Bowlus Bass Blog

All things bass (electric, acoustic, and upright) related.

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Location: Fremont, Ohio, United States

I am an attorney by day, but that's really just my "backup gig" in case this whole "musician thing" doesn't work out. ;^) I was been blessed with the opportunity to write freelance reviews for Guitar World's Bass Guitar Magazine, and I contributed regularly from the Spring of 2006 up until Bass Guitar's demise. This was, in itself, a dream come true, and an opportunity for which I am truly grateful. But this was a stepping stone to bigger and better things, and I am now the Editor-in-Chief of Bass Gear Magazine ( Our first issue came out in August of 2008, and we are now working on issue #7, and we are read in over 32 countries. Beginning with this issue, our distribution in music stores worldwide is being handled by the Hal Leonard Corporation. Of course, on the topic of my true blessings, I have a wife and two kids, all of whom I greatly adore, so my time for music/bass/songwriting/performing, and yes, even the occasional practicing, is not infinite. Nevertheless, I really enjoy my time spent playing bass, writing and recording songs, and just getting to "play" with all that great gear! This blog is a result of these external interests...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tom's Gear For Sale!

It may come as a surprise to some of you that I would even consider selling anything, but the truth of the matter is that I do have a finite amount of space (and not-infinite resources!), so every now and then, something has to go. This is a list of gear that I might sell. I reserve the right to change my mind at any point, so if you see something you really like, hopefully you'll catch me in the right mood. ;^] Once I commit to a sale, though, I will of course follow through.

Here's the gear that I may be tempted to let go for one reason or another:


Ashdown Labs Superfly (for sale/trade)
EBS Fafner (possibly for sale/trade)
EBS HD350 (on hold)
Genz-Benz ShuttleMAX 12.0 (possibly for sale/trade)
Music Man HD-500 (possibly for sale)
Traynor Mono Block B (for sale/trade)
Traynor YBA200 (possibly for sale/trade)
Tube Works RT-2100-ES (for sale/trade)
Yamaha BBT500H (possibly for sale/trade)


Ampeg SVP-Pro (for sale/trade)
Ashdown EVO II RPM-1 (possibly for sale/trade)
Demeter VTBP-201 (for sale/trade)
EBS-1 Classic (possibly for sale/trade)
Epifani Quest II (for sale/trade)
Peavey TMP-1 (possibly for sale/trade)
Trace Elliot GP12 XV (possibly for sale/trade)

Power Amps:

Ashdown PM 600 (possibly for sale/trade)


Accugroove Tri 208 (for sale/trade)
Ashdown Mini115 (two; possibly for sale/trade)
Ashdown Mini48 (two; possibly for sale/trade)
Azola Super Wizzy 2x12 (two; possibly for sale/trade)
Bag End S12E-D (ELF sub; for sale/trade)
Bergantino HT112 (possibly for sale/trade)
EA CXL-112 (possibly for sale/trade)
EBS Neo-112 (two) (for sale/trade)
Epifani UL-310 (Series 1, two; possibly for sale/trade)
Epifani UL-410 (Series 2, early version; possibly for sale/trade)
Genz-Benz Shuttle 1x12 extension cab (possibly for sale/trade)
Glockenklang 6-Box (6x10; possibly for sale/trade)
Peavey 1820 (for sale locally)
SWR Henry the 8x8 (possibly for sale/trade)


Genz-Benz Shuttle 6.0/12 (possibly for sale/trade)
Hughes & Kettner QC310 (possibly for sale/trade)
Hughes & Kettner QC412 (possibly for sale/trade)

Electric Basses:

B.C. Rich Warlock (USA Custom) (for sale/trade)
Curbow American Petite 5 (possibly for sale/trade)
G&L ASAT (Semi-Hollowbody; possibly for sale/trade)
Nordstrand NX5 (possibly for sale/trade)
Nordstrand SC5 (possibly for sale/trade)
Rickenbacker 4003 (possibly for sale/trade)
Schecter Stiletto Diamond Series 8-string (possibly for sale/trade)
Tune TWXT-8N 8-string (possibly for sale/trade)


Carl Martin Heavy Drive Distortion (for sale/trade)
Danelectro Milkshake Chorus
(for sale/trade)
Demeter FOD-1
(possibly for sale/trade)
Digitech Bass Synth Wah
(for sale/trade)
EH Big Muff Pi
(for sale/trade)
(for sale/trade)
EH White Finger Compressor
(for sale/trade)
Peavey Tube Sweetener
(for sale/trade)
Subdecay Flying Tomato Fuzz
(for sale/trade)

Bowlus Bass Borg (gear in the 'collective')


Aguilar DB 750
Ampeg Micro-VR (two)
Ampeg SVT-8Pro (USA-made)
Ampeg SVT ('74)
Ampeg V-4B ('75)
Ashdown Labs Superfly (for sale/trade)
Carvin B1500
Carvin BX500
EA iAMP 200
EA iAMP 350
EA iAMP 500
EA iAMP 600
EA iAMP 800
EBS Fafner (possibly for sale/trade)
EBS HD350 (on hold)
Eden WT-405
Epiphone Valve Jr. (guitar head, but works great for bass)
Fender 800 Pro
Fender 400PS (getting refurbished)
Gallien-Krueger 700RB-II
Gallien-Krueger 2001 RB
Gallien-Krueger Fusion 550
Gallien-Krueger MB200
Gallien-Krueger MB500
Gallien-Krueger MB Fusion
Genz-Benz Shuttle 9.0
Genz-Benz ShuttleMAX 12.0 (possibly for sale/trade)
Glockenklang Heart-Core
Hartke LH1000
Markbass LMII
Markbass Classic 300
Mesa/Boogie Bass 400
Mesa/Boogie D-180
Mesa/Boogie Walkabout
Mesa/Boogie Fathom (M6 Carbine)
Mesa/Boogie Titan V-12
Music Man HD-500 (possibly for sale)
Orange AD200B Mk 3
Peavey Classic 400
Phil Jones Bass M-500
Phil Jones Bass M-300
Reeves Custom 225
Sadowsky SA200
SWR Electric Blue (modded to Baby Blue II specs)
TC Electronics RH450
Trace Elliot Hexa Valve
Trace Elliot Twin Valve
Trace Elliot V8
Trace Elliot VA400
Trace Elliot V-Type 600H
Trace Elliot AH1200SM
Traynor Mono Block B (for sale/trade)
Traynor YBA200 (possibly for sale/trade)
Tube Works RT-2100-ES (for sale/trade)
Walter Woods Ultra
Yamaha BBT500H (possibly for sale/trade)


