With the recent Musician’s Friend Stupid Deal of the Day, and some coupon incentives, I took the plunge on the Ashdown LB-30.  I had always wanted a low wattage all tube head, and I particularly loved the LB-30 on paper… I just wasn’t going to pay $899!  Now that I have the amp, I can in hindsight tell you that is it in fact worth that asking price, though as a “nice to have” on the G.A.S. calculator, I’d still be waiting or searching for the reduced price I found it at.

So far I think it’s a really cool amp.  It gets much louder than I expected, though I’ve only paired it with 2×12′s so far.  It took me a while to understand the passive EQ section, but now that I’ve got the hang of it, it’s quite fun and interactive.  Despite getting loud and angry, I wasn’t entirely sure it could keep up with a loud, heavy band practice with Infinitas.  Turns out I was wrong!

Granted it wasn’t the sound I’m typically after, but it was still cool. The bass register wasn’t what I’m used to (thinner and tubby, vs. full and articulate), the midrange was very pronounced, and there wasn’t much articulation higher up in the treble range (or at least it wasn’t cutting through, when I was tapping for example).  You can see the settings in the middle pic above.  In fairness to the Little Bastard (that sounds funny, no?), I didn’t spend a whole lot of time tweaking, I was just curious if it could even keep up.  I was running my Warwick Thumb Custom Shop BO 6 broadneck into the High input on the LB-30 and then into an older Genz Benz NeoX-212T.

As a comparison, I typically run my Genz ShuttleMAX 12.0 with this band.  At practice the Shuttle is typically set with the Gain at max on the tube channel, various EQ settings, and the Master at 2.  We’re a 3 piece, not super loud, but not exactly tame either.  Dave (the guitar player) uses a Mesa Triple Rec through a 4×10.

To be able to really punch through, I needed to boost the input.  I alternated between a Fuzzrocious Oh See Demon and a Wren and Cuff Phat Phuk B. If you own a LB-30 and want any kind of grind or overdrive, you owe it to yourself to get a PPB!  It was already one of my favorite pedals, but it has really opened up another world in front of this amp.  Like I said above, the sound wasn’t super versatile, but if you’re playing any kind of aggressive music and aren’t doing any super extended range stuff, it’s a very cool sound.  I really need to try the same thing with a more traditional passive bass, I think it would be killer.

I grabbed a couple of sound clips with my Zoom H2, and wouldn’t you know, I think I’m actually TOO LOUD in the mix!  Check this out from “Cellies”: Cellies-LB30test.mp3

I looking forward to picking up an Ashdown VS-112 to pair with the LB-30 for a more manageable recording volume.  There’s a great overall review of both the LB-30 and VS-112 in Issue 9 of Bass Gear Magazine, I highly recommend it.