It doesn’t get much bigger than Marcus Miller in the world of bass playing. His career boasts Grammy awards, platinum records, film scores, and playing/writing/producing/recording with the likes of Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, Bill Withers, Chaka Khan, Herbie Hancock and so many more. He has an identifiable sound, serious chops and groove, and has been hugely influential as a musician (and not just for bass players). So when someone with his status joins forces with a bass amp company, it really must be something they believe in. With Markbass being quite the innovator and one of the market leaders, it seems like a primo combination. Enter the Little Marcus series of bass heads with the 800 watt model sitting on our desk.
While there are definite Markbass indicators on the Little Marcus 800, such as the knobs, control layout, size and shape (and there are hints of the Markbass yellow all over), the head has definitely been ‘Millerized’ with a silver coloured faceplate, a stencilled picture of Miller himself, and some additional controls. Left to right, you’ve got a mute switch, input jack and gain control, then ultra low, low, mid, high mid, high (across the bottom row considered EQ 1), with EQ 2 above consisting of controls marked ‘Old School’ and ‘Millerizer’. Lastly, to the right you have a dedicated line out control and master volume. The back panel features a Speakon speaker out, footswitch input, tuner out, effects loop send and return, post/pre-EQ button, ground lift and XLR line out.
As a Markbass head, it’s got all the punch, headroom and EQ possibilities the amps are known for. At 800 watts there’s a lot of juice on tap, and the extension of this Miller line sees 250, 500 and 1000 watt versions giving you quite the selection depending on your tastes and requirements. For most players, I’d think 800 watts is more than enough for all your gigging and rehearsing needs, remembering the head also has a quality line out (with level control) for running to FOH. The EQ gives you lots of scope for rounder thud or brighter punch, and the Old School and Millerizer controls sound like they work on the typical Markbass filters (known as VPF and VLE). These add some extra options and can really help balance your sound in different rooms or with different cabs.
Marcus Miller has basically done it all in the bass world, and it’s cool to see him hook up with Markbass with this line of amps. Of course, MM has the funk/jazz/fusion/pop/R&B package down (amongst other things), but this 800 watter could easily work for rock, pop, heavier styles or whatever you want to try.
Hits and Misses
Headroom and volume
Typical tough Markbass construction
Not everyone digs signature models