I took the plunge Genz Benz GBE 1200

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by 60bass, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. 60bass

    60bass Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2005
    North Carolina
    I just got the GBE 1200 and all I can say is WOW! This thing kicks butt and has the look of a Caddy or Rolls. It is far and away the best looking and sounding amp I've owned in 30 years of playing and will probably be the last amp I buy.

    Everything about this amp spells quality. The sound when combining both channels is very punchy with enough grit from the tube channel to really fatten up the sound. Just jamming for about 40 minutes using my 62 re-issue P with the tones set flat on the Genz was very nice.

    When I get some time I'll post up a proper review of the amp.

    The two things I noticed right off were that the front handles SUCK. They are way to small to get a good grip on an amp this heavy. If you are racking the thing as you should, it's no problem as you're just sliding the thing in, but when moving it the handles will pinch your hand as you can only get a couple of fingers in each handle. The other are the rubber feet on the bottom. I was barely able to get the amp into my 4 space SKB along with my KORG tuner. I had to force the amp down tight to the rack bottom to get the screws in due to the feet. I'm hoping I get enough airflow. I might have to invest in a 6 space rack.

    I popped off the top to have a look around and was very impressed with the construction inside. Everything inside the amp looks like it could survive the worst case scenario. The preamp tube is a Ruby 12AX7 Select and seems to sound good.

    Here's a shot of the new rig. I'm ready to move some serious air now. You gotta love the old school Jeweled Pilot Light.

    Attached Files:

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    Woodchuck and 9mmMike like this.
  2. ERMAL


    Jun 20, 2003
    San Antonio, TX
    The rubber feet will come off the bottom of the amp - you have to get underneath them with a thin screwdriver and for lack of a better term, just pry them off. There're held on to the bottom by a mushroom like cap that goes through the underside of the amp. Beware you may have trouble getting them back in if you ever decide to.
    Can't wait for the review!
  3. KsPiNeSh


    Mar 28, 2008
    Kansas City
    Very nice - it looks pretty slick atop those Ampeg cabs.
  4. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    The center of the foot is a drive pin that pulls out, relieving the pressure on the retaining "mushroom". Pop this out and the foot comes right off.
  5. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Stack that whole set up on top of each other, if for no other reason than because it looks threatening. Nice rig.
  6. congrats on the new head! when you get the chance, try your gbe1200 with some genz 212 or 210 neos...

  7. Visirale


    Mar 23, 2003
    I heard/saw one of those heads at bass central. It sounds and looks great, but those blue LED's are BLINDING! They told me to stare at it for a second then look away, and it was a lot like looking at the sun, haha. Still, a great amp!
  8. 60bass

    60bass Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2005
    North Carolina
    Yep, I noticed that but decided to leave them in just to get a bit more cushion under the amp and a bit more airflow clearance.

    BTW you guys designed a GREAT amp! Can't wait to get it onstage. In over 30 years of playing, I can't remember having an amp that I just wanted to sit down with and play and play and play. Well you get the idea.
  9. 60bass

    60bass Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2005
    North Carolina
    Those LED's are really bright. Almost too much in my music room here at home. However some night from the other side of a dark stage ........ Besides, I live in the desert southwest, having my retina's burned out (along with half my brain) is a normal occurance here.

    BIGREDSIX Supporting Member

    Congrats on a smart amp purchase. I've had my GBE1200 for about a year now and couldn't be happier. It really delivers no matter what cab or bass I use with it. Kudos to G-B! :bassist:
  11. 60bass

    60bass Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2005
    North Carolina
    When I play out that's exactly what I plan to do. If the height doesnt get em, the blue LED's will!

    BIGREDSIX Supporting Member

    Congrats on a smart amp purchase. I've had my GBE1200 for about a year now and couldn't be happier. It really delivers no matter what cab or bass I use with it. BTW - as for the lights (which I dig) - my bandmates call it "the spaceship". Kudos to G-B! :bassist:
  13. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    Thanks for the compliments.

    No need to worry about air flow, the amp is designed for zero clearance (top and bottom)
    Isotonic likes this.
  14. buffordbass


    Nov 11, 2004
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amps, Lakland Basses
    Looks sweet to me!! I am trying to trade for one right now... hope to join the 1200 club, LOL...
  15. Crabby


    Dec 22, 2004
    Very nice! i have the 1200's little brother (Shuttle 6.0) ane have never been happier with a new amp.
  16. Nice going and great choice of amp!

