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Peavey Microbass does not always equal Peavey Microbass

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by cities, Jul 18, 2004.

  1. So I'm the proud owner of a new Peavey Microbass amp! Go me! After trying out a number of very small bass amps, I felt that it really kicked the butt of almost every amp in its size class, with the exception of a spendy ($700) but very nice GK combo. I wanted a little practice amp that would sound decent at VERY low volume (as in late night apt playing), and the Peavey delivers.

    Interestingly enough, however, the one that I took home initially didn't sound nearly as nice as the one in the showroom. The demo unit on the floor was a Made in USA model, and I was really surprised that Peavey could sell such a great little USA-made amp at such a competitive price. When the salesguy returned from the stockroom with my new-in-the-box amp, I noticed that it was labelled Made in China. I had just seen the documentary movie "The Corporation" a couple of nights before (very eye-opening, and highly recommended to everyone btw), which has caused me to be especially aware of where things are made. Anyway, when I pointed out the difference to the salesperson, he was a little surprised too, and he told me that the issue had never come up before. This was at a great little independent guitar store, by the way, not a GuitarMart type of store.

    The salesguy told me that the floor model had been sitting there for well over a year, and fearing the amount of abuse the floor model must have endured over the past year, in a moment of weakness I decided on the new-in-the-box Made in China one. Sweatshops 1, Backbone 0.

    When I got the amp home, I took it out of its box and immediately noticed that it was a little different from the floor model. The original push-button power switch had been replaced by a rocker switch, and the detachable power cord had been replaced by an integrated one. I thought that was a little strange, but chalked it up to the small changes that would have had to occur to move production of the amps from Michigan to Shanghai or Guangdong or wherever Peavey's factories are in China.

    The bad news came when I turned it on. It sounded like ASS! It was really boomy and the mids had a very unpleasant harshness to them which were painful the same way listening to AM radio is painful. I was puzzled, because I couldn't imagine that I would have approved of the sound that was coming from the amp. I guess I was convinced there was something wrong, so I took the amp back to the shop the next day. Even though I'm sure the staff thought I was crazy I A/B'd the amp I bought with the US-made floor model (which thankfully was still there). Wow. No contest. The US-made one sounded soo much better. I dragged my bandmate along with me and she also agreed that the difference was huge. The shop was happy to let me swap the amps, so I did.

    I just tried out the new amp here in my apt. with my own bass and it's so much better it's kind of amazing. I wonder what components Peavey decided to cut corners on to make the Chinese model more cost effective? I suspect they cheaped out on the speaker, because it's probably unlikely that they redesigned the electronics to any great degree (though I suppose even small changes could have large effects).

    I know I spent too much time worrying about a $135 amp, but alas I have a tendency to obsess and I'm glad I swapped it out for the better one. In any case, the experience really shed new light on the phrase you always see in user manuals: "Features and specifications subject to change without notice."
  2. Chapbass


    Dec 11, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    sounds very strangely like the way dell makes their computers.....

    sorry just thought id throw that in.

    thats really interesting though, makes me want to A/B a few models of everything i try.

    I guess the whole "every instrument, even of the same model, is unique" applies to amps too :)
  3. nsh50a


    May 11, 2004
    Columbia, MO
    Yeah, i totaly believe it. I have a freind who works in a music store that had exclusively sold peavey amplifiers before their switch to mail order business. afterwards it seemed like the quality on a lot of their stuff went down hill. It's a shame b/c the last 5 years their stuff had continued to get better and better. Now that music store hardly carries any peavey stuff and thats why.
  4. chiplexic


    Apr 21, 2004
    I guess you got to check to make sure the particular model /product of Peavey you consider buying is still made in Meridian Mississippi . From what I've seen not everything Peavey is made in China...yet.
  5. Peavey Microbass=Overzealous radio alarm clock.
  6. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Oh man, good ol' PeeWee Microbass... the first amp I ever owned. I think mine has ended up tucked away in a closet somewhere at my old friend's parents' house after a long and winding journey.
  7. Huh, interesting. And here I was ready to be a big Peavey booster -- I recently purchased a '93 US-made Peavey Fury bass for $150 on eBay, and after swapping out the so-so stock pickups with Fender P-Bass pickups the bass really sounds great and the neck is really nice to boot. Kinda sad to hear that my experience with the Microbass is an indication of the overall lower quality of new Peavey stuff...
  8. nsh50a


