Help me choose amp rig options under $1000

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by SlapPopBass, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. Hello,

    After years of playing loaners and out of low-wattage practice combos, I would like to dip my toes into actually setting up a small but decent bass amp rig.

    For my intents and uses (home recording and small occasional bar gigs, all usually with a PA) I've been looking at something around the 200-300 wattage range. I have no need to go much bigger than that, and budget constraints obviously play a factor in that too.

    To start, I've been looking exclusively at Class D stuff, particularly those of the 'ultra compact' variety. Ideally I would like a relatively small amp and a small accompanying cab (110, 112, 115, etc.) with the far future plan of adding an additional cab as needs and purposes arise.

    I'd like to ideally avoid combos, but if someone has an opinion on one that can be hooked up to cabs to later expand upon, I'm game.

    Sound wise, something straightforward that I can tinker for just a touch bare smidge of flavor in tone is ideal.

    Here's a list of what I have more or less narrowed it down to:

    1. TC BH250
    2. Markbass Nano 300/ Little Mark Blackline 250
    3. Trace Eliot Elf
    4. GK MB200

    If possible, I would like to hear everyone's individual experiences and opinions, and possibly comparisons between any of them. Any separate individual threads on any of these are usually just people GASing over them, with not much objective descriptions of the sound.

    I live in small college town of Iowa City, and there are only two close by music stores, both of which don't have a very good selection of bass amp rigs to test play, so I'm mostly gambling my choice with online references and opinions. (and I'm ok with that)
    zon6c-f likes this.
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Hard to pick out what someone else wants in an amp. What kinds of tones are you looking for? You picked a handful of amps that have different vibes. Of course you could be perfectly functional on all of them and get a variety of tones from each, but they don't sound or operate all that much alike, and one you might vibe with over the others due to your music choices and favorite tones from favorite players.
    zon6c-f and AstroSonic like this.
  3. Cool, I was flip-flopping on actually writing out on more specific on what I wanted tone wise, mostly because I didn't want to write an essay and a half on my initial post.

    Tone wise I'm more of boosted mids, cut highs (frowny eq?), heavy fingerstyle type guy. I rarely slap (in fact I almost abhor that scooped mids sound), and most musical situations I'm in don't call for it. My main gig outside of home recordings is a funk/jazz fusion 4 piece with a rhythm guitar, a sax and a small 3-4 piece drum kit plus me.

    My main bass is a Stingray that I string with flats, that I run through an mxr preamp and a compressor. I always like shooting for that sound/vibe that's very present in a lot of Chic/Sister Sledge records, and a lot of recent Vulfpeck tracks.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    OK, so it sounds like you don't want a tweeter or you want to be able to kill those tweeter frequencies. Some cabs sound better than others with the tweeters off, and some smaller and less expensive cabs have crap tweeters that won't allow you to turn them off, so bear that in mind when shopping.

    Since I can't recommend brands I endorse :D I'll work with your list as it stands. LM Blackline 250 would clearly be my choice. Has a slightly better EQ than the Nano 300 due to the VLE knob being something you might find useful, and you won't really miss 50 extra watts (just stay away from the VPF filter---midscoop). Elf has a mid control at 400 hz, and while it's somewhat workable, I like the Blackline's 800 hz hi mid center better for the vibe you want, which tends to be a vibe I go after a lot of the time as well, although I don't use a Stingray. TC has lots of nifty features and gadgets and could likely cop that tone easily enough, but I don't dig the sound of budget digital, and the GK's high mid is 1k, which I don't dig at all for what you want (a former regular called it the gank frequency and I tend to agree). If you dig Bernard and Joe Dart on MM's and flats, it's not even arguable that the Blackline's the best choice. Out of those choices you listed, that is. I think you feel me.


    EDIT: A guy who doesn't slap much calling himself SlapPopBass?
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
    dBdB and Haroldo like this.
  5. CallMeAl


    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    Dont have it yet, but I just did some testing and I've got my heart set on a Rumble 500. 350 watts at 8 ohms, 500 @ 4. I have the 100 combo, love it and want a bigger one now!

    What I like is they are cheap, powerful, and light. I also like the tone and simplicity of controls. The biggest complaint I hear about them is the "baked in" fender tone, that you either like it or not. But definitely worth adding to the list!