Aguilar DB 659
Aguilar DB 680
Alembic F-1X
Alembic SF-2
Ampeg SVP Pro (for sale/trade)
ART Tube MP Studio
Ashdown RPM-1 EVO II (possibly for sale/trade)
Demeter HBP-1
Demeter VTBP-201 (for sale/trade)
Demeter VTBP-201s
EBS-1 Classic (possibly for sale/trade)
EBS MicroBass II (see also "Direct Boxes")
EBS ValveDrive (see also "Effects")
Eden Navigator
Epifani Quest II (possibly for sale/trade)
Fender TBP-1
Hughes & Kettner B.A.T.T
Hughes & Kettner Tubeman
ISP Technologies Beta Bass Processor
Kern IP-777
Millennia TD-1
Peavey TMP-1 (possibly for sale/trade)
Phil Jones Bass Buddy
Phil Jones Bass P-1
PreSonus TubePre
Radial Bassbone (see also "Direct Boxes")
Raven Labs MDB-1 (see also "Direct Boxes")
Raven Labs PMB II (see also "Direct Boxes")
Skjold Pro Sound Preamp (Prototype #2; 12SX7-based pre)
Stewart UDP-1a (two)
Summit Audio TD-100 (see also "Direct Boxes")
The LowEnd True Voice
The LowEnd True Voice custom 2-channel 12AX7
Trace Elliot GP12 SMX
Trace Elliot GP12 XV (possibly for sale/trade)
Trace Elliot TVT9 (guitar preamp, but sounds great on bass!)
Trace Elliot V-Type
Tube Works Blue Tube (rackmount; see also "Effects")

Power Amps:

Aguilar DB 728
Ashdown PM 600 (possibly for sale/trade)
Crest CA9 (three)
Crown XLS 602
Demeter VTHF-300M
Eden WT-1000
Mesa/Boogie M-190
Phil Jones Bass M-5000
Stewart World 2.1
Trace Elliot VR350


Accugroove Tri 208 (for sale/trade)
Accugroove Tri 115L
Accugroove Whappo, Jr.
Ampeg SVT-210AV (four)
Ampeg B-40
Ashdown Mini115 (two; possibly for sale/trade)
Ashdown Mini48 (two; possibly for sale/trade)
Azola Super Wizzy 2x12 (two; possibly for sale/trade)
Bag End S12E-D (ELF sub; for sale/trade)
Bergantino custom 1x15 sub's (two; in HT Large boxes)
Bergantino AE112 (two)
Bergantino AE210
Bergantino AE212
Bergantino AE410
Bergantino EX112
Bergantino EX115
Bergantino HS210
Bergantino HS410
Bergantino HT110 (two)
Bergantino HT112 (two; one possibly for sale/trade)
Bergantino HT112 ER (two)
Bergantino HT115 (two)
Bergantino HT210 (two)
Bergantino HT212
Bergantino HT310 (two)
Bergantino HT322
Bergantino IP112
Bergantino IP153
Bergantino IP212
Bergantino IP310
Bergantino IP322
Bergantino NV215
Bergantino NV412
Bergantino NV610
Carvin LS1503 (two)
EA CXL-112 (possibly for sale/trade)
EA iL-110
EA NL-210 (three, one 4 ohm)
EA NM-410
EA VL-108 (two)
EA VL-110 (four)
EA VL-208 (five, one 4 ohm)
EA Wizzy (two)
EA M-line Wizzy (two)
EA Wizzy 10 (two)
EBS Neo-112 (two) (for sale/trade)
Epifani UL-310 (Series 1; two)(possibly for sale/trade)
Epifani UL-410 (Series 2; early version)(possibly for sale/trade)
Gallien-Krueger Neo112-II (two)
Gallien-Krueger Neo212-II
Gallien-Krueger Neo410
Genz-Benz Shuttle 1x12 extension cab (possibly for sale/trade)
Glockenklang 6-Box (two)(one possibly for sale/trade)
Glockenklang Double (German version; two)
Glockenklang Duo (German version)
Glockenklang Duo Wedge (German version)
Glockenklang Space Deluxe (German version)
Glockenklang Take 5 4x10
Glockenklang Tedd
Hevos Midget (4 ohm)
ISP Technologies Bass Vector 115 (powered)
Markbass CL108
Mesa/Boogie Diesel 4x10, “Deep”
Mesa/Boogie Diesel Powerhouse Jr. (1x12, 4x8)
Mesa/Boogie Diesel 215 EV
Mesa/Boogie Powerhouse P212
Mesa/Boogie Powerhouse P210
Music Man HD-210
Music Man HD-212
Orange OBC 410
Orange OBC 115
Patterson Audio/LDS 2x8 (two; 2-way, w/ titanium Selenium tweeters)
Peavey 1820 (for sale locally)
Phil Jones Bass 4B )two)
Phil Jones Bass Neo-Power 8B (two)
Raezer's Edge Bass 10 (for sale/trade)
Raezer's Edge Bass 12-400 (for sale/trade)
Sadowsky SA210
Sadowsky SA410 (two)
SWR Henry the 8x8 (possibly for sale/trade)
Trace Elliot 1028H
Trace Elliot 2103H
Trace Elliot 2103x
Trace Elliot 1518C
Trace Elliot 4052H 4x5 Bright Box
Trace Elliot 1048
Trace Elliot 1513 (two)
Trace Elliot 1x10 (two; one with tweeter)
Trace Elliot custom 1x12 (made by Steve Azola from the cab portion of a Twin Valve Combo)
Wayne Jones 2x10 (two)
Yamaha BBT110S (two)


