1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

GK MB115 not working out [& PF350 impressions]

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Belabor, Jun 25, 2014.

  1. Belabor


    Oct 23, 2013
    I got a first generation (silver front) GK MB115 last year, because I started playing in a band and needed something to carry me through rehearsals. I've been using this amp both at home to practice and I've been driving it to our rehearsal room every week.

    Now, my experience with the amp has been a large mixed bag. Tone-wise, I always have the Contour on as I don't like the more "hi-fi" sound of the amp without it. I also think it works better with my small pedalboard (Pitchblack, JamMan Solo, Disnortion & VT Bass) with the Contour on. Tweeter has been off since day one, it is okay without pedals but doesn't work well at all with my VT Bass. EQ is around noon, I often cut the bass a tiny bit, because I feel the speaker can get a bit boomy at higher volume.

    I do like how it cuts quite well in a band, although I always need to elevate the amp to be able to really hear myself clearly. I also like how it's reasonably light and it seems to be built sturdy. I don't like the headphone out, I've had trouble once with a tech about the direct out that's on the circuit board backwards and I also don't like that the amp doesn't really have any grit. The gain knob has been on 10 pretty much always and I've used my pedals to get it to grind a little.

    Now, because of this mixed bag and the fact that I don't *really* love the sound of the thing, I've been thinking of selling or trading it. I play rock and a little bit of alternative metal with my band, and before I got my GK I thought about getting a TC BG250 or a smaller Ampeg. I'd like a bit more grit in my sound, and if my amp could get me there without my pedals I would really like that too.

    I'm thinking about going the Ampeg route and seeing if that sound and functionality will suit me better, but I'd like to ask your opinion about this. Would a PF350 or PF500 work at low volumes?

    I'd appreciate your opinion on this! :)
  2. mrmills


    Jun 22, 2009
    Kent, UK
    If you like the VT Bass sound then you should like the Ampeg sound. The grit comes from the preamp so you can dial in the required level of dirt but keep the overall volume at a reasonable level.

    I should ask, what do you mean by "work at low volumes"?
  3. Belabor


    Oct 23, 2013
    I'd like to play my amp over headphones, but it's not a necessity. Seeing as I don't like the headphone out on my MB115, I've often been playing with the master around 9 o'clock, which I guess would be slightly above radio/tv volume. I take my amp upstairs and play there, but I wouldn't want to disturb people downstairs.

    I guess a tube or hybrid amp is out of the question for those situations. :)
  4. mrmills


    Jun 22, 2009
    Kent, UK
    Are you saying you like to practice playing through the amp whilst wearing a pair of headphones playing something else, like a backing track?

    What is it about the headphone out on the MB115 that you don't like?

    Doesn't really matter what kind of amp it is, sound still travels the same. I personally don't move my SVT often due to its weight and I am always put off owning an 810 or other massive cab because they aren't the most portable.
  5. Belabor


    Oct 23, 2013
    Hmm, I think we're not really understanding eachother correctly.

    What I meant is that I like to play with headphones through the amp because I have to keep the volume of the amp low. Playing the amp with the speaker at low volume means less low-end, I can get some of that back through using headphones. However, the quality of the headphone out on the MB115 is quite bad, probably because it doesn't go through the pre-amp. Bass is very flubby with three types of headphones I tried.

    But I don't want to focus on this issue too much, it's a minor thing. I'm more concerned with the sound and the functionality of the amp in practice and rehearsal environments. :)
  6. DannyBob


    Aug 28, 2013
    I have often found that when using the headphone out on an amp it sounds much worse, however that is due to the limitations of your headphones. If you are using top of the range $400+ headphones than fair enough, however if not it may well be the sound of the headphones that you don't like, not the amp.

    Just a thought
  7. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    FWIW - the headphone output on the GB Shuttle amps sound superb. The best I've ever heard.

    A Shuttle might not get as grindy as you want, although the VT pedal should help that.

    They can be had used for decent prices and have stellar build quality.
  8. xring


    Sep 16, 2003
    I have the same rig. It is my smallest, but I have used it a couple of time at our loud practices. First off, I would NOT max the gain...ever. The signal will be distorted. If you have to, max the volume, then bring the gain up if needing lots of volume. On my amp, using the headphone jack gives the best tone I've ever heard, and cannot duplicate it through cabs, including my Aggies. Dunno what's going on with your hp output?
    Downunderwonder likes this.
  9. Belabor


    Oct 23, 2013
    Well, I found a nice deal on an early 2013 PF350 and PF115HE cab, and I jumped on it.

