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Home bass amp for Fender Rhodes

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by gijsvs, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. gijsvs


    Oct 22, 2013
    Hi there!

    Hopefully you folks don't mind a fellow musician with a different instrument asking a question here. I recently fixed up a beautiful 1981 Fender Rhodes electric piano (Mark II suitcase), for which I want to get a bass amplifier. The reason that I want a bass amplifier: I have recently been lucky enough to compare the sound of a digital Rhodes through a Fender Twin guitar amp, a Marshall guitar amp, and an Ampeg B2 bass combo (4 * 8"). The latter sounded simply amazing. It feels VERY suitable to my music style (mostly soul, funk, fusion), as it's super warm and clear, even in the low range of the piano. The Twin and the Marshall are both famous for being great Rhodes amps, and indeed they sounded good, but for my taste they quickly sounded a bit too dirty/aggressive and lacks some "breadth" in the low range. Just a matter of taste, perhaps - mostly I was amazed by how great the sound was from the Ampeg B2 combo. Anyway.

    Hopefully, some of the bass players here are willing to help me out!

    I intend to use a bass amp primarily at home, in a 25 square meter appartment where I have to deal with neighbours. I'm great friends with my neighbours and they're not that picky, but the loudness cannot be too extreme, of course. It would be nice to have an amp that sounds great at home, but is also usable for a jam session with a drummer. Is this at all reasonable, or should I adjust my expectations?

    A used Ampeg B2 is offered near me (also the 4*8", 350 W version, I'm unsure if that means 350 W rms or peak), but I am a bit hesistant to settle. Basically, I wonder if the Ampeg will sound OK at low volumes, too. Or do these amps lose their character at low-medium volumes? Another bass amplifier that's on offer near me is a used Markbass mini 121CP 1*12" with 400 W rms. It's small, but all the reviews say it's also great for louder settings too, if need be.

    Do you think I'm looking at reasonable options here? Any input (even critical) would be appreciated.

    Many thanks!
  2. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Check out that Markbass amp.

    We have Rhodes 88 in our practice room and when we do use it, I set up a separate rig that consists of my Markbass LMII (basically the same head as that combo) and a 112.

    The first time I did it, people were surprised at how nice it does sound.
  3. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Look at the Roland KC series keyboard amps. You'll get the best sound. There's several models, from the KC50 on up to the KC550. Anything's better than a guitar amp, but this is even better than a bass amp.
  4. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Also, there are many small/light/cheap PAs around these days that work great for keys. Having a few channels means you can use more than one board at a time.
  5. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    You're going to have a problem playing in an apartment and keeping the level down. A bass or keyboard amp, or a PA (thats what I use) will work well with a keyboard. Since you want to play at low volumes, you won't be pushing a lot of low end. If the B2 sounds good at low volumes it will be fine.

    I suggest that you mount the amp on a stand at ear level near you. This will allow you to play and monitor at lower volume levels. It's nice to use headphones from time to time. Some amps have headphone outs which is a nice feature. Otherwise you can use a small mixer. The advantage of the mixer is that it can be fed into a computer for recording or into a power amp and speaker. Yet another option.
  6. OP, my suggestion is look for a package without a lot of coloration.

    I play about 90% keys, as Hammond/Pianos/Horns/Brass, 8% electric bass, and 2% banjo, lap steel, and 12-string guitar.
    My keys produce full strength fundamentals from C1 up to C6.

    I use separates that are capable of both Flat and colored responses.
    This is currently a Sansamp RPM, solid state power amp (PLX or ProLite2), and different sized speaker systems capable of full range reproduction.
    The RPM can be heavily colored, or run completely Flat.

    For your use, I would look into an Acme B1 or similar for a speaker system.
    These will produce the rich and full-range signal your rig produces.
    Research is required for amp heads, as most seem to have some coloration built in.
  7. gijsvs


    Oct 22, 2013
    Thanks for your replies! I'll be looking for the amps that you suggested, and I'll look into the Markbass as well (though I'm limited by what's available on the used market for financial reasons). I'll also consider keyboard amps, but I must say I really liked the coloration that the Ampeg B2 gave!