Ampeg B-15N ('66)
Fender RAD Bass
Genz-Benz Shuttle 6.0/12 (possibly for sale/trade)
Hughes & Kettner QC310 (possibly for sale/trade)
Hughes & Kettner QC412
Ibanez Promethean P5210
Phil Jones Flight Case BG-150
Pignose B-100v
SWR Baby Blue II 2x8 Combo
Trace Elliot Valve Twin Combo (1x15; two)

Electric Basses:

AC Guitars Custom Singlecut 5
Acoustic Black Widow
Adamovic PB
Alleva-Coppolo LG4 Classic
B.C. Rich Warlock (USA Custom) (for sale/trade)
Celinder J-Update 5
Celinder Vintage Precision 4
Curbow American Petite 5 (possibly for sale/trade)
Curbow Custom Jazz 5 (fretless)
Danelectro Baritone
DeArmond Pilot 5 Deluxe (w/ Bart pickups and Aguilar OBP-3)
Dingwall Afterburner 4 (1 of 2 NAMM prototypes)
Dingwall SJ4
Dingwall Z3
Epiphone El Capitan
F Bass BN4
F Bass BN5
F Bass VF5
Fender TNB110-SPL Thinline Precision Hollowbody (CIJ)
Fender Hollowbody Precision A/E (MIJ)
Fender Jazz Bass (1973)
Fender Precision Bass (1974)
G&L ASAT (Semi-Hollowbody; possibly for sale/trade)

Gibson Explorer
Gibson Thunderbird IV
Groove Shoppe GS5 (on order)
Guild Pilot
Ibanez ATK750 (limited edition, koa top)
Ibanez USA Custom ATK 4-string
Ibanez Road Star II (RB 680)
Lakland Skyline Darryl Jones 4 (maple board, Aero pickups)
LeCompte CB SC-4
LeCompte VB-5
Lotus 4-string (my first bass!)
MTD custom chambered prototype 535-24 (chambered alder/water cured redwood/maple/ebony; Marilyn #3)
MTD-435 (ash/quilt maple/wenge/wenge)
MTD 435-24 (mahogany/quilted maple/maple/ebony)
MTD 535 (ash/figured maple/wenge/wenge)
Nordstrand NX5 (possibly for sale/trade)
Nordstrand SC5 (possibly for sale/trade)
Nordy vJ5 (alder/rosewood)
Nordy vJ5 (ash/maple)
Nordy vJ5 Classic (60's, alder/rosewood)
Pedulla Nuance 4-string
Reverend Rumblefish XL
Rickenbacker 4003
Rob Allen Mouse 30 fretless
Roscoe Century Signature V
Sadowsky 25th Anniversary 24-fret 5-string
Sadowsky P/J 5
Sadowsky Will Lee Model 4-string
Schecter Stiletto Diamond Series 8-string (possibly for sale/trade)
Skjold Custom 5 (mahogany/rose myrtle/7-piece neck/bubinga board)
Skjold Exotic Custom 4
Skjold Exotic Custom 5 (Pete's first Exotic Custom!)
Skjold Exotic Custom 5 Fretless
Skjold Lion's Pride 5, Model-A
Skjold Lion's Pride 5, Model-B
Skjold Skjoldslayer 4 (with bottle opener!)
Skjold Custom 10-string (on order)
Squire VM Precision TB
Tobias Basic 4 (Burbank era, #1992)
Tobias Basic 5 (pre-Gibson), # 766 - "Jimmy Haslip" model
Tobias Killer-B 4 (Burbank era)
Tom Clement 4-string fretless
Tune TWXT-8N 8-string (possibly for sale/trade)

Acoustic Bass Guitar:

Epiphone El Capitan

Upright Bass:

1940's(?) Kay C-1, with Barbera Bridge Transducer pickup

Direct Boxes:

ART Tube MP Studio
Demeter VTBP-2B
EBS MicroBass II (see also "preamps")

Groove Tubes PDI
Millennia TD-1 (see also "preamps")

PreSonus TubePre (see also "preamps")
Radial Bassbone (see also "preamps")
Raven Labs MDB-1
Raven Labs PMB II
Summit Audio TD-100 (see also "preamps")


Akai Deep Impact (possibly for sale/trade)
Akai UniBass
AnalogMan Clone Chorus (with deep option)
Bag End ELF M2 Processor
Carl Martin Heavy Drive Distortion (possibly for sale/trade)
Chandler Tube Drive (rackmount)
Danelectro Daddy-O
Danelectro Milkshake Chorus (possibly for sale/trade)
Demeter Compulator
Demeter FOD-1 (possibly for sale/trade)
EBS ValveDrive
EH Big Muff Pi (possibly for sale/trade)
EH POG (possibly for sale/trade)
EH Q-tron
EH White Finger compressor (possibly for sale/trade)
Fulltone Bass-Drive
Lexicon MPX550
MXR Phase 100
PreSonus ACP-22+
Raven Labs True Blue EQ
Subdecay Flying Tomato Fuzz (possibly for sale/trade)
Tube Works Blue Tube (pedal)
Tube Works Blue Tube (rackmount; see also "Preamps")
Tube Works Tube Driver (rackmount)


AnalogMan Loop Pedal
Boss TU-2
Lehle Dual
Lehle Little Lehle
Kart-a-Bag Tri-Kart 800
Korg DT-7
Korg Triton Rack
Mesa Boogie SUS-4 Racks (four 4-space, one deep 8-space, one regular 8-space)
Revolution Solo upright pickup
Roland PK-5 MIDI pedals
Shure ULXS14 Wireless
Warwick Rockstand 7-instrument case/stand (two)
X-Wire Wireless
Yamaha G50 Guitar MIDI Converter (with Bd1 pickup)

Here are some photos:

Okay, I had to do a bit of an updated photo. I am quickly running out of room to even sit in this room!

