Just cuts through so well with such effortless power. Great amp.
  14. scowboy

    scowboy Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    Sacramento area
    I love my LMII. And yes it sounds totally different at a gig than in my practice space. With that said I do not use the VLE at all and everytime I do I become very disappointed with the results. Typically I wonder "what's wrong with my amp, oh the VLE is turned up". The VPF I run between 9am and 12pm and get stellar results.

    Folks its okay to use a little tone control on your rig. This coming from a guy with a Tube stereo system in the other room with NO tone controls.

    After a brief stop on the GK train and a longer stop on the Eden train I am happiest so far with my Markbass stuff.

    I have a Traveler 102P cabinet and just last night bought a CL108 (8x10) at GC for $750!
  15. zenrad

    zenrad Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2009
    Bergen County, NJ
    I just went through a similar thing with my new LMII (which I got in GC for a great price due to the recent flier) and posted yesterday about it.

    Long story short, I like the amp, it took a little time with it to get to know it. I haven't had the chance to play through it with my band yet, but I played in a larger room with a drum machine and guitar tracks going through the PA to get the feel of playing in a live situation and it makes a big difference.

    With my cabs I keep the VLE off and the VPF at about 8:00. I have the EQ controls near flat, bass just past noon, low mid at about 11:00, high mid at 1:00, high just past noon.
  16. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Play the amp at a gig and I predict that it will not be going anywhere...
  17. fwiw . . . love mine for stage, studio and bedroom!:)
  18. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    I like mine set flat except with the VLE at 9:00.

    I go for a "p bass with flats" tone.

    Love it!
  19. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    I had the same buyer's remorse as you when I got it. I liked the tone, mine was mostly for it not being in the mix as much as I'd want it. But I figured it was because 2x10 is not enough to overpower a loud drummer and a loud guitarist.

    Going to get a 1x15 cab soon probably.
  20. scowboy

    scowboy Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    Sacramento area
    Yes. I dig that too!

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