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Portable, Clean-sounding Combo Amp?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by jeisdorfer, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. jeisdorfer


    Oct 9, 2008
    Boston, MA
    Oh, and not ridiculously expensive.

    I need a portable combo amp to play professional theatre gigs. I have a Realist set up on my Poellman double bass.

    I'd like to spend less than $700 (So no AI Contra/Coda for me). Used amps aren't a good option since I can't shell out the cash up front (going to do the fun 12 mo. no interest credit card deal probably).

    I'm leaning towards the GK MB150, but someone mentioned the Roland Cube 100, which is $250 bucks cheaper (and over 10 lbs. heavier). Worth the $250 to stick with GK? Any other options I'm missing?
  2. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I think that the GK might be your best choice. IMHO the MBS is more DB friendly because the Midrange Voicing in the preamp is different than the MBE. GK's also have a 1 Meg Ohm input impedance that's better for peizo's. I have also owned a Roland Cube (one of the older orange ones) so I A/B'd it with the old 200MB series I and II's. With the pickup I was using at the time (an Underwood) the GK sounded a lot better. The Micro bass amps are dependable and fairly durable.

  3. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    More food for thought ... [ copied from another thread ]
    Also maybe the MarkBass combos. There are quite a few posts about the Mini CMD 121P in this fourm if you search a bit. Not sure where they fall exactly in terms of price. [ Edit - $899 new. But I hear the guys at GC like to dicker. ]
  4. robgrow

    robgrow Supporting Member

    May 1, 2004
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    +1 for the GK MB150S. It's very hard to beat for what it can do in such a compact package. This place usually has the lowest everyday prices on GK stuff ($620 for the MB150S).
  5. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Ditto for the GK. I've had mine for at least 20 years. I've worked it pretty hard sometimes, and it's never let me down. It's required repair exactly once, and the problem came from an external source, not the amp. Sent it to GK and they fixed and upgraded the amp. I recommend it with no reservations.
  6. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    yeah, I've had my used one for 5+ years. I have a larger amp that does more, but when I need an over the shoulder rig, it's what I use. It's sounded great in a lot of different places.

    I've always wanted to like the AI combos, but haven't quite been able to. The EA Micro/Micro with backpack is sweet, but I'm not flush with dough right now either, so, GK new on sale somewhere.
  7. TheCush


    Jul 15, 2008
    Portland, OR
    I have used an SWR Strawberry Blonde for several years for small jazz settings. These were designed for acoustic sound reproduction/reinforcement, but are within your $700 budget guidelines. I have had positive feedback from folks I jam with about the tone, and have been generally really happy with it.
  8. peterpalmieri

    peterpalmieri Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Babylon, NY
    You are playing professional theatre gigs with a Poellmann and don't have any cash to buy a small combo amp?

    2 schools of thought -

    1. Buy a really cheap amp that you can afford, I recently picked up a used Polytone for a few hundred bucks, it's not the best amp but I was comfortable leaving it in a theatre for a few weeks without worrying it would disappear. Everyone needs a beater amp anyway! One of those beginner model SWRs and Line 6 work ok too.

    2. If you are (borrowing aka loan) with the 12 month no interest thing buy the right amp that is going to work for the most amount of situations even if it's a little more money. What the heck your not paying for it.

    That all being said if you like the GK sound that combo will last you a long time...
  9. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    My GK IS my beater amp.
  10. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Absolutely no doubt the GK has earned the praises listed above.

    FWIW, I spotted this post today in this thread. YMMV of course ... didn't review all the poster's profiles or credentials or any of that. Not even sure all of them play upright. But maybe if there is a GC near you could actually listen to some of the MarkBass and GK units side by side.

    You did ask ask about "other options." That's all.

    Good luck!
  11. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I saw that too and took notice, because I do wish there was something a little smaller and a little better that wasn't roughly the value of an AIG bonus on a bad year. But, here's that guy's list of basses from his profile:

    Squire VM J FL (blacked out)
    Squier VM J (w/ DiMarzio Ultra Jazz, shielding-blacked out)
    Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass (stock)
    SX SPB-62 4+1 5-String LPB (stock)
    SX SJB-62QMD BUS (w/DiMarzio DP123, shielding)
    SX SPJ-57 White (w/DiMarzio DP126 P/J's, shielding)
    Rogue II P/J FL p.black (w/DiMarzio DP126 P/J's, shielding)

    Somewhere in that thread he said something like "tested it out with the fiver and it rocked!", so I knew we weren't comparing apples to apples.

    From what I can tell, the Markbass heads are getting great reviews, but their small combos aren't quite keeping pace with them. While it's great to have another small head choice, I think we've already got a few of those that are more of known entities.