Monday, March 21, 2011

See more from me at

If you are wondering why all the posts on this blog are so out of date, it is because I have been devoting the lion's share of my "free time" to Bass Gear Magazine. This is a magazine which I founded after Guitar World stopped publishing Bass Guitar Magazine (I wrote reviews for them prior to their demise).

Bass Gear Magazine is available in both a high quality print form and also an online digital form (for free!). We have some excellent staff, and we perform out own independent, detailed bench testing. Check us out at

Tom Bowlus

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Issue #2 of Bass Gear Magazine available!

Okay, issue #2 of Bass Gear Magazine went out to the printer today! It is definitely a notch up from issue #1, especially in the technical reviews. To subscribe (paid print, or free digital sub) go to The print version really has come out very, very nice and everyone who has seen them is very impressed. Kudos to Martin Roseman on his graphical and layout skills!

Take care, Tom.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bass Gear Magazine Issue #1 Now Available!

I am very pleased to announce that Bass Gear Magazine's premier issue is now available for free digital subscription or paid print subscription at This publication is dedicated to bass gear reviews, factory tours, show reports (NAMM, Musikmesse, and others), articles on how to buy/repair/mod gear, etc. We do extensive bench-testing of products, in addition to real world reviews.

I am the Editor-in-Chief, and I would love it if you could drop in over at and check us out!

Thanks, Tom.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Skjold Lion's Pride Model-A

Here are some shots of my latest Skjold (thanks, Juneau!). It is a Lion's Pride Model-A, with an ash body, redwood top, 3-piece maple neck, figured maple board with redwood blocks, Skjold SD-1 pickups set in the '70's Jazz position, and a custom East/Skjold Deluxe preamp.

I am going to pick it up at Pete's new digs when he moves to Ohio next week.

I'm sure I will post more when I get it my own hands. Man, I can't wait!

I'm really anxious to check out my custom East preamp, too. I had asked Pete if it was possible to get his Deluxe preamp set up vol/vol, but still retain the option to switch to series mode. In series mode, the two pickups act as one big pickup, so you can't have vol/vol. But here's were John East got really slick. You switch to series mode by pulling up on the first volume knob, which then becomes your master volume (and the 2nd vol is inactive in series mode). Slick!


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Winter NAMM 2008

Okay, who else is going to the NAMM show in Anaheim this January? I will be out there (mostly on Friday and Saturday), and I hope to meet up with some of my friends in the industry as well as my fellow bass-playing buds. Feel free to send me an e-mail or PM if you are going to be out there.

There is a Bass Bash at J.T. Schmidts both Thursday night and Friday night, and I expect to be there both nights (though later on Thursday).

Take care, Tom.

Edit [1/30/2008]
Well, NAMM and the Bass Bash were both just great! I really enjoyed meeting and hanging out with my friends from, and of course checking out all that gear was just great!

I'll have extensive coverage of the show in the inaugural issue of Bass Gear Magazine, a new (obviously gear-related) magazine, of which I am the Editor-in-Chief. :^) Stay tuned for more details...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The 1x15 Shootout

One day, I looked around and thought to myself, "Dang, I've got, like, a bunch of 1x15's!" and so another shootout was born.

First things first. I know that people would love to see detailed measurements, as well as retail/MAP/used pricing, 'double blind' testing, and I know that there are always additional brands/models that people would like to see included in the shootout. Well, to those folks, I should probably apologize now, because that ain't all gonna happen. I'll do my best though, but I have somewhat of a 'format' down for my 'shootouts', and I'll likely stick to that format.

Speaking of that format, here are some quick links to prior shootouts:

1x8/1x10 Shootout
1x12 Shootout
2x10 Shootout
Combo Shootout
Mini Cab Combo Shootout

I should also clarify that with the exception of the Skjold/Dr. Bass cab, these are all my own personal cabs. If someone wants to send me something else to compare/contrast against the bunch, I certainly wouldn't mind, but for now, I am just working with what I have on hand.

Also, please note that I am predominantly a fingerstyle player, and I tend to favor the neck pickup (FWIW). I do, however, move my hand around a bit when doing these tests, and I also do attempt to explore the slap/pop tones (though my no means would I call myself a slap/pop player). I did not break out a pick for this shootout, but now that I think about it, maybe I will start doing that. The test bass was - as always - my trusty Skjold Custom 5. Amplification was provided by a Crest CA9, fed by a Millennia TD-1.

Okay, with no further delay, here is a rundown of the contestants (in alphabetical order):

Accugroove Tri 115L - 1x15 (neo), 1x6", 2 soft dome tweeters, 500w, 8 ohm, 38Hz to 18kHz, 101 dB, 42 lbs, 21.25" H x 24.75" W x 18.25" D

Ashdown Mini15 - 1x15 (ceramic), 300w, 8 ohm, 41Hz to 4kHz, 20 kg, 474mm H x 474mm W x 335mm D

Bergantino HT115 - 1x15 (ceramic), tweeter, 400w, 8 ohm,

Epifani T/UL-115 - 1x15 (neo), tweeter, 400w, 8 ohm, 38Hz to 16kHz, 100dB, 43 lbs, 21.50" H x 23" W x 17.75" D [note: these specs are for the current UL-115]

Glockenklang Tedd - 1x15 (ceramic), 1x6", 600w, 8 ohm, 100 dB, 31 kg, 655mm H x 550mm W x 455mm D

Orange OBC-115 - 1x15 (ceramic), 400w, 8 ohm, 30 kg, 620mm H x 510mm W x 460mm D

Skjold/Dr. Bass 1x15 - 1x15" (ceramic), 1x6", tweeter, 4 ohm [prototype - trying to get more specs]

Trace Elliot 1153 - 1x15 (ceramic), 200w, 8 ohm, 32Hz to 5 kHz, 49 lbs, 20" H x 24.2" W x 17.1" D

Trace Elliot 1518C - 1x15 (ceramic?), 300w, 8 ohm, 30Hz to 5 kHz, 100 dB, 46 lbs, 20" H x 24.2" W x 17.1" D

And here are some pics:

Another perspective:

And a flash shot (to show off that red baffle board! ):

So, here is my take on these cabs:

Accugroove Tri 115L - Very clear, articulate, and smooth. Very 'open' sounding. The high end is not as bright as some of the other tweeter-equipped cabs, but not really lacking, either, just a different character. Mids, overall, are full and smooth, with a little less low mid punch, and a litter more upper mid presence. The low B has a nice 'growl' to it, though it is not as full in the lows/low mids as the HT115. You definitely want to use this cab without the casters (it needs the coupling to fill in the low end a bit). Overall, very smooth, detailed, but not aggressive, and kinda 'laid back.'

