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Light Grenade

Advice needed re downgrading amp

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Hi folks, looking for some advice for picking up a new amp. 

My Mark Bass Big Bang died right before COVID-19. I loved the tone so I was going to buy a straight replacement, but I thought it might be overkill for my current situation. The band I play in always has PA support, and I'm DI'ing to FOH with a Rupert Neve RNDI before my bass hits the amp. Additionally we've been on IEMs for a few years and won't be moving back anytime soon. So I came to the conclusion that I was only using the Big Bang for stage rumble and the occasional non-IEM rehearsal.

I've been eyeing up some cheaper models with the thoughts of saving myself some coin. Potentially moving down wattage to something like a 300W, which I think would still be plenty loud? However, I'd still like to have a solid amp, and something that could fill a small room if I need it.  

Options
Laney Richter RH500 - Anything Laney I've played before has been no frills solid, but the low price of this is making me think twice. 
Hartke TX300 - Zero experience with Hartke amps, or wattage this low
Ampeg PF-350 - Not sure if this is based on the classic Ampeg SVT tone or not, every write up has contrasting opinions. 
Markbass Little Mark 250W - I'm assuming this would have a similar tone to the Big Bang, but perhaps under powered in the wrong situation
Ashdown OriginAL 300W - The last Ashdown I played was an EVO head about 10 years ago, can't remember loving it but my memory is cloudy. 

Any advice would be great. I'm looking for something small, portable, sub £300 if possible. For context, I'm playing a Lakland PJ 44-64 with D'Addario chromes in a instrumental rock band, cabs are two Eden EX112's. I normally warm towards smooth, rounded tones with wide lows (like the Big Bang). I can get any tightness and grind from my pedal board when I need it. I felt like I had miles of headroom on the Big Bang so I'm generally unsure how low, is too low. 

Thanks

Edited by Light Grenade

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Why not have your amp repaired. I would expect that a qualified MarkBass authorized service center would be able to get this taken care of for you.

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5 minutes ago, agedhorse said:

Why not have your amp repaired. I would expect that a qualified MarkBass authorized service center would be able to get this taken care of for you.

That is the major issue with MarkBass. Most repairers won't touch them, particularly the ClassD ones, as there aren't any circuit diagrams available. The authorised repairers, Real Electronics in Sheffield, are pretty expensive. I wrote my MB amp off as the estimate to fix it was about the same as it was worth.

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I did suggest a factory authorized service center as they will have the necessary access to resources and parts. I would have expected them to be fully supported and serviceable for much less then the cost of buying a new one. It's not an inexpensive amp is it? (I don't have a good grasp of European/UK prices of course)

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[email protected]
 

That is the email address for the UK distributors detailed on the Markbass site. They should be able to provide you with details of the nearest authorised service provider. The service provider should be able to provide you with a reason for the fault and the potential cost for repair. I would look at that route before buying a new amp. It might be a reasonably straightforward repair.  
 

As it is, for a budget friendly amp that is a good pedal platform, I recommend the TC Electronic BQ500. 500 watts and a simple EQ. No special or unique features but it is plenty loud and you don’t need any external features if you have additional EQ and pedals.

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Although you’ve gone the IEM & DI route, having an actual amp that can do the whole gig/rehearsal on its own is an extra piece of flexibility. You loved the Markbass so I’d look at getting another. 

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1 hour ago, thodrik said:

[email protected]
 

That is the email address for the UK distributors detailed on the Markbass site. They should be able to provide you with details of the nearest authorised service provider. The service provider should be able to provide you with a reason for the fault and the potential cost for repair. I would look at that route before buying a new amp. It might be a reasonably straightforward repair.  

Real Electronics in Sheffield are the authorised MB service agents but as mentioned previously, they are pretty expensive. They don't seem to repair at component level, just swap boards. I know a few people who have used them and all the repairs were around £200 or more.

Probably worth it if you love the amp. My estimate was £ 225 for something worth very little more than that so didn't bother.

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When I replaced my SA450, ended up buying and evaluating quite a few amps.

One that impressed me massively was the Peavey MiniMax 500. I actually prefer the tone than my MB and I've been a MB user for about 15 years. Phil Starr is also a big fan and longtime MB user. Thomann were clearing out the Mk1 at around £180 but sadly that deal is gone.

Only moved it on when a pal of mine, who also had a faulty MB amp, was in desperate need.

Now an Ashdown fan with a Rootmaster. Awesome amp, legendary customer service and 5 year warranty.

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If you were considering an Ashdown Original, there's an Ashdown C210 kickback combo for sale in the amps for sale section. Would be perfect for on stage monitoring.

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5 hours ago, BassBunny said:

Real Electronics in Sheffield are the authorised MB service agents but as mentioned previously, they are pretty expensive. They don't seem to repair at component level, just swap boards. I know a few people who have used them and all the repairs were around £200 or more.

Probably worth it if you love the amp. My estimate was £ 225 for something worth very little more than that so didn't bother.

Yep, that's it. The same thing happened to my friend and he was quoted £250 repair not including postage. I sold my Big Bang as parts/not working and made a decent wedge. The amp was generally long in the tooth, and with Ashdown and other companies offering 5 year warranties this seemed like a sensible shout considering the price of repair. 

