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Combo or head w cab?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by tbasstreble11, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. Hello all :) I'm new here and want to say thanks so much for all the invaluable information you share on this forum! I've been off the bass for too many years and after unsuccessful attempts at singer songwriting and a lot of time travelling, I've remembered that all I ever wanted was to play music for a living. And the most comfortable, expressive contribution I ever made was playing bass on my ****** (bless) Cort 5-string and Jade (do they still make those?!) 75 (combo) head I'd wired into a Sovtek 4x10 cabinet.

    I'm backing myself in to find a band or five that'll have me (with a bit of rust remover) - not being cocky, just hopeful! So I figure I need to gear up properly because my playing could use the all the assistance it can get. That, and I don't want to fall short on power or quality if/when I hook up with a gigging band. There's so many two-piece drummer,guitar/vox arrangements playing around my area that I hope to jam with!

    After playing a Warwick Thumb 5, Musicman Stingray, Fender Jazz Standard and Geddy Lee, Cort A5, Lakland 5 and extensive reading of this site I have come to decide on a second-hand 2007 US made Fender Highway One Jazz i felt I lucked into when I was looking. The feedback on this guitar on Talkbass tipped the H One Jazz in favour over saving more for a Stingray. I got it for half the price of the new Fender American Special Jazz, and it looked to me from the opinions here and specs on line that this was slightly better built?

    Anyway, I'm hoping to get an amp that will manage rehearsals and small to medium gigs, and will most likely be playing alongside acoustic guitarists and drums. I played a few amps when I looked at basses, and liked the ones that sounded fuller and rounder, warmer even. I'd rather invest more in an amp now that will last me a long time, but am getting a bit lost with all the reading I'm doing. The TC RH450 dragged up some pretty funny threads, after about 20 pages of one I decided not to go for it because I got the impression that the way those amps worked meant a tonal variance (for better or worse) with volume because of all the compressions going on, which made me look at the Markbass 102 Combo, it seems such a stripped-back design that that may not be an issue? I can't crank these amps to what I want to hear in the stores...

    The Fender Rumble 350 is so cheap for the power - is it not gig-worthy? I'm leaning toward getting the TC BG250 115 for two reasons, the Aux input so I can brush up on covers, and, it's cheap and could buy me time to shop around more for a decent full size rig. Are there any other amps that have the Aux input? Does the tone suffer that much at higher volumes with the BG250? Any reasons I shouldn't look at second hand amps? Also, are all heads capable of powering multiple cabinets, or is this something I need to know, should I decide to get say a head and 2x10 that I can add to later?

    Sorry for all the questions guys, but I really appreciate all your knowledge being available here. If I should pull my head in and start with a small combo, please tell me and recommendations would be greatly appreciated. :D
  2. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass What the .............. Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    Consider a used Shuttle 6.2 or better or a GkMb500 or better with a 112 cab with the option to add a second cab later. Just one of many thoughts.. If I were going to get a combo I'd be looking at either a Carvin MB or a GkMB or a GB contour.
  3. Thanks. Carvins aren't around in my state in OZ, not that I've been able to find anyway, but thanks for the tip. Any reason not to get the GK MB212? It's rated at 500 watts and is cheaper than the head and 112 together. Are there limiting aspects to having (all my eggs in one basket) a full powered (for my needs) combo?
  4. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

    Mar 20, 2011
    Spokane, Washington
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    Can you fit it in your car? That's about the only thing I can think of.

    You are way overthinking this IMO. If it's in your budget and it sounds good, and you are comfortable with the way it's built, there's no reason not to get a combo.
  5. TheRealKong


    Mar 17, 2011
    Hi, tbasstreble11, and welcome back to the best instrument ever invented, the bass. You did right by getting a Musicman Bass. They built fine basses.

    To come to the question, I would recommend to get a head a cab. I was using combos for a time and find the combination od amp and cab more versatile.

    Powerwise I am a guy that says: Get something with about 500 Watt @ 4 Ohm, so with one 8 Ohm-cab you will get about 300 Watt. This is enough for starting things again. If you like, you can add a second cab to your backline to get more volume and the full 500 Watt.

    A good combo is expensive, and a loud one is heavy, so my SWR Redhead was both of it, and they are not built anymore. GenzBenz made some realy good combos, but they are out of the market this time. I wouldn't recommend a Fender Bullet combo because I don't know them. Markbass Combos are not my cup of tea, but I like the amps. I have a LittleMark II for years now, and the small thingy does a good ob as backup amp and for small venues. I like its sound when played over an old, sealed 410''-cab. Pretty old school sound.