Ashdown Mini15 - Impressively full sounding for its size, though not as full as most of the larger cabs (though slightly more full than the Tri 115L). Very punchy, and slightly honky in the upper mids. Kind of 'peaky' in its response. Doesn't go very high (even compared to the other tweeterless cabs), and somewhat muffled sounding. Handles a low B pretty well, with some growl on both the B and E strings. Sounds kind of like a smaller HT115 with the tweeter turned off. This model has been discontinued.

Bergantino HT115 - This cab has been my 'go to' 1x15 for some time. It is the most full sounding of the bunch, and has the most power through the lows and low mids. It's punchy and articulate, but somewhat darker in tone than most of the others. Generally very well balanced from top to bottom, but not as upper mid present as some of the others. The tweeter offers nice, bright high end, and it sounds very 'connected' to the woofer. Even the high notes are backed by a sense of fullness. The HT115 is not the 'prettiest' of the bunch played solo, but it dials up beefy fullness, and punchy articulation, with a nice tweeter layered on top. This model has been discontinued.

Epifani T/UL-115 - First off, I need to be clear about this cab. It started life as a T-115, and the previous owner replaced the ceramic driver with a UL series neo 15" (which, I believe, is a B&C driver). In all other respects, though (wood, tuning, crossover), it is a T-115. This obviously means that it is likely not entirely representative of how a UL-115 (or T-115, for that matter) might perform. But, with that caveat aside, I thought I'd share my thoughts on it anyway. It has a similar 'growliness' to the Tri 115L (could it be a 'neo thing'?), and is very similar in the low end to the Accugroove. It is also somewhat darker than the Tri 115L, and sounds kind of like a cross between the Tri and the HT115, though it is not quite as dark/full/punchy as the Berg, and not as smooth/open as the Tri 115L. The mids are more open sounding then the HT115's, but the high end on the two is very similar. It is not nearly as full as the HT115 on the low B, and kinda runs out of energy as you drop below the E (not terribly so, but comparatively so). This cab definitely has great potential for a 'slap cab', with a nice 'woody' and 'airy' high end snap.

Glockenklang Tedd - This cab is super articulate through the mids, and very aggressive. The high end is brighter than that of the Tri 115L, but doesn't have the same sheen as the HT115 or T/UL-115 - though the high end is really incredible for not having a tweeter. Very full and punchy, on the whole, but not as full on the low end as the HT115 (it might be, though, if laid on its side - which I did not do). The HT115 has more low mid punch, but the Glock has more upper mid punch (only the Skjold cab has more upper mids). Has a sense of 'effortless articulation' that reminds me of the Berg IP153 (maybe the secret is in the midrange drivers?). The low B response seems slightly stronger than the low E response. Great balance of fullness, articulation, punch, and clarity. This cab seems very loud for its 100 dB sensitivity rating. This model has been discontinued.

Orange OBC-115 - This cab was a bit of a surprise, as I had mostly just played it with the matching 4x10 and the AD200 head. I was really amazed at what a great stand alone cab it makes. Very full, very strong, very tight low B. Great articulation and growl on the low B. Not quite as full on the low B as the HT115, but closer than any other cab, and more articulate and controlled. I found myself just pounding away on the low B for the sheer joy of it. On the E-A strings, it was again not quite as full as the HT115 (and not as close as it was on the low B), and again more aggressive and articulate than the Berg. There is no tweeter (and no tweeter sheen), but it offers very impressive high end information, all things considered. It is not as dark sounding as the newer Trace cab, but more balanced, more articulate, and more powerful. On the whole, the competitor that most closely matches its performance is the older Trace 1153.

Skjold/Dr. Bass 115 - This cab was produced as a result of Pete Skjold looking into have a line of cabs built, and then teaming up with Marc Serio (Dr. Bass) to create an idea Pete had for a 3-way 1x15 design (which, FWIW, Pete had dreamed up prior to the introduction of the Tri 115L). This cab is not one of the more full sounding 1x15's, but it is one of the most aggressive and articulate. Compared to the Tedd, it is not as present through the low to middle mids, but it is even more aggressive in the upper mids. It has a somewhat similar low end response to the Accugroove/Epifani, but not as growly, and a tad bit more 'stout.' Please note, this cab was the lone 4 ohm model of the group, and I did do my best to correct the gains (by ear - sorry, technical types ) so that the cabs were playing at similar volumes. This model, or one similar to it, may be available through Dr. Bass.

Trace Elliot 1153 - As mentioned above, this cab was rather similar in overall performance to the Orange, and in fact, it was more similar to the Orange than it was to the newer Trace 1x15. It is not quite as full on the lows as the Orange, but has even better high end information and detail, and in some regards seemed even more articulate through the mids. Actually, on the whole, the overall midrange fullness and articulation is very similar between this cab and the Orange is very similar, but they each have their own character. Furthermore, the midrange articulation actually comes close to that of the Glock, which I found impressive considering it is a full-range design. Compared to the Epifani, the 1153 was more full in the lows, and more articulate and balanced through the mids. Compared to the newer Trace 1518C, the 1153 is more articulate and aggressive, and the 1518C is more dark (though not necessarily more 'warm'). The new Trace also seemed more 'peaky' compared to the nicely balanced 1153. Like the Orange, I just found myself not wanting to stop playing though this cab. It's truly impressive as a stand alone, and two of them sound great as well. For the pittance these go for on the used market, I'd say it's a great bang for the buck cab. This model has been discontinued.

