Marco De Virgiliis must be one happy business owner. His namesake bass brand Markbass has really made an impression on the bass community, and not just in aficionado or gear circles. Touring players, studio guys, younger players, seasoned veterans, rock, pop, funk, backline rigs and more use the black and yellow coloured bass gear and it’s built its name on reliability, portability and solid tone. We’ve followed the moves of bass deity Marcus Miller closely and sampled some his signature Markbass wares (and been suitably impressed!). Adding to the range is the CMD 103 Bass Combo incorporating even more flexibility to the overall Mark lineup.
Known for his mix of chops, pocket, melodic sensibility and phrasing Marcus Miller now has quite the range of Markbass gear bearing his name (combos, heads and cabs). Aimed at the mid point between a 2x10 and 4x10 rig with the ease of being an all in one unit the CMD 103 is rated at 400 watts RMS. For many players that should cover most of their gigs. Essentially the amp is a Little Marcus 500 in a combo format. Gain, master and line out controls are joined by EQ 1 – ultralow, low, mid, high mid and high and EQ 2 with ‘Old School’ and ‘Millerizer’ controls. For speakers the combo runs three 10” custom designed Markbass drivers and a 1” Voice Coil Tweeter. The amp has a front panel Mute Switch and additional I/O on the rear for XLR Line Out, Tuner Out, Effects Loop and switches from Ground and Pre/Post EQ. Of course the unit is available in the standard Markbass black and yellow with the staggered speaker design making the cab around 60x50x70 cms and weighing in under 25 kgs.
The 4x10 bass cab has long been the standard for serious rigs and gigging. If not for volume, players like the punch and definition of a 4x10, not to mention the feeling of added headroom when needed. So where does the 3x10 fit in then? For my thinking its quite close to a 4x10 in tone with a little less overall low end. Like a 2x12 then? I think it has more punch and pronounced mids but again less bass compared to a 2x12. Perfect for getting your big favourite tone at slightly reduced volumes or where a more portable rig is the go. Rock, pop, blues, funk, jazz are all fair game for the CMD 103 with the standard EQ working from a warm and round sound to brighter attack. The ‘Old School’ and ‘Millerizer’ controls might not be everyone’s cup of tea but they do add some nice pre-EQ’d filters to your tone that are definitely usable.
I really like the idea of bass combos. Yes, modular rigs are great, super handy and portable (especially these days) but the idea of all-in-one rigs that pump plenty of air are also appealing. No reaching for speaker leads or balancing copious amounts of other gear and accessories on top of the head hoping they won’t move. Just grab the combo and be done with it! The CMD 103 is Little Mark with Marcus on the nameplate that can do more than just Marcus if needed. Great to see a 3x10 combo in the range.
Hits and Misses
Combo is a great compromise between needing a bigger rig
Markbass construction, tone and portability
Some 2x12/4x10 guys might be hesitant