Hunting for a clean-sounding head with nice sparkling highs

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by NeonVomit, Aug 11, 2020.

  1. NeonVomit


    Jan 29, 2013
    So I'm after a really clean, transparent sounding amp with nice sparkling highs.

    I've got a GK 700RB and a Mesa D-800, and they both very much have 'their' sounds which I love but want something more neutral and uncoloured that would really let an instrument's tone shine. I'm happy with my cabinets, (GK NEO410 and Mesa Subway 1x12 and 1x15).

    The intended use is for some smaller acoustic/jazz gigs. I love my D800 but the top end I feel doesn't quite sparkle without really boosting it and it getting brittle - not much of a problem when I'm pounding through power metal/death metal tracks at high volumes, but for small jazz/acoustic combos I'd like a bit more top end. The GK is quite good at this, but is too bulky and would be overkill for smaller shows (and I'm holding off selling for now anyway, because I've heard GK will be putting out a bunch of new class AB heads end of this year, and even then I'd only use it for large gigs which are... uh... not happening for the foreseeable future).

    I'd also very likely be using it for upright and acoustic bass.

    So anything at around 350w, doesn't have to be super powerful as gigs would be fairly small. Compact-ness is a big plus. Budget isn't that limited, I could go up to 700 Euro (i.e. around $800ish) but don't feel the need to go all the way up there if it's not necessary.

    Ideally I'd go out and try all of these, but again... not really doable in the current situation!

    I've like what I've heard of the GK Legacy heads, and Eich, Epifani, GR Bass, and Aguilar are what I've heard in samples to be fairly 'clean' sounding with a nice top-end. Glockenklang sound good too but they're out of budget. Some Hartke heads as well seem interesting, with the added bonus of being quite cheap. Same with the Trace Elliot Elf, and the Warwick LWA 500 looks good.

    Any other ideas or suggestions? I'd likely order online, and if I'm not happy with it return to the store for a refund. I've got time to kill :D
    Scarysharkface likes this.
  2. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Look at Demeter. 400 or 800 watt models.
    ahc, lowendrv, Aqualung60 and 2 others like this.
  3. NeonVomit


    Jan 29, 2013
    Yeah, they look and sound good but kinda tricky to find used over this side of the pond! Turns out there's a used 400 on bassdirect for like £800, which is more than I'm willing to spend however.
  4. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    Mesa Carbines come to mind.
    Al Kraft, red_rhino and NeonVomit like this.
  5. NeonVomit


    Jan 29, 2013
    Yeah those sound great but the cheapest I found used was around the 1250-ish mark, so out of my budget sadly.
    Bassdirty likes this.
  6. Turxile


    May 1, 2011
    I use a Markbass Nano Mark for that. 300W, tiny, clean with nice highs.that plus a 2x10 carries most jazz gigs.
    SJan3, Kaplan and NeonVomit like this.
  7. NeonVomit


    Jan 29, 2013
    Interesting! Didn't think of Mark Bass, I'll add that to my list!
    SJan3 likes this.
  8. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    Gk mb200?
    AstroSonic likes this.
  9. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    If you want a less bulky alternative to your 700RB, you might just get that with an MB head from GK. I just got an MB-500 last winter and it's been working mostly as a practice amp at home with all of our virus troubles to contend with these days. But I did get to use it in a louder setting with the band when we played in a backyard setting at a friend's house and that was a lot of fun.

    I'm not a tone expert and I haven't used dozens of different heads, but I got this MB-500 as a portable alternative to my Traynor DB-800, which has lots of bells and whistles including a substantial eg section, bypassable 12AX7 tube, etc. So far I've been impressed with the improved "transparency" that seems to come with the sound I get with my GK head. Although it only has the four eq controls, it seems to be plenty.

    The Legacy heads and even the Fusions are probably also quite nice, but I don't want to go sampling anything else until I get further down the road with this little head. It could be a while before I get to gig again, but for now I'm enjoying an extended honeymoon. I'm also considering picking up a pair of GK 2x10 cabs just so that my rig isn't such a "mish-mosh" of different pieces :thumbsup:
    Al Kraft, dkelley, NeonVomit and 4 others like this.
  10. I just got the GK mb500 and really dig it. Totally stomps over my old carvin r1000 in the tonal category. I have a homemade 15” cab and 12” cab with carvin speakers in each hooked up to it and Im totally impressed with the system.
    Honestly i still prefer my old SWR amps but their starting to show their age and their heavy compared to the mb500... a LOT heavier in comparison.
    Al Kraft, JettBlaq and eriky4003 like this.
  11. soundsupport1


    Aug 17, 2017
    I have an Eden Terra Nova TN501, which I would recommend. A super-transparent amp readily available in Europe would also be the Eich amplification T-300. As far as I know, they're rebranded TecAmp, so one of those used might be worth a look.

