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Polytone Mini-Brute III

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Robert Rollins, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. Does anyone own one of these? How do they sound? I've been thinking about trying to find one on eBay or something. How does electric bass sound through it? This is the model Ray Brown used, correct?
  2. robgrow

    robgrow Supporting Member

    May 1, 2004
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    The Polytone Mini-Brute III had a 15-inch speaker and no reverb. The Mini-Brute I was the same thing except with a 12-inch speaker. Polytone amps varied in tone quite a bit over the years due to changes in circuitry, drivers used, etc. The early 80's is my favorite era as afar as sound. However these amps aren't as powerful as the manufacturer claimed, and they tend to run out of headroom easily. I've owned several Polytone amps over the years, but IMHO there are better amps available now.
  3. So you wouldn't recommend buying one? I've heard Ray wasn't exactly an expert when it came to amplifiers.
  4. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I've had one since the eighties. It's a nice little amp, whether with DB or electric. Even when I've cranked the volume to max, there was little audible distortion.

    Several years ago, I decided to buy an extension cab from Polytone, which was a nightmare. They don't seem to have any idea what communication is, and they were very slow to ship. How they stay in business is a mystery to me.

    Ray Brown always sounded like Ray Brown, no matter which bass or amp he used; buying a Polytone won't make you sound like Ray Brown.
  5. I know that. However, I've seen interviews of Bob Cranshaw where he talks about how when Ray played loud clubs and needed to turn up he'd distort his amp.
  6. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    I bought one slightly used (or rather, my folks did for me in college) in 1981 when I got the bass chair in college jazz band, needed a small amp with good sound, and I saw the bass player with the KC Chiefs pep band of the day at Arrowhead use one to support the band. I used it as my main bass amp for years until I got a larger setup for my EB and different kinds of gigs needing more, um, er, "sound reinforcement." Last year I dug it out and considered it for DB. As compared to all the new techology, with onboard compression, parametric eq, line out with ground lift capability, etc., it was a dinosaur with just volume, treble, bass, and one switch for bright/normal/dark. The only thing that really sounded good through it to me now was what sounded good to me then and what I owned then: a 1976 Rickenbacker with a lot of neck pickup way up by the fingerboard to get as much fundamental as possible. EB's with traditional passive pickups in the P- or J- positions sounded thin, and my Full Circle, even through the fdeck, sounded whangy.

    Instead, I got a Carvin MB-12 which is full featured, has a 12 + 6.5 + tweeter, all the "modern" conveniences for sound reinforcement or going to the board, and I am much better off. If I need that lowest 1/2 octave, I do have a 1X15 ported that I use on occasion with it. I still have my Polytone around, but its power supply is starting to get iffy: some months ago I used it on one final gig with EB just to make sure, and it started to hum intermittently during the last two songs of the gig. Not good. I switched it on and off quickly and quelled the hum to finish the gig, but I'm not risking that again. But then again, not a bad performance record for an amp that is 30+ years old, has been on the road to all kinds of gigs, and not necessarily the best care. It has been retired gracefully.
    richardsun likes this.
  7. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Then don't buy one :rollno: Polytone is definitely 20th century tech.

    Buy a Walter Woods and a Thunderchild, or an AER Basscube II, or an Acoustic Image Ten Two, or a Euphonic Audio Doubler and a Wizzy12M, or...
  8. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    My observation is that there is less use for 'vintage' amp tone on DB than on BG. IMO job #1 is simply overcoming the problems inherent in amplifying an instrument that wasn't designed to be amplified. This may explain why DB'ists favor more modern and if you will, hi-tech amp gear.

    In addition, amps 'of a certain age' are getting harder to maintain due to availability of specialized parts.
  9. I really just need an amp that's going to sound good with my acoustic bass that is budget friendly. I don't have $1k laying around, so expensive brands like Acoustic Image are out of the question. I don't currently have a pickup (in my school jazz band I play into a mic), so I can get one of those too depending on what kind of amp I get. I've heard good things about GK, but I've also heard they're very outdated and nobody wants to use them anymore. How are they? Are there any EB amps that sound good with the upright?
  10. Chris Symer

    Chris Symer

    Dec 13, 2009
    I've got an AI ten/two and a Walter Woods and various cabinets yet when I play a weekly session with a couple friends I happily use the Polytone singe 12 that is in the space. I think it sounds fine, and it's easy to use. A fine local electric player uses one on all of his jazz oriented gigs and sounds great doing it. If it's in your budget and works for you, I'd say pick one up. The newer stuff can be nice and sound great, but I've found no piece of gear ( including un-amplified bass) that sounded great in every room and/or situation. The Polytone stuff I've used and owned has been the same in this regard, it won't do everything but I think it would do what you need.
  11. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Your first second choiceâ„¢ Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I've been using a GK MB150S combo with my Realist equipped upright bass for years and I have been very pleased with it. These are still popular amps for upright bass, although some prefer newer designs like those previously mentioned in the thread. The MB150S retails for around $700 new, but used ones turn up regularly on eBay and craigslist. This model was preceded by the 200MB which is similar and would also be a good option if you can find a used one. I had this model too and I wish I had held on to it.

