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NAD: G-K MB110- Mighty Mouse...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by steve_rolfeca, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    I ordered this on Thursday, and was told it would arrive in about a week. Long & McQuade called Friday, to say that it had arrived already!

    First, if there ain't any pics...

    [ G-KMB1103_zpsf2cabb36.

    With a bass, for perspective:

    G-KMB1105_zps3116495f. [/URL]

    Construction and finish are very tidy:


    This is a great little low-volume amp, with the usual features you expect in this class, plus the chain output that lets it drive powered MBE extension cabs. I suppose that this could actually be the front end to a modular rig loud enough for outdoor gigs, if you so desired.

    Sound-wise, it doesn't try to mimic the heft of a big rig, but unlike a lot of practice amps, it doesn't sound unbalanced at either end of the spectrum.

    With the EQ centered and the Contour off, it has the same modern tone profile as the other MB combos- solid low end, and a little grindy and forward in the upper mids. However, the tweeterless cab does give it a little extra midrange push, with a sweetness in the upper register that the other MB Combos lack.

    Like the other MB's, it's loud for its class, but with only a single ten and a hundred watts, it won't keep up with even a gentle drummer. However, it should be loud enough to compete with hand percussion in a coffee shop or small-group setting.

    G-K wasn't trying for plump or pillowy with this combo. With the EQ centered, the overall tone is woody and acoustic. As you should expect from a box this size, it's not going to punch you in the chest.

    With a little push in the low end, I think it sounds pleasingly full and solid with a 4-string bass, and it doesn't fart out early with my 5-strings. However it lacks a little heft on the B string. Boosting the lows doesn't fatten up the bottom string as much as I would like, probably because of the cab tuning.

    This was not a huge issue for me. I wanted this amp specifically for a duo gig I do every week, where the hall has bad "room boom".

    However, I still want a pleasing tone in other venues, so I started fooling around with EQ. Knowing that a little 100-watt ten can't go low AND loud, I decided to try cutting instead of boosting, with the hope of bringing the bottom string back in balance with the top four.

    Sure enough, I found a couple of settings that still had some growl, but gave the amp more booty. The amp sounds surprisingly girthy with either of these settings:


    This one uses the Contour button as well, and has a distinctly dubby quality to it:


    With settings in this general range, the MB110's character changes dramatically. These are a deep, Ampeg-gy tones, very fat, with a nice bloom on the note decay.

    NOTE: You have to rack the volume up pretty high to compensate, and it runs out of gain long before you can get it up as loud as it was before the EQ changes. Thankfully, the amp remains quiet, even with these extreme settings.

    It's tempting to think that you could put a booster in front of the amp, to recover the lost gain. IMO, this would be a mistake, as the speaker can't put out that much sub-bass at higher levels.

    To me, this is a perfectly acceptable compromise for a 21lb, $300 micro combo, but YMMV.

    This is not my first go-around with compact combos. Here's how it stacks up to some familiar players, at least IMO/IME:
    - Doesn't sound as big as the MB112. For my needs, the 112 is not better, just different. The 112 definitely plays a lot louder, which would be a concern for many.
    - Fuller and more pleasing tone than the SWR Workingman's 10. Louder, as well. Much better weight and form factor.
    - WAY more B-string friendly than the SWR LA 10, which sounded like a whoopie cushion with my active 5-strings.
    - More open-sounding than my Line 6 Studio 110, which used to sound like it was under a blanket.
    - Not as compact as the old Fender Rad Bass/Frontman 25B, but has a nicer top end, plays a lot louder, and is noticeably lighter.
    - The Traynor SB110 tries for more of a "big boy tone" with its tweeter and bass boost circuit. If you want a pillowy low end, the Traynor delivers. However, it suffers from the same mechanical limitations as the G-K, and if you push it too hard with the low end boosted, it farts out very early. Heavier, as well.

    Overall, I would rate the Traynor as the MB110's closest competition, and the MB112 a better choice if you need to keep up with a moderate drummer.
    I'll submit a gig report after Sunday afternoon...
  2. Awesome job!
  3. Good review Steve...

