PJB Suitcase Compact
Price £799 Contact www.pjbworld.com
PJB’s 300-watt Suitcase Compact is worth a mention for its diminutive stature and PJB’s unusual but superb five-inch Piranha speakers. Add another cabinet for the full 500 watts or use alone as a tiny boombox with handy twin-channel preamp, each sporting simple, intuitive three-band EQs. The amount of boom is a real surprise; add tight, aggressive impact and bright, clean highs without clickiness, and you’ve got a high-quality bass sound. The onboard limiter is useful, and it all weighs a paltry 18kg (40lbs).
Peavey Tour TKO 115
Price £447 Contact www.peavey.com
Peavey’s 400-watt TKO 115 is an excellent example of top-notch, affordable bass wares. Weighing 33kg (70lb) and wearing a mottled vinyl overcoat, the TKO is made in China, its domed grille creates an appealing contemporary vista and it can be tilted for monitoring. Loaded with one USA-designed Peavey 15-inch speaker and a well-attenuated tweeter, the basic EQ section is complemented by a seven-band slider graphic and bright and contour (mid-scoop) switches. It delivers a thick, detailed tone with zingy highs and a good range of practical variations. Plus you can plug in an extension speaker for extra boom.
Laney Richter RB7
Price £486 Contact www.laney.co.uk
The RB7, from Blighty’s own Laney, is another keenly-priced gigging combo that’s made in China, and arrives in the form of a carpet-covered, monitor-shaped box with a businesslike steel grille protecting two Custom 10-inch drivers. This combo is competitively priced, a reasonable weight (24kg/53lbs) and has simple bass, treble and presence controls, plus a seven-band midrange slider EQ for tonal shaping shenanigans and switchable limiter. This gets you a clean, punchy, full-range tone, but you can also conjure some tight, fat lows, brooding punch in the midrange and slicing highs with just a few simple tweaks.
Ampeg BA-210 V2
Price £458 Contact www.ampeg.com
For many bassists, Ampeg has been rather special ever since the company’s all-tube SVT behemoth appeared in the 60s. The 450-watt BA-210, at 22kg (48lbs), is a more conservative beast, with classic black Tolex skin, twin Ampeg 10-inch speakers (plus mutable tweeter), blendable Bass Scrambler overdrive and extension speaker capability. Tone shaping is via its three-band EQ, with pre-shaping courtesy of the traditional Ultra Lo and Hi switches. The BA-210 delivers plenty of growling bass, clean midrange and some truly exuberant highs, which will take the top of your head off if you dare engage the tweeter.
Warwick BC 300
Price £458 Contact www.warwickbass.com
Warwick’s amps have a far lower profile than its basses, but there’s still plenty to shout about. Rated at 300 watts, the BC 300 is the most powerful of six combos, with a domed front creating a resolutely contemporary vibe. Speakers number one 15-inch Warwick Custom unit and a four-inch HF horn; the EQ system has bass and treble controls, augmented by a 10-band slider graphic. There’s onboard compression with level control and extension speaker capability which, given the fat, detailed, full-range nature of the tone on offer, adds up to a good little unit.
Fender Rumble 500
Price £480 Contact www.fender.com
Fender has produced some really good bass amps of late, the splendid Indonesian-made Rumble 500 being a prime example. 16.5kg (36.5lbs) represents excellent power (350 watts) and portability with a silver grille cloth protecting two Eminence 10-inch drivers adding familiar class. Ignore the three preset EQ shapes, as the magic really happens courtesy of a simple four-band EQ, which uncorks oodles of width, punchy mids and slicing highs. The horn is lively but mutable, you can add another speaker and there’s also onboard distortion (drive), that’s limited but great fun.