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Ultimate Compact Rig Part 1: The Head

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by grovest, Apr 3, 2002.

  1. grovest


    Feb 26, 2002
    I thought I would share my current GAS phase with everyone. I'm looking (fantasizing- whatever) at getting a new bass rig to upgrade from my Workingman's 10. I am wholeheartedly aboard the 'one-trip' trend. My ideal setup would be an integrated head that I could sling over my shoulder or maybe even into a generous gig bag pocket, my bass, cables, music, small tuner, etc, and a 1x12 in one hand. This might even leave me one had free to open doors or hold sodas or whatever a freehand might like to do. Just imagine... anywho, here are the contestants for 'mini' heads that I've rounded up:

    The venerable Eden Traveler series: http://www.eden-electronics.com/amps.html They are comparatively expensive new, but are said to have a distinctly warm and appealing tone. Needless to say, Eden has a huge following and also its detractors that feel the tone is muddy or to grunty. Although it has a higher price new than the others, there is also a much large used market for this piece. Many pros use this rig and swear by the Eden Sound.

    The Mesa Boogie Walkabout: http://www.mesaboogie.com/Product_Info/Bass_Amps/walkabout/WalkAbout2.html A genuinely small and light 300 watt head that even crams in two actual tubes into its diminutive size. There isn't much about this guy in the archives or on the web. What's the street price like, how does it sound in a small jazz situation, etc? Are the tubes a gimmick or do they add cream to the sound? I like the eq options and the general aesthetics of it, too.

    The Acoustic Image Clarus: http://www.acousticimg.com/clarus1.html Available in either a 300 or 600 version, including a model with digital reverb. Ideas on this guy for electric usually have some tint like: 'Great for upright, and not too bad for electric either.' Well, though I might play my upright in a gig situation sometimes, I'm primarily interested in using this with my Cirrus. Some combine a True Blue EQ or an NE-1 or a SansAmp with it. Yes, that would add an extra piece to lug, but the Clarus is the smallest and is also cheaper (new) than the Eden, so maybe an extra box wouldn't be too much of a burden. This is the same amp section as the Contra combo uses. The Contra has scored tons of positive reviews (again, mostly for upright), so I'm guessing the Clarus is pretty solid kit, too.

    Then there is the new Ampeg PortaBass: http://www.ampeg.com/products.htm?product=76&catid=13 There is basically nothing at all on the web about these and only a quick mention of the PortaBass cabs here on TB. Ampeg has a small 250W version and a slightly less small 800W version. I'm not sure if anyone in the general public has had a chance to play these guys yet, and I bet this is the first time some of you have even heard about the head.

    Finally, Walter Woods: An expensive, wonderful, backlogged and mysterious amp that I used to hear all about on the 2XBASS listserv. I'm not sure what the used market is like for these, or what current models are available, but I have only heard good things about the sound.

    Unless anyone thinks otherwise my (low/medium volume, jazz combo, small room) needs probably won't exceed 300 watts, and the Traveler 300 is 300 watts, so is the Walkabout, so is the Clarus, and the PortaBass is 250. Not sure about the WWs, except to say I've seen an old 100W version on eBay and read about an 800W option, also.

    So I am interested in your opinion and feedback on mostly the tone, sound, and also construction, reliability, coolness, etc. of any of the above amps. I also want to know if there are other products out there that are similar to the ones above. After I choose the perfect compact head I will then day dream about the perfect 1x12 to accompany it. Has Bass Player done any shootouts of this nature? I know everyone has mixed opinions on them, but the shootouts do at least describe products that we might not have the opportunity to try firsthand ourselves.

    Also, I just want to let everyone know how much I've been enjoying TalkBass, I've only posted a few times, but I read regularly at work. By this time next week I will be a supporting member! Oh, and what would a used Workingman's 10 in very good condition generally garner on the used market?
  2. Don't forget about the iAmp 350 from Euphonic Audio. These heads are amazing. Bass Player did a 1x12 shootout last month. I just got my EA CXL112 and it is the best cab I have ever played through. Definately give the EA stuff a listen.
  3. Hartke make, or made, a 140watt head that's only one rack space high, sounds pretty decent, and is peanuts compared to the prices of all the others suggested.
  4. SlimT


    Feb 27, 2002
    Eden Prairie, MN
    The Clarus for Electric is quite nice. I usually gig with a passive J-type Carvin and go through the Aguilar DB-924 preamp (about the size of an effects pedal). It was more than plenty for the smaller gigs and met the needs for small to medium. However, I don't compete with loud guitars.

    The only reason I sold it is I eventually want to get the 600 watt version.

    If you're looking at using it with a 112, definitely pay attention to the rating for 8 ohms on the Clarus - around 160 watts, I think? The 600 watt version is 350 watts at 8 ohms.

    Carvin also has a one rack space reference power amp (150 watts, though I'm not sure at what load that is). It should be pretty cheap.