    Help me understand something about these little combos
    I am a bit confused about the low volume , as people here on TB seem the be able to gig (with a drummer) or practice with amps like the Ampeg BA108-110 etc. which as I understand are even lower wattage compared to the GK... Like 35w...

    In your opinion, do you think the GK puts out as much volume, or more? have you compared ?
    Or is it a case of YMMV given the situation ?
    Just wondering how other people manage to gig little combo amps if you feel 100w is not enough for even a gentle drummer ?!?
    Just curious on your thoughts ?
  4. BeerSuds


    Oct 21, 2012
    Foxboro, MA
    Wow, that looks a lot taller than I expected! Did GK change the cabinet dimensions from what most online pics show?


    Thanks for the great review though. I'm been loving my MB115-II for the past year!
  5. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    There are too many factors to list here. Here's a start:

    People playing quieter forms of music like folk or softer jazz, who only play with mature, sensitive drummers, can do quite nicely with 100 watts and a single 12 or 15 inch speaker. Especially if they only play in smaller venues with good sound systems. In a pinch, guys in that situation can make do with a single 10 if they can get it up on a stand or a chair, and they know what they're doing. I'm in that situation about 30% of the time, which is why I have used a variety of micro combos over the years.

    But the typical TB member shopping for a combo amp, is thinking in terms of having a single amp, capable of covering coffee houses through to medium sized dance clubs. They are playing rock music, usually with a drummer who has poor dynamic control and guitarists who use larger amps than they need, and refuse to turn down. Many of them play in spaces where there is little or no PA support.

    In that situation, four 10 inch speakers, two 12's, or a 15 or two is more appropriate, driven by an amp with 250-500 watts.

    Power needs escalate very quickly with volume. As a rule of thumb, in order to sound twice as loud, you need ten times the power. Or the same amount of power, and a wall of speakers.
  6. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Man this thing looks cool congrats.
  7. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    I don't know what's going on with G-K's product photography. That picture is straight from their website, and shows a cab that's quite a bit deeper than it is wide or tall. Yet the product specifications list the correct dimensions: 14 1/2" high, and 12 1/2" square.

    If you look at this picture, you can see for yourself that the listed dimensions are right, not the promo photo. If you look closely, you should be able to see the two port tubes below the woofer. I would guesstimate that they are 2 1/2" in diameter.

    Pretty hard to put a 10 and two large ports into the front face of a 12" cube, n'est-ce pas?


    Note also, that the cool-looking laser-cut or stamped logo on the side of the cab and the metal corners on the front face are missing from the final product...
  8. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    That is weird
  9. Thank you ! Excellent response...

    I'm in a similar position where 2 out of 3 drummers I play with regularly are controlled and very light touch, but the venues, audiences and PA systems vary too much for me to risk playing a small/combo rig...
    I recently played a gig with a single 210 cab (TH-350 head) for the first time and I think that's about as small as I could go without feeling the bottom end would struggle/suffer too much, and I mainly do trio gigs, with a small vocal PA. edit: plus I really missed the sub lows the bigger speakers will give me... Carted around either a 410 or single 15 for most of the last 15 years...

    Enjoy your new beastie !
  10. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Another thing to consider, is that I've gotten to repair a lot of small combos over the years.

    People don't realize that carrying twice as much power as you really need, only gives you a safety net of about 3dB. That's one line on a fader. Try to get a big crescendo going at the end of a song when you're already maxed out, and poof!