Trace Elliot 1518C - As mentioned, above, the 1518C is not a carbon copy of the older 1153, and definitely has its own sound. It is very full down low, but sounds somewhat uneven in its response. It is very punchy, and bigger sounding that the Mini15, but not as focused. It has more low end fullness and power than the Tri 115L, but not as much as the HT115. I can't avoid feeling like this cab is really meant as a 'supporting cab' to be teamed up with a 2x10 or 4x10, as opposed to a stand alone.

In summary, I was honestly very impressed with all of these cabs. I know, I know, I tend to like everything, but please keep in mind, I am already working with gear that I liked well enough to buy. As I see them, these cabs fell into two overlapping categories. First, there is the 'tweeter versus no tweeter' thing, which is blurred somewhat by the impressive midrange of the Tedd. The HT115 and T/UL-115 definitely have the most sparkle of the group, and the Skjold/Dr. Bass cab probably has equal high end, but since it also has a tremendous amount of upper midrange presence, the highs don't seem to stand out quite as much. Some of the non-tweetered cabs had truly exceptional 'high end' articulation and detail (I still don't know just how the Orange and 1153 do this), while others were more limited in upper frequency extension (like the Mini15 and 1518C).

Second, there seems to be at least two different design goals at work here, with some cabs being designed with a goal of stand alone use, and others seeming to be destined for use with a second, complimentary, cab. The Mini15 is probably the most clear example of this second design goal. I suspect that it was intended primarily to serve as part of a two cab combo, in conjunction with one of the other 'Mini' cabs (the Mini48 makes an especially good pairing). Similarly, the 1518C is not the best of the bunch on its own, but it definitely seems more at home when used with the 1028H 2x10. Then there are the cabs which seem to do well in both 'stand alone' mode and as a supporting role (the Accugroove, Berg, Epi, Glock, Orange, and 1153 seem to fit this category).

This shootout more than any other I have done leaves me feeling like I am dealing with a number of highly capable cabs, and I can think of scenarios where pretty much any of them would be ideal. There was also quite a lot of variety in the tone and response of these various 1x15's, leading me to believe that this form factor is more flexible than some (myself included) may have believed. In appropriate circumstances, I can see where some would make good stand alone cabs, and I can also see where two 1x15's would offer a killer 'mini big rig.' And then again, there is the traditional 1x15/2x10 (which I am definitely digging right now) or 1x15/4x10 combos.

Going into this shootout, I was already a '15's kinda guy' in many regards, and I think that at the end of it all, I have even more respect for what a 1x15 can do.

More to follow, I am sure.

Thanks for putting up with my ranting (again).


Friday, July 13, 2007

The Combo Shootout!

Well, I had a little bit of time to do a shootout, but instead of doing some of the things I really need to, like update my 1x10 and 1x12 shootouts, instead, I did the shootout that no one asked for and no one probably cares about - the combo shootout! To be honest, I had been meaning to do this for a while, especially after picking up those Hughes & Kettner combos. The group is fairly diverse, but they all count as combos, so what the heck.

Here are the contestants:

Here are the deets, such as I could find them. The quoted wattage is into the internal speaker(s) only, unless otherwise stated.

SWR Baby Blue II (2x8, plus 5" mid, 160w @ 4 ohms, 42 lbs)

Eden CXC110, aka Time Traveler 10 Combo (1x10 w/ coax tweeter, 200w @ 8 ohm, but 330w @ 4 and 420w @ 2, 39 lbs)

Roland Bass Cube-100 (1x12, w/ coax tweeter, 100w @ 8 ohm, I think, 37 lbs, 8 oz)

Fender RAD Bass (1x10, 25w, pretty light - need to weigh)

Phil Jones Bass Briefcase (2x5", 100w @ 4 ohm, 28 lbs)

Hughes & Kettner QC 412 (1x12, 400w @ 4 ohm, 43 lbs)

Hughes & Kettner QC 421 (2x10, 400w @ 4 ohm, 64 lbs)

Trace Elliot Twin Valve Combo (1x15, 100w, all-tube, heavy )

My Skjold Custom 5, which is normally my 'test bass' is at my band's practice room, so I used another bass that I am very familiar with, my primavera/redwood/wenge/wenge MTD 535. Unless otherwise noted, I set the tone controls flat, although on combos with the 'Enhance' knob, I did tweak it slightly (see notes, below). For combos with compression, I did most of my testing with the compressor set off.

In no particular order, here are my observations:

SWR Baby Blue II - this has become my 'reference combo' and it probably gets more playing time than any other rig I own, since it is also my primary personal practice amp. It is full, smooth and articulate, with very good definition even on the low B. It is not super sparkley up high, but you can certainly dial in some more brightness. It is fairly well balanced from top to bottom, but has more upper midrange presence than most. I had the Enhance set at about 9 o'clock. Volume-wise, it is certainly louder than you expect from its size, and it does not break up, even when pushed close to its limits.

Eden CXC110 - I had the Enhance barely on, compressor off, and the 'Warm' switch engaged (most of the time), with other tone controls set flat. It is has more low mids than the BBII, and less upper mids, with an overall darker tone. It is somewhat hollow through the mids compared to the SWR, but with a brighter - though somewhat 'clacky' - high end. Engaging the 'Warm' switch helped smooth out the high end, I thought, and seems to fill in the mids some, too. The difference is subtle, but on the whole, I prefer it engaged. It is not as loud as the BBII, and does not stay as tight/controlled on the low B when pushed. I will say, though, that this combo, in particular, gets a notable bump in performance when you add the extension cab (more on that later).

