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Lightweight and compact amp heads

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by H. Bob, Dec 5, 2018.


  1. H. Bob

    H. Bob

    Dec 22, 2007
    New York
    I have been using an original Clarus head from Acoustic Image for many years with great results. My go-to cabinet is a rear-ported Flite enclosure with 1 x 10" Eminence ultralight that was custom-built to my spec. This combo weighs in at around 10 pounds total, making the trip from the car a breeze. In bigger venues, I also play through PA or mic'd.

    I am now considering either a MarkBass Little Mark 250 or TC Electronic BQ250 to satisfy G.A.S. and desire for a little more "color." I mainly play smallish rooms, 4-6 piece jazz combo on Rob Allen fretless and Pensa J535. Any opinions/experiences with these heads that you can share? Note: I am NOT interested in effects, just warmth, punch, depth, and clean sound. Thank you.
     
  2. H. Bob

    H. Bob

    Dec 22, 2007
    New York
    Note: I would also consider Aguilar ToneHammer 350.
     
    jthisdell likes this.
  3. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    I played a Markbass 250 head (I think it was called the Black Line) this summer at a 4 hour gig (a friend provided it so I wouldn't have to lug my own gear). I thought it sounded very nice and as I recall had the full complement of tone shaping controls I associate with the larger Markbass heads. Their EQ points seemed well-chosen and the VLE and VPF controls are very useful IMO.

    I do not own any Markbass gear as my tastes tend to run more towards Mesa and GK, but it was a fine playing head. My alternate voicing head is a TH500 and I find the Aguilar TH heads to be quite warm and tube sounding. The TH350 is probably worth a listen based on what you seem to be looking for, although the TH500 might offer more clean headroom.
     
    MrBassman17 likes this.
  4. H. Bob

    H. Bob

    Dec 22, 2007
    New York
    Thank you. Aguilar is played by some of my favorite bassists so I will definitely take a test-drive.
     
    Al Kraft and MrBassman17 like this.
  5. as long as you're adding more heads to your list, add the Genzler 350 as well... it punches way above its weight class
     
    Sav'nBass likes this.
  6. H. Bob

    H. Bob

    Dec 22, 2007
    New York
    Great tip, thanks.
     
  7. Trace elliot elf is stupid lite weight has a good amount of tonal options and is 250 watts worth a look for sure. The Gk mb200 is another goodin
     
  8. H. Bob

    H. Bob

    Dec 22, 2007
    New York
    Wow, that Elf is hot stuff! Maybe I'm a snob but GK amps, while reliable and industry-standard, always sound generic to me. Thanks.
     
  9. Zbysek

    Zbysek

    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    I play both Markbass and TE Elf heads. I can recommend them. I didn't like TC head though...
     
  10. H. Bob

    H. Bob

    Dec 22, 2007
    New York
    Does the Elf have "warmth" and sufficient headroom? I really like the price, size, and weight if the sound is creamy. Thanks.
     
  11. Uche_bass

    Uche_bass

    Jul 31, 2017
    Argentina
    I'd describe mine as "classically classy". It sounds amazing with a P-bass with flats, and just as amazing with a Jaguar HB. As far as headroom... I never had to put it past 5 to drown the drummer and guitarist. ImI guessing that running at 4ohms gives it even more headroom
     
    Zbysek likes this.
  12. H. Bob

    H. Bob

    Dec 22, 2007
    New York
    Thanks to all who commented. I've purchased the TE Elf and I will try it out at restaurant gig this weekend. I thinking I'll be using my fretless with the "Black Beauty" ribbonwounds, the apt ax for swing versions of Xmas tunes--including a few from Vince Guaraldi. For those of you who've never heard it and can relate, check out Tom Kubis Big Band's hilarious "A Jazz Musician's Christmas."
     
    Al Kraft, Zbysek and eriky4003 like this.
  13. Zbysek

    Zbysek

    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    Happy NAD! let us know how you like it...

    You might want to join the club here:

    Trace Elliot ELF
     
  14. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Ha! We could be twins separated at birth: I too play a Rob Allen fretless through an Acoustic Image head into an Eminence-loaded Flite cabinet...and my name's Bob also!!!
     
  15. H. Bob

    H. Bob

    Dec 22, 2007
    New York
    That is absolutely CRAZY! If you tell me you have a 1990s BMW and 2 x 1990s boats I'm suing you for impersonation.

    I learned about Rob Allen's basses through Rudy's in NYC (immortalized in Steely Dan's "Black Cow") where I am a regular visitor/occasional customer. Yes, Walter Becker could be found there regularly, along with other hepcats.

    I called Rob Allen himself to ask some questions before taking the plunge. After I bought the bass, I told my wife never to let me buy another bass. But of course, I have bought 3 since: a Pensa custom 5-string (= the Bentley), a used Geddy Lee Fender Jazz (now with mellowed flatwounds = a classic Chevy), and a Steinberger-license headless (= SmartCar).

    I've probably owned my Clarus 20 years or so. I researched Jimmy Bruno's rig, as I also play guitar (and drums and piano). Jimmy played his 7-string through a Clarus head into a Raezer's Edge cabinet. Once I had my heart set on the Clarus I called Rick Raezer and told him I wanted to try using the same rig for both guitar and bass; he prescribed a front-ported 2 x 10 for the Clarus head. I bought the cab from him and the head from Rudy. About 6 months later, Rick was tragically murdered by his son. I guess this makes my cabinet more valuable but (like several of my other musical treasures) I'm not selling anything I use regularly.

