From Practice Combo to first micro rig

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by PlungerModerno, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno Guest

    Apr 12, 2012
    This is my first post so I'll start by saying this, then hello.

    I've been lurking and enjoying the eye-watering gear being used and even built by this sites users. I had to join, but felt I needed a reason so here goes:

    Been playing for 6 months - getting the basics down, learning the theory. I've been practicing with a dummer (my bro) with my 110watt SS combo (Harley Benton CB-110X).
    It's audabile over the drums but it's past halfway on gain & vol and starting to sound crummy. Could be the room but I know I want something with a lot more headroom for this, and hopefully in the coming months & year(s) band rehersal / gig or jam with more people at the very least.

    I'm looking into a SS micro head & a NEO cab (210 or thereabouts)

    My search aims:
    >Must Have tonal flexibilty (good EQ, parametric a bonus).
    >Head & Cab must allow second cab for extra speaker area & wattage(4 ohm head with 1 8 ohm cab, with option for a second)
    >Head & cab can't cost more than 1000 euro, hopefully 700-800
    >I'm Ideally looking for around 300W@8ohms, then 500W@4 with the second cab.
    >weight can't exceed 25 - 30 kg, lighter is better.
    >I love clean warm tones but I crave the duck dunn furry warm valve driven sound (not on my budget, I know).
    >Bass & amp must be able to handle lows & mids well, I can live without a tweeter/mid driver.

    I'm limited when testing in store (limited selection & volume) as well as issues buying second hand (bad previous trys, travel time etc.)
    I've been looking at some well recommended heads on cyberstores (thomann, dealt well with before, decent prices)
    specifically the GK MB500 and Ampeg PF-500
    Both seem super light and powerful - but I can't get both.
    Cab wise a Gallien Krueger 210MBE 8 Ohms seems a featherweight for 400W but I haven't heard enough to suss out how people feel about it.

    I understand Genz Benz & Markbass are more transparent than GK or Ampeg heads, but I don't want to scrimp on the cab to get a head I can't justify the expense of (700+ euro)

    Without playing through these beasts I can't develop a truly informed preference. I love the Idea of a light head & cab rig that I can start growing with.

    How do you ladies and Gents rate these loud little expletatives(GK MB500 and Ampeg PF-500)? Have you used them for long and are they as awesome & reliable after years of use?

    I'd also love any feedback on 8ohm heads that are light and 300 - 400 W RMS.

    Thanks for reading & Big Hello To all my fellow Bassists.
    I don't think I felt music until I heard carol Kaye play on pet sounds. That was an epiphany. P.S. I know there was more bassists than her on the recordings.
  2. I would check out a GK MB series head or an Ampeg PF head. They both get good reviews here. As far as cab goes a 210 wouldnt be enough for me. I would be looking at the GK 212 neo cab.
  3. Joe Louvar

    Joe Louvar Guest

    Jun 6, 2011
    Santa Rosa, CA USA
    Welcome to TB. It appears to me that you’re looking for make and model recommendations so this list could get long as everyone suggest their favorites. But, there is just no way possible for anyone to really know what you are going to prefer - so, I recommend going to some music stores and trying everything you can get your hands on - and don’t be in a hurry, take your time - and even order stuff online and send it back if you don’t like it.
  4. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    How "micro" does it have to be. Earlier this week I went to try out some used heads at Guitar Center, to compare them with the newer micros. I ended up getting a used Hartke HA2500 and Marshall cab...both used. The Hartke is around 20#, but has fantastic tone. If Hartke are available where you are, give them a try.
  5. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno Guest

    Apr 12, 2012
    Thanks for the feedback.
    I was getting some practice in earlier (myself & drummer), when I sat down the volume increased & the sound cleared up hugely.

    I must be hearing mainly reflected sound when the combo is blasting at my feet. Instant solution to the audibility issue.

    Put it on a chair dummy! (I did and it helped).

    So I won't be buying right now, but that's good. I can try to source a few new & used ones to try out, get my bass the way I want it (wanna try monel flats) and get a better feel for what I want in a amplifier and a cab.