    May 11, 2004
    Columbia, MO
    it's only their recent stuff. This has only been happening for the last 2 years when they went from sales at local stores only (I.E. no internet or mail order) to places like musicians friend, samash etc... The almighty buck one out at peavey.
  9. the big misconception is that we were able to compete with a low-priced USA-made amplifier. we went to china for a reason -- we just weren't making money selling a USA-made practice amp, even if it did sound much better.

  10. Kurisu


    Nov 19, 2003
    Saskatoon SK
    There's got to be someone at Peavey who noticed the difference though. If they didn't, well, maybe they shouldn't be making amps. And if they did (and I suspect they did), why did they let the difference slide? Why not correct the problem to make the Chinese version sound just as (or almost as) good as the American verson? And if you can't for some reason make it sound the same, it's not the same model. Change the model name.

    Otherwise it looks like Peavey is riding off the great reviews it got for the American Microbass, and dumping sh*ty newer models, under the same model name, on unsuspecting consumers. Added to this is the fact that it's a practice amp, and the buyers are likely to be newbies or parents who couldn't tell the difference. That's just shameful, Peavey.

    Corporations.... :rollno:
  11. hey robb,

    do you work for peavey? if so thanks for responding -- it's very interesting to get your perspective on this!

    as i mentioned in my original post, i honestly was excited to see that the Microbass on the salesfloor was a USA-made amp -- my first reaction was "wow. peavey really deserves a lot of respect for putting an inexpensive but quality USA-made product on the market!"

    it's too bad that globalism often has the effect of pushing product quality down to the lowest common denominator because of price competition. i have no problem in theory with stuff being manufactured overseas -- it's just that there are costs associated with manufacturing in less developed countries that are largely hidden from us, the american consumers. passing these costs (environmental costs, worker health and safety costs and the like) onto somebody else is what lets us buy the products so inexpensively.

    and the bummer is often we don't have much of a choice -- IF you want a little practice amp, at this point you HAVE to buy a cheaper, lower quality sweatshop model (unless you buy used, which is becoming a better and better option). in this case i was lucky because i noticed the difference AND there was still one USA-made amp left in the store AND the good folks at the shop let me exchange it without any hassles.

    i wonder how much it would cost to continue production of some of these smaller and presumably lower profit margin items in mississippi? i for one would be willing to pay a little extra for something that i knew was higher quality and not made in a sweatshop... :)
  12. unfortunately, there is very little i can say in this debate that isn't proprietary information, so instead i will play devil's advocate and introduce some concepts that perhaps don't enter the average player's thought process.

    perhaps the market place didn't notice the difference and we weren't being rewarded financially for building in extra sound quality at extra cost. perhaps most of the people who bought them already were newbies who couldn't tell the difference and bought the lower-quality fender or ibanez starter pak because it was also less expensive. perhaps in order to sell more and keep jobs here, we made a difficult decision and lowered quality for people who largely don't care about quality.

    not all overseas factories are sweatshops. the chinese government continues to artificially devalue their currency by fixing it to the US dollar. so while they make the equivalent of $8 a day, it affords a fairly decent life style, even if it is only valid in china. but blame the authoritarian government, not the factory. making $8 a day in the US is probably closer to a sweatshop than $8 a day in china.

    it costs sufficiently much that we don't make them here anymore. also, economies of scale being what they are, i wouldn't expect USA versions any time soon.

  13. slinkp


    Aug 29, 2003
    brooklyn, NY, USA
    thanks for the thoughts from the inside, Robb.
    Interesting read. I can't criticize the decision given the constraints.

