Best micro-head for Chris Squire/ Jon Camp /early Roger Glover-esque tone?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by melt, Mar 6, 2016.

  1. melt


    May 16, 2007
    Hi everybody. A few years back my old band bit the dust and the remnants, plus a couple of other guys, formed a new, acoustic band from the ashes; 3 part harmony, acoustic guitars, mandolin, cajon and electric bass. At the time I had a Barefaced Compact and Ashdown ABM500 which proved to be complete overkill for most of the gigs we did (mainly smallish pub gigs, with a few festivals thrown in where I usually DI-d or used provided backline), so I replaced it with a Hartke Kickback 1x10 and a Sansamp Bass DI, using either or both as required. The Hartke wasn't quite up to the job all the time but was passable most of the time.

    I'm now replacing the Hartke with a Barefaced One Ten (possibly two if I find it necessary) as they fit the bill on most levels and should provide a deal more oomph than the Hartke whilst keeping things very light (15lbs!) and compact; chronic back problems (several prolapsed discs) require me to keep the weight down as much as possible.

    So, I'm now after a micro head to go with them. Obviously the best thing to do is try a bunch but there's nowhere near me I can do so, and for logistical reasons I can't currently get down to the place I'd normally go (Bass Gallery in London - I'm in the northern UK).

    As the title says, I'm really after something that will give me something vaguely Squire/Glover/Camp-esque. I've tried Markbass LMs (II, K) and F1 and they don't do it for me (and yes I do know how they work as a friend used one for years) and once tried a Shuttle which I really didn't get on with, although to be fair it was using a cab with a glass-shattering tweeter (and I hate tweeters). As you may have guessed, I use 2 x 1972 Ric 4001 basses and usually play with a pick, very lightly.

    Heads I'm interested in but haven't tried are GK MB500 and Fusion, EBS Reidmar, Ashdown MiBass 2.0 (although i believe these have been discontinued), Orange Terror Bass (although I did once try one of these with a couple of modern 4003s and felt it was very woolly) and Aguilar TH500. In the UK the Aggie is easily the most expensive, although the one time I tried one it seemed a bit dark for my tastes. I did try an Ashdown CTM15 in a shop and loved it, but I don't think it'd really be loud enough - despite being hugely louder than I expected - and the next step up (LB/CTM 30) would start getting into the weight issue again.

    In terms of amps I've used previously, my favourites were the very early Trace heads and cabs (and yes they didn't do real grind but had so much non-glassy clarity & bark it compensated; check out early Mark King and Leigh Gorman of Bow Wow Wow). I've also liked Marshall Superbass, which seem at the opposite end of the spectrum but which i actually get a not-dissimilar sound out of. If you check out BassJaymi's videos on Youtube he has a lot of what I like in his tone and he also uses Trace. Also if you search Youtube for Renaissance Black Flame (live b&w footage), Jon Camp's tone on that is stellar. Never really got on with Ampeg, even though I used some for a few years; never found it had the clarity or the bark I prefer. I've never used GK so have no idea what to expect, other than the Flea / Duff thing and the fact that Leigh Gorman seems to have used them a lot in the States; Leigh is also one of my fave players and has a tone I love.

    If I'm honest I'm also not overly keen on my Sansamp either, which has filled a role but only barely; the lack of mid control on basses that have something of a mid cut anyway can be problematic and I find that turning the bass and/or treble down just doesn't give me what I want.

    So, I'd be grateful if anyone has any suggestions / preferences for a micro head to achieve the sort of tone I'm after (and a DI too if possible as I often need to just use a DI pedal at festivals etc).
  2. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    LOL I thought one day this question would come up. The only similar tone missing from your list is Geddy Lee a la Tom Sawyer. My other favorite is Yes' Roundabout. But from what I understand or heard through TB many moons ago is that Chris used a Marshall as part of his sound and thus the sweet gritty sound.

    I'm in the same position--I live in Alaska at the end of the trail and make it out a couple times a year, and not all stores have what I want to try when I'm vacationing. A few that have been on my try list are-- Fender Rumble head, Mesa D -800 GK MB500, and I wish there was a higher powered micro head by Ampeg like the BA-210 v2 with the Bass Scrambler overdrive. I'm also wanting a light portable but loud system.

    Good luck, I'll be watching for suggestions!
  3. brbadg


    Nov 10, 2006
    Look,I'm not advocating for any piece of gear,just want you to maybe look at it from another point of view.This is my man Miguel
    who does these play alongs.He uses a sansamp.I'm not saying buy a sansamp,I'm just saying go for the tone in your head.
    Look he's using a Tele Bass with a mudbucker for crap sake.

    StuartV likes this.
  4. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    Fender Super Bassman
  5. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey Suspended

    Mar 8, 2015
    I was messing around at a friend's house last week. Yamaha BB415 (passive "P/J") through a Sansamp BDI (I think, one of their pedals with 3 foot switches), GK 1001RB, and into a Fender Pro 8x10 (from 10 or so years ago I think). With some tweaking, pretty much NAILED the Geddy/Squire/Chancellor sorts of tones (or at least a version of those). That grindy, slightly nasal but full midrange, but with good definition and body.