    I guess my original question was as much in relation to reliability as tone / volume considerations. I have found what I expect to sound great and what sounds good are sometimes the very different. I have started EQing by ear and am pleased with the change. An amp+cab @ 300-500W that has a wide range of tone shaping options should be adequate for me as a volume booster but till I get a feel for these with my own ears it'd be silly to make the bigger investments. If I need volume in a hurry I'd expect a GK or an Ampeg to be a solid buy (they probably value their reputation enough to implement some QC).

    Still can't wait to scale up to the lung thumpers. It will be fun. with ear plugs. I don't want to go deaf if I can help it.

    P.S. I know I want a light(ish) rig - hence the keeness to go for a 210 or a 112, but I bought a bass (Fender Modern Player Telebass) purely on the overpowering tone, even though it weighs a lot (I haven't weighed it - but after reading the thread on it I will). I expect my initial goals will be thrown away when I find that special sound. I hope my back can take it - remember lift with the legs and for goodness sake bring a hand cart!

  6. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    This^ is what I like to recommend since in the long run, it's all about YOUR preferences. If you stick with the top brands, and there are many, you won't go wrong. I will suggest thinking in terms of more spkrs than a 210 though. 410, 212, 215, etc, will get you louder than more watts through less spkr.
  7. jeff7bass

    jeff7bass Inactive

    Apr 9, 2009
    I would suggest one Ampeg PF-500 head and 2 SVT210AV cabs or a GK MB500 and a GK212 NEO cab.
  8. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    You just gave yourself the best advice anyone here could possibly give you!

    Reading reviews here on TB and checking out Youtube videos can be enourmously helpful, to be sure, but until you've gotten some experience playing through some different rigs it will be very hard for you to have any perspective with which to use all that information - and there's A LOT of information out there.

    Many of us on TB are really wound up about gear (I sure know I'm one of them!), but many of our influences played the famous lines we grew up with using equipment that would make a lot of modern bassists cringe. Before lightweight heads and neo cabs (both very recent developments) we all went out and happily played through boat anchors and made some very good noises.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't turn away from modern advancements - gear advances for a reason! What I'm saying is that if money is tight for you and you want to make an investment in something you're going to be happy with for years you should try to play through as many rigs - and combinations of rigs - as you can. With a drummer. And a band. That's how you learn what works for you.

    I don't know if this is possible in your area, but going to rehearsal rooms for hire and spending a couple of hours using the equipment there - as many rigs as they have - could teach you more than weeks of reading posts on TB.

    Many of us here (myself included) have spent many, many years learning what we like in our gear choices and, in the process, have spent lots of money on what turned out to be the wrong gear in the long run. That's a fun journey, but an expensive one! Any amount of time you can spend trying out friends' gear, local stores, rehearsal rooms, rentals, will save you money and aggravation in the long run.

    Happy hunting!
  9. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno Guest

    Apr 12, 2012
    Thanks for the adivce,

    I am getting consistant feedback to try it out in person - and I shouldn't go too far wrong with a well respected marque (provided I get it under warrentee and can lug it around:ninja:)

    As for chosing a specific head & cab, I'll see which one does it for my ears, preferably in person with my bass. I found a sweet review on youtube Ampeg PF-500 Test Drive - YouTube
    which is kinda my benchmark ATM:bassist:. (I seem to recall watching this vid a while ago in a thread... pdannen is a TBer?:cool: cool basses (esp. the P)).

    What I'm thinking, hopefully not too naively, is If i end up with a band situation (a BIG medium term goal of mine, within 6 months:hyper:) I will need a rig that fits, which may take a whole bunch of cycles of trading rigs to fit perfectly with the basic tonal role & volume requirements. So thinking long term is probably premature.

    With this in mind, and finanical & weight limitations in frame too, I think my next rig (wether combo or head & cab) should be:
    >A step up in headroom - more watts (300+) and speaker area (210+)
    >A step up in quality (the combo I have is a so-so copy of a roland cube)
    >A good all rounder - my instinct goes towards a cab with a tweeter/mid driver that can be supressed/diabled for a delightful choice of vintage / hi fi catagories of tone.