    So bad that the Ibanez Promethean 5110 is out of production! This one is the one that falls out of the line for me. It was priced reasonable, with 250 Watt with the build in speaker, add a second cab and get full 500 Watt @ 4 Ohm. About 25 lbs, small, versatile. Beeing a fullstack-guy I never thought such a "dwarf amp" would be something for me, until I got it. Now I can grab it and go to a session, a small coffehouse or bar gig or to rehershall. So if you see a used Ibanez Promethean 5110 somewhere, try it out. I never played the new line, Promethean 3110 or 3115, only 300 Watt, no extension speaker possible.

    But for bigger venues I stay with a big, heavy amp and a 410'', or better a 810''-cab. But thats me.

    I would grab my bass and try out any amp and cab you can get your hands on, from Markbass to GallienKrueger (which I would recommend) to Tecamp and so on. Try different cabs, I like 12''-speakers, they have that certain roar and punch I like.

    Maybe a Tecamp Puma 500 + Tecamp S 212''-cab would be a something for you. Lightweight amp, lightweight cab, fine sound. To help you we should know the budget. Are you willing to buy new or used? How much?

    But, again, try out anything you can get your hands on. At first the sound has to suit you. It has to be your sound. Than decide.
  6. DannyBob


    Aug 28, 2013
    I've played a combo from shows for 50 people up to 1000 people with no problems. Usually you get miked up or DIed into a PA anyway.

    No problem with a good combo
  7. Thanks! Great to be here - I must have worded that badly, I actually bought the Fender Highway One Jazz... Are the passive pickups a factor looking at amps?

    Availability here is an issue. Prices for gear are waaaay more in Oz than probably anywhere so I didn't bother to mention my budget. $1000 would be the furthest I'd stretch I think, which would get me a new GK MB212 500w or a TC BG500 - OR - a decent head LMII (new) or SVT7 second hand - OR - a good cabinet of various sizes and combinations.

    So that's why I wondered about a smaller (cheaper) combo like the TC BG250, Eden EC210, Markbass JB 151P, or GK MB112 as a starting point to see how for I can stretch them while saving for something full size.

    On the other hand, this thing came up on ebay that didn't sell, which means I'm having a go on it tomorrow, a Shuttle 12.0 with a hartke VX410 (300w) - amp hardly used, cab seen some days... Actually as I'm writing this it sounds exactly like what you were recommending! I can always boost it later with another/better cab(s) and it sounds like all the tonal variety you want is in that head too! It's a couple hundred cheaper than the 500w combos too. I can't find GB gear new anywhere in Australia to compare the price... Btw why did you say they're out of the market?
  8. Noted... Story of my life :atoz:

    The feedback on the only two combos with enough power in my price range (TC BG250, GK MB210/12) has been mixed and disappointed enough for me to think twice... (MB 102 is twice the price of either) but I do appreciate you simplifying it for me :)

    Think it comes down to budget here so I'm looking at used gear now. Thanks for the advice!
  9. Checkout the TB classified http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f127/
  10. Thanks a lot for that! Had a look through and decided to check out the ozbassforum classifieds, not many keen on o/s shipping. That definitely opened the used gear options for me though! There's some really sweet Eden Cabs that keep showing, also a lot of them sold... Looking at this GB SM12.0 and Hartke VX410 tomorrow, I think I'm more interested in the head if he'll separate them, I'll could an eye out for a better cab from there. any thoughts on the GB SM12.0's?
  11. Welcome tbasstreble11! Excellent question although I'll agree with others that you are over-thinking the issue. Also agree with Danny Bob and Blue Talon that combos are just fine as you'll end in the PA anyway except in rehersal and small bars.

    While the Fender Rumble series is much maligned here, they are the best selling bass combos on the planet and with good reason. They Sound Great! The Rumble 350 is the flagship of the line and is extremely reliable; road-worthy, and exceedingly gig-worthy.

    The Rumble 350 uses the very same ICEPower power amp section as such stellar amps as the Aguilar Tone Hammer; Genz Benz Shuttle 6 series, GK's MB500, and others. This is an excellent sounding power amp with now legendary reliablity. The Rumble 350 is very conservatively rated by Fender and feels & sounds much more powerful with tons of headroom.

    They are very gig-worthy. I use the Rumble 350 head for week-end gigs in a classic rock band. Forum members Gougedeye, and Broadstreetbully22 also have used Rumble 350's professionally and are fans of Rumble gear. Over on the Fender forums are numerous well satisfied Rumble owners as there are here on Talk Bass in the Fender Rumble Club.

