Music Gear

Bass Rig Evolution

Click on the image thumbnails for larger versions.

Stagg BA20

Stagg BA20

December 1997 – Present
Output: 20W
Speaker: 8″
Weight: 10kg

This was my first bass amp, and was used at a fair number of quiet pub gigs. I’ve never attempted to use it “against” a drummer, and I don’t think that it would cope. I have used it for rehearsal a couple of times in the last year or so, but on the whole, it’s not very satisfying to play through as there isn’t any decent bass response.

The control panel is a little peculiar – the EQ section has the knobs in the order Treble, Middle, Bass whereas convention normally puts Bass on the left.

Peavey Nitrobass + 2 x Peavey 115BX BW

My old Peavey Rig

August 2001 – July 2008
Output: 450W
Speaker: 2×15″
Weight: 92kg

Initially just a head and single cab, I got the second 115 cab in August 2002. This spent most of its time in the bedroom, only getting taken out for 3 gigs. Fantastic to play through – power in droves, trouser-flapping bass. Unfortunately it’s not very transportable – to just take the head and a single cab to band practise required me to lower the back seat on my Astra, which becomes a bit of a chore when you also have a toddler’s car seat to uninstall/reinstall each time. That said, when I did eventually sell it, the buyer managed to fit the whole lot in his Micra.

Ashdown EB12-180

Ashdown EB12-180

June 2008 – Present
Output: 130W (180W with an additional 8Ω cab)
Speaker: 12″
Weight: 27kg

I replaced the Peavey rig with this, as it fits into the boot of my car with no fuss, yet still goes loud enough to meet my present needs. Unfortunately, carrying 27kg in one hand over long distances is no fun (in fact, I generally need to stop periodically to change sides), and so this year I decided to start thinking about furnishing myself with my dream rig.

Hartke LH500 + Barefacedbass Compact

Hartke LH500 and Barefaced Compact

April 2009 – Present
Output: 380W (500W with an additional 8Ω cab)
Speaker: 15″
Weight: 25kg

This, in the words of Alex Claber ((owner/designer of Barefacedbass)), is a “righteous rig”. That’s no ordinary 15″ speaker in there, either – that’s a lightweight, high-sensitivity Eminence Kappalite 3015. The cab weighs less than half of one of those old Peavey 115BX BWs, and is roughly the same size as the Ashdown combo, so will fit in my car’s boot easily. I’m looking forward to gigging this little beaut.

Music Gear Photos

How to make an amp cover on the cheap

When the time comes when you need to carry your amp a short distance through a rain shower, you’ll find yourself wishing that you had a nifty means of keeping it dry. You can buy a fitted cover for a tidy sum, or throw something together on the cheap that does an adequate job.

My bass amp

This is my new bass amp – an Ashdown Electric Blue 12-180. You can get a fitted cover for £35 but I’m making one out of a spare Ikea shopping bag that cost 25p.

Music Gear

New gear!

I have had a Stagg BA-20 bass combo amp for ten and a half years. I was given it for Christmas in 1997, after I had been playing bass for a few months. It’s quite weak, with only 20W power output, but I actually used it for practises and small gigs for many years.

I was then given a real bass rig by my mother for my 21st birthday. It consisted of a Peavey Nitrobass head and a Peavey 115BX BW cabinet (which contains 1 15″ Black Widow speaker). The Nitrobass head is still manufactured under the name of the Max 450. I used this rig at a few gigs, and much like broadband internet, it set new expectations for my bass sound. The little Stagg bass amp now sounded pathetic and barely useable by comparison.

My mum gave me a second 115BX BW cabinet, I think it was for my 22nd birthday. However, I haven’t done a gig since, so I’ve never gigged with both cabinets together. In fact, I haven’t used both simultaneously for at least the last four and a half years. These days I keep one of them upstairs in my music room, and the other downstairs, so that I can take the head and one cabinet to band practises without needing to lug an 80lb cabinet downstairs and then back up again (also, I don’t really have room upstairs for both cabs!)

I’ve been considering getting a combo amp that is more appropriate for my needs. My dad was down this weekend, and when I mentioned it, he said “well, it’s your birthday in a couple of months, so let’s go shopping, and I’ll pay.” In the event, he forgot to take his credit card, so I paid, but he will reimburse me.

So I now have an Ashdown EB 12-180. It’s not as loud as the Peavey rig, but it’s loud enough for my needs. It weighs less than each 115BX BW cabinet, and will fit in the boot of my car. If I’ve done my calculations correctly, it has the portability of the Stagg amp, combined with the volume of the Peavey. It’s the only bass amp I need, and I can now sell the others (though I don’t expect much for the Stagg).

There is a possibility that in a few years I may find myself playing larger venues, and the Ashdown won’t have enough oomph. If this happens, then it will have made sense to hold onto the Peavey rig. But I think the chances of this are slender – if it does turn out this way, then I guess I’ll look for a second hand rig. But let’s assume that this isn’t going to happen.

The Peavey rig is in great condition, and it will be a shame if I don’t get 50% of the original price for it. My mum has a very generous streak in her, which sometimes leads her to buy overly extravagant gifts. In this case, she spent £900 on a bass rig for me 7 years ago, which I have never really been able to push to its limit, and all the money lost to depreciation has just disappeared into the ether (or into the pockets of the Peavey company, technically).

That said, I don’t think she’s expecting me to pay her back for it, so I’m actually going to end up £450 better off (albeit at her expense). Maybe I should just shut up.