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Best DI or combo amp for my specific rig

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by srslots81, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. srslots81


    May 29, 2012
    Long (awesome) post alert! Edit to add that this MIGHT need to be in the amp section...

    So, I've read a zillion posts so far with DI and combo amp recommendations, however I was hoping to get some feedback regarding my specific rig from those in the know.

    I am in NYC and do not have a head or a cab yet because the studios we practice in always have amps and the clubs we have played so far have had amps as well. Some clubs have both a head and a cab, some have just a cab, and some (most) have nothing. So, my plan is to buy a head and a DI box OR a combo.

    Ideally, when I can use my own head I will do that, otherwise I would bring a DI box since I just don't have room in my apt to store a head AND a cab. I would also like to get feedback on combo amps, however I have the preconceived (whether right or wrong) idea that they will not be ballsy enough for what I want.

    We play current rock that is heavily influences on classics like The Beatles, Zeppelin, Motown, Stones, etc. So in other words, sometimes we are heavy like Dazed and Confused-ish, and other times I am driving the band with a great clean tone ala Jamerson.

    My current set up is a 2012 American P-Bass with a Diamond Bass Compressor and a JHS Low Drive. Regardless of amp/di result, I would like to be able to still use my pedals. 90% of the time I play with a thick pick. We are a 4 piece and the bass is very much front and center with the 2 guitars for pretty much every song.

    If I am going to get a head, I can wait a little bit and play many around here to see what I like and in the meantime get a DI box for upcoming gigs. If a combo makes the most sense though that is a different story. If it is a combo it needs to be under 50 lbs since I will be lugging it around the city :).

    So, question 1 - are there quality combo amps under 50 lbs or so that can give me a true thumping P Bass sound and still have my pedals do their thing? Or, will I be sacrificing my tone a lot with a combo amp? All clubs around here would mic the amp.

    Question 2 (my ideal result for ease of travel) - if I do not get a combo then my immediate need turns to a good DI box. I am looking for one that can give me a great 'warm' clean P Bass tone. I don't need to rely on any drive because I have my pedals. Which also means it needs to play well with pedals before it! I have read good things about the SansAmp Para Driver, the Tone Hammer and a lot of Radial boxes.

    If any one would like to know more specifics just let me know! Thanks in advance for all the opinions...this forum rocks!
  2. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    Ill keep it short and simple in my humble opinion. And from what I've worked with. The GK combos are sweet and toneful. Very light. Like 30 something lbs light. I was playing with an orange, I think it was called the bass terror, which was friggen sweet and tubey. Could get loud too. GK also makes really small and lightweight heads that lack a lot of punch so maybe check out their stuff. I'm obviously a GK guy. Again, it's what I'm familiar with. As far as DI boxes/pedals, I have the sans amp bass driver DI and have had it for years. It is an awesome pedal but I've never actually used the DI feature on it. It has a lot of great, tubey sounding tones. Even a little bit of grit. I actually just ordered and am waiting for a sansamp VT2 bass pedal. It's also of the like of a DI box. Although it doesn't have the XLR output on it. Hope this helped a little. Again, there is an enormous wealth of knowledge on here and I'm sure there will be plenty of others that can give a lot more suggestions than. More educated as well haha.
  3. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    Sorry, the PACK a lot of punch, not LACK of as far as the GK combos go.
  4. srslots81


    May 29, 2012
    Thanks Greg. As far as the pedals go, I am only interested in the DI aspect of them. The Orange Terror Bass amp does look sweet.

    Here is a (bass) newbie question - if I get a head that has an XLR output can I just have the head go direct into the soundboard, or does it need to have a cabinet? If so, then I do not need a DI box and I can just get the head I want and if there is no cab available, go direct to the board from the head...right?
  5. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    I'm pretty sure if the head has a DI you can straight into the soundboard yes. I know the last gig I played the dude DI'ed me into the PA. So my cab was pretty much a monitor so to speak. I mean my cab still put out some heat but I'm sure if I didn't have it, the audience would hear me fine. I wouldn't have heard myself very well though.
  6. kjohnsting

    kjohnsting Lookit!

