Reviewed: Phil Jones Bass Session 77 Combo Amp

EGM Distribution | egm.net.au | RRP:$699

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.

The Session 77 uses all-digital circuitry and will work on any AC voltage from 100 to 260 volts without a voltage selector. It features a single channel preamp with a three-band EQ, with a separate auxiliary input for backing tracks. Otherwise the feature set is quite minimal: Jones has intentionally kept the quality high but reduced the cost by paring down the complexity of the circuit in order to fulfil the most basic needs of bass players, rather than loading up the amp with features that not all players are going to need. There’s a High/Low/Mute switch for the input (with a clipping LED to let you know if you’re hitting it a bit hard), a master volume control, a level control for the aux input, and separate headphone and line out jacks. And that’s it! It’s extremely simple and effective.

 

By keeping the circuit simple and the quality high, the Session 77 brings out the character of whatever bass you plug into it, whether it’s the Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay reviewed in this issue, an old Ibanez TR five-string, or even my Squier Bass VI (an instrument generally run into a guitar amp, but which has a certain charm when used as a proper bass too). The simple EQ and lack of further tone-shaping options like bass boosts, mid shifts or treble boosters means you’re basically amplifying your bass’ natural tone and tailoring it for the room you’re playing in, but it also means it’s a great platform for active electronics like those of the Music Man, or for pedals, preamps and processors. The volume level is downright neighbour-angering, and yet it does it all without breaking a sweat thanks to that digital circuitry.

 

This is not the amp for you if you want a million different controls, but if you’re a player who is confident in your playing skills and the natural sound of your bass, it’s a very effective way to take the sound coming out of your instrument and cram it into the ears of your audience with minimum fuss and maximum reliability.

Hits and Misses

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Loud as hell

Light as a feather

Very faithful reproduction of the input signal

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Controls might be too limited for some

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