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ditching the head+cab for a combo?


hrnn1234

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I had the thought on the back of my head for a few weeks now but I'm feeling a bit pushed with the "Does anyone use a bass & amp" thread.

I've been downsizing my rig progressively. Pedals are out, tuner pedal has been replaced with a clip on (could get a better one though, the korg I have is a bit annoying) and now it's time for the amp.

I have a GK MB200, one of the greatest pieces of gear ever. It's light, LOUD, a total workhorse. given I'm not in a band with an own practice space (anymore) I rarely use it. Gigs are mostly either DI to the PA or using whatever amp there is on stage. Pretty much I only need it when there is nothing else, and even then it's an overkill.

There is right now a very nice GK MB150 combo on the second hand market, which would be much more portable and even easier to set up (I know, it's just two cables). For all the other times I could get a nice DI to keep it on the safe side, if the venue doesn't have anything particularly nice or plain crap.

I think I would miss the MB200 just for its sentimental value only. Or is it a stupid move altogether? Curious to hear your thoughts!

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I've ditched combos and gone back to head and cabs, same head but 1 x 12 or 2 x 12 cabs depending on the venue. More flexible, easier to carry, and I am not convinced that many combos are as efficient as a well-made cab.

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Ive done the whole swapping thing loads of times. In fact me history goes:

1. Combo. Trace commando 12.

2. Head and Cab. Ashdown mag 300 and mag 4x10.

3. Combo. Line 6 LD300.

4. Head and Cab. Mark Bass LM3 and TVP210.

5. Combo. Genz Benz contour 500.

6. Head and Cab. Ashdown ABM evo 2 115 and 2x10 ext cab.

7. Head and Cab. Mark Bass evo 1 and barefaced supercompact.

and now,

8. Pre amp (fly rig), crown power amp and barefaced supercompact.

 

In short, i find bassists like to chop and change all the time. I like the idea of separayes for completely adaptability then i change my mind and like the ideA of a combo for ease of use, then over time i add a pedal or two, then think i might as well go back to separates and the whole process starts again.

 

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Just now, la bam said:

Ive done the whole swapping thing loads of times. In fact me history goes:

1. Combo. Trace commando 12.

2. Head and Cab. Ashdown mag 300 and mag 4x10.

3. Combo. Line 6 LD300.

4. Head and Cab. Mark Bass LM3 and TVP210.

5. Combo. Genz Benz contour 500.

6. Head and Cab. Ashdown ABM evo 2 115 and 2x10 ext cab.

7. Head and Cab. Mark Bass evo 1 and barefaced supercompact.

and now,

8. Pre amp (fly rig), crown power amp and barefaced supercompact.

Your current rig is close to what I am using/aiming for - I play though a SansAmp into the power amp section of a Rootmaster 800, then Barefaced Super Compact or Super Twin. Bit pointless for me to ditch the Ashdown as it does good service as a power amp, but if it needed replacing, a power amp like a Crown would be top of the list.

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Its good to keep both FinnDave.

That way you can use the flyrig as a pedal, portable practice, walk in gigs etc without having to carry the amp as well.

I gigged with the flyrig straight into a crown xls1502 and it sounded great. But ive now added a preamp box which now makes it so so much louder and still is nowhere near clipping the amp.

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Do what's right for you, but I always prefer separates.

They are easier to carry and you can upgrade different parts more effectively. I usually don't have access to FOH but if I did I think I'd still keep the "office" as it keeps the playing  environment the same for every gig. There's something about massive sound waves emanating from behind me that makes me feel at home. IEM's are a different world altogether. My days of arena gigs pre dates IEMS, so I've never used them.

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1 hour ago, Bill Fitzmaurice said:

Combos are an exercise in compromise, and the first thing they compromise on is the size of the speaker enclosure. Playing guitar you can get away with that. Playing bass you can't, Hoffman's Iron Law rules it out.

I experienced this exactly. One of the most capable and popular combos is the Markbass CMD121P which is a NY121P cab with a Little Mark III head squeezed in at the back facing upwards. This reduces the internal volume of the combo by that of the amp and surrounding timber. When I directly compared my CMD121P to my seperate LM3 and NY121P the combo didn't sound as full convincing me the extra carry was worth it. I now have two NY121P as my lightweight medium duty rig.

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2 hours ago, Bill Fitzmaurice said:

Combos are an exercise in compromise, and the first thing they compromise on is the size of the speaker enclosure. Playing guitar you can get away with that. Playing bass you can't, Hoffman's Iron Law rules it out.