    Too bad about the microbass. I hope not too many peavey products follow suit. While I've never been a big peavey fan (the bass preamps just don't seem to suit me... haven't tried the high-end ones though), they do get the job done and they do make some really excellent-sounding products (e.g. the Classic 30 is a very good guitar combo), and I have always credited them with delivering a reliable-as-heck made-in-USA product for an excellent price. Not too many music gear companies you can say that about.
  14. Kurisu


    Nov 19, 2003
    Saskatoon SK
    That's completely understandable, and it's a tough decision that has to be made by companies on a daily basis - I'm sure no-one blames Peavey for having to go offshore in order to keep prices down.

    However, my point is that Peavey consiously made an inferrior product that they are marketing as the same model as their previous product. They are basicallly taking advantage of their stellar reviews for the USA Microbass, and actually selling an inferior Microbass to consumers.

    btw, maybe the issue is a little personalized, because I read all the great reviews on the Microbass and then got one. It was the Chinese version. It wasn't that great. I was a newbie at the time (still am, come to think of it :) ) and I felt that maybe my ears just weren't as good as the reviewers at Bass Player. Now I find out it wasn't me, and if I had a USA model to compare against I would have been able to tell the difference. See my point?

    I felt like I was taken advantage of by a company that wanted to make more profit. Making more profit and keeping jobs in America (although I don't see how offshoring keeps jobs in America, btw) is every company's right. But not announcing the model change and selling a clearly inferior product in its place is just plain bad business.
  15. i really wish i could answer your assertion truthfully, but that falls under the "proprietary information" disclaimer. suffice to say, though, my dad has always said something that i have found to be quite truthful is many situations:

    i can certainly understand your disappointment, given your experience. too often in the pro audio/MI industry, "we're not the only ones" is a valid defense in such cases.

    perhaps splitting hairs, but losing six jobs instead of fifteen is akin to keeping nine jobs stateside.

  16. Joseph12


    Jul 5, 2002
    when was the changeover made on this item?

    is it impossible to know without calling all over where there might be some NOS US-made Microbass amps? I think I'm perhaps answering my own question right there; that is, I'll probably need to call all over.
    But just wondering if there's anybody online here who has picked up a US made Microbass recently and where you got it.

  17. Beefbass

    Beefbass Guest

    Feb 4, 2001
    I have a Chinese made Microbass. Had it now for about 3 years. I've never had a problem with it, and I use it alot. Not only that, IMHO it has a pretty full sound for an amp it's size.

    The amp says designed in USA, built in China. I went to the forum at www.peavey.com I asked a related question, since I was checking to see where the MAX 160 head was built. According to Roger Crimm, all Peavey products are designed in the USA, but the lower end stuff is built overseas( the MAX 160 is USA built FWIW)

    Peavey is not the only company building products overseas. In fact a buddy of mine was recently telling me that most electronic stuff nowadays is built in Asia.

    Bottom line: I love my Microbass amp. Sorry yours didn't work out for you. But in the end, you did end up with an amp that you're satisfied with, and thats good.
  18. chiplexic


    Apr 21, 2004
    ROBB, is this trend to Made in China mainly limited to the smaller electronics such as the practice amp combos or is Made in China equipment now spotted throughout the entire product line?
  19. joemamma


    Jul 18, 2002
    I bought a Microbass 2 yrs ago. Sounded great when I got it, but I've never played through any of the riggs some of you have. Right now the amp is in the shop for the second time to replace the speaker (seems to go out once a year, anyone else with this problem?). Unfortunatly I never registerd the amp before 90 days and my warrenty is up in Aug. Does anyone have a recommendations to replace the 8" speaker with a better one. I'd invest in better sounding setup but all I play against are acoustic instruments, and the Micro is easy to tote. Thanks.
  20. Humblerumble


    Feb 22, 2004
    I too read the great reviews on the Microbass several years ago. I was traveling in another state and saw a Microbass in a store at a deal, so I snagged it. I never got a sound out of it that I liked and traded it off shortly thereafter, wondering what Bassplayer mag was thinking. I don't know where it was made but I have a suspicion that it was one of the Made in China models. Pretty interesting thread. Are all the Cirrus basses still made in the US?