    Desiring a compact rig I could move in one trip from the car, I started scouting out a lightweight cabinet a few years later. A pro bassist friend recommended Flite so I called them and we devised a compact rear-ported cabinet. The first one they sent (which took several months) had some kind of buffeting sound like you might hear from a car with only one rear window open. After some adjustment, he (can't remember owner's name) got it right. I keep Rick's cabinet in my home practice space.

    I'd be curious to hear your rig journey. Rob's basses are definitely not for everyone so you are certainly a man of discernment.
     
  16. H. Bob

    H. Bob

    Dec 22, 2007
    New York
    Well, the ELF arrived. It is small and delivers on all advertised claims. Warm, more headroom than I'll ever need, superclean, and plenty of color. I'm playing around with settings until I get the exact tone I want, a process that won't take long. I would have gone with Speakon cable end but not a major issue as I had a heavy-guage 2 x 1/4" cable handy. This Elf luckily escaped the North Pole and found its way into my collection.
     
    Uche_bass likes this.
  17. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I don't have any boats or BMWs so no lawyers required. :)

    20-something years ago I was playing a lot of fretless bass in a, for lack of a better word, "jazz(-ish)" band and striving to get more of an upright bass sound from my instruments. That search eventually led me to ...would you believe it ... Rudy's in NYC (!) where I played a few of the Turner Renaissance basses. I liked the concept, but the Renaissance had two issues I wasn't quite digging: Those rubbery strings just felt weird to me, and the basses seemed to all have a bit of neck dive. Dean, the alert and responsive assistant manager at Rudy's, very astutely said "you should also check out the Rob Allen basses." And that was it; I was instantly smitten.

    Apparently I was so smitten that I even mentioned "Rob Allen" by name in conversations with my wife. Now, I rarely discuss gear specifics with the missus because she usually just rolls her eyes and walks out of the room when I go into geek mode...so the Rob Allen basses must have been something super-special for me to even bother mentioning it to her. And bless her beautiful soul, she apparently took notice of this. Because for our fifth wedding anniversary, she bought me a Rob Allen MB-2!

    Flite Sound I came across quite by accident back in the late 1990s when I was tired of lugging a >40lb Joe's Sound & Salami 1x12" for the infrequent gigs I was getting on guitar. It sounded great, but it was a bear to carry. Not sure where I first heard of them, but I bought a Flite 112 cab in 1998 back when, uh, whatshisname, Kurt something, the first of many owner/operators was running the company. And then I got my second Flite cab (a 1x15) circa 2004 or 2005, during the Dark Days of the second owner/operator (Guy?)** but before all the horror stories about his inability to fulfill orders really became rampant. I have yet to experience one of Flite's current models built under current owner/operator Gerry Suprenant.

    The Acoustic Image choice was easy: I wanted an amp as lightweight and portable as a Walter Woods. And in 2004 AI was the only alternative.


    **[edit: I was right, Guy LaPointe was his name.]
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2018
  18. H. Bob

    H. Bob

    Dec 22, 2007
    New York
    Bob,
    Sorry for long delay in answering. Thanks for your parallel universe story.

    I too wanted an upright sound, especially for straight jazz and Broadway-type jobs. The Rob Allen has not disappointed me yet.

    At Flite I worked with Gerry who took many months to deliver the cabinet. Then we had to fix it. But it has served me admirably since then. I generally leave my Raezer's Edge in home studio and use the Flite for playing out.

    We're on exactly the same page with the AI back when. Now, however, I have the Elf too. I played it at a restaurant (capacity 88) last Saturday and it was fun having a little extra power and practically nothing to schlep.

    I know Dean at Rudy's well. I was in Rudy's Scarsdale store yesterday and Rudy told me Dean has been with him 34 years. Great guys. In the past I've also worked with Gordon and Scott-not sure if either is still with Rudy. Stephanie appears to be a great manager, is very knowledgeable, and has really tken to her dad's business. Rudy told me another two great stories yesterday, one about John Fogerty and the other about Sam Shepard.

    Our band is looking to add some tunes and considering Yellowjackets' "Top Secret" and "Matinee Idol." Check out the wild basslines wherever you get your music. I'm a complete amateur when it comes to slapping/popping (fretted bass only) but it is a gas to learn--not that I'll ever approach Jimmy Haslip's left-handed technique on a righty bass. Another fun band to watch is Vulfpeck, whom my older daughter discovered a few years back. We recently saw them at the "Live From Here" broadcast at The Town Hall. Their bassist Joe Dart is fast, tasty, and amusing--like the spawn of Rocco Prestia, Jaco, Fred Thomas, Tommy Cogbill--you get the picture. Other living bassists I enjoy are Gary Willis, Frans Vollink (plays with Sebastiaan Cornelissen), Etienne M'bappe, Christian McBride, and even Flea from Chili Peppers. See the Jaco and the Wrecking Crew movies if you have not yet--and "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" if you want some insight into Jamerson, Bootsie Collins, etc.

    OK, back to the real world.

    Best to you and Happy New Year.

    Bob
     
  19. H. Bob

    H. Bob

    Dec 22, 2007
    New York
    Forgot to mention Patitucci too, great guy and great player. Also living!
     
  20. Stumbled on this thread, and I also run an original Clarus into a 1x12 ported Flite. Gerry built me two other cabs, a 1x10 and a downward-firing 10, but the 1x12 stayed. A friend still runs the 110 for guitar.

    Same story too. I wanted a clean and lightweight amp, and at the time the Clarus was it. It sounds like my bass/me and not the amp. Interesting (to me) story is that AI told me my amp is production unit 1. I bought it from Ed Friedland, who bought it after testing/reviewing it. Still kicking.

    I'm doing the same search, looking for a head to pair with an Aggie 112 I just picked up. I have this feeling that the old Clarus will still be enough for it.

    Pete
     
    Al Kraft likes this.

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