    I figure it's better for my musical tastes and also easier to lug around, as I can always choose to leave the cab in our rehearsal room and play over headphones. Excited! :)
  10. iagtrplyr


    Apr 1, 2013
    Clinton, IA
    I owned the 210 combo and even though I liked the tone, build quality was poor and after it's first repair I jettisoned it. Isn't that XLR out position the craziest thing you've ever seen?

    You'll probably find the Ampeg more to your liking anyway, though if the 350 doesn't sound that great with headphones, I'd try running your gain to say 1:00 and your volume to where people don't tell at you from downstairs! That way you'll get an undistorted signal from the preamp and still keep the family happy. Congrats on your purchase!
  11. Belabor


    Oct 23, 2013
    Ain't that the truth! How anyone could have ever accepted the design without noticing that must have had a bad day. I think they turned the XLR out 45 degrees in the MB115II now.
  12. Turn off the contour, problem solved.
    punchdrunk and lz4005 like this.
  13. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009
    Grab a Carvin BX500 new for 359 bucks then get an Avatar B212 or TB153 to put under it. This will give you far more depth, versatily and volume as compared to that particular combo. If you like GK, an MB500 and a NEO 212 would also give you more.
  14. Belabor


    Oct 23, 2013
    I appreciate your advice and your attempt at swaying me away from Ampeg, but I've already put money down for it and Carvin amps and Avatar cabs aren't widely available in Europe. Both sets would also be almost twice as much as what the Ampeg set costs me second-hand.

    And as I've said, I don't particularly like the GK tone, at least not in the MB115 that I have now. Played a rehearsal with the contour off today, but it still sounds a bit flat to me. It might be that I just don't dig the speaker that's in the combo very much. The tweeter is especially not up to task whenever I put some pedals through it.

    I'll give the PF350 and PF115HE a shot first. Since I got them at a good price second-hand, I should have no problems reselling it in the case I don't really like it.
  15. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009
    That's cool. I own the PF-350 and really like the tone, but it can run out of steam with a single, 8 ohm cab. Two cabs @ 4 ohms gets louder for sure.
  16. mrmills


    Jun 22, 2009
    Kent, UK
    Headphone outputs tend not to be designed well in practice/combo amps. This is not always the case but there seems to be a tendency to not care too much about how to drive a set of headphones.

    Hope you enjoy your new amp!
  17. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    How is the new setup treating you? I too had a GK MB combo... The 212-ii version. I used it for about a year with my band. I also had an Ampeg 115 combo for a short period of time before that. I loved the Ampeg tone, but it was missing something. Got the GK, and liked the full range I seemed to get from the 212. Didn't love the tone. Now, I have an Ampeg SVT-3 Pro head into a GK Neo 410 and feel like its the best of both worlds.

    Maybe if your Ampeg set up you just got doesn't sound quite right, try a GK cab with it. That may be what you're looking for.
  18. The 'cab' in the MB115 is highly 'voiced'. The amps tone greatly resembles that of many other GK heads. You may have been pushed into using the 'contour' in an effort to overcome the cabs voicing. That would account for the lack of grit. With the contour not engaged you will have no trouble getting some excellent grit and growl. But then you have the cabs tone back. A solution: replace the stock 15 inch driver. The Eminence Deltalite 2512 II will have deeper, more articulate bass, but with some fullness, somewhat aggressive upper mids and highs, and a substantial gain in spl. It is really a 6 ohm driver (5.0 ohm Re) and will draw more power than an 8 ohm driver, plus, its inherently way more efficient. Cab weight will go down about 4 lbs. You would need to make a 15 to 12 adapter board (requires 12 mm plywood, jigsaw and drill).

    The headphone output on my MB115 sounds excellent through my Grado headphones. Which headphones are you using?

    The PF350/115HE is not quite as light and compact as the MB115, but is a great sounding rig.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
  19. Belabor


    Oct 23, 2013
    I'll be receiving my Ampeg in the next couple of days, so I'll let all of you know what I think. I am looking forward to leaving the cab in the rehearsal room and just taking the head back home with me, that saves me a lot of hassle in transport. I just hope the Headphone out is a bit more to my liking than the one in the MB115.

  20. Belabor


    Oct 23, 2013
    First impressions!

    So far I really like the PF350, it's got that little bit of grit on the tone that I like! I do have to turn up the amp quite a bit to get that grit, though, so that's where the headphone out should work. I think the headphone out on the MB115 is very muddy, overemphasizes the bass frequencies. The one on the PF350 handles this a lot better and only sounds better the further I turn the volume up (although no further than my ears are comfortable with!). I'm also surprised that it's not that much heavier than my MB115 and I also really like the metal accents and enclosure! Gives the whole stack a bit more of a high-end feel.

    I really have to take this thing through it's paces during rehearsal to really get it to open up. Haven't tried it with any of my pedals yet, either, but I'll give them a try later this week.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.