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Old 09-09-2012, 12:57 PM   #1
Spaz91
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The thread of cheapish gigging rigs!

This is a really common but nonetheless important quest, to find an amp powerful enough for small gigs without breaking the bank of a student (or anyone else who can't write it off as a work expense.) So in this thread I'd like to compile a list of all the reasonably priced and reasonably powerful gigging amps that include a head + cab or combo. If we call reasonably powerful at least 300w (the standard amount to compete with a drummer) more in a punk or metal band. Reasonably priced is £300 to £700 in my mind, as much as you'd spend on a bass worthy of gigging.

Notes:
I'm using British prices because I'm British.
When I say hybrid, I mean any amp using a combination of valves and solid state. Usually a solid state power amp and a valve preamp.
Any opinions I offer are just that, opinions. If you have a differing opinion then I will quote it under the paragraph because I'm nice like that.
This is similar to a section in the FAQ but I'd like to include more discussion and opinions.


I'll post what I find but I'm looking for feedback, past experiences and recommendations for genres, etc.

1. Ashdown MAG Series.
The first port of call for UK bassists on budget. Very affordable, reasonably reliable and tone that experts call "**** it, it'll do."
With the MAG series, you can get a 300w head and matching cab (210, 410, 115) for well under £500. The 300w "Evo" head being roughly £250 while the cabs are around £200, depending on which you go for. They also offer combos which are cheaper than buying the head and cab separately but suffer from the usual combo problems of poor portability and the joint ****ness if one part breaks.

2. Acoustic B Series.
A different company altogether but essentially the American equivalent of Ashdown. The B series caters to all budgets including the aforementioned student/casual budget, this being the B300h, a 300w head and 410 cab (at roughly $350) or a 450w/210 combo at the same price. Both are nearly impossible to find in the UK and Europe as they are Guitar Centre's house brand.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutter_101
Interestingly enough, Acoustic amps are just rebranded Kustom amps for Guitar Center.


3. Behringer/Bugera.
A risky one. Most people think they're crap but others swear by them. I have nothing nice to say about them so I shan't say anything. If anyone would like to say a few words in their favour, I shall quote it into this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by corrda00
Behringer are decent. They get the job done. Its good if you're not a full time bassist. But I find if you want to be more serious you should get something else. Their Amps are actually pretty good in my experience but thier cabs are horrid.


4. Hartke.
A brand I'm particularly familiar with. Hartke offer two heads within price range: The HA3500, a 350w hybrid state head with a nice EQ and compressor and the LH-500, a 500w hybrid head with more wattage but (in my opinion) a poor 3 band EQ and worse limiter and compressor (this was the amp of choice on my music course last year.) Both are £200-£300 which is very cheap considering the wattage and features. However, Hartke's cabs are more pricey, possibly because of their signature aluminium speaker cones. Cabs, paper and aluminum alike, range from £250ish to £500ish.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottB.
If you're considering the Hartke LH500 don't let the EQ put you off. It's very different from an active EQ but once you know how to use it the amp comes into its own. I start off with the knobs set give a flat EQ (which is definitely not 12 o'clock) and adjust from there to accommodate for the way the room sounds.



5. Kustom.
Renown for their most-excellent practise amps (after the bombs drop, the cockroaches will be playing through KBA10s) but also do very cheap gigging amps. Thomann has various bundles using the Kustom DE300 HD, a 300w hybrid amp with an 810 (£460), a 115 (£305), a 410 (£340), a 410 and 115 (£460) and a 610 (£460). I've no experience with these but if they are reliable then these prices make them ideal for budgeting bassists.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutter_101
Interestingly enough, Acoustic amps are just rebranded Kustom amps for Guitar Center.

I would take this as a vote of confidence for the Kustom bundles!

6. Ampeg.
The heavyweights of the bass amp world with a name that attracts a big price tag. The options are the PF350 and PF500, £660 and £750 respectively with matching cabs. They're decent solid state amps and sound quite nice but they're really expensive compared to the other options of the same wattage, considering they aren't exactly a boutique brand. The other option is a BA300 in either 210 or 115 configuration. Both are bog standard combos but both have >£600 pricetags. Again, in my opinion, this is too much for a simple amp; then again, some people need that Ampeg brand name.

7. Peavey.
Absolute tank, no pub in England is without a house Peavey for the bassist (usually a keyboard amp though.) Modern day Peaveys are not so cheap but they were certainly last.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tostitos
I've had good experiences demo-ing the newer Peavey Tour TKO/TNT 115's ($450 and $550 new respectively). Fairly nice 400 and 600 watt 1x15 combos, with headphone outputs (a good feature if you're living in an apartment or somewhere with thin walls), speaker outs, and a load of other features one may or may not find handy.


