Streamlined and intuitive, the STU amp front panel consists of big Master Volume, Solid State Gain and Tube Gain knobs, a seven band graphic EQ, Active and Passive inputs and an On/Off switch. All seems fairly self-explanatory hey? And I get the feeling that’s what Mr Hamm wanted with this amp. The amp boasts 1000 watts of power under the hood and then an effects loop, tuner out, line out, ground lift and pre/post EQ buttons and two speakon cab outs on the rear panel. The typically sturdy Markbass build is ever present, and as is the yellow and black colour scheme. At 3 kgs, the amp is relatively portable and not too heavy (not micro but definitely easy to handle) and could definitely turn some heads with its simplicity and option of both Tube and Solid State. It also sports a garishly orange front panel that will stick out on stage in the best way.
With its graphic EQ and three large knobs, the STU amp looks a little more retro and rock ‘n roll (for want of a better word) than a good portion of the Markbass line. That’s not to say there isn’t a wide range of tones on offer though. SS allows for clean headroom with an articulate and defined sound. Working the graphic EQ then gets you deeper into the tone, from a boosted low end to punchy mids or bright and scooped tops. The Tube Gain really adds some grunt to warm up your sound or even adding some bark to it. The STU amp can cross over from rock to funk with ease and its size and power make it a workhorse for anything from small rehearsals to big gigs.
While the solid state and tube mix isn’t a new thing, it definitely works well on the STU amp and I could see it being a big selling point – especially with 1000 watts on board. Furthermore, the combination of big knobs (just three of them) and a graphic EQ might be just the answer to players wanting to easily adjust their amp – be it in the studio or a dimly lit stage. Stu Hamm is a serious player with serious credits and a serious reputation. This isn’t the ‘just put your name on a signature amp’ deal – it’s obviously something Stu had a big hand in. Couple that with Markbass’ reputation for quality gear and you’ve got a great workhorse amp that will work in many musical settings.