As you may have read in my earlier posts, my idea to downsize my bass head and cabinet to a combo didn’t quite work out as I planned. I was having a rough time parting with my Ampeg SVT 410HLF, and a hard time finding a buyer for it. I had hoped to sell the 410 and use the cash to get a decent powered combo, I would keep my Ashdown ABM500 EVO II head and pair it with my Avatar 210 if I ever found myself needing more power. Once I had decided to give up on this idea I started looking at some of the new “micro” bass heads. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, and I was hoping for something with a Headphone Jack and Aux in for jamming along with my iPod. As that I had been looking at the Gallien Krueger Combo’s, the GK MB200 was an obvious choice for me, and at a mere $229, I just could not pass it up.
Weighing only 2 pounds, yet delivering 200 watts of power at 4 ohms, this little guy gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Packed into 1/2 rack space, it’s stripped down controls are on par with a decent combo amp and include a -10db Switch for Active basses, a Gain Control, Contour On/Off Switch, Treble, Hi-Mid, Low-Mid and Bass EQ Controls. Outputs include a Headphone/ Line Out Jack, an XLR Direct Out and a combination Speakon/ 1/4″ Speaker Output. A 1/8″ Aux Input is also included for monitoring external sources such as an ipod. The Direct Out includes a Pre/Post EQ switch to run your signal dry or with your preferred EQ settings. The Aux In works great, but volume must be controlled via the connected device as there is no volume control for this input on the amp. The Contour Switch basically scoops the mids while boosting the highs and lows, and is either on or off. It’s steel case seems rugged, as one would expect with a GK amp.
For this review I first ran the head through my Avatar 210 NEO, 8 ohm cab, and then through my Ampeg SVT 410HLF, 4 ohm cab. I used 5 different basses to see how each would sound, leaving the amps setting the same for each bass.
My amp settings were as follows:
Active = On
Gain = 10 o’clock
Contour = Off
Treble = 11 o’clock
Hi-Mid = 1 o’clock
Low-Mid = 1 o’clock
Bass = 2 o’clock
Below is my how each bass sounded with each cab:
MIM Fender Jazz Deluxe, pickups blended slightly forward, bass slightly boosted, Treb/Mid flat:
- Avatar 210: Crisp, clean, clear, lots of presence, nice slap tone
- Ampeg 410: Clear, thick tone, like the slap tone better on the 210, definitely more headroom with this cab
Fender American P-Bass with Thomastik Infeld Flats, Volume/Tone full up:
- Avatar 210: Clear even tone, growly with a bite (in a good way)
- Ampeg 410: Sounds like a P should, even sounding across all strings, nice fat P-Bass tone
Fender Mustang, Volume/Tone full up:
- Avatar 210: Boomy lows, bright highs, not liking this combo so much
- Ampeg 410: Nice vintage tone, less boomy, more P like
Lakland 44-01, EQ flat:
- Avatar 210: Active switch is definitely needed for this bass, nice modern tone, clear, good slap tone
- Ampeg 410: Wow! Powerful tone, sounds fantastic, with Contour turned on this combo is slap nirvana
Lakland 55-01, EQ flat:
- Avatar 210: Modern tone, B slightly muddy sounding, E a bit thuddy
- Ampeg 410: Much more depth, clarity, B & E more powerful, warmer, most of the mud & thud are gone
I also had the chance to take GK MB200 out to my last jam session. For these particular sessions we typically run everything, including an electronic drum set, into a computer interface and jam with headphones on. For this jam I took my Fender P-Bass with flats on it and ran it into the MB200 sending my signal post EQ through the Direct out. My bass sounded strong, clear and sat well in the mix. I was very happy with the tone I was getting and will definitely be using this amp in this capacity again.
Well, there it is. My review of the Gallien Krueger MB200 Micro Bass Head. So far I have been very pleased with the tone and versatility of this little amp and look forward to putting it through more thorough paces in the coming months. I have yet to play through it amplified with a live drummer and guitar amps, but am confident that this little amp will hold its own. The way I see it is that this little guy has the best of both worlds, all the features of a nice combo with the versatility of a head/cabinet set up, and at only 2lbs you know you’re not going to hurt your back lugging it to a gig.