Archive for the ‘ Bass Gear Reviews ’ Category

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.

One Bad Oyster played a show in Wilton, CT in support of the Cord Foundation, dubbed the “2nd Annual Great Wilton Scavenger Hunt“.  The event planner Jeff Snyder is a friend of the band, and his daughter Kennedy has been unfortunately battling spinal cord cancer most of her life.  What a great guy and an amazing little girl.

It was a beautiful day for playing outside.  Despite having them for sale at the time, I decided to bring my Schroeder 1212BMF cabs.  IMO, these cabs cannot be beat for power to weight ratio. It’s laughable as to how loud these things are, never mind that you can carry one in each hand with ease. If you are a 4 string player in any sort of loud, live band, I don’t think you can find a better cabinet for being heard through the mix at any range. That said, I don’t always care for the super focused tone and attenuated low end for some types of music that I play.  Nearly every instrument I play these days has a low B, and it’s too attenuated for my tastes sometimes, especially with my Warwick Thumb (which already has kind of an attenuated sound to begin with). I can EQ beef back in via bass and amp, but it’s still not always what I’m looking for.  I recently heard my Genz ShuttleMAX 12.0 through a Genz cabinet and it was to die for (so I picked up a used Neox 212).  For smaller indoor stuff, I’ve been favoring an Aguilar DB112NT paired with my Acoustic Image Focus 2r Series III.

I rediscovered however one of the main things I love about the Schroeder’s; they kick ass outside.  Loud, clear, full, and great throw to the back row.  They’re so light that I can have both set up quickly, and with the AI head I’ve got 4×12″ at 1000W (2 ohm)…tons of headroom!  I also finally had my Ergo 5 string EUB dialed in since buying it.  Even front-ending it with a Fishman B-II preamp, the piezo equipped EUB needs quite a bit of gain to match an active electric bass, so the headroom is welcome.

Very cool cab. Great looks, great sound. The only thing I’ve done is put some plastic feet on the side opposite side from the handle. Much safer when putting it down after carrying (seems like lots of people do this, and with good reason). The usual spec stuff:

More at Aggie’s site.

This is the model WITHOUT a tweeter, so here’s a quick clip just to get an idea of how it sounds recorded by default. Just a little ditty I came up with on the spot, I didn’t spend too much time getting locked in with the drums so excuse the less than perfect groove :D

http://www.trya.us/music/Misc/AguilarDB112NT.mp3

Everything is flat/no EQ;

  • 5 string MM/J Nords
  • Acoustic Image Focus 2R Series III
  • EV N/D868
  • Avalon VT-737SP
  • Event Layla
  • Sonar

There’s some compression (inboard and out) and 60 hz high pass filtering on the preamp. It’s a bit woofy through some speakers, but that’s mainly because it’s not EQ’d. IMO, having played both the with and without tweeter models, I prefer the NT (though I recall you can turn the tweeter down on the other one?).

Here’s another clip, slightly different: http://www.trya.us/music/Misc/AguilarDB112NT-b.mp3

Similar set up from above, but my Warwick Dolphin Pro I 5 string and Markbass LMK instead.  I’ve got the bass, amp, and Sonar EQ’d like I typically would live in this case.  The parts I played are slightly different as well…only because there was @30 mins between takes, I forgot exactly what I played to begin with, and was too lazy to figure it out ;-)

One thing I’ve noticed in general with the DB 112′s, they can take quite a bit of power, and just get louder, deeper, and clearer as you crank into them. It’s impressive.  Paired with my Tone Hammer preamp pedal, it’s killer!

Last night I got to play through an Ampeg B2R and a SVT810E Classic with my Veillette. It was easy to get a great tone dialed in fast (not surprising with the Veillette of course). Deep, punchy, and articulate altogether. Playing with a full band, I didn’t have to turn up much either, which was great. The cab seemed to have really good projection as well. Fun to play!

