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GK 150mbS or150mbE?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by B String, Nov 1, 2005.

  1. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I'm thinking of retiring my GK 200mb and getting a new one.
    Are you guys using the extra eq and chorus enough to make
    it worth spending the extra money for the 150E, or is the
    150S giving enough eq options? I use it for upright bass, very
    small electric gigs, and for acoustic electric. Do the new ones
    sound any different than the old ones?
  2. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    B string,
    By the way, thanks for that Walter Woods post about the repair issues with older amps. It was really valuable! The basic differences between the MBE and the MBS are.

    1) The MBS has two midrange controls Low Mid and High Mid

    2) The MBE has four controls and is parametric

    3) The MBE has a Stereo Chorus, The MBS does not.

    4) The MBE has two direct outs. The MBS has one.

    To my ears the MBS has less features, but sounds a little
    better. I prefer non parametric eq for the midrange. The problem is, to gain in tone quality, you have to give up the Stereo Chorus and the Dual Line Outs. I have owned the MBE and to my ears it's
    midrange control sounds nasal and there's no way to dial it out
    because the pre amp is voiced that way. That's why I like the MBS a little better.


    PS: I owned the Series I and Series II GK Amps that were eariler models of the GK's. I prefered the tone
    controls on those amps, becuse they were like the MBS and
    sounded warmer to my ears.
  3. pat.p


    Nov 20, 2004
    Poland, Poznań
    I have MBS and I like it. When I use it with Helicore strings and Stat-B I've everything set at 12 o'clock (volume around 9-10). With Realist, I must cut mid and high a little. With gut strings and BP-100 the situation is even better- more warm sound, volume, definition.
    I think, I dont need parametric mids and chorus...
    Great little amp
  4. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    So you're saying that the the mbs sounds better flat than
    the mbe flat, and the tonal flexibility of the mbe doesn't help
    offset the difference in sound. I may agree. But all the "pro"
    players (Holland, Carter, Haden, etc) seem to get the mbe
    over the mbs. Its a tough call. It's the old "option anxiety".
  5. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Actually, I seen both Charlie and Ron play live. although it was a while back
    neither of them used their GK's. Charlie was using my amp for a concert here in St. Louis, and Ron, believe it or not was playing through a Crate Amp rented from St. Louis Music supply. Now, they both sounded fantastic, but I'm not so sure that it matters at all what they use since since both of them have such fantastic unamplified sounds anyway? Dave Holland did play here two summers ago at our annual Jazz Festival and he did have the GK, but he was driving a SWR 410 with it and used a AKG mike to send the signal to the mains. When Charlie was playing on the Song X tour with Pat Matheny he was actually in a plexiglass booth wearing headphones, there was no amplifier on stage at all.

    Since I've never seen any of them in a club, I don't know what they use there. I think it's important to understand that they get their MBE's through endorsement deals with Gallien Krueger. Now, I don't think that these guys would endorse the MBE's if they didn't like them, but when's the last time you heard Ron or Charlie use a stereo chorus?

    IMHO the midrange controls on a MBE are specifically designed for EB. But that's just an opinion. My suggestion, would be to play both of them with your bass on gigs, and find what best suits you. :)
  6. winston


    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    I have an '88 200MB which is my go-to 'lil gig/rehearsal amp for BG and DB. I like the chorus and occasionally wish I could adjust the mid frequencies so I'd probably go for the MBE.

    2 of the first call-players in Sacramento, Gerry Pineda (BG/DB) and Erik Kleven (BG/EUB), get incredible tones from their MBS's. I once did sound at a Balkan music festival in San Francisco in a large gymnasium. Bassist Bill Lanphier (played with Madonna and the Rippingtons among others, this night he was with Top Dog Run) brought in his MBS, put it on a chair right in the corner, plugged in his Basses Loaded 5 string BG and proceeded to amaze me with some of the funkiest, intricate, odd-time bass work I've ever heard. I barely had him running through the PA. It was great to see a true pro come in, size up the acoustics of the room, and make his itty bitty amp fill up a gym. Doesn't really answer your question, but it is a good GK mini-amp story.
  7. I have the 150 MBS and has never really liked it, beside it's size and portability. I use it for both EB and DB with the behringer ADI-21 that I recently purchased - which is BTW a good thing with just about everything (PAs and bass amplifiers) I've tried so far.

    My experience is (without any outboard preamps etc) that the GK 200mb is superior the newer models for DB , altough the newer model is better for EB, plus you have more power. There is a difference in coloration and responce, so I think you should be careful when shopping for a new combo.