    I went in thinking I would prefer the 15, but i really liked the 2x10. So crisp and clear!
    inthevelvet and B-Lo like this.
  6. jlepre


    Nov 12, 2007
    Cedar Knolls, NJ
    How about this? I just gigged it the other night, and it was more than I needed for stage volume. With FOH support it would really pump!
    Elf + Elf 2X8 + BC208
    Heavy Blue, bordinco90 and Stumbo like this.
  7. jeff7bass

    jeff7bass Inactive

    Apr 9, 2009
    Judging by your choices a combo might be the best option. Why? Cab+head options are more expensive. For instance getting a cab + head that can perform like the Fender Rumble 500 combo (600 dollars) might cost you 800 dollars or more.
    pcake, SmokinJoe992 and B-Lo like this.
  8. Wicked G

    Wicked G

    Jan 19, 2017
    Hell Paso Texas
    Based on my personal preference I would go:
    1: TC BH250
    2: GK MB200
    3: Markbass Blackline 250
    4: Trace Elf
    I have no experience with the Nano.

    Based on the tonal goals you later added, I would then recommend:
    1: TC BH250 / Markbass Blackline 250
    2: Trace Elf
    3: GK MB200
    And again I have no experience with the Nano.
  9. Ian McLaughlin

    Ian McLaughlin

    Aug 11, 2018
    GK all day.
  10. TerenceE

    TerenceE Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2015
    GK MB212. Takes extension cab. More than enough stage volume

    I just picked up a markbass Jeff Berlin player school 115 combo that hammers and weighs all of 30 lbs!
    jeff7bass, pcake and SmokinJoe992 like this.
  11. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Consider an Aguilar TH350 or 500 with a revsound 210 cab.
  12. i was going to suggest at Tonehammer 350 or 500 with a good cab will be all you will ever need
    Wesley R likes this.
  13. Eddie LeBlanc

    Eddie LeBlanc

    Oct 26, 2014
    Beaumont, Texas
    Don't create no problem, won't be no problem.
    joe# likes this.
  14. strost


    Oct 2, 2008
    Blacksburg, VA
    I just bought and returned a GK MB200 (had some hiss which drives me nuts - but most don't). Really liked the sound but might be too scooped for you. I found myself wanted to slap a lot (especially on my Stingray). I guess I'd describe it as a clear, bright, modern tone overall.

    Then bought a tc BH250. Initially didn't love it but I'm warming up to it. The eq is not like other heads but I think it works. And the toneprint business is actually really fun. I do find it more mid-heavy so you might dig that.

    Both are plenty loud but neither can hang with a big loud band.

    As for cabs. Check out Revsound's little ones. I have an RS28 and and RS210. Both are great and David is great to work with! Maybe check out the 28 or 112 or 115?

    Bass Cabinets | RevSound

    You can do all of these options new for under $1k and used for much less!

    Happy hunting!
    Stumbo likes this.
  15. Wesley R

    Wesley R Gold Supporting Member

  16. I would agree with this. From your description of what you are looking for I think a combo would be a better option for you. Cheaper and more convenient.
    B-Lo likes this.
  17. bordinco90


    Dec 7, 2011
    SW Louisiana
    I have the TC BH250 and it sounds really good. It has great features and a nice simple EQ. I also have the Markbass Little Marcus 250 and it sounds great as well. It is tonally darker than the TC, but is more powerful than the TC. I've also owned the Markbass Nano Mark 300 and it was better than both the TC and the Little Marcus. I sent it back due to the DI not working, but to me it sounded better than the TC and Little Marcus. If you can get one with the DI working, I would get the Nano Mark or the Blackline 250.
  18. On less expensive side I’ve purchased GC house brand Acoustic and on higher end I bought Bergantino Forte’ with 1-12 h d n

    Good luck and keep us posted!
  19. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    Aguilar tonehammer 500
    Hartke tx600
  20. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Rumble™ Stage 800 Combo Bass Rig

    "The 39lb. Fender Rumble Stage 800 is an ideal digital bass amp for the stage and the studio.

    The Rumble Stage features 800 watts that drive two powerful 10" drivers along with a compression tweeter that can be easily switched on and off, allowing adjustment for an ideal treble response.

    Bassists are especially fond of the Rumble Stage 800's veritable vault of classic amp and cabinet tones from the onboard modeling made famous by Fender's Mustang GT amplifiers.

    Dial in anything from '50s Bassman tones to mammoth stadium sounds of the '70s/'80s to extended modern-day low end — the options are nearly endless.

    This versatile amp also features stellar compression and EQ effects, reverbs, delays, octave effects, and a cool 60-second looper, which is great for practice and songwriting."

    Add another 2x10 later along with a HPF. You can play pretty much any gig.

    • 800-watt WiFi-equipped digital bass amplifier
    • Two 10" Eminence® ceramic speakers; compression tweeter
    • Free, exclusive Tone App for one-touch preset access, management and editing
    • New models and effects with “spillover”
    • Bluetooth audio streaming and control
    • Stereo send and return; AUX input; XLR line outputs; USB output; headphone output
    • Onboard 60-second looper; setlist support
    • MGT-4 footswitch for control of presets and effects, tuner and looper access
    jeff7bass likes this.