While searching for a versatile, gig worthy bass combo I happened upon a store that carried an array of options from Markbass. There is a lot of hype in the bass world about Markbass amps so I was eager to give them a try. Playing a Standard P Bass, I tried out the Alain Caron 1×12 Combo, the Jeff Berlin 1×15 Combo and the CMD 102P 2×10 Combo. Originally I had my sights set on the Jeff Berlin model, but after putting all three combos through their paces I ended up liking the CMD 102P 2×10 the best. All three are great sounding amps, in fact the Jeff Berlin & 102P have he same head, but there was just something about the 2×10 that spoke to me.
The extremely versatile CMD 102P combo seems to have all of the features I am looking for in a bass combo. Featuring 2 x 10″ speakers, plus a piezo tweeter, this combo pushes 300 watts (500 watts with an 8 Ohm extension cab) of clean, articulate power. The built in VLE and VLF filters provide a wide range of tones in conjunction with 4 bands of EQ, Gain and Master Volume. It’s front-ported cabinet design is angled, allowing it to be used either as a floor monitor or in standard vertical position. Additional features include a Line Out with a Pre/Post EQ switch and Ground Lift, an FX Loop and a Tuner Out. And all this in a compact package that only weighs 44lbs.
I am happy to announce that my combo search has ended. I was so enamored with this little combo that I just had to take it home with me. I’ve owned 2×10’s in the past, including an SWR Redhead combo, but was never truly satisfied with the lows they produced, which is why I had initially been more interested in the 1×15 combo. Well I don’t know how Markbass did it but the CMD 102P 2×10 combo has unbelievable, crisp, clean lows. Even at high volumes, there is little to no breakup in tone. For the most part 300 watts will be all I’ll ever need, but it is nice to have to option to add an external cabinet for increased power if the need should ever arise.
I have read that Markbass amps are somewhat transparent, and find that each of my basses sound distinctly different through it, so I would guess that is what they mean. To be honest once I got it home and played around with it a bit, I just couldn’t seem to dial in a tone I liked. Not to be deterred I decided to take it to band practice and set the EQ flat with both filters turned off as I figured this would be my starting point. Well low and behold, as soon as we started playing I was once again smitten. My tone sat perfectly in the mix, letting my notes punch through clearly and articulately. The only control I touched again was the Volume, as I was way too loud. This little guy cranks! It seems when it comes to the VLE and VLF filters, less is more.
The cost of the Markbass CMD 102P Combo was a bit more than I had wanted to spend, but the quality and reputation seem to be there. When I took into account that this is going to be my main gigging amp, as well as the fact that it is basically replacing a Half Stack I felt that the cost was justified. We bass players are lucky these days as we have many options to choose from, I would of liked to try one of the new Carvin or Genz Benz combos, but I just didn’t have a chance to try them out in person. I’ve been using the Markbass at band practice for the past few weeks now and couldn’t be happier with my decision. It is a very powerful, compact, lightweight combo that should cover me in any situation for the foreseeable future.