    Have fun configuring the compact rig.
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Walter Woods, if you have the cash (and the patience).
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    If you can find one of these used, snag it:

  7. SRSiegel

    SRSiegel Guest

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    how bout the gallien krueger microbass? its a 112 combo, i think its only 150 watts though. i was in a club once and saw a guy on upright holding his own with a 5 piece horn section, amplified guitar, and drums (sticks, not brushes). he had a microbass on a stand, so it was elevated to the audiences ear level. VERY good sound, it could be felt and heard quite a distance away.
  8. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    clarus! heard it once with a 12" speaker cab (bag end maybe?) and wanted one ever since.

    it'd make a mean small gig amp to go along with my 4 ohm golaith jr, but it may be a little wussy with an 8 ohm cab.

    plus it's less expensive, and MUCH smaller.
  9. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    I second Bass Boy's recommendation. EA amps are very impressive. I use the 600 a lot but the 350 sounds perfect given your parameters.
  10. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    i like the eden wt400. most complaints about too much grunt come from the xlt series cabs moreso than the heads. i like my bh420 as well but its kind of big.
  11. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    I had posted my experience/opinion on the Mesa
    WalkAbout- I dig it.
    You asked about jazz, & that's primarily what I play on it, with a guitar or piano trio & singer.
    Mesa is not usually associated with "jazz" per se, but this unit sounds very good, w/ a simple & effective 3-band eq & active treble & bass.
    I find that I get a very round smooth tone.
    It can also kick ass for funk/R&B, with great snapping highs.
    13lbs, I'm having a gigbag made, very cool.
    I considered all the options you listed-all would be good choices- all are quality.
    The new Portabass Ampegs look real promising, along with the cabinets, using a new light magnet,
    & incorporating a dolly- smart.

    I also use a Gk Microbass S when I really strip it down.-I love it-very impressive tone, plenty loud, & small-It has its own gigbag too. I've turned a lot of drummer's heads coming in a gig w/ this over my shoulder! But this thing puts out, you can add another 12 if you need to. Very refined eq, contour, limiter, high/low boosts,even gets that GK "growl" going! They have an "E "version with a chorus & additional eq & patching.Note too that both versions have a balanced DI so you could play the Staples Center with this if you wanted.

    Have fun-:cool:
  12. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    Well, welcome, Woody!! hope we can help you with that GAS of yours, but seems like you're helping yourself just fine. :D

    you want a compact rig??? here's my lubby... iAMP350 (13 lbs.) w/ Berg HT112 (39 lbs.). i use this particular setup as my main rig for the coffee house, acoustic/jazz gigs.


    The iAMP350 does both upright and elec basses really well. clear, articulate voice that isnt muddied with an overly warm voice. tho its SS, the iAMP still has its own mojo'ed voicing. singing comes to mind. its a definite fav in the joker household.

    i've also got an Eden WT400 head as backup. i love the tube warmth i get from it and the mosfet power section is adequate for my needs. Tone you can practically cut it with a knife. but then, while at Bass Boutique, Jimmy plugged my jbass into an Aguilar DB359. and the rest they say is history. i had to have it and appeased my GAS. its all tube, pre and power amp, and its not contest. the DB359 just oooozes with tone. its hard to go back to anything mosfet (except for maybe an Aguilar DB750 hybrid head... ;)) It weighs a ton @ 50 lbs., but that's the price i pay for tone. Besides, this is not really for "work" perse cause i'm lazy like that, but more for me to GAS on.

    There's another option. Aguilar's DB750 is a hybrid head with its famed DB680 preamp section coupled with Aggie's own take on an SS power amp. and lots of guys at the recent NAMM say its the cat's meow. sure, its 36 lbs. & 3 rack spaces, but that's still managable. besides for the Aguilar ton, it sure beats 50 lbs. oi vey...

    The Clarus is cool, but honestly its more a mini PA than a bass amp. that's why its phenomenal for uprights, and even jazz box archtops. tone is very clear, and flat, with little coloring. personally, i like to have a little amp coloring cause essentially, that's why i buy a particular amp. sure you could add a Raven Labs box, but if it came to that, i'd just get a different kind of amp.

    i actually like the combo siblings of the Clarus, the Contra and Coda. IMHO, their engineered speaker makes all the diff with its great upright tone. kinda confused why guys like Charlie Haden and Dave Holland still use their little ole' GK M150E combos when they could go Acoustic Image. but hey whatever works for them, works for me.

    Not to jump the gun to the next installment of your threads :D, but my berg's the lightest 1x12 i've come across, and i compared them all. its also the sweetest and roundest sounding 1x12 i've tried, too. Not nearly as aggressive as an Aguilar 1x12 which at high volume was pretty nice for that rock growl. a pair of these would rock ass. but at low volumes, it just didnt do it for me. the Berg was more balanced at all volumes.
  13. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    geeze, i'm such a showoff... i musta posted this pic like 10 times now...
  14. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I use the Clarus as the conerstone of my compact rig configuration. I've used it numerous times with a single 10 in rehearsal situations that weren't too loud and had power to spare. I've also used it hooked up to a 4x10 and a 15 and was able to easily hang with the loud drummer and guitarist. You can definitely tweak the tone using a Sans-Amp or the EQ on your bass since the EQ controls on the Clarus aren't that drastic.
  15. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    so - if you like the tone of your bass DI'd, you'll like it thru the clarus, right?
  16. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    yea pretty much.

    if you like the sound of your bass straightup with no chaser, then the Clarus is right up yor alley. the EQ might not be drastic enough for some electric players, but that's up to you.

    a friend of mine who plays in the worship service before me, recently switched to a Clarus/Sansamp DI setup, and i gotta admit, it was one killer little rig. his fenfer jbass was punchie and round. made me a believer. i still like my WT400 a little more, but i'd love to a/b our setups just for fun.
  17. Rock City

    Rock City

    Apr 8, 2001
    Before you guys get too excited waiting for the 600 watt Clarus............STOP! I'm a dealer for Acoustic Image and have been waiting since February for one. I finally called them today and was told it is on indefinate hold!!!!!!!!!!!!
  18. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    Walter Woods. If you don't have the cash I would go with EA 350 for the tone shaping option.

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