    Nov 15, 2009
    Philly Burbs
    SWR Redhead
  7. If you have a solid state head, with a DI XLR output, you don't need a cab.
    Note that you can't use a tube head without a cab attached. Also note that some olderheads, such as early trace elliots have XLR SPEAKER outputs.

  8. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    Depends on the head. I think with some solid state heads (you'd have to check with a manufacturer) you can get away without a cabinet connected to it, but with tube amps it's an absolute no-no. It has to do with all sorts of cool science and stuff... and it's basically the difference in frying your amp or not. If you're looking to go that route you might need to do some research ahead of time on amps that will specifically let you do that.

    On the other subjects, I have experience with the Tone Hammer. You can find a lot of info on it on here, and there are some good videos done by a gentleman on YouTube who does a segment called "The Bass Hang". I find it to be a very useful EQ tool and it works well with other pedals, but in all honesty I have yet to really use it for front of the house sound and while using it for recording I always liked it a little better paired with some sort of amp emulator (specifically the VT Bass). I absolutely love the EQ it adds to an amp, but not necessarily what it sounds like on its own. Other people really love it, however, and it fits some people's styles great.

    As far as combo amps, no you will not necessarily be compromising tone by going that route. I played a Bassman TV 15 combo for years and loved it. If you go that route, you might find your options somewhat limited.
  9. blastjv


    Jan 8, 2010
    Philly Area
    They weigh a LOT more than 50#!

    I'd recommend a GKMB115. Great amp, lightweight, XLR out if you need it. If you want to go with just a head, the MB500 is a great way to go, or check out the Aguilar TH500 (or 350).
  10. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
  11. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    The GK MB200 head would suit your needs well. Can be run as a DI only, can run as a head powering a cab, can do both, can run as a headphone amp, and can even run as a preamp to slave another amp or poweramp. Very small and lightweight, and fairly inexpensive.

    As far as straight up DI's go, there are several good ones that would suit you well. The Tonehammer, the Eden WTDI, and the many Tech 21 options-BDDI, VT Bass Deluxe, VT bass DI, or Paradriver all have xlr outs. Even the Zoom B3 might be a good option for you.
  12. srslots81


    May 29, 2012
    At this point this thread should probably be moved to the amp section, but...

    The MB Heads seem pretty sweet. What are the main differences between them and the RB series??

    The 700RB-II and the MB800 are similarly priced. How are they similar/different other than the size and weight? Does one have a better DI that would benefit me in the situation when a cab is not available?

    The cost of the MB800 is OK with me, so I assume that would be a better option than the MB500 if cost is OK, right?

    Thanks! This has been very helpful.
  13. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    I'm not sure about the DI on the MB head but I know the DI on the RB series is in front and functions well. Tonal they will be a little different I believe.
  14. cchorney

    cchorney Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2010
    Meriden, CT
    You may need to try out a bunch of stuff to see for yourself, but my experience is that the smaller cabs (which tend to usually be the lightest ones), don't have quite the "oomph" of the larger cabs - even with the same drivers in them. That was my feeling in trying out various Markbass 2x10 cabs - the smaller, lighter ones didn't have very much bottom. As someone else on this board has said, "There is no free lunch" when it comes to bass cab size.

    For DI, I love my Sansamp BDDI Deluxe.
  15. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    Why in the world would he do that?
  16. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    Recomendations for your situation:
    Combo-TC Electronic BG250 (Great sounding, light, feature laden combo with a DI out)
    Head-Genz Benz Streamliner or TC Electronic RH450
    DI-Sansamp or Sadowsky

    Done with my input. Good luck!
  17. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    There are tonal differences between the GK MB series and RB series, but they both have very good tones....just slightly different.

    The RB series features older, more time tested technology--they are known to be bulletproof.

    The MB series feature newer class D technology. They are a lot smaller, lighter, and portable.

    Here's how I'd look at the difference--if I were going to use the amp head to mostly run cabs + a DI send, I'd choose the RB. If I were going to use it mostly as a DI with sometimes running a cab, I'd choose the MB series.
  18. pgolliher


    Apr 27, 2010
    Santa Cruz, CA
    +1 to the GK MB combos and SansAmp Bass Driver DI.
  19. srslots81


    May 29, 2012
    Unfortunately I don't know what I will be doing more because there is no way to know where we will be playing. However, since the MB is significantly more portable, I will probably go that route!

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