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Phil Jones Bass BP800, my first ever review

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Here is my first ever review on an amp. I’m just a dude who plays bass in a couple of projects for fun, I am by no means a pro musician or online reviewer. All views are my own and I have not received any payment or other incentives to produce this review.


Phil Jones Bass BP800 amp review.




I’m very new to Phil Jones Bass gear, I only got my Big Head Pro HA2 a couple of months ago. I had purchased it on a recommendation from the guys at Bass Direct here in the Uk. I have to say, they were bang on in what they said about it and what it would do for me in terms of my requirements. More to the point, I was hugely impressed with the sound, design and build quality.


So, onto the BP800. Like many bass players out there, I’ve owned, borrowed and tried out dozens of amps from a plethora of manufacturers over the 25 or so years that I’ve been playing. Some have been combos but most have been heads. There’s just something I like about a box that you can put in a backpack with some cables and take to any venue, plug in and get your sound from.


My last few amps have all been 750-900 watt class D models. Personally, I recon a class D bass amp around the 800W level is the perfect balance between power and head room, weight and portability, certainly for my requirements anyway.


I spotted the BP800 whilst on the PJB website when I was looking into the HA2 and I must admit, it grabbed my attention. I’ve always been more of a fan of hi fi like tone rather than the more traditional tone qualities of tube amps. The fact that everything I read and listened to about the BP800 from that point onwards said that it delivers completely uncoloured tone really peaked my interest. My weapons of choice are Spector basses. They are all I’ve played since 2008 and to be honest, I think they sound great through any amp but the temptation to play one through a BP800 simply proved too much to resist. So, here we are.


Build Quality.


Back when I received my HA2, I was impressed by how it was packaged and presented. When the BP800 arrived, I was even more impressed. Chiefly by how it was cradled in a padded structure that protected the amp from damage whilst in transit. I always think it’s a good sign when manufacturers package their products intelligently as it seems to indicate attention to detail that always appears to translate into the products themselves.


On lifting the amp out of the box, I was immediately struck by how solid it felt whilst being rather light. It sounds silly because the dimensions are shown on the PJB website but, it felt smaller than I was expecting. The protective sleeve that comes with it is another nice touch that I am sure most players will be pleased with. I was already impressed and I hadn’t even plugged the thing in yet!


Features, layout & ease of use.


I’ll get straight to the point here. The EQ and front control panel is an absolute joy of functionality, simplicity and intelligent layout. Everything makes sense, is intuitive and everything is solidly engineered. The knobs are things of beauty but I’ll come back to that later.


The rear panel follows the same ethos. Everything is arranged sensibly and intuitively and everything you could need is present.


Something not to be discounted about this amp is that it can literally fit in the pocket of a bass gig bag. Once it’s in its little protective sleeve the amp slides nicely into the external pocket ready for you to bring the thunder at your gig. I really like that this is possible. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that, once I am gigging again, I will be able to have gig bag with bass and amp over one shoulder, guitar stand under one arm and cab in one hand. That is really appealing. Either that or I’ll sling it in a small backpack along with some spare cables etc.


If there were to be one thing that I would want added to this amp, it would be a USB port for charging/powering the iPod/MP3 player that you would have plugged into the aux in mini jack. This is me being really picky and trying to find something that might be missing but to be honest, it’s not even a big deal, it would just be a nice to have rather than an absolute must. For me, it would be nice if all class D amps with aux in functionality had this feature.


I mentioned the knobs on the front panel earlier. They are superbly engineered just like everything else on the amp but the reason I am raving about them so much is because, due to the long triangle shape, you know precisely at what level you have set any particular control purely by feel. For me this is a big thing as I am blind and to be frank, it can be a royal pain in the backside figuring out what position each knob is set at on other amps, particularly in a gig environment. We all know what it’s like, there’s always a rush to get set up, there’s about 50 things all happening at the same time, it’s noisy, dark (not that it bothers me of course) and you’re trying to set your EQ and dial in your sound. The fact that I will have absolutely no trouble whatsoever in feeling the position of my knobs is a breath of fresh air for me. To be fair, not all knobs on all other brands are terrible, most however are not easy for me at all. The knobs on this amp though are by far the best I’ve ever come across and are an absolute dream come true for me. Add to that the fact that all but the aux volume and master volume controls are centre detected, knowing where I am regarding my front panel settings is a doddle.


Sound quality.


Other people have said this in their reviews/demos of this amp and I have to admit that it does appear to be true, absolutely everything you put into this amp you get back out. I didn’t actually change the EQ from the 12 o’clock detented position for the first couple of days I had the amp because it just sounds so good. When you do play around with the EQ though, wow and I mean WOW! Small adjustments go a long way for sure. You could easily play around for hours trying out all sorts of tones, I certainly did, before I knew it, an entire afternoon had passed simply because I was enjoying myself so much. The array of different tones you can get out of the amp is seriously impressive in the first place and then you’ve got the tone controls on your bass for on the fly adjustments on top of that. I was playing the amp through a single Barefaced BigBaby II cab (800W 8ohm) and there were times when I had the EQ cranked at the bottom end that I was seriously concerned that the roof of my house was going to collapse under the sonic barrage. To say I am looking forward to plugging this amp into both of my BBIIs at a proper band rehearsal is an understatement.


