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Double Bass amplification

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by harri, Nov 8, 2003.


    I am a Finnish semi-pro double bass player living in England and plan shortly to update all my amplification gear. There are so many different amps and speaker systems on the market and I am desperate to get some advise from fellow musicians on the best equipment to choose.

    From 1991 I have used a Gallien Krueger 1200 CEB Bass Combo, Output 200W, to which I usually hook up a Trace Elliott 2+10 speaker cabinet.
    I have been reasonably happy with this gear, but as amps and speakers have improved over the years, I would like to see what else is available.

    I use a swell back 120 year old German ¾ size bass, fitted with d’Addario strings and I use a Underwood pick up. Un amplified the sound is just what I want, but the amplified sound, especially at higher volumes, could be improved.

    I have also used a Fishman Transducer pick up and a Shaertler Electrodynamic Transducer with their pre-amp, but I prefer the Underwood.

    When trying to record from the direct-out on the Gallien amp, I can not get a decent sound, nowhere as good as recording with a microphone placed a few feet from the bass. But then the mike picks up the sound from the other instruments at the same time.

    I play in a six piece band with drums, guitar and three front liners, with the exception of the drums, the other instruments go through the PA. But not the bass, so I need a fair amount of volume to be heard.

    We play at clubs and pubs and each venue presents different acoustic problems, some of the pubs can be on the small size, fully carpeted with heavy curtains etc.

    As mentioned, the sound I get when recording through a mike, is absolutely great, not far off Ray Brown’ sound, just the true sound of the bass and I hope there are some amps or systems available in the market, that will enable me to reproduce this sound, but LOUD.

    Part of my problem is that I don’t understand much about amplifiers, speakers or electronics in general, and consequently I am desperate for help.

    I have been considering Gallien Krueger’s amp 1001RB Bi-Amp 540+50W
    possibly with their 115RBH 400W speaker cabinet, maybe even with their 210RBH 400W as addition, but now I don’t know if I need all the things this model features.

    I read an article by The Bassplayer 24.05.01, where they highly praise the Eden WT-400 amp head with the Epifani T-112, single 12” speaker, “ producing a natural defined tone “ and “ this combination has wan hands down every time”,
    And states “ previous known brand amplification stalwarts have been eclipsed well and truly”.

    The output from this amp is 4 / 8 Ohms 400/235 Watts RMS and the Epifany Frequency Response is 43 hz- 16 khz. ( is 43 Hz low enough?)

    Eden also has more powerful amps , the WT550 Traveller and the WT-600 Roadrunner plus the WT-800 World Tour Stereo. Should I consider the WT-600 or the WT-800 for maximum power with plenty to spare? And what would the best speaker choice be in that case? Would a Stereo Amp offer any advantages in my situation?

    Alternatively, have these models been superceeded by other manufacturers or can anyone recommend something better??

    Unfortunately, most of the Bass players I know locally, are not too bothered by the sound they produce, they are more concerned about having as little as possible to carry when out on gigs and their sound is accordingly poor. So there is no-one here that I can check out.

    Once I know what combination to go for, distance is no object, as it is possible for me to purchase direct from the States and have the goods shipped to U.K.
    ( unless the manufacturer is represented over here).

    I hope someone can offer me advise on the above as I am totally ignorant in these matters, and I will highly appreciate all the replies.

    With best regards,

    Harri B.W.Forelius
  2. sean p

    sean p

    Mar 7, 2002
    eugene, oregon
    have you looked at the (locked) newbie thread at the top of this forum? there you'll find a LOT of information which will no doubt raise more questions than it answers. :) we're all on a similar journey - good luck!

    sean p
  3. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Hi, Harri. Like sean p said, you can find a lot of info on Eden and GK amps (and general DB amplification topics) in the Newbie links. Now to share my experiences with the devices in question...