    The GK is not without it's limits, but for the $450 I paid used, I can't get close to it. I have an EA 200 Wizzy Combo and it absolutely scales higher better and on those rare occasions where I play some electric bass, it adapts to that sound more quickly, but it's heavier and I paid about 2x for it. I keep the Gk around for portability and still use it about 1/3 of the time. Depending on the room or the band, I don't think there is an appreciable sonic difference out front. On the other hand, depending on the room and the band, there is.

    There are some other good choices. SWR California Blondes sound great with double bass, but they aren't light and you could probably hit their volume limits if you tried. I knew a very busy guy who used an SWR WM10 exclusively and it usually sounded way better than I would have guessed and they can be a bargin, but I don't think they'll go anywhere with you.

    If you're into carrying a preamp on your gigs, I think a lot of things can work. But, I always try to go with as little gear and as few things to fail as possible.
  12. jeisdorfer


    Oct 9, 2008
    Boston, MA
    I wish I could find a used GK MB150, but I've been looking for a few weeks now and nothing (here, Craigslist, EBay). I guess that's a testament to their popularity if no one wants to part with them.

    GC in Boston has moved and is having a "Grand Re-Opening" this Thursday, I'm hoping I can score a decent deal on an amp there. Anyone been to a GC Opening? Sweet deals? Or just bumper stickers and T-shirts?
  13. Keep looking if you're not in a dire need for an amp. I held out until I found one listed here on Talkbass posted by our fellow TBer Clink. GKs usually come up every month or so. I remember just seeing one in January I believe. It's well worth the money when it's used. I bought a custom Mooradian soft case for it and it sits comfortably on my back when I need to walk with it in the city.
  14. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    Yeah, I had that impression too, until I carried my Solano to Guitar Center and tried out the 112 Markbass Combo.

    I think it depends on what you are using. With the Schertler Dyn B it is outstanding. Can't vouch for anything else though.

    I'm pretty well known for being picky about my live sound, and I haven't owned a bass amp in forever and a day, so take that FWIW.
  15. Barcza


    May 1, 2005
    + for MB150! I played thousand of gigs with it, from club to concert hall. and it sounds very good in 99%. Only the really loud el bass situations doesint works without a good PA.
  16. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    Little known sleeper amp. GK powered keyboard speaker. Don't know the number---not made anymore but available used. Until I got My EA stuff if it was a duo or trio gig it was all I used. Same box as the bass amp. NO tone controls, only volume. That being said, it sounds TONS better than the bass amp. I t may sound silly, but I used the amp height as a tone control. This is coming from a guy that used the most stupid complicated seperates and I'm more of an eq freak than anyone I know.A friend of mine turned me on to it and I thought he was crazy. I now own two of them.
    That being said, once I got the EA Wizzy 10 and Micro 300 I haven't used the GK once. While I loved the GK when I compared the two it was no comparison.
    Don't be penny wise and dollar foolish ( Is that how that saying goes?) I now feel with the advent of the light amp heads that combo's aren't the way to go. A Wizzy 10 and a Micro is still under 20 lbs. And I think they still make a backpack for them. (if not make your own) The important thing is that when you have to play a loud gig you use a different speaker. There is a clip that I posted of a gig I played in France where I was playing very loud and the speaker they provided was an SVT. (8x10") I drove them with a Micro 300 and it sounded great. I know that there is a used Micro and maybe a Wizzy 10 here on Talkbass for sale. I was offered an endorsement from Markbass and I thought that their little combo amp was very cool, but I'm very happy I went with EA.
  17. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Mike, forgetting about the usable qualities of the GK vs your little EA set up for a second, what's the comparible experience of carrying them? Do they feel like they are about the same weight and heft?

    I know what the specs are, but curious what your perception is. The shape and balance and lot of other things tend to have an influence sometimes that eclipes pure curb-weight.

  18. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    There was a GK Keyboard amp that just had volume and tone controls on two channels. I think it was the 200 MK/RK. They also had an extension speaker the RK that slaved of the MK with nothing but an input and volume control. There was a little tweeter inside the cabinet that gave you slightly better highs than the 200MB. I could never get it to sound with my Underwood pickup so I had a tech put in a tweeter defeat switch.

    I love the VL 108 and 208. I understand that the Wizzy 10 sounds like the VL 108 and is @10 lbs lighter. You just can't beat that sound. How is the Doubler doing for you Mike? I'm very interested in this head.

  19. patricklamielle


    Apr 1, 2009
    I play a GK, and I'm happy with it overall. Mine has 2 10" speakers and is 200W by itself. At larger gigs, I have a 2x15" cab that I hook up to give an extra boost. I play both my Warwick and my double bass through that
  20. jweiss

    jweiss Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah
    Pay with Paypal and charge to your credit card?

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