    I've got the same feeling about it being the last amp i'll ever own. Although those Shuttle 6 sure do look nice too ;)
  17. 60bass

    60bass Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2005
    North Carolina
    It’s been stated that if Porsche made an amp, it would look like the GBE series of Genz Benz amps. Just looking at one of these GBE series amps reminds one that they do indeed look like high-end equipment. They should, as that’s exactly what they are. Boutique quality amps for the everyman. Fit and finish on these amps is spectacular. Every knob, switch, and control feels just right and like it will last forever.

    At first glance, the control panel layout appears daunting. There are 18 knobs, 9 switches (including power), and 17 LED’s and it has an old school jeweled lens for the power. A closer inspection reveals just how clear and concise the layout is. Let’s take a closer look, moving from left to right.

    The first section contains the input and front tuner output. Just to the right of the input, there are two push button switches for active/passive and mute. LED’s let you know what is selected. Next is the front tuner out jack. To the right are two more switches. One for the Tube and FET channel and one to “mix” both together. Again, LED’s show you the status of your current settings.

    There are two channels. The FET channel on top and the tube channel below. LED’s are included for
    viewing which channel is operating and input gain. Next, we have the gain, volume, and tone controls for the five band active EQ. Frequencies break down like this:

    Low Frequency - 80 Hz and below
    Low-Mid Frequency - 200 Hz
    Mid Frequency – 500 Hz
    High-Mid Frequency – 1250 Hz
    High Frequency - 4000 Hz and above

    Then we move to the next section where the global signal shape controls reside. There are LED’s next to each of the three controls to show when they are engaged. The controls are:

    L.F. Boost
    Mid Scoop
    H.F. Attack

    Volume controls are there for each one. They are switchable via the included five-button footswitch that also controls channel switching and mix. There are LED’s on the footswitch too. Sadly, there is no control on the footswitch for the effects bus.

    Finally, to the far right we have the status and master sections of the amp. Status section houses the power switch and 5 LED’s that give you the status of what the amp is doing at a given time. Below that is the Master section with a master volume and a switch and LED for the limiter in the amp.

    Once you look at all this, you see it’s designed with the player in mind. Everything you need is right up front, where it should be. I should mention that the LED’s are very bright and there is no dimmer available. Some will like it and others won’t. If you’re on a dark stage 30 feet away, you will love it.

    My biggest complaint on the front panel are the handles. In my opinion, they are just too small to get a good grip on the amp when picking it up.

    The rear panel houses the speakon connectors, powerflex switch, effect busses, DI, and another tuner out. Only speakon jacks are provided. With 1200 watts of available power, ¼” jacks are not an option. The powerflex switch allows for matching the output with speaker load. Either 4-8 or 2 OHM positions. This allows the amp to deliver power with maximum headroom to any speaker load. An LED on the front panel lets you know when you are in 2 OHM mode.

    The effect busses are very nice. You have three separate sets. Pre EQ for the FET and tube channel and post EQ for the master or summed channel. Footswitch in and slave out are also provided. The DI has multiple switches for setting ground lift, pre or post EQ, and mic or line level. Lastly another rear mounted tuner out. Again, we see the player friendly nature of the amp, all connections are grouped together and clearly marked. A large fan is located on the side and seems to be very quiet. Air travels out the back through the large heatsink. Genz Benz states the amp is good to cool with “zero” clearance top and bottom, which is nice if you have a tight rack. Forty minutes of playing at a 2 OHM load at moderate to high volume resulted in no cooling problems whatsoever.

    OK, so what does this beast sound like?

    This amp has the most clean available headroom of any amp I’ve ever used period! Over 30 years of playing, I thought I’d tried everything but this thing beats them all. 1200 watts of power will get you to anywhere you need to go, especially with the headroom this amp has. I used it through my Ampeg 410HLF at 4 ohms and the sound was full with bottom that never stopped. Through my Ampeg 410HE at 8 ohms, the sound was strong with punchy mids and upper mids you only get with a sealed cabinet. Again, there was headroom in abundance. Through both cabinets using the powerflex switch in the two ohm position, the sound was powerful. Giving me the full tone spectrum at any volume setting.