    OK that last one is courtesy of Ed Freidland - Ampeg PF-350 PortaFlex amp - YouTube

    I just need to keep my tonal options open, not break the bank, and be able to pick it up for now, and for now what I've got is plenty. Still got the GAS. the sound of the trace elliot 1818 must be bowel wrenching in person!!!!!. Most of all I got to practice to 'deserve' or get the best out of whatever I get my hands on in the future.

    Peace out Lowbros! (and Lowgals:D)
  10. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno Guest

    Apr 12, 2012
    I hear you - sometimes it's easy to overemphasise the technology. I feel it's 90% about the ability - i.e. playing skill + showmanship + marketing + catchiness / irresistability (in my book duck dunn:cool:) and only 10% about the gear :bag:- if the gear works OK it will do, at least in the hands of someone who has the rest sorted (well connected, easy on the eye, writing ingenious hooks etc.)

    As far as I can tell the obsession with gear is good - you learn how to set up, repair & diagnose equipment issues, and when to get help when you can't - just as long as It doesn't fill your house with gear and keep one broke!
    Seriously though it's part of the job / hobby description, knowing the equipment. but it shouldn't eclipse the art and the joy of music, unless one is a builder/designer primarily of course!;)

    I love the gear for what it allows great musicians to to, but I am acutely aware I'll need to become the great musician, in ability and knowledge, rather than have the equimpent make me the great musician I hope to some day masquerade as... :ninja:
  11. 2milehighspike

    2milehighspike Supporting Member

  12. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno Guest

    Apr 12, 2012
    Here is where I got the lead on these magnificent beasts!
    I will consider a 410 or a 212 if the weight / handling is good for the delivered sound. I am beginning to see the emphasis you, more experianced and knowledgeable bassists place on speaker area as well as wattages. not sucking up just realistic.:p

    Very nice - Especially the use of the return feature if something is uncarriable or not what i need tonally - I never fully considered that option. If I know I can get most of my money back almost straight away (on new stuff at least) I can take less risk and try more stuff. P.S. I feel like I've been a member for the past two months (when I started reading the threads and reviews here.:smug:

    I've only seen these on stage (Hartke HA2500 + Hartke 410 (VX))- some mean scooped tone being blasted through. not my fav sound but I'm definately open to them. If i can carry it in one go* it's plenty micro for me (to answer your question). A 19" head, if fairly light wouldn't be a deal breaker for me. gonna end up big scale sooner or later (I'm a believer in believing i'll break even at music if I try hard and get to play with some great musicians:ninja:)

    *I'm not that big (5.9") and not that strong i.e. weak so 40kg is my limit on the flat - especially on grass.
    Stairs & such take me down to 30kg at most per trip. I'll end up making lots of trips anyway, but I don't like making it harder than It needs to be. I'll have to start working out regularly again anyway. I can't afford to get too hefty too young!

    Again with the speaker area!:crying: the thought of my back with a 12X18 stacked on it LOL. just being silly:D I have a basic knowledge (log scale of Db, percieved volumes etc.) but I take your advice pretty seriously. I know you guys aren't recommending more speaker area for the look alone!.
    yup, I think the big names are big for a few reasons, and some of them are the way they sound & hold up to extended use. I'll see what I can get my claws on...
    P.S. marketing/big name wasn't the reason I got my fender MP telebass. I fell in love with the one piece maple neck in my hand.... It just happens to sound good too.

    That would be... loud to say the least (by my calculations anyway).
    I'll be looking at something in that area vis á vis cabs with serious output.

    Sorry if i messed up with the quotes but I gotta learn the hard way for it to stick good and proper like.

    That's the great thing about a place like talkbass. I can get access to some people who've covered all the ground i'm going over now, and are willing to point me in helpful directions. I think the "make up your own mind" message I hear throughout this forum is ideal. Most of us can occasionally judge a book / amp by it's cover, and that's not optimal for an artist. I don't think most bassists and musicians generally could thrive with closed minds. the look is however part of the game too of course.