  8. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Its strange, I keep hearing that the mbe, with the extra
    tone controls doesn't sound as good as the mbs without
    the extra tone controls. The sound is changing by the time
    it goes through the boost circuit, the chorus, and the extra
    eq. Is this possible? Has anyone checked them out side by
    side? My peoples (Vic) seem to be saying the mbs has more
    punch and articulation. I could see how going through less
    circuitry could give a better sound. Rick Turner used to say,
    "the less wires, the better". I could be full of crap here.
    Where's Daniel Elliott when you need him?? OH DANIEL!!!
  9. bluegreenturtle


    Mar 15, 2003
    I have had both amps (head only, not the combo) and currently have the MBE (again, head). It seemed to me they were absolutely identical sounding. Maybe there is some sort of difference in the cabinets because I think you guys are mostly talking about the combos. But the heads at least, sounded the same to me. I bought mine almost 15 years ago.
  10. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    GK has redesigned the Microbass Series 3 or four times now.
    Since their biggest market is EB players, each new model will
    reflect that "bias". I think it's one of the best mini amps for
    electric on the market. Unfortunately, when you build a amp that's
    optimized for electric, IMHO it dosen't sound as good with the Double Bass. I really think that's why GK actually built the MBS, although I can't prove it. That way, they offered an alternative for the Double Bass players who liked the sound of their older amplifiers.


    PS: Guitar Players are a big enough market to warrant two different types of amplifiers. Amps from SWR, Fender, Marshall, and others are showing up all over the place.
  11. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I might be wrong, but I think GK is very aware of who buys
    the mb series. They know its one of the more popular amps
    for upright bass players. I know lots of guys who think of
    these as more upright amps than electric.
    Are you saying they made the mbs more for upright guys or
    electric players? (I missed it)
  12. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I have a MBE combo. The preamp is definitely voiced -- I measured the frequency response. The graph is in another thread here in the forum.

    What I don't know is if the MBE is designed for upright or electric. Given that it has built-in distortion effects, I am guessing electric. Indeed, I love how it sounds with my electric bass, even though I bought it for upright.

    For upright bass, I use the MBE with a DIY outboard preamp that is definitely flat and uncolored. In this configuration, the MBE is just working as a powered speaker. MBE power amp is basically a high fidelity solid state design. Again, I am happy, even though it is just a bit more gear to set up. Swapping preamps is a convenient way to avoid having to compromise between upright and electric tone.

    For my use, the chorus and compressor are both useless. I also don't need the full complexity of the DI output options on the MBE. In my view, choose the MBE if you feel that your bass / pickup arrangement would benefit from the parametric EQ. Otherwise, save your money and buy the MBS.

    Edit: I should mention my reading of the GK literature suggests that the new series MB combo amps have a redesigned power amp, "Class H." If this is true, then it should run cooler than the earlier models, with no impact on tone.
  13. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    B String,
    Sorry for the confusion, but IMHO it is my belief that they
    built the MBS for upright players. Now, obviously I can't prove that, so I may be completely wrong.

    I will agree with you that until Acoustic Image came into the picture. The GK Microbass Amplifiers were probably the most widley used amps for Double Bass other then a Walter Woods which is a very expensive alternative.

    Mabey there was some other reason, but why else would they produce an almost identical head to the MBE without the chorus, and a entirley diferent set of Midrange Controls?

    To me it wouldn't make sense to built two different amplifer configurations if you only needed one for both instruments.
    But I could be wrong.

  14. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Where's Dan Elliott? Oh Dan............
    And, where are all the other guys who use these amps.
    Not much love happening here for the mb's
  15. bluegreenturtle


    Mar 15, 2003
    If you want to know that much if one was designed for upright (I don't think so - I think they are just two different pricings and features) why don't you just call GK and ask? Every time I have ever called there Rick Krueger has answered the phone.
  16. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I called. They don't know if there is any difference at all
    between the two. The person I spoke to (very good guy)
    is going to check them out side by side tomorrow and I'll
    give him a call Fri afternoon to find out the results. Its
    nice of him to care enough to take the time to do it. Maybe
    thats one of the reasons GK has been successful for so
    many years.
  17. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    B String,
    An excellent idea, glad you did it. Hopefully this will
    give you the answer.
  18. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Your first second choice™ Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    The owners manual for the new Microbass Series III (which you can downlaod from the GK web site) contains this sentence: "While it works great for electric bass, the MB series combo is particularly well suited for acoustic upright bass". So obviously GK knows who it's marketing too. They also include a sample setting labelled "Acoustic Upright" which shows the preamps of both models (MBS and MBE) with a completely flat EQ except for a slight cut on the treble knob. To me, this indicates that GK intends both models to be appropriate for upright bass. I opted for the MBS because I did not feel the extra features were important to me plus the Sam Ash near me had a floor model that they marked down for a quick sale before the new Series III models arrived. It's my favorite amp and I like how it sounds with both my Realist-equipped upright and Fender Jazz Bass.

    - Steve

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I am very happy with my MBE combo. It is not the most natural sounding amp on stage, but it sounds great out front. I find the parametrics to be very useful in controlling boominess. However I rarely push the amp to that level. I play pretty strong acoustically so the GK is only used to fill out the low end/mids when I am playing with a drummer.
  20. dfp

    dfp Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2004
    +1 on the MBE, i got mine after struggling through "why can't i hear myself with the World's Greatest Acoustic Bass Amp?" (AI Contra).

    one special feature on the the back of the MBE i love, there's a button that switches the Direct Out from pre-eq to post-eq. so if the sound man just isn't doing you right, you've got a last resort. i guess it's more like "when" and not "if", though...