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GK question

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Steve Boisen, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I've been looking at the Gallien-Krueger web site (I'm considering purchasing a MBS-150 combo) and I noticed that all GK amps seem to have an input impedance of 1 Meg Ohm which is the same as many buffer preamps out there such as the various K&K models. Doesn't this mean that the GK amps will do a better job than most of handling piezo pickups without a preamp? I know the Fishman and L.R. Baggs preamps have an input impedance of 10 Meg Ohms, but I've read that 1 Meg Ohm usually is sufficient. The GK is not generally listed among amps designed for high impedance piezos (such as the Acoustic Image) but it seems to me maybe it should be. Thoughts?

    - Steve

  2. Savino


    Jun 2, 2004
    I have one, I hate it more and more every day. :bawl:
  3. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    I've also grown disenchanted with the MB 150 although I'll still use it sometimes. It's not good with the mic, it's ok with the Underwood for a little volume boost, but it's strong point is on the staircase.
  4. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    The Mb150 design is 20 years old. The best thing
    about it is that it is small and light. Many guys use
    a small separate preamp to bypass the front end of
    the GK. This works much better for the upright.
    And yes, most piezo's sound better using a 10 meg
    preamp. You go pickup into preamp, preamp into
    the effects return and only use the master volume
    on the GK.
  5. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Wow, I thought this amp was a popular choice for upright bass. What exactly is causing this disenchantment and hatred. Tell me quick before I spend my hard earned dough!

    - Steve

  6. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Most upright players (i think) care more about size and
    weight than tone. They want to use the amp as little as
    possible. Its not a bad amp, but now there are more options
    on the market. As been often said, If you by bypass the gk
    preamp, you can get a much (much) better sound. The gk
    is also very expensive. You're paying for size and weight.
  7. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    Don't get me wrong, it's a great little amp and is still popular with upright players. I was happy with it until I started using a mic instead of a pickup. At that point I wanted a more "hi-fi" rig.
  8. For a long time, it seemed like the 150 and its original version, the 200mb, along with the older polytones were the most common small combos for DB. Recently there has been a whole bunch of new stuff to come out, and thanks to certain websites these products are being discovered by the people who want them. Before the internet, I think it would have been much harder if not impossible for people to manufacture, then market specialized products for which the demand is relatively small.

    Just another thought, the Fishman clip-on pickup was (and maybe still is) the most popular PU in terms of numbers sold. Most people round here think they are about the worst sounding choice available. Just because it's popular, doesn't mean it's good or that you'll like it. Witness "popular" music of today. :ninja:
  9. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    The GK with a seperate preamp (I have used both a Tube Direct Box and now a Solstice) sounds good for a whole slew of jazz gigs. Gigs where space is an issue, gigs where the volume will be moderate, gigs where there is a long way to carry. (subway, bus etc.) There are a lot more hi fi choices out there for almost as small a package, they usually involve a head and seperate cabinet or preamp and powered speaker.
    The Solstice blender into a pub (although twice the weight of a GK) is very nice and allows you to blend a mic into the mix.
    But the GK is a good choice for a first amp, because too many choices and knobs and settings to deal with when you are still trying to find your sound can be a whole excursion away from the instrument and music. Unfortunately most UB players have been thru this cycle many times.
    (and secretly love every minute of knob twiddling)
    One thing for sure, making the extra effort to HEAR different rigs side by side with your bass the way you play NOW is worth the effort.
    That said, I did a gig the other night and the singer said "your amp is really big...) (a Mackie 450) Somehow the implication was that my amp was too big. I guess all her other bassists use GK's.
    One more thing to offer...I still have and use my 13 year old GK 150mb, where as I dont have any of the other amps I have cycled thru in those years.
    But the times ARE a changin and the choices for really good compact amps are out there. Check out the other threads in the recent past on this page. The EA stuff sounds great and offers a lot of power, the Ampeg is small and I have heard it sound wonderful. A Walter Woods with a small cab (10"or 12" speaker) for small gigs and a larger cab for loud gigs is very versatile.
  10. LowNote

    LowNote Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2002
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    The GK MB150 was my main bass amp for many years, but you definitely have to use a pre-amp--my case it was a Ravenlab blender into the Aux jack on the back--if you want it to sound good with a piezo pickup. The impedance of the input jack is just too low for non-magnetic pickups.

    If you can swing the extra dough, either the Acoustic Image New Yorker or the newest Contra (the small light one) would be a much better choice and is a much better sounding amp for upright. It is also about the same size and weight. Of the two, I prefer the sound of the New Yorker which uses the more powerul amp found in the Clarus XL. This is my main upright amp for jazz and small group gigs. It sounds fantastic. If you add an Acme B-1 cabinet to it, it produces enough volume for the largest ballroom in L.A. as long as you aren't trying to play loud rock.