  12. Eddie LeBlanc

    Eddie LeBlanc

    Oct 26, 2014
    Beaumont, Texas
    Don't create no problem, won't be no problem.
    If you can find a used Bergantino B|Amp, it can do anything you want. A used one could be close to your price range or may have to add a few $$ (I've seen used ones for 900 USD or a little less, often)

    MCF and REV like this.
  13. I'd rethink this, just a little bit. Speaker cabinets have as much, if not more to do with the sound than the amp. Many times cabinets are voiced to roll off that high end that you're looking for and no change of amp will bring it back. Take your amp(s) to your local music store and try them out with cabs that would considered more hifi. Other than your time, this costs nothing. Do this in person. Going by somebody's subjective online review will only lead to a lot of returns.

    I say this because I recently back-lined a bass player coming through town and brought a Mesa 6x10 and a Bag End 4x10, both using the same amp. I'd forgotten how drastically different those two cabs sounded, even with the same amp, on the same settings. The Mesa cab, in all its 170 lb glory, was a grindy low end beast. The Bag End, with it coaxial compression driver tweeter, was as smooth and shimmery as you could ever wish for. Like you, I love having options for different genres of music. Changing cabs did it for me.
  14. 4stringsjack


    Dec 5, 2002
    I bought a Genzler Magellan because I wanted a transparent head with clear highs, yet EQ flexibility if I need it. I am very happy. The Mesa D800+ that I had, despite being very flexible, always had a baked in tone that didn't fit the rest of my rig very well.

    I bought the Magellan 800. They make a less expensive 350 watt version as well (with fewer features).
    MAXSPINRUN, SJan3, revroy and 4 others like this.
  15. Eddie LeBlanc

    Eddie LeBlanc

    Oct 26, 2014
    Beaumont, Texas
    Don't create no problem, won't be no problem.
    BTW I have a Genzler Magellan MG 800. It was my gig rig with my Schroeder cabs. I replaced it with the Berg B|Amp and haven't looked back. The Berg is a super amp, and probably the most versatile thing on the market.

    The Genzler is in the reharsal studio with an EPI 310 UL cab. Just saying. Good luck on your quest.
    NeonVomit likes this.
  16. Trickfish for the win.

  17. five7

    five7 Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2009
    Mesa 800 + will give you sparkle, also a GK fusion with the presence boost.
  18. skyline_01

    skyline_01 Endorsing artist: Nordstrand Audio, Tsunami Cables Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    Lebanon, OH
    I've had an EBS Reidmar 750 for about a year and I've found that it can do just about anything. It does the clean/transparent thing very well (and has a bright knob for 10k and up) but also has a drive circuit for a little grind too. Very versatile head, I can't say enough good things about it.

    EBS Reidmar 750 |
  19. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan DNA Endorsing Artist Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    Pretty much anything Eden or DNA will give you sparkling highs if you want to dial in sparkling highs. New I would go with a DNA-800, which is a class-D amp weighing 4.9-lbs and putting out 800-watts. Different basses sound differently in them because the only thing built-into the head is a bit of warmth. You will distinctly hear the different sounds that different basses put out. The DNA-800 amp through the DNS-210 will give you the clearest sound you ever heard, including the individual notes when playing jazz chords on your bass. The street price on the DNA-800 is $799.

    For much less right now, for small venues, the Eden TN226 class D amp (4.7-lbs) puts out 226-watts into 4 ohms, and it also can give you sparkling highs if you want them. I used that amp with a single Eden EX112 cab for small venues in 2018 and 2019 (haven't played any small venues in 2020). Street price is $499 and I bought mine used with a shoulder bag (super easy to carry in) for ~$250. I recently saw them on Amazon with just a few left at only $299 new.

    I run mine with an Eden EX112 cab for small venues. I bought my EX112 in 4 ohm so I could get the most out of the amp. Was a mistake. It sounded so good I decided to get a second one and use it for medium-sized gigs. Had to use an older much heavier amp to run the two of them because my TN-226 has a 4 ohm minimum load.

    Here's that very compact set-up sitting on a chair at the brew pub where we used to play most Friday nights before Covid-19 put it out of business. By the way that's a very compact cab measuring just 15¼" wide. My "normal" class A/B amp overhangs the edges of it even when I turn the cab sideways. But this little class D amp, at 12¾" wide, fits it nicely. I'd put the amp in the shoulder bag over my shoulder, grab the cab with one hand and my bass in the other and load-in was pretty well done.
    NeonVomit likes this.
  20. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    Another vote for eden.
    juancaminos and NeonVomit like this.
  21. Primary

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    Sep 28, 2021

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