- The low bass control manages to keep every ounce of clarity regardless of how extreme in either direction you have it set. It didn’t matter which bass I used with whatever pre amp and pickup combination, it stayed tight, clean and practically punched the air out of your lungs when maxed out.


- The high bass control does a wonderful job of giving you warm fat tones on its respective frequency range and equally enables you to thin them out but still keep them present if you wish. The manual for the amp says that the high bass control effects the tone of the D and G strings and I tell you what, it is absolutely right. I’ve never come across this kind of description for how EQ controls effect different frequencies on a product. I really like it and it makes a lot of sense. For completeness, the manual states that the low bass control effects the tone of B, E and A strings.


- The mid control does exactly what it says. Play with this and your mids will either punch right through, sit low in your mix or do anything you like in between. I found myself getting my low and high bass levels set to where I wanted them and then tweaked the mid control to taste and it worked really well for me.


- The low treble control I found great for adding that extra bit of crispness to all of the notes across the fretboard. I play with fingers rather than a pick as that is my preference and this control really helped separate those big notes. Even with this control set at its detent position it is just superb.


- The high treble (presence) control I haven’t needed to use at all since getting the amp, my Spectors have a hefty amount of presence naturally, so it’s not a control I’ve ever really used to any degree. Having said that, I have played with this control to see how it affects the sound. To use a cliche term, it really brings some more sparkle to the overall tone and if that’s your thing then I suspect you will enjoy what this control does. I imagine I may very well use it when I have old less bright strings to bring back some of the sparkle though.


- The instrument input control does exactly what you would expect it to do. I really like that it is also detected like the EQ, it gives a great point to start from and there is an awful lot of adjustment to be had in that control depending on your preference.


- The DI on this amp is supremely quite and clean. Not much more to say really, just excellent.


Plugging my electro acoustic into this amp was a joy. It sounded so good that the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end when I first heard it. I didn’t even touch the EQ on the amp and barely touched the EQ on the bass, it just sounded that good.


I played through a fair few effects pedals too including, fuzz, overdrive distortion, chorus, octave, wah and of course compression. The amp handled every one with ease. The fuzz and distortion sounded massive, the chorus was warm and gorgeous, the octave was amazingly clear and the wah was downright fun. Obviously avoiding boosting the high treble (presence) when using fuzz, overdrive distortion and wah were preferable to avoid any super harsh high end noise, I just left it at the detented position and it was sweet.


The truth is, I could not get a crappy sound out of this amp. Even when they were sounds that were not to my particular taste, everything I did, regardless of how extreme, was crystal clear. The tonal versatility is vast.


Something I haven’t mentioned is how loud this thing is. I’ve played through a lot of amps, a few of them have been very loud and the BP800 sits right up there with them. That every sound you play through it is so pure almost seems to make it seem louder. I have absolutely no doubt that I will be cutting through the wall of guitar sound even at our loudest gigs.




Although I’ve only had this amp for just over a week, I’ve played it every single day. It kind of made me want to play more, which can’t be a bad thing. I’ve found it to be an absolute powerhouse of clean, uncoloured bass tone. The packaging, build quality, sensible layout, usability and of course the sound, all come together to make an absolutely superb amp. It’s fast becoming my favourite for sure. It’s not even that expensive either at around the £700 price point. There are other bass amps out there which are higher priced that don’t, in my personal opinion, come close to being as good as the BP800. Opinions are all subjective of course and hopefully this review is taken simply for what it is, a collection of my thoughts regarding this amp and how it suits my personal tastes and playing requirements.


As an extra note, in the BP800 user manual, there is a Front Panel and Rear Panel description list which describes each control, led, switch, jack and socket in the order that they are arranged on the amp. This is the first time I have ever come across an actual written description list in a manual rather than an image or diagram. As you can imagine, images and diagrams are next to useless for me but I found the description lists to be incredibly useful. Whether someone at PJB has a blind bass playing friend and considered that lists in the form of text would be useful to visually impaired/blind players or simply considered that a description list might be generally useful to all owners of the amp, I don’t know but I was very pleased indeed to find those lists available. So, thank you PJB.


Used with the following gear.


Spector Timbre electro acoustic with Fishman electronics.


Spector Euro 5LX (maple thru neck, alder and maple wings with slice of walnut) with EMG 40DC pickups & EMG BQC pre amp.


Spector Euro 5LT (maple thru neck with chambered alder wings) with Bartolloni pickups & DarkGlass Tone Capsule pre amp.


Spector USA Forte 5 (maple thru neck with empress wood wings) with EMG DC pickups & HasLab pre amp.


Spector USA NS6 XL (maple thru neck with solid flamed maple wings) with EMG 40DC pickups & HasLab pre amp.


Barefaced BigBaby II (tested with x over in all positions).


EHX Tone Corset compressor.


EHX Bass Clone Chorus.


EHX Micro Pog.


DarkGlass X7 distortion.


Barefaced Machinist fuzz/distortion.


Morely Power Fuzz Wah fuzz/wah.


Styles of music played.


Acoustic, Pop (70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s), blues, cheese rock, heavy rock, traditional metal, modern metal. I’m not a slapper so no funk I’m afraid but I am absolutely sure it would be fantastic through this amp as long as it were not me butchering playing slap bass!

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Thanks, I enjoyed writing it. Glad you found it interesting. The amp very much falls into the category of "I wish I'd got one years ago" for me.



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