Reviewed: Ashdown OriginAL HD-1 Bass Head
Long a proponent of beefy, big gigging rigs, Ashdown has dived into the ‘Mini’ amp domain with the OriginAL HD-1 Head. Three hundred watts in a small unit that can tuck into a gig bag sounds like a back saving, portable little wonder. Joining the evolution of big bass brand names offering giggable rigs in small forms, Ashdown’s OriginAL range features a head and both 1x12 and 2x10 combos.
Reviewed: Phil Jones Bass Double Four
Phil Jones Bass amps are well-known for being stage-ready and crazy loud, and they use unique small speaker arrays to achieve their power. For instance, the 16-H Bass Horn speaker has a whopping 16 PJB Piranha Type A speakers and extensive baffled bass ports, and it’ll blow your head off. But you don’t always need that kind of power. The Double Four is a little amp that looks like a bass head until you get a little closer and realise that it’s actually a tiny combo that takes advantage of Jones’ small-speaker-but-big- sound technology.
Reviewed: Phil Jones Bass Session 77 Combo Amp
Amp designer Phil Jones has spent the last few decades creating a range of clean, responsive bass amps powered by arrays of small drivers, rather than pumping the sound through one big-ass speaker. His gear has long been favoured by cashed-up pros, but the Session 77 is aimed at the more affordable end of the market. It’s a 100-watt combo with two seven-inch drivers and a two-inch tweeter, and it weighs only around 12 kilograms. You can easily carry it into a gig in one hand with your bass in the other.
Reviewed: Ashdown BTA 400 Bass Head
With the trend being smaller, compact units over the last few years there have still been some makers pumping out big valve heads that are meant to really make things move. Ashdown have been one of the serious players from the UK with their gear getting a work out by the likes of Nate Mendel, Geezer Butler and Adam Clayton. Pumping out a lot of watts with true valve power, the BTA 400 packs a punch.
Reviewed: DV Mark LITTLE 250 GH
The more of their products I review the more I’m fascinated by the self-contained bubble that Mark World is. Every time I find myself circling back to their website I’m greeted by the face of another player that Marco De Virgillis and co. insist are one of the biggest names in the game. Forgive my ignorance but before I reviewed their signature amps I’d never heard of players like Frank Gambale, Michael Angelo Batio or Greg Howe but I figure they must be going concerns if they are to have whole amp designs named for them. It reminds me of how much we limit our own horizons with specific subsets of interest and, while I might not be phased at all by fusion music or solid-state amps in my day-to-day life, there are people out there who absolutely froth over them. They have their own heroes, their own bands and their own specific image of what tonal purity looks like. Once again DV Mark has those erstwhile ‘others’ covered with the space conscious Little 250 GH.
Reviewed: Fender Bassbreaker 45 and 18/30 Combo Amps
The way I see it, being a household name has got to be more trouble than it’s worth. Leo Fender, the progenitor of modern musical instruments, must not have slept for decades trying to keep his beloved script logo from being eclipsed by any number of upstarts nipping at his heels, poor fella. Fender has consistently stayed ahead of the pack not only by building time-tested classics, but also by using these as springboards for new and improved versions of holy tonality. For many, the be all and end all of ear candy is the behemoth Bassman that has graced stages since almost forever. It is from this well that its direct descendants, the Bassbreaker Series of amplifiers, spring.
REVIEWED: TRACE ELLIOT ELF ULTRA COMPACT BASS AMPLIFIER
Is this a joke? What is this tiny thing I see before me and how in my right mind am I to expect anything resembling power to come out of such a little box? It’s the size of a greeting card for God’s sake; if I open it up will it play a low bit-rate version of Happy Birthday to me? *Flicks on switch and tentatively punches low E*… Holy hell, what kind of sorcery is this?
REVIEWED: MARKBASS BASS EVO 1 MODELLING HEAD
Bass players and guitarists are two completely different animals. Where six stringers are offered every option and opportunity on a silver platter, our four stringed friends are paid much less heed than they deserve. Mark World have consistently painted all of their products liberally with the same brush of innovation so it’s no surprise that their Markbass branded heads are the go-to beef machine for sub-conscious players everywhere.