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GK MB150E Vs Acoustic Image

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Jimmyjazz, Dec 6, 2002.

  1. Jimmyjazz

    Jimmyjazz Guest

    Jul 19, 2002
    I'm in the process of buying a new amp for my upright. Looking at either the Gallien Krueger MB150E or the Acoustic Image Contra combo.
    Anyone got any recommendations in favor of either of these. Or any more amps out there that are not going to break the bank or my back!
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The GK goes into a neat shoulder back that makes guerilla warfare more manageable.

    The Contra has the artificial lows the SWR amps have, which bugs me a bit.

    Contra fans are near religious in their affection.

    The GK fans usually hate amps.

    I like the sound of them about the same, with maybe a bit of a lean toward the GK.

    The Contra sounds better when you're right up on it.

    The GK sounds electric-y right nearby, but sounds prett decent out front.
  3. I have both, and have found that each is very portable and convenient. I've found that the GK-150 can be improved by raising it off the floor using a stand or a chair - this decouples the cab from the floor, and results in less "boominess". The Acoustic Image can also be improved by tilting it slightly, using a small block of wood or a supplied magic triangle device (I think Rick Jones calls it a "Tone Lifter") which lifts the front of the cabinet about an inch or so off the floor, decoupling the cabinet from the floor, and reducing the "boominess" etc. etc.

    Hope this helps -

    - Wil
  4. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    I also have both, another thing to consider is that the AI has more power. I finally solved the problem with boominess, lifting the amp definetely helps, but AI is not very user friendly with Realistic, I run my Realistic thru the return effects input and my Golden trinity mic thru one of the inputs I am pretty happy with the sound, and I can use more mic signal with AI that GK.
    Fat bob likes this.
  5. I would just like to note that not everyone has trouble using the Realist pickup with the AI Contra. It really depends on the individual instrument. I have had wonderful results with mine and I just leave the control set at 12 O'clock. The boomy-ness that people mention is IMO usually a function of the room you are playing in. When I have that situation arise, the little triangle lifter takes care of the problem quite nicely for me. Although I've never owned a GK, I have tried a few and found them in general to be too electric/metalic sounding for my taste.
  6. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    I have both.
    The Contra sounds much better to me and to every musician who hears it.
    Aside from sound quality:
    The Contra is heavy and bulky. The G-K is convenient.
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Most of the complaints I've heard regarding the Contra seem to revolve around the downward-firing speaker configuration. The power section of the contra can be purchased seperately as the Clarus, and this might be your best bet. The Clarus is tiny, light (about 5 lbs.), and extremely versitile - I use it in the following configurations, depending on the size/volume of the gig:

    * with a single 8" speaker cab which is about the size of a tacklebox for gigs where you might be able to get by without an amp but aren't sure until you get there. Total weight: 19 lbs.

    * with an EA VL208 for most regular gigs that require an amp that will boost your volume without coloring it. Works great for all but the most CRASH-BANG drummers.

    * With an EA CXL112 for the same situations with CRASHY-BANGY no-ear-for-dynamic-contrast drummers. :)

    * With both EA cabs for material that includes both jazz (DB) and rock/funk doubling (BG).

    *With the EA 112 and a Bergantino HT112 for outdoor gigs that need to cover a lot of space with no PA. Works like a charm.

    The Clarus is completely clean, and sounds just like whatever you plug into it. The choice of speaker is always up to you.
  8. LowNote

    LowNote Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2002
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    I have both the amps and replaced the GK with the Contra as my main upright amp. I find the Contra to be much more natural, accurate and hi-fi sounding than the GK. I've had the boominess issue on occasion, but most of it went away when I changed my Realist out for a Schertler Stat-B, and also got a triangle lifter to use.

    I've also found the big trick with the GK for upright is to bypass the preamp totally. When using the GK, I plug the output from my phantom power source/preamp that came with my Schertler Stat-B directly into the effects return jack on the back of the GK. Even though this gives me no control over the EQ, I like the sound much better than going through the GK preamp. I also used to get a good sound out of the GK by running a Fishman pickup/Crown condenser mic combo through a RavenLab PMB-1 directly into the effects return jack.

    The GK is lighter and more compact (I've traveled with it in a padded gig bag over my shoulder and put it in the overhead compartment on a plane) and I like the sound of it better than the Contra for bass guitar--assuming you do some doubling. It will also crank out a lot of volume with an extension speaker. I have need to keep instruments in Scotland, and am going to ship my GK and an EA VL-110 over there to stay as my primary amp. I should be able to work most gigs, whether on BG or upright with the GK alone or in combo with the EA, and the compact size should be a boon in that country where I anticipate taking a lot of public transit. If I find I need more volume, I can throw my Walter Woods Ultra into my carry-on bag when I go over--now that amp will produce all of the volume anyone will ever need!

    Erik Hansen
  9. jugband


    Jan 16, 2001
    Who makes this tacklebox cabinet? Is it an automotive thing?
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Nah...It's made by Falk Audio, a local place started and run by a guy named Gary Falk. It's actually a full-range P.A. speaker, but it works great for bass just to add a little body.
  11. atunbridge


    Apr 23, 2002
    Devon UK
    I've got both. I used 3 GK 2 or 3 times a week for years, and I got the Contra about 6 months ago.

