Let's talk about the Ashdown Little Bastard

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Joris 55, Sep 1, 2021.

  1. Joris 55

    Joris 55

    Jun 5, 2009
    Hi folks!

    Let’s talk about the Ashdown Little Bastard 30.

    A couple of years ago, Ashdown Engineering produced the Little Bastard: a 30-watt all-tube head with a sound to die for. The way Ashdown put it:

    “Rebellious, uncompromising and cool as f***, James Dean - and the car he nicknamed the Little Bastard - are the inspiration for this iconic, all-tube mini bass amp head.”

    A pretty accurate description if you ask me. Have a look!

    Little Bastard.JPG

    Yeah, the chrome front panel is beautiful. And that VU-meter gives it a cool-factor that other amps don’t have. The rotary controls are big and convenient and the amp has a very basic circuit.

    It’s equipped with two 12AX7-tubes in the preamp and four EL84’s in the power section. My go-to tech guy popped it open to have a look under the hood. By no means I’m an expert, but the amp did make a good impression on him. I brought in a Mexican-made amp at the same time, which was nowhere nearly as well-built. It seems like Made in China has become a badge of honor.

    In spite of it’s stripped-down appearance, it is packed with features: there’s a mute switch, a high and a low input, an effects loop and a bunch of rocker switches to tweak your sound. This tiny amp is has it all!

    Using the 1⁄4” speaker outputs on the back, you can hook up 8- ohm or 4-ohm cabinets.

    The sound

    I’ve had mine for a while now, and I absolutely love it. Needless to say, it gets a lot of use.

    The amp is pretty small, but boy, does it sound good! Thick, warm tones; rich, classic harmonics; mild tube-saturation and full-on grind: the Little Bastard does it all. It has - for lack of a better term - a certain ‘heft’ to it. Something you rarely find in low-wattage amplifiers with limited headroom. Must be the tubes, right?

    Comparing the Ashdown to some of my other tube-amplifiers, it sounds even warmer and thicker. Needless to say it sits very well in a mix. And I haven’t even mentioned the transformer-coupled DI yet. It’s post-EQ only, but this is what a tube-DI should sound like.

    So how does it perform in real life?

    This little amp plays with the big boys. It might be the perfect studio weapon. It’s very manageable, but the sound is glorious. Tubes – or valves – really are something else.

    Hooking it up to my 112 cabinet, Motown is right around the corner. But with my 410 it becomes quite nasty. It’s capable of delivering a drive-sound no pedal can achieve. And with a vintage 215 cab it keeps up with a drummer.

    The 30-watt Ashdown delivers a tonal quality very few amps offer. It rivals the sound you hear on so many old Motown records. But those who seeking a more modern sound, should be on the lookout for a used one as well.

    That doesn’t mean this is the perfect amp for every occasion. Live, it quickly runs out of headroom. You may get away with a coffee shop gig, but for anything bigger, it’ll need some PA-assistance.

    As a studio tool, a silent-out would have been nice. But other tube heads offering this feature are more expensive, and often they don’t sound as good.

    So why aren’t these amps all over the place?

    Who knows? The last couple of years, the good folks at Ashdown have put out a ton of different amps. The lineup has become a bit confusing. A shame, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Little Bastard 30 is an amazing piece of gear.

    It was only in production for a short while, but from time to time one pops up on Reverb or the Bay. Keep an eye out for the LB-30 and the CTM-30 as well. They don’t look as good, but on the inside, they appear to be the same beast. Has anyone played both?
  2. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    Northern KY
    Cab fan, hobbyist
    Check out the low wattage tubester thread. IIRC a good portion of the discussion is about these two amps. Very likely a poster or two has tried both.
  3. Joris 55

    Joris 55

    Jun 5, 2009
    Thanks @basscooker, looks like I'm in for a good read, great stuff!
  4. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    Northern KY
    Cab fan, hobbyist
  5. Joris 55

    Joris 55

    Jun 5, 2009
    basscooker likes this.
  6. 707GK


    Jun 13, 2013
    Yes I have owned both! They’re indeed the same amp in a different looking package. The CTM-30 even has “LB” stamped on one of the transformers. I regretted selling my LB and now I won’t ever get rid of the CTM-30. I’ve gigged both…just be prepared to blow through tubes as you’ll be pushing the amp hard most of the time...I wouldn’t recommend unless there’s PA support. It is my go-to in the studio, many pro studios have a load box that you can use, most seem to be rated in the 100w range which is plenty for these little bastards.
    Tbone76, gscroggin and Dynacord like this.
  7. Pocket4

    Pocket4 Supporting Member

    Dec 9, 2013
    New Hampshire
    The LB should have been perfect for me. Great form factor, weight, and tone that got compliments from band members. EQ is too much an alternative effort for me. IDK if its called bandaxall or Fender, but though i "get" the addition subtract thing I chose to sell the little beast.
    Nuage420 and BassFalcon like this.
  8. Joris 55

    Joris 55

    Jun 5, 2009
    Thanks for the confirmation, it's good to know they really are the same amp.

