New amp shopping..what’s the “GK sound”?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Billyzoom, Jul 16, 2021.

  1. Billyzoom

    Billyzoom Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2011
    Bay Area
    Doing some used amp shopping, looking for 300 watts plus, focus being more traditional warm sounds (soul, funk, R&B, gospel). Combo or head. Not too concerned about how dirty the amp can get.

    I’ve seen a few of the new 500 watt GK 2x12 combos for sale, and even in reviews I consistently hear “it has the GK tone”, as though it’s that distinct and you need to like it…what does that mean? I read positive reviews and watched a few demos on YT, but I haven’t been crazy about the tone…but can’t tell whether that’s the player, the bass, or just a couple bad demos.

    I’m leaning toward a used tone hammer 350…I think that’s probably more up my alley, but just curious if you had any feedback on the GK and ehat that tone supposedly sounds like.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2021
  2. groovaholic

    groovaholic Protect your hearing. Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    Mount Prospect, IL
    To me, the "GK sound" is bright and quick, with maybe a little bit of a raspy growl. They are flexible amps and you can pull plenty of other sounds out of them, but that seems to be their native voicing. I am a big fan, and consider my GK to be my "forever" amp, but that sound isn't for everyone.

    And in this case, since you describe yourself as looking for "traditional warm sounds" I think that your idea to seek out an Aguilar Tone Hammer is definitely a step in the right direction - that amp leans strongly towards those tones.
  3. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    IMHO GK has more than one sound. It depends on the cabs you are using and how the amp is adjusted.

    Probably the most associated would be something like early Guns N' Roses. Growly with a bit of clank...keep in mind, much of Duff McKagans sound come from technique, and I don't think he used his amp to record. But you can definitely get his tone with a GK.

    Years ago, Will Lee used to run a GK 800RB and Hartke 410s on the Late Show. We should probably give Will a lot of credit with the popularization of GK, Hartke, and also Sadowsky basses.

    It also tends to be really easy to get sort of a scooped slap tone with GK amps due to the way the Contour control works.

    I biamped a GK 800RB for a couple of years and IMHO early GK are a bit warmer and mid focused. Later amps tended to be more scooped and perhaps sterile sounding.

    IMHO GK does not do big lows well. If you crank up the lows too much the, sound ends to lose focus and definition.

    All of of the GKs I have played seem to become fairly compressed when I hit them hard. The used use the term G.I.V.E, which stands for Gate Induced Valve Effect. I believe this is primarily associated with the GK boost circuit which a single control and a single FET in the middle of the signal path. If you hit the Boost circuit with a hot signal it is designed to emulate a pushed tube, and IMHO it does a pretty good job. Reduce the signal at the Boost circuit and make up the gain with the Master Volume control(s), and the sound is cleaner and punchier. However, IMHO the output sections get fairly soft and squishy when pushed hard as well. Overall you can get a nice tubey quality from a GK bass amp if you know how to adjust it, but the basic voicing of the amp is way more modern than most people typically associate with tube amps.
    tindrum and Billyzoom like this.
  4. jeff7bass

    jeff7bass Inactive

    Apr 9, 2009
    I would checkout the new Legacy and Fusion vids on YouTube, preferably with the new NEO IV cabs. I personally LOVE the sound of the Fusion 800 through the NEO IV cabs. It's in your face tone but IMO can be tamed with proper EQ (from my experience with GK's).
  5. Billyzoom

    Billyzoom Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2011
    Bay Area
    Thanks, all. Found a used Tone Hammer 350.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2021
  6. tindrum

    tindrum Supporting Member

    May 2, 2007
    Suffolk, VA
    I think that is going to be absolutely perfect for what you’re looking for. They are killer sounding amps.
    Coot, Al Kraft and Billyzoom like this.