    Erik Hansen
    Los Angeles
  11. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Thank you all for the advice. I've actually purchased a GK MB150S because it was in stock and discounted (althouhg I am a little miffed that according to the GK website it has already been replaced by an updated model for 2004 called the MB150S -III :meh: ). I'm going to use it on my gigs next weekend and I have fifteen days to return it if I don't like it. I chose it partially for the convenience as well as good results with a borrowed 200MB in the past. I'm not new to upright bass amplification, but like most I am always looking for something better (and easier). I like to keep things simple and I prefer to avoid things like blenders, microphones, seperate heads/cabinets, etc. Past combos include a Roland Cube 60, Carvin PB300, Roland SuperCube 60 and SWR Workingman's 12, the latter two still in use with the SWR as my #1 choice. I used to use an Underwood with a Fishman Pro-EQ but I sold them to fellow talkbass members after I installed a Realist on my 1949 Kay. I have found that the SWR sounds better than the GK with the EQ flat, but the GK offers more control over the midrange frequencies and thus allowed me to dial in a better sound. This is in my little music room though, so my upcoming gigs will be the real test (a convention hall, a restaraunt and an outdoor concert). I've tried the AI Contra a few times and I didn't feel it was what I was looking for, plus I've heard that it can sound boomy with the Realist. How much does a Clarus and Acme B-1 cabinet go for?

    - Steve

  12. …I wouldn't worry too much about it - I've seen the new Mk-III version, and to be quite honest I think I prefer the original models - especially if you got yours at a reduced price (mine is a 150-MBE, BTW). Just make sure that you clean the contacts in the send/return sockets - (see threads passim). The new ones do have the cool-looking blue light though…

    Hope this helps -
    - Wil

    PS: I've found that (IMNSHO) the GK-150 (and most cabs) will sound better if raised off the floor (using a stand/box/milk-crate) = less coupling with the floor = reduced "boomy-ness".
  13. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    May I ask why? According the the GK website the newer models run cooler and have a higher signal to noise ratio. A side by side comparison of the owner's manuals also reveals that a few EQ centers have been changed.

    Plus...the blue light would go nicely with my lake placid blue Jazz Bass ;)

    - Steve

  14. Of course:

    (1) Perhaps I should say that I wasn't as impressed with the new ones as I thought I would be.
    (2) They're sort of overpriced (for what they are, and bearing in mind the competition) - so buying one used , or getting a good deal on old-stock, is better value for money (IMHO).
    (3) Mine's old - although I have had all the ECOs and fixes done to it - prehaps they've rehashed much of the circuitry in the new ones…
    (4) I was just trying to make you feel a little better about your purchase ;)
    (5) er - that's it…

    - Wil
  15. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    I had a great deal on a new GK 400 RB IV head and i had it for about a week before i sold it... hated the way it sounded, i even called GK to ask if the impedance was in fact 1 meg ohm, i even took it to a music store so that they could A/B with other amps, the sound i was getting was so thin and bright that i couldnt believe the 1 meg ohm thing.. a friend of mine has an old GK 150 and a couple of weeks ago he come by and we just A/B the GK with my iamp 500 +Wizzy... the iamp completely smoked the GK, tone wise, sound wise, EQ wise, everything... on the other hand, i saw Charlie Haden a couple of months ago and he was playing a GK 150 with an Hartke cab and he sounded great... so, back to the same story again and again, what might dont work for me, might be your holy grail.. :D

  16. bassame


    Mar 25, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
    It's always fascinating how someone can ask a specific question on this, or any, forum and not get a single answer, but loads of blah blah.
    The question was: "I've been looking at the Gallien-Krueger web site (I'm considering purchasing a MBS-150 combo) and I noticed that all GK amps seem to have an input impedance of 1 Meg Ohm which is the same as many buffer preamps out there such as the various K&K models. Doesn't this mean that the GK amps will do a better job than most of handling piezo pickups without a preamp?"

    The answer is no. I have tried high impedance pickups directly into the GK input and the sound is lousy (trebly, mid-rangy, honky). I always use a preamp (I have gone through the Fishman Pro EQ-II with the Underwood pickup, and the ART Studio V-amp which is better, and the Presonus digicube which is even better, and all equally portable).
  17. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Here was the answer to the question.
    And here is a followup question that caused the further discussion.
    Can we still use your discussion board, Bass-a-You?
  18. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    And, base-r-u, another thing.

    You sign up for the hang, and within four posts are ragging on the people that you'd like to befriend? Nice start.
  19. Most of my playing is with a 16+ piece big band, so my sound is rarely as "exposed" as someone playing with a trio. However, it's a whole 'nuther thing trying to achieve a sound that has definition and body at the same time, and cuts through the wall of horns.
    I plug a K&K Bass Max directly into a MB150S. I've tried a couple of different preamps and found in both cases they seemed to overdrive the input so it sounded 'clippy'. I can get a fat sound (not "trebly, mid-rangy, honky") with plenty of gain without a preamp. I put my amp on a speaker stand which raises it 6" off the floor and aims it up, or I lay it flat on its back on the floor.
    I've tried an AI Contra and wasn't sufficiently impressed to buy one. It sounded different, not necessarily better. I've never tried any of the hi-fi rigs like EA or Wallywood.

    I think the sound you extract from the bass is more important than the gear you use to amplify it (assuming you're using some sort of decent quality gear, not a 20w POS). The old garbage in, garbage out idea. I recently had a new fingerboard and bridge put on my bass. The acoustic sound changed noticeably, more bottom, more 'air'. My amplified sound changed accordingly.
    Work on your acoustic sound, the GK's able to reproduce it.
    Just my opinion, worth what ya paid for it.
  20. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    You are overdriving the front end of the amp. You've learned
    how to get the sound out of the bass, you just haven't learned how to get the sound out of the amp. The idea is to go from the preamp out, to the effects return jack on the back of the amp. This way you bypass the GK preamp so you don't have a preamp going into another preamp. Only the
    master volume will work on the GK at that point. Do a little experimenting with this. You might like the sound much more,
    or not depending on the bass, pickup, amp match up.