    The GK is much lighter, and cheaper. It has a slightly more punchy sound than the Contra, but is much less clear sounding. I found that it is essential to get it as high off the floor as you can - I ended up taking a stool just for the amp. It sounds good in a small room but just dies in a big space. I also got the 12" powered GK extension speaker for big halls but this didn't make much difference to the essential lack of power in a large venue.

    The Contra has a fantastic clear sound and a very powerful bottom end. Initially, I had a massive problem with excessive boominess which I have now solved by using a preamp with a low cut filter (Fishman Platinum Pro Bass). This allows me to run the Contra with flat eq and without tilting the cabinet. I also have the Contra extension cab which gives you 300 watts, and with this the sound is fantastic even in very large venues - especially outdoors. I tried out the GK again on a gig recently and I was quite shocked at how badly it compared with the Contra. In my opinion the best solution to the Contra boominess problem is to get some sort of eq to reduce those really low frequencies - the Boss Bass EQ pedal would be a cheaper alternative to the Fishman.

    Oh yes, I nearly forgot! The Contra sounds way better than the GK with my electric Tokai Jazz bass. The GK just doesn't have the bottom end for it.
  12. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    Anyone compare the new Contra design to the old one? I think you will find that the new one, in additional to being more compact and robust (no plastic), is tighter-sounding with a better midrange response.
  13. It's horses for courses....as with anything to do with the double bass, what is fine for one person and one bass, is absolutely useless for another. I tried a Clarus and did not like it, it was sterile sounding with my bass and pickup, even though I tried it with many different speaker cabs. I have a GK, and my bass sounds great through it. I have heard other people using the GK, and some sounded good, some did'nt. I have developed my own way of using it though. I have all controls rolled back to 9 or 10 o'clock, and I lie it on its back facing straight up, and that is directly behind me. First off, I can hear it just fine, which is good for intonation, and secondly, the sound reflects off the wall behind me and creates a huge sound. I've had many great comments about my sound, from players and audience, and because it's behind me and is so small, many people think I'm not using an amp at all! This is for jazz gigs of course, for country/honkytonk/rockabilly I use a BG rig.
  14. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    The GK is really a great practical amp but the Contra/Clarus is definitely more hi-fi sounding. I ab'd a Contra with a Clarus through an Acme B1 and I decided to go for the Clarus/Acme combo. I didn't really dig the down-firing woofer and the Acme/Clarus sounded really natural with the Realist pickup. I almost always use the Golden Trinity mic with the Clarus Acme for low volume gigs and have been really happy with the sound. For louder gigs I use the Realist and an EA 208 and that does the job fine. The GK is terrific for portability but it always sounded a bit electric-y to me.
  15. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    The Clarus/Contra is certainly the most HiFi of all the bass amps I've heard. The Contra/AMT microphone combo is just the ticket if you want pure, unadulterated amplification. The first time I heard this demoed I was knocked out. Turning the volume up from zero you could not tell where the acoustic sound ended and the amplified sound began. The G-K works well with piezoelectric pickeups where you're already beginning with a highly colored signal. I like it with my Bug Bass.
  16. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I haven't had one to fool around with myself, but you have to be careful of hi-fi in a commercial setting. I played through a Trace Elliot acoustic bass combo for a long time. It was wonderfully high fi, and with the Crown mic (from the Fishman setup) and the Underwood combined, it sounded exactly like my bass -- for about 15ft. Out front I sounded like Creed Taylor on a bender. The GK, much more industrial than HiFI, actually sounded much more natural at a distance running only my Underwood than the $2000 pile of stuff that I had rigged up.

    I don't know if this applies to the Contra -- I just heard 'HiFi' enough that I thought that I would bring it up.
  17. Fred W

    Fred W

    Feb 21, 2002
    Bronx, NY
    I play a Kay with Realist thru a Contra.I'm satisfiedwith the sound except in many rooms it's too boomy, I have to cut the bass knob to 9 o'clock then its too thin. The bass eq or other preamps would work, but don't they introduce color into a nice clean sound?
    What I really want to know- what is the triangle?
    Where can I get one for how much? It seems like the rite fix for me. Thanx ahead.
  18. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    hey Fred, why don't you try to connect your bass thru the Return effects instead of the normal input, last night I was playing in a big room and the bass wasn't boomy at all, in fact after the rehearsal I had to connect my realistic trhu the normal input jack, it was sounding more like a underwood pick up, it always have a lot to do with the room, but even in extremes situations the effects loop return take care of the problem, I like the downfiring woofer bacause I think that I get to use more mic volume, less feedback problems.
  19. Ray has raised a very pertinent point, that what sounds good on stage almost invariably sounds quite different out in the audience. It's a good idea to carry a loooong lead in order to get out front to hear yourself as the audience hears you (I use a wireless anyway), and then substitute a more convenient short one for normal playing. I started using a wireless for my rockabilly gigs, but found it sounded better than a lead, so now I use it for jazz gigs too, which of course raises some jazzers eyebrows! Heh heh....

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