Everything Old Is New Again
And so we have the Music Man BH-500. This head and matching 810BS cabinet are designed with the look and classic tones of the original amps, but are made with modern advanced technology. The BH-500 has a solid state preamp and a 500- watt analogue power amp, and a set of quite specific controls: To start with there are treble and bass EQ controls along with gain and volume knobs. These are designed to get you a whole range of tones. There’s also a five-band EQ section which is footswitch-selectable, essentially giving you almost the equivalent of a second channel to sculpt your sound. The frequency bands selected are 67Hz, 184Hz, 510Hz, 1.4kHz and 3.8kHz, and you’re given 16db of boost or cut over each frequency. Around the back you’ll find the speaker outs, delivering 300 watts of power into an 8 ohm cabinet or 500 watts into a 4 ohm cabinet or two 8 ohms. There’s an unbalanced tuner output which lets you send a signal to a tuner without colouring your sound, or you can use it as a slave out to send your signal to another amp or any recording unit that doesn’t require a balanced signal. This can come in very handy if you wish to use the BH-500 in a multi-amp rig to cover different frequencies. There’s also an effects send and return wired in parallel, and an XLR line out with a pre/post EQ switch and a ground lift. The finishing was a little rough on the review unit but we’re assured that any amps with issues like this will be sorted out before they hit stores.
Make Some Music, Man
I plugged my Fernandes J-style bass in for testing, and plugged the BH-500 into the Music Man 810 BS cabinet, a 1200W RMS cabinet with eight 10” Neodymium speakers and an adjustable 1” tweeter. It’s worth noting that the cabinet weighs only 40.8 kg, surprisingly light for a unit of this size. Upon plugging in I was immediately struck by just how ‘vintagey’ this amp sounded. The low end was full and warm, but not in a hi- , sub-bass kind of way. Rather, it was voiced with just enough punch and smoothness to sound spot-on for styles like R&B, blues and vintage rock. Similarly, the treble frequencies can be dialled in to enhance detail but they never reach that really strident range that slices through your ears. The midrange can be scooped out or enhanced via the switchable EQ, letting you find that magical sweet spot where your bass’ unique character lives. The gain control is more useful for optimising the input signal level hitting the preamp, rather than actually dialling in overdrive or distortion: You can try to use it for this, but it’ll give more warmth than grit.
Back To Bass
It’s great to have these classic amps back again, and although the BH-500 isn’t the most ¨ flexible amp in the world, it offers a great range of control to dial in your ideal sound within the specific range of vintage accurate tones it works within.