    I have owned several GK amps over the years and I always been pleased with them. They have some newer combos like the MB-112 that are less expensive ($340) that might work, but I have not had any experience with these. I have gigged with a Polytone Minibrute III and I think the GK amps sound much better. My two cents.

    - Steve
  12. Low Class

    Low Class Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2005
    Orange Park, Florida
    I bought my first Polytone Model 101 in 1980 after I saw Randy Jackson playing his P Bass through one at a Baton Rouge night club. I used it and many other Polytones for many years. I always found the bigger models like the 101 and S15B sounded much better than the Mini Brutes, but if you must have a Brute definitely go with the MBIII. There are a lot of good portable options today, but you could do a lot worse than a Polytone.
  13. I got one in the late 90's and it was my main rig until recently for both upright acoustic and electric, but I do agree with some of the other posters that there is a shortage of head room, however using an external speaker helps a lot.

    I recently got a Carvin MB15 that is, feature-wise and price-wise, quite similar, but twice the power, and roughly the same size and weight. I really love it, but I still have the Mini Brute III and plan to keep it.
  14. Bluemonster7


    Apr 17, 2012
    For what it's worth I was just handed over a mini brute 111 and a mini brute iv

    My mother was a professional bass player for 50 years and swore by these amps. She played both upright (with a fishman pickup I believe) and would also use a 75 rickenbacher thru it and I'm not BSng when I say this was one of the most uptight human beings when it came to her sound/gear

    The years I Was I'm gigs with her I must say the upright sounded incredible through it. Very true and warm amp.

    Sadly I don't play bass but now have these great items. I'd part with the III if you need one. Can't say I really need it and gtr sounds great thru the IV
  15. Black Bear

    Black Bear

    May 9, 2012
    I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia and ordered and paid for a Polytone Mini Brute 111 from Polytone in June 2011. They got my money and since then they have refused my calls and i still have no amp. I have complained with the Better Business Bureau in Los Angeles and still Polytone won't send my amp.
    Does anyone know what i can do or can they help me. I guess they believe that as a musician living in Canada they can rip me off leaving me no way to get my Amp. Any suggestions are welcome.:help:
  16. Thooom


    Apr 18, 2010
    Can you say "Fender Twin" (for guitar)?

    Some vintage gear sounds really, really good. My Polytones (I and III, esp. the I) still perform like new, and sound warm and punchy. Perhaps look for a used one?
  17. Fractal20


    Feb 8, 2011
    I love my polytone. I bought it used though, I have heard many negative stories about anything that has to do with the company. I play EB DB and guitar through mine. I think it sounds great with all of them. The distortion isn't great, but I don't go for that so it's no problem.
  18. garybaldy


    Jul 31, 2012
    I have used one for over 20yrs.Its the one with vol,bass and treble knobs and a 3 pos. slider switch - no dist or fancy EQ.Its a nice reliable amp which sounds great with my FJB aswell.
    Tolerated a Fishman BP100 for many years not being able to afford experimenting but eventually bought a single paddle for 20GBP on ebay UK from a guy that makes them.Its so much better and he's still happy to advise over 4yrs later.
  19. JerseyBoyDavid


    Nov 20, 2017
    Well, updating a 7 year old thread :-D

    I just bought a Mini Brute III yesterday at an estate sale for $125... I never heard of the company before so I figured I would take a chance on it. It powered up but the estate sale company couldn't vouch for how it worked past that (they had it for sale for $200)... I gave it a quick try this morning and it seems to work fine. I'll put it through the paces later today. I don't gig , so this is strictly for home use anyway...
  20. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    There was a time when the Polytone amp was a common amplifier and used quite a lot. Once Gallien Krueger released the GK 200MB, it faded pretty fast. I think because the EQ on the GK sounded so much better.
    There aren't many amps that you could get for $125.00 that's a nice deal.

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