    Usually you can hear when an amp is at it’s maximum usable volume and you stop there. I never had that feeling with this amp. Turning up the volume results in just that, MORE volume. I had the feeling this amp could do some serious damage to your speakers if you are careless with the volume. This thing delivers way more power than you’ll ever need. All that power and the powerflex circuit is the secret to the great headroom this amp provides. You’ll probably never send the output of this amp into clipping. That means lower heat on the voice coils of the speakers and longer life. Heat is the enemy of speakers. You clip the amp, the heat builds up and boom fried speakers.

    I’m not sure about other GBE 1200;s but the tube channel of this amp is way hotter than the FET channel. With the bass set at about 3:00 and the low mid and mid set just short of 12:00 and the high mid and high at 1:00, I was able to get a nice growly tube breakup with setting the input gain hot with my passive 62 re-issue P bass. Normal playing was very punchy, with just a touch of breakup. Digging in with my pick or fingers produced a fat hot growl with some nice tube breakup but not overly distorted. You can go full distort, but it’s not my thing. Backing off the bass guitar volume produced a beautiful warm tube sound that was crystal clear.

    The FET channel with the P bass was very clean with no breakup. Using the same tone settings as I used on the tube channel, I had to almost max out the gain on this channel to get an equal amount of volume as the tube channel which seemed strange to me. Maybe that’s the way it’s designed. I haven’t played another 1200 so I can’t say. Either way the tube channel is my favorite.

    I messed around with the mix function for the two channels. Using the FET channel with mostly bottom and mixing in the tube channel set for high gain with mostly mids and highs gave me a nice chest thumping clean low end with the added effect of a tube breakup on the highs, Very nice, like a Hi-Fi sound with bite. Then I used the tube channel set up as mentioned above and mixed in the FET channel with mostly bottom. That combo really sounds fat on the low end and stays clean and loud till you dig in and then just plain kicks it. There’s no doubt that the 1200 watts has a lot to do with the big sound.

    I tried out the effect busses a couple of different ways using my ATK bass. I used the FET channel clean, and was able to get the gain hotter due to the active EQ on the Ibanez. Then I mixed in my Zoom B2 set on chorus through the tube channel effect buss. Clean lows and very nice chorus on the mids and highs with lots of clarity. No muddy bottom as the FET channel remained clean. This will be my standard setup with the chorus. I then moved the B2 over to the FET effect buss and set it up in defret mode. The Zoom is OK for fretless type sounds if you tweak it somewhat. I left the tube channel clean. I liked that combo as I got a decent muah from the low and low mids while the upper mids and highs remained clean and straight. It was an unusual sound but not in a bad way and I might use it for some solo stuff.

    To say that I’m impressed with this amp is an understatement. All the above I did without even using any of the Global Signal Shapes. I plan on using them some in the future just to see what I get. The H.F. Attack will get me some added punch and pick attack for solo work.

    Is there anything I don’t like about this amp? Well yes, but not much. I still think the handles are too small and I wish it had effects on/off on the footswitch, but that’s it. I know I’m really raving the GBE 1200 up, but the amp IS that good.

    9mmMike likes this.
  18. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    That didn't cure my GBE 1200 GAS at all! ;)

    Good review.
    9mmMike likes this.
  19. ErnieD


    Nov 25, 2004
    Im looking into trading my GBE 750 for a GBE1200, is the wattage difference significantly noticable, i.e., more volume/more lows/more headroom-wise? Don't have a chance to try out the 1200 first but I find myself clipping the output on my 750 too much. I have 2 GB Neox 212T cabs, 4 ohms each.

    So at 2 ohms, will the 1200 offer much more headroom, useable/noticable, than the 750? Don't know if anyone has A/B'd these 2 amps, just sold my GBE600 a couple weeks ago, so Im movin on up the GB latter. Thanks for any info, Oh and very nice review on your new GBE1200, 60bass. :bassist:

    BIGREDSIX Supporting Member

    PM sevenorchids; he's had both and has a GBE1200 for sale right now here on TB, FYI...