    Kewl. Check yous laterss'
  13. 2milehighspike

    2milehighspike Supporting Member

    +1 Or 2 neo 2x12 cabs, those with my mb8 knocks down walls, summer is almost here and i can't wait to play some outdoor venues
  14. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno Guest

    Apr 12, 2012
    Ah touché!

    I can't say that is untrue, when I upped my instrument quality my desire and drive increased, and I can see how a responsive and superior instrument can be advantageous to a player of any skill level. I guess what I was saying in relation to OK gear is that the musician is the star, but like a luthier, a great tool goes a long way to making the magic that much more achieveable.
    I know if you can't be heard you can't express what the inner bassist wants to get heard - so expandable gear with lots of headroom makes a lot of sense for me.

    w.r.t .practice, It has been good so far (every day about 30 min - 4 hrs, usually 2) and jamming with a drummer 1-2 times a week for a couple of hours (learning songs, locking in exercises, jamming out and beginning song composition)
    But I just got my hands on the 'bass bible' and when I've gone through that a few times i'll be investing in 1 - 10 of the Ed Friedland books . . . an in the meantime I've gotta source a good teacher. €500 of equipment won't sound half as good as €100 of the right kind of tuition. This is gonna be a lot of hard work but the more I do it the more I want to do it. I have never loved music more, felt it more or enjoyed a hobby, artisitc pursuit or communal exercise (bar one) more than learning to play bass guitar. If I want to get good I'll need every ounce of that enthusiasm and more.

    Hope to do the instrument justice one day, and I have a notion of what it'll take to get there.

    An sweet rig though...would be like... sweet!:bassist:

    P.S. I assume you, like the rest of my 'test team' here at TB have found the two heads of stout construction?
    I treat my gear like fabrege eggs ATM but I want to be able to hit the road with my rig if the oppertuinity arises!
  15. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno Guest

    Apr 12, 2012
    mb 8 . . . do you mean the mb800? - profile check = why yes indeedy mr. parsnip.

    That's a bit outside my price bracket... right now... if i hold on like 4 months...

    I could be lugging some sort of SVT all tube monster... with no cabs?!?:scowl:

    Or better yet and mb800 or equivalent with cabs comparable to 212's x 2, or 8X10 monstrosities!

    Nah. I'll wait. I'll get a decent quality rig in the 300 - 500W range and scale up if needed when needed.

    I have no doubt the great outdoors will tremble in terror as the might of thy bass lows and low mids annihilate the cellular integrity of all living things in a 3 km radius!!!:eek:. or is a little on the lound side, depends on how you eq. it I guess!

    It's bass. It's supposed to cause reverberation in your lungs silly!
    No. not the fish (silly internal dialogue).
  16. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    Quote "I've only seen these on stage (Hartke HA2500 + Hartke 410 (VX))- some mean scooped tone being blasted through. not my fav sound but I'm definately open to them."

    ---Definitely user error on that bassist's part(if it didn't fit the music). The Hartke HA2500 (and it's larger brothers the HA3500 & HA5500) have a very versatile EQ section. You can get anything from a SWR scooped type tone to a low mid heavy GK rock type tone. And with the pre-amp section, you can get a tone that sits in the mix, or is very crisp and cuts through. Really the only thing that it doesn't have is a distortion/overdrive section...but that can easily be added with a dirt pedal, if you'd like to get that sound.

    When I purchased my amp, I only tried out the Hartke because it was sitting next to a couple of others that I did want to try out...I really didn't think that I'd like it. Generally I like two types of tones--the Ampeg SVT type of rock tone with a little dirt, and the GK RB800 rock tone like Flea or Duff McKagan's GNR sound. I have a sound in my head that's somewhere in between the two...and to my surprise, the Hartke gets closer to that sound than anything that I've ever played through.
  17. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno Guest

    Apr 12, 2012
    I gotta put my hands up!