    Any chance you've used it live with a load box? Some people seem to use their Ampeg pf's as a DI, especially nice when playing with in-ears.
    707GK and Zbysek like this.
  9. Joris 55

    Joris 55

    Jun 5, 2009

    Interesting! To me, the EQ feels very intuitive. I have a Fender Bassman 100T as well, and the LB is much more straightforward. The Fender sounds really great and have more headroom, but I always have to work the EQ a bit harder.
    TonetotheBone and rodl2005 like this.
  10. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Quality has nothing to do with country of manufacture. It has everything to do with the standard of quality the manufacturer has chosen for that product at that price point. A company like Fender knows that a lot of people will pay a premium for that logo so they can charge more for the same quality, or they can charge the same for less quality, compared to less popular brands.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2021
  11. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    That would be me... PF-20T
    Joris 55 likes this.
  12. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    It's basically laid out like a Fender tone stack with a few extra components added for the mid shift. Ashdown tends to choose component values that are a bit different than Fender though. This changes the voicing a bit and also make the Ashdown controls more interactive than Fender controls.
    Joris 55, Dynacord and BassFalcon like this.
  13. BassFalcon


    Nov 18, 2020
    I agree with several of the others here. I had one for a while, and it was indeed great fun, ultimately it was the EQ that made me sell it. The ol fender tone stack, If I remember correctly on this amp Bass 2 Mids 10 and Treble 1 was actually flat. Just took too much work to get where I wanted to go tonally to keep it around long term. But much like the little sports car it was named after, it was great fun for tearing around town.
    Nuage420 and Joris 55 like this.
  14. Dynacord


    Jan 1, 2005
    Great and thorough review. Agree with all.
    I have a Little Stubby/CTM-30 prototype and no complaints about the look or form factor and the "feedback" control adds a lot. On the EQ, it's true, it's not the most neutral amp but it takes real effort to make it sound bad!
    Glad you enjoy yours!

    707GK and Joris 55 like this.
  15. sifrancis


    Oct 29, 2012
    Mesa, Darkglass, EQD, Mantic, Source Audio, Yamaha, Delano, Hamstead Soundworks
    I have owned all three; Little Bastard, LB-30, and CTM-30. All the same amp.
    I can safely say this is my favourite amp ever made. Sounds fantastic and I find the EQ really intuitive to dial in to whatever my needs may be.

    The CTM-30 Little Stubby is well worth a look too - same amp design for the most part, but the "feedback" control is something quite special, and for many will prove more straight forward than the shift switches it replaces.
    I'd love to grab one at some point, but it's hard to justify when I have multiples of what is essentially the same amp.
    Joris 55 and Dynacord like this.
  16. Dynacord


    Jan 1, 2005
    Interesting, I thought the CTM-30/"Little Stubby" were the same but I just looked it up and they are two different amps (though mine does say "CTM 30 Little Stubby" on the faceplate...) Agree, the feedback control really is special.
    Joris 55 likes this.
  17. Joris 55

    Joris 55

    Jun 5, 2009
    You are absolutely right. Either way, it's built with quality components. The Made in China-badge may raise some concerns to some people, but I don't think they should be worried about the Little Bastard.
  18. Joris 55

    Joris 55

    Jun 5, 2009
    How are you liking it so far? Seems like a great solution in many situations!
    Zbysek likes this.
  19. Joris 55

    Joris 55

    Jun 5, 2009
    Wow, that looks great! I'd hold onto that one for sure :thumbsup:
    Nuage420 and Dynacord like this.
  20. gscroggin

    gscroggin Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2006
    As @707GK said, for live use I had to push the LB-30 too hard to barely get adequate volume out of it, and it was too much distortion for my main gigging band. If it went down to 2 ohms I probably could have thrown enough speakers at it to tame that, but all my 2x12s at the time were 4 ohms. For recording though, man, that thing sounded killer when mic'd up. I eventually sold it and now have a CTM-15 for recording. That said I'm probably going to sell it too now that I have a Kemper. Great sounding amps though and they appear to be well made.
    707GK and Joris 55 like this.
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