    So with the Sansamp, maybe for your low power needs, something like a GK 400RB and an SWR Goliath Jr? Something along those lines should do you well and be fairly cheap. Since you're in ol' blighty, you could substitute a Trace 2108H for the SWR. And maybe just a trace head as well should be cheap as hell over there.
    JJCrowe likes this.
  6. melt


    May 16, 2007

    I've actually got a Sans amp, as stated in my original post, and have never really been happy with it. The main problem amp/cab-wise is I have severe back problems (I have several prolapsed discs and suffer with joint problems - I'm in my 50s) so need light gear; I could get my tone through Trace or Marshall Superbass at the drop of a hat, but neither of those are options; it pretty much has to be a micro head. I already have the Barefaced cab - 15lbs! (check them out online) , as stated in my original post. Just looking for a head and possibly a new DI pedal, preferably with more (more? Some!) mid-control.
  7. melt


    May 16, 2007
    Again, sadly all the above are too heavy, and the cab's covered, but thanks for all the suggestions so far. FWIW Geddy /Justin are a bit too distorted for what I'm after (well, later Geddy is). I love that sing-song, hollow but slightly grindy Squire/Camp sound. Check out the Renaissance Black Flame clip on Youtube.

    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
  8. I'm gonna get lambasted for this, but have you thought about a TC RH450 and a cab of your choice? It will grind with the built in Tube emulator, built in tuner, excellent D.I., four band eq, three pre-sets around 9 pounds.
    You will never use all the power, but it's there if you ever do find yourself in a "bind"! LOL
  9. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey Suspended

    Mar 8, 2015
    It's really the same tone tone, just the context is different. In Rush and Tool the guitars are heavily distorted (a lot of the time), so the bass seems more grindy than it actually is. Chancellor does sometimes kick it up a notch, but I was talking about his "average" tone. I sat there playing with the same tone pretty much (minor EQ tweaks here and there just dialing things in) and it worked for all of those things.

    And a 400RB should only be about 20lbs if that. And though you said you have a cab, I think the Goliath JR is only in the 45lb range which is about average for a 2x10 (you could always put some neos in it and probably save 10 lbs).

    Anyway, a Ric through just about anything is going to get you a good bit of the way there. Add the sansamp to get that cranked SVT vibe, and then you just need a punchy full sounding amp and cab to reproduce it.
  10. TrevorOfDoom


    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Correct me if i'm wrong, but those gents you listed all played Ric's, right?
    Seems to me if you're not playing a Ric, no amp is gonna get you anywhere near where you wanna be.

    Well don't i feel sheepish. Just saw the bit about you already plauing Ric's.
    I've got an Orange TerrorBass and it cleans up if you replace the 12ax7 in V1.
    However, Ashdown just released the Rootmaster series micro amps, so I'd look into those.

    Out of curiosity, what did you mean when you said the ABM 500 was too overkill?
  11. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    I agree with brbadg.

    As such, the first micro head I'd be looking at right now is the new Peavey miniMega 1000. 1000W RMS into 4 ohms. 4-band semi-parametric EQ (Lo and Hi mids, each with sweepable frequency center and wide and and narrow Q options). Compressor. Crunch. Punch. Bright. Kosmos A and C processing. Aux In. FX loop. DI out (XLR and TRS). Tuner out. Headphone out. 9 pounds.

    EDIT: 9 pounds is the shipping weight, so the head by itself must weigh even less.

    New, authorized dealers on eBay selling them for around $500.

    Enough power to never need anything else. Enough features to also probably never need anything else. I put my money where my mouth is and ordered one earlier today.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
    brbadg likes this.
  12. svtb15

    svtb15 Inactive

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig. Q+
    Orange Tiny Terror
    Mystic Michael likes this.
  13. woodyng2

    woodyng2 Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2015
    Oregon Coast
    image.jpeg This. The manual even has a "Chris Squire" setting.
    vin088xk1, brbadg and EASonBass like this.
  14. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    You should try a Mesa Boogie Walkabout. It's got some great grind to it.
    cfsporn likes this.
  15. melt


    May 16, 2007
    My friend, the guy who had the LMK, has the TC, with a Berg. I used it at a gig recently but tbh it didn't do it for me.
  16. melt


    May 16, 2007

    Geddy's tone is IMO pretty different to Chris's, and I much prefer Chris's, although I've been a fan of both for decades. FWIW I'm set on a micro, as I need to carry everything in one trip, amp, cab and bass, and FWIW 2 of the Barefaceds, at a total 30lbs, will blow the Jnr into the dust.
  17. melt


    May 16, 2007
    I'd be interested to try a cleaned up TB but I've heard so many horror stories about build quality and reliability. The ABM was literally on about 1 volume-wise through my old Compact and at 30 odd lbs was on the limit of what I can carry one handed (this from a guy who used to carry his 100lb Trace 4x10 one-handed!). Oh, tried a Rootmaster, didn't like it sadly. The CTM15 I tried sounded way better.
  18. melt


    May 16, 2007
    Haven't seen these. Haven't historically got on with Peavey - in fact they've been my least favourite amps - but haven't played one in a long time so may be worth a look.
    StuartV likes this.
  19. melt


    May 16, 2007
    Now that IS interesting!
    woodyng2 likes this.
  20. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    I think you're on a great track. The trend today is smaller, lighter, louder. Now you CAN have all 3!
    And FWIW Geddy still sounds like Geddy even though he plays his own Signature Fender Jazz nowadays. Now, I think I do remember him using some sort of SansAmp in his chain. That would make sense to give the Tech21 micro head a good look and test...
  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.

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