    I'm currently using both a Gallien-Krueger 400RB head and an Eden WT-400 to power Carvin 1x12 and SWR 2x10 & 1x15 cabinets. All 3 cabs also have horn tweeters. I play DB, BG, and Chapman Stick and I'm still in the process of getting together a rig that works well for all three with minimum compromise. I'm playing DB in a Latin jazz group, a bluegrass combo, and (occasionally) a pop duo.

    My DB is a New Standard Cleveland, which is a large, masterfully crafted plywood instrument with a big, fat tone. It's strung with Spirocore mediums and has a Realist pickup (I'm also experimenting with a K&K Bass Max). So my equation is: big-sounding bass + deep, punchy pizz strings + dark sounding pickup (Realist). This means that I need an amp with a clear sound and a useful EQ for getting rid of boom.

    Right now I'm using a SansAmp Bass Driver pedal as a preamp--most of the time I use it just as a buffer for the piezo, but occasionally I use the treble/bass controls and tube amp emulator. I haven't really experimented with mic-ing my bass but when I've recorded a direct line from the Realist into the SansAmp, it sounds very warm and natural, pretty mic-like.

    I'm thinking of getting a Fishman Pro Platinum Bass Preamp--I think the low-cut filter, phase switch, compressor, and 5-band EQ will come in very handy.

    I like the 400RB--it has a very fast response, and its midrange character cuts through well. Aside from needing a couple of repairs this amp has served me well for 16 years. A lot of the time I run the GK through the Carvin cabinet raised off the floor. It's not what I'd call a hi-fi combo, but it has a Polytone-esque midrange growl that helps me hear my intonation.

    On the downside, its 200 watts can be a bit limiting for live use, and I wish there was more control over the midrange and bass. The 1001RB has a lot more power and a variable midrange contour, plus a deeper-voiced bass circuit so it could work well.

    The Eden sounds really good with DB, but I haven't found the right cab to match it yet. The Carvin cab is short on lows and highs, while the SWR cabs lack midrange and the tweeters can get harsh. I'm trying to find a pretty efficient, lightweight(under 50#), accurate sounding cabinet--Euphonic Audio, Bergantino, Epifani, and Accugroove all sound interesting. I'm planning on going to a shop next week that carries EA and Bergantino, so hopefully I can start making some choices.

    I like the WT-400--its 1 megohm input impedance means you don't need to use a preamp, the semi-parametric EQ is very versatile, it's small/light/loud. I find its compressor, aux inputs, and headphone jack very useful. On the downside, the XLR out is post-preamp only and the fan is fairly loud, but it usually doesn't come on while I'm playing at low volume. I'm not sure if Eden is truly the "Ultimate Acoustic Bass Amp", but coupled with a good bass and the right speakers, they do sound tasty.

    The WT-550 has a Speakon jack, can drive 2 ohm loads, and has a bit more power. The WT-800 is about twice the weight of the WT-400 and would be the best choice if you used 1 8 ohm cabinet that could handle 800 watts, or you wanted to take advantage of its stereo/biamp capabilities. For about the same price you could get a Euphonic Audio iAmp 800 which has more extensive tone-shaping abilities than the Eden. You could also try something like the Raven Labs Universal Stereo Instrument Preamp into a nice lightweight QSC power amp.

    As an EU resident you might find this American gear pretty expensive and hard to get/service, which could make your homegrown options like EBS, Ashdown, Markbass, Hevos, and Glockenlang more appealing. Hope this helps and good luck!
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
  5. harri

    Try the Overwater Bass emporium in Carlisle - I find it most unusual to find a shop that uses and understands its own products and indeed only stocks them because they think they are good. They have a web site (see below). Their service is second to none. The gear they stock is Bergantino, EA and AI and others.

    I agree that an appalling number of players put put up with crap sound for the sake of convenience (or ignorance? I sometimes think there is inverted snobbery involved - you don't need that sonny, I've played with cruddo for years). Sometimes its lack of £ (my excuse).


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