Review: Phil Jones Bass Compact Plus BG-450 Combo Amp

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Review: Phil Jones Bass Compact Plus BG-450 Combo Amp

Phil Jones Bass
Words by Rob Gee

Phil Jones Bass Compact Plus BG-450 Combo Amp | EGM | RRP $2499

The world of compact bass amplifiers has come so far in the past decade. We’ve seen size reduced, weight reduced, power increases and a host of digital options included by many brands in their compact offerings. Some have sacrificed quality to be able to increase other elements and keep the price down. One brand who has not reduced the quality with the size of the amplifier, is Phil Jones Bass. The PJB Compact Plus BG-450 is the perfect example of just how good things can still come in small packages. Size, weight, power, tone and build quality are all high on the list of importance with this bass amplifier. The only thing missing is you.

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Coming in at roughly fourteen square inches, the best way to get an idea of the size of this amp would be to think of a milk crate, loaded with vinyl. Now, throw out about half the records and you’re in the ballpark for the weight too. This is a seriously compact, absolutely portable bass amplifier. It will fit in the floor well in the front seat of most cars, so you can sling it in and out with ease when jumping between rehearsals, studio time and gigs. If that isn’t convenient in an amp, I don’t know what is. The guitarist will be giving you dirty looks when you stroll in, amp and instrument in one go, and the drummer is just going to hate on you until they leave the band. But don’t worry, you’ve got a BG-450, you’re good!

Phil Jones Bass 3

At the heart of this little powerhouse is a 450-watt Class D amplifier that delivers 250 watts to the four inbuilt speakers and a full 450 watts when run with an external speaker cabinet. For what it’s worth, the speakers onboard offer enough grunt for most situations, and the DI output allows the PA to handle the rest. And yes, the irony of a “DI” output is never lost on me, I hope you too get a chuckle with this. This is located on the rear of the cabinet, with the option to run the signal either pre or post EQ. Next to this, you’ll find the speaker output on a Neutrik SpeakOn connection, as well as a Line In and Line Out connection on 6.5mm jacks.

While you can use the external speaker option, you really don’t need to. The BG-450 is loaded with four 5” PJB speakers that deliver a remarkable amount of low-end rumble, along with all the punchy definition that you expect from speakers of this size. You’ll find it handles deep funk, heavy rock and articulate jazz with ease, giving you just what you put into it, with a touch of added PJB tone. There can be the tendency for these smaller amps to struggle with the lower frequencies at high volume, and this is usually a result of speakers that are underpowered, and cabinet builds that aren’t suited to the task. Neither is the case with the BG-450. This amp means business and it wants you to know about it.

On the input side of things, it has been kept to a no-nonsense approach, yet still includes a couple of tricks that are there for those seeking greater control over their tone. The input has a solid switch located next to it to toggle between Mute Mode, Passive Input and Active Input. It’s a low-profile switch, so it won’t get bumped unexpectedly, and it has a really solid action, locking into each position like it means it. Next to this, the effect send and return can be found on the top panel. I do like this, not having to mess around at the rear of the cabinet to connect your effects loop only saves a little time, but it’s a nice touch, and makes accessing the Dry/Wet mix control much easier too. An Auxiliary input with separate volume and Master Volume round out the top row of controls. Beneath these we have a five-band EQ with Lo-Bass, Hi-Bass, Lo-Mid, Hi-Mid and Treble controls on offer. It’s this dual low frequency control that allows you to get a very nicely sculpted tone when you’re pushing for volume and big bass. You don’t need to mess around with any presets, effects or parametric EQ to scoop out a tone, just tweak each of the five EQ knobs and you’ll be able to dial in your tone in a matter of moments. 

Phil Jones Bass 2

Being that the BG-450 is an amplifier that wants to travel, and why wouldn’t you take it with you at that sort of size, the power transformer is designed to operate at any voltage between 100 and 240 volts. That means you don’t have to worry any more about having a different amplifier for one country and another for the next country. Take the PJB Compact Plus BG-450 the road with you and it can act as a footrest in the bus, a practice amp in the hotel room and a stage amp at the gigs. So, before you hit the road, get into your Local Phil Jones Bass and give one of these little gems a try. You won’t regret it.

For local enquiries, visit Eastgate Music.