8. Gallien Kreuger.
Very broad range of prices and wattage from the MB and RB series, the MB being the more wallet friendly series and the RB being larger and more expensive (the cheapest being the 400RB for roughly £500.) The MB series come in 200w (for £200) and 500w (for £300-£400), 200w is considered to weak to compete with a drummer live aside from things like folk and jazz.

9. Traynor.
An old brand making a comeback. So far the only affordable head I can find actually for sale (new) is the DB300H which is a 300w, solid state amp. This brand is know for affordable tube/hybrid amps so watch this space.

10. Laney.
Warning, opinion: I greatly dislike Laney amplifiers, if you can get a Laney combo to sound good then you are most likely a wizard. For £450 you can get a Laney RB9 (300w solid state head, £200) and a matching 410 cab (Laney RB410, £250) and have a pile of shite reliable rig powerful enough for gigging but no one will play with you because they sound like shit. As cheap as Behringer but with less QC problems.

11. TC Electronic
Probably stretches your budget a bit but well worth it for the features they come with. They have two budget amps, the BH500 and the BH250. The BH500, for only £350, gives you 500w of power, a multiband (string?) compressor, distortion, tuner and pretty much every feature you'd expect on an amp twice the price, for another £350 you can have a 410 cab to go with it. This makes £700 which is probably as far as budget can go but this rig is versatile and powerful so will probably mean you don't need another until you're rich and famous, playing stadiums. The BH250 has different features, its only 250w has a simple 3 band EQ and tuner but also comes with Toneprint, meaning you can upload effects onto the amp using your phone through your pickups which is downright bizarre. Not bad for less than £250 but its going to have trouble being loud enough for big gigs, its certainly not going to be enough for metal or punk.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fleajr_1412
I can vouch for TC Electronic's BH500. I use it for rehearsals and gigs and it's excellent. 500 watts of power, 3 programmable presets, powerful EQ, built like a tank and fairly cheap (I bought mine brand new for £350). Definitely worth a try.



12. Marshall
Not very popular within the bass world, not awful but nothing special from what I've heard. A Marshall MB450H (£350) and MBC410 (£300) will give you the power to play any gig but £650 is a lot to ask for a rig so plain.

13. Fender
Fender's budget amp line is the Rumble series. £300 will get you a 350w head with basic EQing and not much else and another £250 will get you a matching 410 cab.

14. Warwick
£300 will get you a WA300, a 300w amp with a compressor with a 3-band and 10-band eq, not bad. The cheapest 410 cab I could find was over £300 so you may be best looking to other brands for cabs. (If you want a cheap cab to go with a decent head then look at Ashdown or Kustom/Acoustic, they're not special but they do the job.)


Any more brands?

Last edited by Spaz91 : 09-24-2012 at 05:26 AM.
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Old 09-09-2012, 01:34 PM   #2
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I've had good experiences demo-ing the newer Peavey Tour TKO/TNT 115's ($450 and $550 new respectively). Fairly nice 400 and 600 watt 1x15 combos, with headphone outputs (a good feature if you're living in an apartment or somewhere with thin walls), speaker outs, and a load of other features one may or may not find handy.

Are we taking used gear/prices into consideration, or does that get too hazy and limited by availability for what this thread is meant to accomplish?
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Old 09-09-2012, 01:34 PM   #3
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Berhinger are decent. They get the job done. Its good if you're not a full time bassist (eg a guitarist that play bass). But I find if you want to be more serious you should get something else.
Thier Amps are actually pretty good in my experience but thier cabs are horrid.

Hartke is a nice brand too. I use hartke stuff and I love it. The LH500 and 1000 are the most watts you can get at a reasonable price.
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Old 09-09-2012, 01:47 PM   #4
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I've got an Eden Nemesis and it falls about into your price range. Loud enough, though I suspect a cab or a different speaker setup would be louder than my 1x15" combo . The controls are simple, I just leave the EQ flat center, use the "enhance" control to taste (which is basically a magical mid scoop knob) and leave the compression on. If I feel the need to tinker I use the controls on my bass or if I'm feeling adventurous, the parametric EQ which is a nice feature for an amp.