Roland Bass Cube-100 - this amp is a bit louder than the BBII, and has good tonal balance from top to bottom, with a strong attack and good articulation. The way the gain stages are set up, you can dial in some 'overdrive', but this seems to mean that you get at least some hint of overdrive (the tone/extent of which varies from model to model) when you push the max volume. On the whole, though, I love this 'feature', especially when playing with the amp modeling. It is not as smooth as the SWR, and in truth, the tone and attack sound a bit synthetic. The perception that you are hearing some 'digital artifacts' is ever-present, IMHO, regardless of the control settings, though it's not a major issue, and you may not hear it in a mix. Also, even with the compressor turned off, it sounds like a compressor/limiter is working in the background. This amp has LOTS of very cool features, which I didn't really get into, since the other combos don't offer anything like it. But, if a variety of models and effects appeal to you (and they do to me, to an extent), these features are definitely usable, and not mere gimmickry. Unfortunately, it is a fairly noisy amp.

Phil Jones Bass Briefcase - This diminutive combo is not as loud as the rest (not counting the RAD Bass), and when you are hitting the low B at near max volume, it is not as thick, loud or powerful as the others. But this is to be expected. Two 5" drivers can only move so much air (the amp gets much louder when driving an external cab or two). The midrange is somewhat similar to the BBII, with a bit more clarity and presence in the upper mids and more air to the highs. At low volumes, it does a low B very well, and the tone is very full range and quite impressive. But, the lows do definitely compress at higher volumes. This combo in particular reacts to where it is positioned within a room, and placing it in a corner will help you get more low end at higher volume. This unit can be battery powered, which is pretty cool, but I ran it on AC power for this shootout.

Fender RAD Bass - this combo has been in my stable for a long time. I have always liked its tone (and at the time I bought it, I thought it was just about the best sounding combo I had heard), but it just is not all that loud. Back when I was playing it regularly, I only had 4-string basses, and it always did fine. With a 5-string, though, the RAD really compresses like crazy on a low B. It doesn't fart or break up, but it gets very little volume out of a B-string. The midrange balance is fairly similar to the SWR, though not as smooth/full, and the highs are a bit thin and also kinda 'clacky.' You can tame the highs a bit with the EQ, but they remain kind of thin. When you push the volume limits it seems that there is a built-in limiter that is fairly aggressive. Still a very cool little amp that sounds good to my ears, but is best saved for 4-string basses.

H&K QC 412 - this combo (and its sibling) are much, much louder than anything else (so far). It is massively powerful, and very dynamic. The tone controls are probably the most frustrating of the group, though, and this is complicated (enhanced?) by the fact that the three gain stages (I am counting the tube drive as one) also have a very audible effect on the tone of the combo. Set roughly 'flat', it has a fairly vintage vibe to it (with a more potent and tighter attack), but hitting the 'Punch' switch yields a more modern tone. But there is just a ton of tonal variety from changing up the gain stage settings, and it's hard to get a grip on just what it sounds like, since the tone changes depending upon the volume. On the whole, it is a very impressive sounding amp, but kind of difficult to dial in specific tones at specific volumes. With some familiarity, though, this amp can really shine. At the highest volumes, the low B does tend to compress a bit, but I am talking at really loud settings. The 412 has a more rich, complex and warm midrange than does the 421, but again, the 421 is bigger on the low B.

H&K QC 421 - most of what I said for the 412 applies, but this combo is even louder, almost to the point of being scary! If anything, the 421 is even harder to dial in, tone-wise, especially in the upper mids. The midrange on the whole is not as warm and inviting as that of the 412, but with some time spent tweaking the controls, you can certain dial in a variety of midrange-pleasing tones. The 421 handles a low B better at high volume, though, and never breaks a sweat, even when driven to stupid loud levels. The grill, however, starts to vibrate at higher volume settings - I plan on installing some rubber grommets or something to address this. Like its smaller sibling, this is a tremendously powerful combo that takes some getting used to, but rewards the patient.

Trace Elliot Twin Valve Combo - Tubes, baby! This is the only all-tube combo in the group, and you can definitely hear it. It is nearly as loud as the H&K combos, and delivers a great deal of heft and gravitas, even at lower volumes. This amp has a killer low B, though I should add that I bought this particular combo from Steve Azola, who did do some modification to the porting (and a few other tweaks, as I recall), and I think the low B performance benefited from this. It has the most midrange texture of the group, and is more harmonically rich (no surprises, here). It is a tad warmer than the BBII, and a hint of grind at the higher volume settings. I get the impression that the amp has more to offer, and the single 15" is running out of usable excursion. I've never tried an extension cab with this combo, but that might be very interesting.

Well, I tried to jot all this down pretty quick, and I reserve the right to edit, amend, add to, or detract from this shootout at my whim. I'll probably try at least some of these combos with an extension cab or two, and I will update as I can. Until then, I submit the above for your reading pleasure (or lack thereof), and for further discussion.

Edit: Well, I recently picked up two more combos that I need to spend more time with, but which also deserve attention. The first is a 1966 Ampeg B-15-N. You know this amp, but up until now, I had not had one in my stable as a reference. This particular unit appears to be in fine working order, and sounds great, but I think I am going to send it to Jess Oliver and have him really go over it with a fine tooth comb. That warm, full, 'glowing' tone is really something.

The second newcomer has me really excited. It's the Phil Jones Flight Case. This amp is very lightweight, nicely compact, more loud than you would expect (but still adhering to the laws of physics), and more than anything, it just sounds sooooo good. More to come, but at first blush, the Flight Case is very impressive.


Monday, March 26, 2007

2007 Bowlus Bass Borg GTG

I am going to have to come back and post a lot more on this later, but I thought I would start off by posting a link to my YouTube videos from the event. Basically, it was night full of great gear and great musicians (mostly bassists). But I did get some friends to set up so that we could jam with drums and guitar.

Here are the results of a few of those jams:

Bowlus Bass Borg GTG Videos

Note: I do have some older clips up there from the 2006 GTG, and a few additional 'non-jam' videos from this most recent gathering.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

2x10 Shootout

Okay, this review has been through several iterations, so I am going to list them from most recent to the oldest. This means that first, we have...