1 hour ago, BassBunny said:

If you were considering an Ashdown Original, there's an Ashdown C210 kickback combo for sale in the amps for sale section. Would be perfect for on stage monitoring.

Very much interested in the Ashdown OriginAL, but would like to stick with a small head. Sometimes I share cabs at gigs so I'd rather not cart around a combo when I don't need to. Thanks for the heads up though. I know you can't tell much from YT demos but what I've heard sounds great. 

This Laney RH500 at £200 for 500W is really intriguing me, five year warranty too. 

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6 hours ago, BassBunny said:

Now an Ashdown fan with a Rootmaster. Awesome amp, legendary customer service and 5 year warranty.

How are the compressor and drive circuits on the rootmaster?

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50 minutes ago, Light Grenade said:

How are the compressor and drive circuits on the rootmaster?

I find them really good. Someone has started a Rootmaster fan club in this section. Drop in an check it out as quite a few are ABM users and make a comparison. I've never used an ABM, so can't compare.

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11 hours ago, thodrik said:

As it is, for a budget friendly amp that is a good pedal platform, I recommend the TC Electronic BQ500. 500 watts and a simple EQ. No special or unique features but it is plenty loud and you don’t need any external features if you have additional EQ and pedals.

I didn't know about this TC product. A lot of power for not a lot of money. I guess I could run my board into the aux input to go direct to the power amp. That also leaves me with a backup pre-amp should I need it. Interested! 

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2 hours ago, Light Grenade said:

How are the compressor and drive circuits on the rootmaster?

I find them both pretty good at light settings (no more than 10 o’clock). The drive adds a nice bit of fur to the sound, with extra sizzle and harmonics, and the compression smooths and evens it all up a tad. Like this they both add to the sound but without significantly changing it.

Also, as @BassBunny mentioned above, there are ABM users on the RM thread (I’m one of them) and the RM amps favour very well amongst us.

Edited by Lozz196

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As an owner of the Ashdown RM800 EVO II I would recommend looking at either the RM300 or better still RM500

I went away from my Ampeg PF800 and much prefer the Ashdown 

The RM800 is very loud so as you were looking at less watts perhaps the smaller versions would suffice but they are priced fairly close to each other.

Lots of different sounds and great for rock 

It’s a well thought out amp and sensible price. Reliable too I believe 

 

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If you're in the UK id definitelyly go with Ashdown, their aftermarket service is second to none, even with out-of-warranty gear. I had a markbass once and really like the warm tone form them, I thin Ashdown wont dissapoint. I had an Ampeg 350pf and I found it really underpowered.   

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My Markbass LM2 got dropped and started an intermittent distortion. I approached several reputable and professional repair shops, all of whom refused to help. As stated above the only repair option in the UK is Real Electronics, and I'd had experience of them before: my TC head gave up on me suddenly and Real charged me more to fix it than it cost to buy.  In the end a local guy solved the distortion by hitting the LM2 with a piece of 3 by 2 [not joking]. Although that worked, remarkably, he still charged me £30.  And I don't know the precise specs of the lump of wood he used so can't help on the DIY front.  

Edited by lownote12
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 Sympathy with you from me, I too have a broken Markbass and have come across the problem with Real Electronics. They aren't unpleasant or anything but you get a fairly inflexible response and estimate from them. The 'estimate' is around £200 whatever the fault is and they talk about it being as good as new on the phone, ie they are simply taking boards out and replacing them. As the used value is about £300 that's a huge chunk of the value and it makes MB an unviable purchase IMO. You might just as well purchase Behringer for all the aftersales support you get from MB, in fact to be fair the UK supplies of Behringer spares are very reasonably priced and with better availability. 

I bought the Peavey Minimax for £180 on the offer above as a stopgap as i had a load of gigs at the time. It sounds way better out of the box than the MB Tube and has noticeably more heft, if i can use that word. I ought to fix the MB and pass it on really. I won't be going back to it but the absence of gigs has removed any urgency.

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Thanks for the help so far folks. At the very least, I've talked myself out of getting another Mark Bass. 

I have a Trace Elliot Transit B, so I'm even toying with the idea of running this into a Baby Sumo Power amp. Thought about the ELF amp, but the portability of it sort of defeats the purpose if need to take my two cabs to get the full 200W

I'm going to have a look at the Peavey's, a brand constantly overlook but when I think about it, every Peavey amp I've played has been great.

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I went to Ashdown after the 3x2 episode. Yes, twice the size and possibly twice the weight of an MB, but still manageable. And the quality of sound and controls is top notch. Plus if anything goes wrong a tin of biscuits will buy you a service from a guy you can have a friendly chat with. I run my MAG300 through Phil Jones 6x7 speakers and I lerv it to death. It cost me £150 and I think I paid over the odds.

Edited by lownote12
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I tried the Peavey Minimax 500 and found the fan to very very noisy 

Totally unpleasant if at home or studio 

Shame as apart from that it was decent and low cost 

In comparison I can hardly hear my Ashdown RM800 fan 

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Explain to me how it's possible for an amp to be so popular and well talked about (bragged about even) in Europe, yet have the reliability and support issues that are being discussed here?

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A NZ appliance retailer in the 70's hit the TV advertising with the catchphrase ''it's the putting right that counts'' regarding his in house service dept. In those days everything lasted donkey's years and got fixed if it broke down.

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