    If you like the way the Fender Rumble 350 sounds to you, and you find it affordable, there is no earthly reason why you should deprive yourself further. :cool:
  12. I have a combo for a practice and a back up (if my racked amp blows) and I have had no problem with it (I've used combos live plenty). The only reason I have a racked amp now is because I like to have my tuner easily available (I like to monitor my tuning) and a wireless transmitter. When I used my combos live, I had to tune thru a Fender PT100 pedal and, although it worked just fine, I found a racked tuner was just better. If you don't mind using a standard cord to plug into an amp or a pedal tuner, then you are good to go.
  13. Awesome! I'd actually forgotten all about this one and I think I never really looked at it a) because it was so cheap, and b) because it was a fender! Funny that aversion I have to anything ubiquitous (ie I still do not have a smartphone)... The bloke at bass centre confidently handed me a Fender Jazz and I kind of dishonestly shut him down on it! Didn't really speak to me, I told him (I had been playing a Warwick thumb and the tone was blowing my mind), the thing was -everything else I played had some discomfort or nagging inherent sound I was trying to overlook, or embrace the imperfection of it. But the Jazz - while it didn't cry out to me, nothing didn't feel or sound natural - and I'd never played a Fender before! It was so easy to play I felt insulted that he thought that's what I'd go for so I pushed for something exotic and less comfortable until (having forgotten about the J-Bass) I walked out with no bass - and picked up a Highway One the next week :)

    So, maybe the Rumble is a similar deal for me? Thanks for reminding me, I'll give it a try later on today. I'm still going to play on the GB SM12 with the Hartke Cab - together they're the same price as the I'll hopefully be able to get a sound I like from one of them!
  14. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

    Mar 20, 2011
    Spokane, Washington
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    Getting used is a great idea. TalkBass classifieds, ebay, craigs list, reverb.com, the used sections of all the major online music stores, the whole world opens up to you as a resource.

    Since this is your likely path, allow me to suggest another combo for your consideration -- SWR Working Man. They are quite rugged and reliable, and I've never had any complaints with my sound.
  15. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I have had both thru the years and liked them equally. I used a Markbass rig up until lately and now have the GK MB 115 mini stack w/115 powered cab.

    The top (head) is their combo. Most here will say you need a head and cab but I disagree. Allot of it has to do with budget and the type and volume of music you play.

  16. +1 Played a few amps today at the shop as soon as I picked up my Highway One Jazz (which, by the way, has two really small dents and is otherwise pristeen. The guy has had it since new 2007 and only ever doodled with it through his 15w guitar amp!)

    Tried the MB JB Player's school combo, GK MB115, GK MB212, Fender Rumble 350 and MB 102P.

    The fender surprised the crap out of me with how loud and defined it is! I can see why people might not like them, I think the tone has a bit of a rockabilly, be-bop feel and no real adjustment there. But I'd started with the JB PS and while I really enjoyed the tone, I felt it lacked punch and definitely volume for my needs (maybe it was just the volume). Went on to the GK212 which to me had all the volume (obviously twice the power) but half the definition - I felt like where the JB PS sounded natural, the GK sounded artificial.. chemically enhanced... Enjoyed the greater volume though, until I got onto the Rumble 350 :) Before I thought about it's tone, it kinda just sang to me LOUD and CLEAR. Perfect! I rolled back the bridge pickup to see if i would take away some of the brightness of the amp and decided there was enough adjustment there to play some fingerstyles and really liked the bright, open high-end for slapping and popping. So thanks for the tip!

    But then... I shouldn't have compared it because I'd played one before and I know how sweet they sound, and I was already stoked on the Rumble,and it's 2.5 times the price, but plugged into a MB 102P for about 20 secs just to torture myself with it. I think they sound sooo incredible for melodic slap lines... I could feel the highs pop through my body. The Fender Rumble is awesome and from the price point I'd be stoked with it, but if I could find a Markbass 102P willing to ship to Oz, it'd actually be cheaper.

    Markbass says their amps are intended for country of sale - does anyone know why? Is there some electrical reason (apart from the plug) that I couldn't use a combo sold originally in the States over here in Australia?
  17. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    I own a Shuttlemax 12.0. If you can find one buy it. More power than you will probable ever need and two channels make it very versatile.
  18. Thanks for the reccommendation - the guy selling it said that, but then, he's selling it ;) I'll play in the next couple days if it's still there!

    I've seen a few SM 6.0's sell for $450 on Ozbassforum... if that's the mark for the 6, any idea where that puts the 12?
  19. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004

    No Ideaa. I think I paid about $1100.00 for mine brand new. This was when they first came out.
  20. Thanks mate - I hadn't found any retail prices on them so that gives me some idea.