Reviewed: Markbass Little Marcus 800 Bass Head
It doesn’t get much bigger than Marcus Miller in the world of bass playing. His career boasts Grammy awards, platinum records, film scores, and playing/writing/producing/recording with the likes of Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, Bill Withers, Chaka Khan, Herbie Hancock and so many more. He has an identifiable sound, serious chops and groove, and has been hugely influential as a musician (and not just for bass players). So when someone with his status joins forces with a bass amp company, it really must be something they believe in. With Markbass being quite the innovator and one of the market leaders, it seems like a primo combination. Enter the Little Marcus series of bass heads with the 800 watt model sitting on our desk.
Reviewed: DV Mark AC 801P Acoustic Amp
We all know Markbass and DV Mark by now. Designed by Italian amp guru Marco De Virgiliis, they’ve carved out their own space in lightweight but robust amplifiers known for their clean sound reproduction and high quality speakers. The Mark Acoustic division doesn’t have as many products on the market as their bass and electric guitar counterparts, but the range has recently been joined by the AC 801, which follows on from models like the AC 101 and AC 601, which we reviewed in these pages about a zillion years ago.
Reviewed: MarkBass 121 Lite Bass Combo
Having played with the likes of Frank Gambale, Mike Stern and Billy Cobham, Alain Caron is a highly respected player in the music community. Likewise, Markbass is one of the most well-known bass amp manufacturers on the planet. It’s then understandable why the two parties would collaborate on the Combo 121 Lite. Continuing with their portable and lightweight amps that push some serious volume, Markbass seems to be onto another winner.
Reviewed: Ashdown OriginAL HD-1 Bass Head
Long a proponent of beefy, big gigging rigs, Ashdown has dived into the ‘Mini’ amp domain with the OriginAL HD-1 Head. Three hundred watts in a small unit that can tuck into a gig bag sounds like a back saving, portable little wonder. Joining the evolution of big bass brand names offering giggable rigs in small forms, Ashdown’s OriginAL range features a head and both 1x12 and 2x10 combos.
Reviewed: Phil Jones Bass Double Four
Phil Jones Bass amps are well-known for being stage-ready and crazy loud, and they use unique small speaker arrays to achieve their power. For instance, the 16-H Bass Horn speaker has a whopping 16 PJB Piranha Type A speakers and extensive baffled bass ports, and it’ll blow your head off. But you don’t always need that kind of power. The Double Four is a little amp that looks like a bass head until you get a little closer and realise that it’s actually a tiny combo that takes advantage of Jones’ small-speaker-but-big- sound technology.
Reviewed: Phil Jones Bass Session 77 Combo Amp
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.
Reviewed: Ashdown BTA 400 Bass Head
With the trend being smaller, compact units over the last few years there have still been some makers pumping out big valve heads that are meant to really make things move. Ashdown have been one of the serious players from the UK with their gear getting a work out by the likes of Nate Mendel, Geezer Butler and Adam Clayton. Pumping out a lot of watts with true valve power, the BTA 400 packs a punch.
Reviewed: DV Mark LITTLE 250 GH
The more of their products I review the more I’m fascinated by the self-contained bubble that Mark World is. Every time I find myself circling back to their website I’m greeted by the face of another player that Marco De Virgillis and co. insist are one of the biggest names in the game. Forgive my ignorance but before I reviewed their signature amps I’d never heard of players like Frank Gambale, Michael Angelo Batio or Greg Howe but I figure they must be going concerns if they are to have whole amp designs named for them. It reminds me of how much we limit our own horizons with specific subsets of interest and, while I might not be phased at all by fusion music or solid-state amps in my day-to-day life, there are people out there who absolutely froth over them. They have their own heroes, their own bands and their own specific image of what tonal purity looks like. Once again DV Mark has those erstwhile ‘others’ covered with the space conscious Little 250 GH.