Well, I'm not sure there were too many compromises made on the Markbass AC 121 Lite combo (which can be picked up for £650 second hand). 500W through a 1x12" on tap with plenty of headroom - I've never had to turn it up to more than 5/10. At 37 lbs it won't break your back either. @JSB has just reminded me of why it's such a good piece of kit...

38 minutes ago, JSB said:

I had the opportunity to visit Alain Caron (AC) in his studio while he was transitioning from Roland to MarkBass. 

He explained to me that the Roland D-Bass combos were designed with his feedback and the goal was to develop the most neutral combo possible, with the technology of the time.  They came up with the FFP tech, which is basically a DSP similar to what was found in studio monitors.  In SuperFlat mode, you had as much as a FRFR system as it was possible in those days.  As Roland was moving out of the professional bass amp market, he was approached by MB...

At the time of my visit, Alain was in the process of A/B testing the MarkBass prototype combo with his reference for what he was looking for:  his own studio monitors.  This is what he uses at home.  This is what he wanted to have on stage.   No coincidence the design is similar to a PA system (bi-amped, powerful tweeter, etc.)

With the controls "neutral", this is probably one of the most FRFR combo available, plus you get the MB coloring on demand.  Love this combo!

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Downsizing is good, combos are good, or can be, and anything that reduces the number of things to be carried and plugged in is good. All this lowers gig stress in my experience. A combo that is easy to carry lowers it more if you need to be on and off stage quickly and out. But the list of light, portable combos that sound good and produce the required amount of, er... 'heft' is short. They are all expensive.

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IMHO two of the best combos around today (quality, power, not too big / heavy) are the:

  • MB AC 121 Lite (500W) - 37 lbs
  • EICH BC 112 Pro (500W) - just 31 lbs(!)

but not much (if any) change from £1k (new)

For £400 less you could get a Fender Rumble 500v3 with 2x10" cab - 37 lbs

I have the first, but suspect I'd be perfectly happy with either of the others.

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I have went from combo to head and cab and have now went back to a combo, a Fender Rumble 500. It`s light and is loud enough for any pub gigs that come along and I could always chuck an extension cab under it for good measure. 

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16 minutes ago, jezzaboy said:

I have went from combo to head and cab and have now went back to a combo, a Fender Rumble 500. It`s light and is loud enough for any pub gigs that come along and I could always chuck an extension cab under it for good measure. 

Had one of those, regret selling it. Never needed an extension cab, even though I played some big rooms with it. Bloody loud and great sound.

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23 hours ago, Al Krow said:

IMHO two of the best combos around today (quality, power, not too big / heavy) are the:

  • MB AC 121 Lite (500W) - 37 lbs
  • EICH BC 112 Pro (500W) - just 31 lbs(!)

but not much (if any) change from £1k (new)

For £400 less you could get a Fender Rumble 500v3 with 2x10" cab - 37 lbs

I have the first, but suspect I'd be perfectly happy with either of the others.

What are these lbs things you mentuon.

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If I could get a decent powered combo that would fit in the back of my car, I would!

Main reason for my set-up (Fender Rumble 500 head, Markbass Traveller 102P 4ohm cab) is that it more compact together than any combo I could find of similar output, a 2x10 that puts out 400w.

The Rumble 500 combos are great - I used to have one - but they're too big for my small boot space! 

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36 minutes ago, Chienmortbb said:

What are these lbs things you mentuon.

Well it's kinda the most illogical system on the planet, I agree.

16 ounces = 1 lb --> 14 lbs = 1 stone

However there's no particular logic to the English language either. But it rules.

And pretty much all the greatest pop and rock bands sing in English too.

What's my point? Who knows! :D

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I`ve flitted between using both, but found that for gigging on the originals circuit it`s easier to have amp-head & cab, as gear-shares mean carrying an amp head to gigs with a provided cab is easier than carrying a combo to a gig with a provided cab, which I can`t use anyway.

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I've arrived at the following 2 rigs:

1. Combo = TCE BG250-208

2. Head & cab = TCE BH250 + Barefaced one10

Neither better than the other I enjoy the difference.

If I ever needed the volume I could always use the combo + the cab.

Why the above? Well, getting older and stopped gigging with the covers band.

My old Peavey head and Ampeg B115E, (which wasn't 1/2 the weight that some members have lugged around), stays put at the music club.

 

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On 19 April 2018 at 20:07, jezzaboy said:

I have went from combo to head and cab and have now went back to a combo, a Fender Rumble 500. It`s light and is loud enough for any pub gigs that come along and I could always chuck an extension cab under it for good measure. 

I've got the new Rumble Stage 800 which is the exact same dimensions but with even more heft and a few extra bells and whistles. It's a similar size to my Barefaced Big Baby 2 which sits nicely under it should I need even more grunt!

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