My buddy Ross was nice enough to lend me several preamp tubes to test in my Genz BenzShuttleMAX 12.0. I had done some reading online that led me to believe people had heard a real difference with replacing the stock tube. Others have said that due to design, there won’t be much difference. Having screwed around with preamp tubes before in other pieces of equipment, any differences I’ve heard in the past have been very subtle. But hey, why not kill a few hours and see.

Long story short, the ShuttleMAX was no different. I imagine it’s partly due to the circuit design. I had hoped to find a combination that allowed for earlier breakup and more overdrive. There was a more noticeable difference with one of them, but all things considered, I’ll probably just stick with the stock tube.

I still think it was a worthwhile exercise as it cured my curiosity, and I was able to capture each tube change sonically. The candidates were as follows:

  1. Stock (I believe a re-branded Ruby)
  2. Fender 12AX7
  3. JJ ECC83S
  4. EHX 12AX7
  5. Tung-Sol 12AX7
  6. TAD 12AX7A-C (Tube Amp Doctor)

The recording was done with my Warwickcustom shop Thumb BN 6, into the ShuttleMAX, DI out into my Echo Layla 3G, into Cakewalk Sonar. For each recording, I used the low and high gain settings on the Benz tube channel. The exception of course was the FET channel, which was really just for reference. I decided to play along with a drum track, as I personally find reviews of bass gear where it’s onlythe bass to sometimes be useless. Not to mention I’d rather be playing with a drummer than without. The little ditty is something I came up with on the spot, in order to cover three styles to try and coax more out of the tubes; slap, slow heavy finger, and fast aggressive finger. With all three I tried to throw some chords in, and I also tried to get all six strings in. Each take is one shot, as I wasn’t trying to make anything perfect, just capture the moment. This is most noticeable with the switch-up on the ending triplet figure…it’s at a pretty spirited pace ;)

The amp was EQ’d as pictured in the photo (both channels), which is what I’ve typically been using live lately.  The only thing not accurate in the pic are the gain and volume settings.  I decided to leave the tube channel gain at max, as it was the most likely setting for getting overdrive.  I adjusted the volume on the FET and tube channels so the output into Sonar was relatively the same.  When engaging the high gain switch on the amp, I adjusted the incoming volume on the Layla so as not to mess up the gain from the amp.  I marked my low and high gain settings on the Layla in order try and return to the same position for each tube swap out.  It also tended to preserve the gain differences between each of the tubes, which there was definitely some. 

The mixed down tracks don’t have anything else on the bass, except a limiter to keep the signal from hitting 0 db, and just some slight compression on the drums.  The files were exported as 16 bit wav, POW-R 2 dither, then bounced to mp3 with CDEXat 320 kbps fixed, 44100 Hz (to get the file sizes down).

The tracks:

  1. FET
  2. Stock tube, low gain
  3. Stock tube, high gain
  4. Fender, low gain
  5. Fender, high gain
  6. JJ, low gain
  7. JJ, high gain
  8. EHX, low gain
  9. EHX, high gain
  10. Tung-Sol, low gain
  11. Tung-Sol, high gain
  12. TAD, low gain
  13. TAD, high gain

The only real differences I noticed?  The Fender was fizzier and a bit more overdriven, and the TAD was smoother overall.  Both cases were most noticed at high gain.  There are minor differences between all of them in my opinion, but nothing earth shattering. There’s some additional discussion over at Talkbass here: 5 tubes tested in the ShuttleMAX 12.0

Having said all that…I’m probably just going to stick with the stock tube!

I played through a new-to-me rig at a rented rehearsal space tonight.  Peavey Tour 450 and Ampeg 4×10.  Maybe a BSE410H, it had that newer logo at the bottom middle?

Sounded really good.  I was playing my Veillette Mark IV fretless 5 string in a ska-ish setting.  I haven’t played anything Peavey or Ampeg related in quite sometime…refreshingly clean and punchy.  I left the graphic EQ flat and just tweaked the low, high, and contour knobs a bit.

Kind of cool to just plug in and go on random gear for a change :-)