    Also, I just had another idea :D: would it be possible to buy only a pre-amp, and then connect this to my normal home audio sound system? I can always get a separate cabinet later, if I need more volume. I do have a fairly nice home audio system anyway, and that way I could control the volume easily using my normal audio amplifier. Does this idea make sense? Do you think it'll work, and sound OK?
  8. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    You could do that with a small mixer, preamp or, probably better yet a small headphone amp/modeling unit. I will say that home stereo gear is not really the same thing and you could potentially damage speakers, etc., with the uncompressed full range that comes from an instrument.
  9. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    How good it sounds will depends on your home audio system. If you have an aux in, it might allow you to plug in directly with an adapter cable. It could work at low levels.
  10. gijsvs


    Oct 22, 2013
    If I keep the volume limited, is this so dangerous that you think I shouldn't do it? I mean, I can probably destroy my speakers even when playing a regular CD if I turn it up to the max, but I just don't do that. I have a mid-to-upper range system from the mid-90s, if this is indeed a big risk then I will not try this.
  11. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Be careful. There's a difference between the signal that comes from an instrument and a CD you play. On a CD they've compressed and limited and EQ'ed it very specifically to work with the kind of speakers people use at home (or car, etc).
  12. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I wouldn't risk the home stereo. As stated, those spkrs are a whole 'nother thing as compared to MI gear. I still think a small Roland KC100 is the perfect solution.
  13. metron


    Sep 12, 2003
    At one time in college, I used to plug my bass into my stereo using just a $150 Countryman DI box and a 1/4 TRS > RCA cable. It actually sounded really good. That could be a solution for you. I wouldn't worry about damage if you are playing at a reasonable volume.
  14. BbbyBld


    Oct 13, 2005
    Meridian, MS
    I have a '74 suitcase. The internal cab amp is blown and I've yet to fix it. I used a 20W Peavey Blazer guitar practice combo when I lived in an apartment, and that was plenty loud. That combo had an okay spring reverb, which was nice with the Rhodes. I must be in the minority here, because I hate the tone of it when played through several different bass rigs, and I like a little spring reverb. My amp of choice is an old Classic 50 410.
  15. gerryjazzman

    gerryjazzman Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2006
    New Jersey
    Can't tell you exactly what will work the best now, but I have a Mark I Stage-88 Rhodes that's been sitting in storage in recent years (no room and my Yamaha P80 does a pretty good Rhodes sound). I used to use that with an Ampeg V4B through a 2x15 with JBL K140's (only at home, did not gig with that). OMG that sounded glorious, BUT, I found that I needed a lot of upper mid and treble boost, otherwise it sounded muffled. I had the amp midrange on the 3K setting, set around 3 o'clock, ultra-hi on, and the treble boosted to around 2 or 3 o'clock IIRC.

    In other words, the more EQ flexibility you have the better. And the speaker should have a reasonable high end response (the K140's sure did) to sound good.
  16. spellcaster


    Mar 20, 2007
    I absolutely love the sound of a Rhodes. Great suggestions here but I think if I owned one I would run it in stereo through two small all tube heads (like a Sunn 200s , Ampeg B15 ect.) with JBL-D140 loaded 1x15 cabs. Might be impractical for your needs but I can only imagine that would sound glorious.
  17. I've been down that road, and I settled on using a single JBL EON 10 powered speaker.
    Sounded fantastic, with all the low end you want, plus great definition throughout.
    Not much control, over tone, so if you wanted to EQ the Rhodes, or change it up a bit, you'd have to run through a mixing board or a preamp or something.

    I plugged straight into the JBL, and never looked back. Sounds like a Rhodes.
  18. will33


    May 22, 2006
    The best I've heard a Rhodes sound is when I rigged it through the speakers of an old Hammond T-500 I used to have. We didn't use the styrofoam salad bowl rotary, just the 12" woofer with the passive crossover to the 12" whizzer cone........what a sound.

    The organ is long gone but I kept those 2 speakers and the crossover. One of these days, I will eventually build that stuff together in a combo using the amp part of my Peavey TKO and have an awesome keyboard amp.
  19. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I really like the Roland JC-120 for Rhodes.
  20. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    I'd look for a used Roland keyboard amp on ebay or GC online.

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