    When I said "I've only seen these on stage (Hartke HA2500 + Hartke 410 (VX))- some mean scooped tone being blasted through. not my fav sound but I'm definately open to them." I really should have added it was in a room with crummy acoustics.:oops:

    Saw another band in the same room, great act - bassist had an Orange 810 and a tube head - like the Orange AD200B Mk3 (but I think I got a glimpse of a '300' on the box) - but while I could feel the wall of music ( I was 15 feet from the 810) the reverb / distortion due to the room was terrible (in an ugly way). :bawl:

    I don't know if the Hartke could sound ok in that room, even with a legend playing through it. I could only really tell the eq. from the soup of sound by looking at the smiling graphic eq.... and I didn't notice if there was a pedal board or not... so I can't get a measure of the gear from this - It wasn't me playing through at it a controlled volume, with a familiar instrument - the only way to really judge a rig (not that I'd be expert at that....).

    Your (oldcatfish) praise piqued my interest with "You can get anything from a SWR scooped type tone to a low mid heavy GK rock type tone. And with the pre-amp section, you can get a tone that sits in the mix, or is very crisp and cuts through." That flexibility is critical in an decent all round rig - what I'm interested in picking up when the time is right.

    Looked up some of the Hartke cabs.... 30Hz - 17kHz on some of those 410's????:D sounds like a good cab - & people seem to love them. If my needs are revised and a 410 (albeit the 30ish kg ones not the 40ish kg ones) becomes a good fit, Hartke seems to offer lots of bang per buck - I'd give them a whirl.

    I have to add the 10ish kg (20+lbs) for the Head makes me unsure - I prefer the Idea of a featherweight head - unless that means reliability problems!:confused:
    I am itching to scale up volume wise - but not before I do skill wise. I still haven't got any 3 finger technique down (suspended for now - gotta master even & swung feels as well as modes & arpeggios) or have the more crucial skill of being able to count very accurately at slower tempos.

    Amps will only give me more firepower - I need to become efficient in it's use regardless. I'll probably get a 210 or 212 and a head in the next 2 months to keep me striving. plus It'll help me stand out in a jam - without clipping or relying on heavy effects!
    Notice I said help. If i suck (and I can get a little nervous performing in front of others) the amp will only make that more obvious!:meh:

    Thanks for the feedback. I guess It was just reassurance I was looking for. I won't know till I go, and let's just hope I don't get too screwed.
    P.S. I'll have much better odds reselling a well known brand piece of kit for a so so price if I don't like it too much.
    But I want what sounds best. Now to find out what that means.... Peace out chums!
  18. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    Quote "I have to add the 10ish kg (20+lbs) for the Head makes me unsure - I prefer the Idea of a featherweight head - unless that means reliability problems!"

    --I also kind of intended to buy a micro-head until I tried out the Hartke. But I am pretty good at eq'ing amps (I've used a lot of cheap backline amps as well as some good ones). I can make most amps get a usable tone with enough tweaking. But the HA2500 has a voicing that I haven't experienced before. Everything sounded great with all eq controls at 12 o'clock, playing through a cheap jazz bass copy. And I had to work really hard to get an unpleasant tone. And within a few minutes, I found several really good tones. I fooled with the amp for a long time--and the longer that I did, the more that I liked it. I can deal with 20 pounds for several great tones, in a reliable amp. I'll save my energy by using lightweight cabs.
  19. Tom Howland

    Tom Howland Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    I agree a2x10 cab won't cut it.
    Try a 4x10, 2x12, or two 1x15,or a 2x15.
  20. PlungerModerno

    PlungerModerno Guest

    Apr 12, 2012
    A bassist after my own heart - has a list of wants... then the tone makes the call for you!:bassist: I can trust the hartke can get great tone - their HA amps 250 - 500 watts seems entry level pro gear - with tube preamps and such for the vintage wannabes - like me half the time. GK, markbass and others offer full tube preamps but at higher prices/lower weight. I want versitile, not tube for tubes sake (even though tubes can be simply delicious) so the Hartke seems a solid menu Item.

    I know the Cab will be at least as important - I will have to buy a wide-ish cab if I want to mount the hartke head... so my Idea of two 212's stacked vertically mightn't be all that stable - even with stackable cabs... I won't let that weigh my choices too much.