I got it at a decent priced used though. Purchasing a new amp I'd probably would have had been pickier. (that being said, every so often the used market gets absolutely overloaded with that Hartke stuff)

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Old 09-09-2012, 02:00 PM   #5
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Gallien-Kruger makes realy nice gear, and some of it is afordable.
GK RB400
GK MB200
GK MB 2x12
GK MB4x10

Also Avatar Cabs are a pretty good value.
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Old 09-09-2012, 02:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tostitos
Are we taking used gear/prices into consideration, or does that get too hazy and limited by availability for what this thread is meant to accomplish?

I think used gear fluctuates too much in price and condition to include. Its usually the best option on a budget but its a risky business.

I've have a look at Peavey now, thanks for the reminder.
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Old 09-09-2012, 08:26 PM   #7
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At the upper end of the scale, I'd look at Carvin's BR series combos. They're 500-watt, fantastic-sounding amplifiers and very well made. The 1X15 and the 2x10 both go for about US$600.00 each. Sadly, Carvin is often not an option if you aren't in the U.S.A.

Acoustic has revamped their lineup. I've had one of their B200 1x15 combos for a few years, and it is surprisingly good. The 2x10 combo is even better, and for the price, they seem to offer a great deal throughout their line. The B200 1x15 is about US$500.00 and the BR450 2x10 is about US$600.00, but you can often find them on sale for less.

There's my two recommendations.
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:57 AM   #8
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I like the GK backline series. Some will say that it's not the most awesome choice, but I really dig the sound. As for behringer, I have a friend who absolutely swears by his. I don't know the model name, but it does sound pretty good. The Acoustic B200 is a great choice! It's one of my personal favorites. If you're into combos, I'd go for a Fender Rumble100 or a Bassman250. We had a bassman in high school and it could push out some air!!
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:22 AM   #9
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Great idea for a thread Jon, Kudos.
I think it might be a good idea to have prices in the main four currencies that get asked for on the forum in the descriptions (GBP, EUR, USD and AUD).
More than happy to research the best Aussie prices if it's thought of as a good idea.
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Old 09-10-2012, 11:04 AM   #10
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Interestingly enough, Acoustic amps are just rebranded Kustom amps for Guitar Center.

The more you know!
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Old 09-10-2012, 11:36 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by consecutive e
Great idea for a thread Jon, Kudos.
I think it might be a good idea to have prices in the main four currencies that get asked for on the forum in the descriptions (GBP, EUR, USD and AUD).
More than happy to research the best Aussie prices if it's thought of as a good idea.

In the end I'd like to make a whole table comparing price, wattage and availability. Separate tables for heads, cabs and combos. Considering the clientèle, I would say price catagories from the USA, Europe and Australia/NZ (assuming those two have similar prices. Any help when the time comes will be great.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutter_101
Interestingly enough, Acoustic amps are just rebranded Kustom amps for Guitar Center.

The more you know!

Seriously? Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

Last edited by Spaz91 : 09-10-2012 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 09-10-2012, 12:16 PM   #12
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I can vouch for TC Electronic's BH500. I use it for rehearsals and gigs and it's excellent. 500 watts of power, 3 programmable presets, powerful EQ, built like a tank and fairly cheap (I bought mine brand new for £350). Definitely worth a try.
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:29 AM   #13
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Markbass and Trace Elliot are great companies that produce some incredibly affordable equipment aswell.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:52 AM   #14
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^ I don't know the prices on the new Trace amps but as far as MarkBass goes... I don't think your version of "affordable" is the same as what's implied in this thread.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:26 PM   #15
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Oh bollocks, I forgot I had work to do on this thread.

I'll finish my coffee, poop and get typing.
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Old 09-17-2012, 06:12 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Spaz91
Oh bollocks, I forgot I had work to do on this thread.

I'll finish my coffee, poop and get typing.

Innecesary... but that's kinda your style, and it makes me laugh... I'm undecided.
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Old 09-18-2012, 05:45 AM   #17
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Markbass and Trace Elliot are great companies that produce some incredibly affordable equipment aswell.


They may cost more, but they will last you a lifetime, I promise you
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Old 09-18-2012, 07:51 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by red_hot_chili18
They may cost more, but they will last you a lifetime, I promise you

It's not that they won't, it's just that they don't fit the "cheapish gigging rigs" in this thread...
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:08 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudaka
Innecesary... but that's kinda your style, and it makes me laugh... I'm undecided.

I find pooping quite necessary.
Quote:
Originally Posted by red_hot_chili18
They may cost more, but they will last you a lifetime, I promise you

Which would be fine if we had enough money for them in the first place. They are boutique, not budget.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:37 PM   #20
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SWR Light series of amps and cabs are great for those who don't the cash spend on higher end gear. I can vouch for them because it's a great mini-rig for those smaller club and bar gigs which most of us perform at.
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