    I like to keep my amps and cabs running at 25-50% of rated power the majority of the time. They live a lot longer that way...
    Stellvia likes this.
  11. Right, yes makes sense.
    I am a recent convert to the pro-headroom argument... My main gigging amp for years was a GK400RB, and there were times when I heard the amp/cab struggling or missing heft in certain venues... Took me quite while, and finding this forum to accept that maybe 200w and my cabs weren't going to carry notes the way I wanted, even in the smaller bars/pubs/clubs....
    Shifting to the TH-350 and also a shuttle 9.2 plus some modern cabs have left me gob smacked at the absolute power of power...
    I guess sometimes more is more, without having to be louder... Lol.
    I am also equally blown away by my little practice amp (warwick BC-20) purchase, amp companies are really making these little guys sound great, look good and really useful.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I just played my first electric gig(backround corporate jazz) with the MB110. It sounded great. Growly, clear, warm. They do need to be broken in though. It was sterile sounding when I first turned it on fresh out of the box. After a few hours playing through it the speaker starts to break in and it opens up. IMO this is probably the best sounding combo GK has in the MB line. Its much more balanced sounding than the MB112 which I always found to have a boomy low mid that needed EQ'ing to take out. Really good sounding little combo! Also the dimensions are slightly off. Its actually 12.5" by 11.5"(top measurements). I had to measure it to have a cover made(which I am in the process of ordering).
  13. It looks like maybe they realized later on that ports would be a good idea (or that they needed larger ports). Their stock photo looks like it's just big enough for the 10" driver. I actually prefer not to have the GK on the side, so I'm ok with that change.
  14. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Finally got to push the MB110 hard yesterday evening.

    I put the bass and low mids at 1 o'clock, the upper mids at 11:30 and treble at 10 o'clock, and started cranking the volume. It gave a nice warm fingerstyle tone from the low B right up into the dusty zone with my Dingwall 5-string, which is fairly bright.

    The tone controls are quite sensitive at higher levels. Dialling in a touch more top end and bringing the bass back to noon made it sound more modern, with some G-K grind. Pushing the bass and low mids to around 2 o'clock with the upper frequencies at noon, made for a satisfyingly full pick tone. The treble is clear and present, but doesn't get harsh, thanks to the tweeterless cab.

    The power stage and speaker are obviously well-matched. The amp compressed on big hits and lost some definition at high volume, but never sounded loose or uncontrolled. Even with the gain dimed, there was no fart-out on the low B.

    Overall, it behaves more like a piece of pro gear than a cheap practice amp. In the middle of the volume range, there's a little added harmonic content from the cone driver, and it remains composed even at excessive levels.

    This is exactly the sort of behaviour I want from a 100-watt micro. It won't sit on top of your desk like a Markbass Micromark, but the extra control and depth of tone are welcome, especially for electric bass. Meanwhile, it doesn't move as much air as a larger combo, but in return, it gives a more balanced, complex tone. There's none of the mud that I hear from the MB112, and it lacks the boxy quality I associate with the old MB150 and MB200 series.

    For my tastes, an MB200 head and an EA Whizzy 10 would probably be the next logical step up in this size range, but that's a $700 package.

    I am well pleased.
  15. reinesos


    Nov 29, 2013
    Help me understand something about these little combos ce15. 11uk. mor.
    ht11. dh11.
  16. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Sorry reinesos, your links aren't working for me...
  17. What's that stand you have the combo sitting on?
  18. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    I have serious back trouble, so my so-called big rig is an 800 watt micro head, and a little 31lb AudioKinesis "super twelve".

    The good news is that it plays as loud and sounds better than a boutique 3*10 rig. The bad news is that even with the tiltback foot engaged, it's a little hard to hear the top end when I stand too close to it.

    I made the stand to elevate the Thunderchild for use on crowded stages, with PA support. It's less than 2' tall, so the loss of low end is minimal, and it makes that rig sound like a giant pair of studio headphones- very cool for personal monitoring.

    It's also handy when I'm auditioning a new micro like the MB110- you can hear any traces of harshness or boxiness that aren't apparent with the amp on the floor.
  19. :rollno: Hmm, I've only had my new little G-K MB110 for a couple of weeks or so and I love it - and it hasn't had any problems keeping up with the two low volume drummers with dynamic control I’ve used it with so far. But by itself, I doubt it will keep up with a hard hitting LOUD drummer - but that's what the Chain output is for. ;)

    I love my G-K MB110 - anyway, thanks for the review and eye candy. :)

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Yep, I've used mine with a Jazz trio(Piano, Bass, Drums) with plenty of headroom to spare. Depends on the context, but its pretty loud for its size. I have 2 more Trio gigs next week I'm going to use it on.