Review: Gallien Krueger 115MBE 1×15 Cabinet

Well I guess I must have the Gallien Krueger bug.  Ever since I bought my MB200 head I have been looking at all the new offerings that GK has been churning out.  While ogling all the new gear online I came across the Gallien-Krueger 1x15MBE Bass Cabinet and thought that it might pair nicely with my MB200.

The 115MBE is light weight (33lbs), 200 watt, 4 ohm cab with both Speakon & 1/4 inch inputs and has a horn that can be turned off.  To be honest the cabinet is not as fat sounding as I was hoping, but for the price I can’t complain.  The sound is clear and crisp, as you would expect from GK, with a bit of an airy sound to it.  The horn has a hiss to it when on, which is more noticeable with active basses, but if it really bothers you, just turn it off.   I was able to quickly dial in a decent slap tone with my Jazz Bass and an awesome mwah tone with my Carvin Fretless.  At 33lbs this cab is seriously light!  It is easily lifted with one hand.  Definitely a plus for us older players who are tired of lugging heavy gear around.  Construction seems somewhat rugged, I doubt it would survive a full on tour but it should hold up well for the occasional club gig.  Paired with my GK MB200 this might well be the ultimate bass combo I have been searching for.  On a random note, when I took the cabinet out of the box it was shipped to me in  I thought I heard something rattling around inside the cabinet so I shook it a bit more and sure enough something was in there.  Noticing that the lower left corner of the cabinet is ported I held it at an angle then tipped it forward to see if anything would fall out.  Well something fell out alright, a small, dead, dried out, lizard!! Now is that weird or what!?

Review: Gallien Krueger MB200

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.

GK MB200

The Downsize Dilemma, Pt. 2

Well I set out to sell off or trade my Ampeg 410HFL Cab for a decent bass combo, but it just didn’t seem to be in the cards. I posted my cab on Craigslist, setting the price at just a little over half of what I paid for it and also said I’d be willing to trade for a decent combo, but didn’t get any real offers of worth. I talked to the folks at Guitar Center and they were willing to give me about a third of what I paid for the cab, possibly a bit more if I used the cab as a trade-in and bought a combo from them.  I thought hard and long about trading my 4×10 in, but in the end just couldn’t do it.

I was fairly well set on getting a GK combo, which led me to looking at the GK MB200 micro head.  Pushing 200 Watts, and with a price tag of $249, I figured I had to at least check it out.  Turns out the MB200 has all the features I wanted in a combo amp, and it pairs it nicely with my Avatar 2×10 cab for practicing and smaller gigs, plus allows me the option of pairing it with my Ampeg 4×10 if more power is needed.  Seemed like a win, win for me, so I bought one.  I have yet to run it through the paces, but once I do you can expect a full review from me.

To read the first part of this series click here

GK MB200

The Downsize Dilemma, Pt. 1

For a while now I’ve been thinking about downsizing my bass rig, which consists of an Ashdown EVO II 500 head and an Ampeg SVT 410HLF Cab.  Now I really love this combination as that I feel that I finally found the tone I have always been striving for.  Problem is I haven’t really used it in over 2 years and I hate to see it sit.  In all honesty chances are I won’t be playing in a band where I need this much amp anytime soon.  I’ve been wanted to get a nice combo, most likely in the GK or Fender variety, for quite some time but have resisted as that I haven’t been using the rig I have.  At this point I have made up my mind to first sell the Ampeg 410, even though I love this cab dearly. Seriously, it is the best cab I have ever had, tone to die for, so I hate to part with it, but . . . I’m thinking sell the cab, keep the head, at least for now, paired with an Avatar 210 I also have, and use the cash from the Ampeg to partially fund a new combo. This way if I find a combo is not enough for some situations I still have the Ashdown head, and if the 210 cab isn’t cutting it for me either I can alway rent something bigger when I need it.  So now the fun begins, checking out combo amps to find the right one for me!  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how it goes.