Part 3:

In this installment, four "newcomers" (Markbass 102P, Music Man HD-210, Sadowsky SA210, and Schroeder 1010) go head to head against the top three contenders from the prior shootouts (Bergantino HT210, EA NL-210, Glockenklang Duo Wedge). Here's how they look on paper:

Bergantino HT210 (500w, 8 ohm, 36 Hz to 18 kHz, 100 db, 64 lbs, 18” x 22.75” x 18”)

EA NL-210 (500w, 8 ohm, 45 Hz to 16 kHz, 100 db, 43 lbs, 22.5” x 17” x 15”)

Glockenklang Duo Wedge [German model] (400w, 8 ohm, 40 Hz to 18 kHz, 100 db, 53 lbs, 15.4” x 22.8” x 18”)

Markbass 102P
(400w, 8 ohm, 45 Hz to 18 kHz, 101 db, 33 lbs, 23.4" x 13" x 17")

Music Man HD-210 (350w, 8 ohm, 50 Hz to 20 kHz, 98.5 db, 64 lbs, 24" x 17.5" x 18")

Sadowsky SA210 (400w, 8 ohm, 48 Hz to 16 kHz, 100 db, 50 lbs, 22.75" x 18" x 11.5")

Schroeder 1010 (8 ohm, 100 db, and need more stats! )

And here is how they look on film:

I did this shootout at the same time as the 1x12 shootout, so the test gear was the same (Skjold Custom 5, Stewart Audio TD-100, Crest CA9), as was my playing style (mostly fingerstyle, with a little slap/pop for tone testing). My previous test results for the Berg, EA and Glock all pretty much held true, and I have spent more time trying to describe the newcomers.

The results, in alphabetical order:

Bergantino HT210 – This cab was very similar to the NL-210, and I was quite surprised by that. Also a true standaout. Most of the comments for the NL-210 also apply, but it was a bit tighter in the lows (with the NL-210 being a bit more warm). The mids were a bit more solid sounding, whereas the mids from cab EA were a bit more cutting. This cab really sounds like a “bass” cab, but still remains very dynamic, punchy, full and clear at the same time, and fast, yet with a sense of weight and gravitas. It was one of the louder of the 2x10's, if not the loudest of the group.

EA NL-210 – At the first 2x10 update, this cab actually exceeded my expectations (which were actually high to start with). It was as big, deep and full as the Acme in the lows, but with even more crisp high end (compared to the Low B-2). Midrange clarity was exceptional, with a very quick, very articulate tone and tons of attack. I was surprised, but impressed, by its similarities to the HT-210 (see above).

Glockenklang Duo Wedge– This extremely impressive cab sounds like a cross between the NL-210 and the HT210 (you see why these three were my top picks from before? ). It was not quite as big sounding as either of these two, but was very close in this regard. Considering its compact size and wedge design, this is to be expected. Great articulation, clarity and precision without sounding at all harsh. Again, a standout cab among a very good group.

Markbass 102P - Despite its diminutive size, this little cab is very full and big sounding, which seems to mostly stem from an enhanced low mid voicing. By contrast, it seems to be missing some presence in the upper midrange. The tweeter adds a respectable degree of clarity, but seems to add more string noise than most. On the lowest notes, I did notice the response falling off fairly steeply below A on the B string, but down to that point it was very strong. Once I stood the 102P on end, it sounded much better to my ears (more balanced and articulate, smoother high end), but the overall impression is still a big low end (down to a point), somewhat reticent upper mids, and a rather sharp high end. The overall package is quite respectable, IMHO, especially for such a small and light package.

Music Man HD-210 - Looking at my notes, the first thing I wrote down was "Wow!", and that about sums it up. It was big, full, deep yet tight in the lows, with a very open high end, and balanced/articulate mids. It did not go quite as deep as the HT210, but in other respects, sounded very similar, though it perhaps had tad more presence in the upper mids, relative to the Berg. Compared to the Glock, it was not quite as "refined", but again quite similar. I wish this cab had an L-pad adapter on the tweeter, though in truth the highs sounded quite nice "set" as it was (with perhaps a tad too much string noise). This cab is rather heavy, but probably delivers the best bang for the buck, tone-wise, of any 2x10 (and perhaps any cab) I have played. Very impressive!

Sadowsky SA210 - This compact, shallow cab is not quite as deep or full sounding as the NL-210 (few cabs are), but otherwise shared many similarities with the EA, including similar "warmth with clarity" through the mids. The tweeter is fairly aggressive and expansive, though still "connected" to the drivers, which are themselves very punchy. There is a combined sense of clarity and presence that begins in the mids and carries through to the highs. It's not a bump/hump, but just a slightly enhanced presence over this broad range. I have found this to cut through very well in a mix, but without getting boomy or obnoxious. This cab was designed to be used with the all-tube SA200, and as such, I find that with SS amps, some slight low end boosting is called for. Still, it takes to low frequency boost fairly well, and is a full sounding cab, on the whole. Relative to the Duo Wedge, it was also quite similar, though not as open sounding (which is a characteristic that Glocks seem to do so well). While this cab was designed and built by Jim Bergantino (and its outer shell is shared by the HT210S), the drivers, crossover and tweeter are different, and the SA210 has its own voice (exellent, but different from the HT210S). The drivers are very efficient, and this was one of the louder cabs of the group.

Schroeder 1010 - I have had the pleasure of hearing a number of Schroeder cabs, and this one is perhaps my favorite. Compared to the other Schroeders I have played, it seems more tonally balanced and more clear and precise with fingerstyle playing. That said, compared to the other cabs in this roundup, it is rather boxy and a little congested sounding. There is not a whole lot of what I call "true" low end, but it stays reasonably full. The 1010 is not as low-mid heavy as some other Schroeder cabs, but instead, it's more bumped in the upper mids (especially on the A and D strings). I do like this particular tweeter better than the Selenium titanium tweeter option, and I actually preferred the sound with it cranked up some (though this caused some hiss - which is not unexpected and was not a problem). Being an 8 ohm cab, the 1010 was not any louder than average for this group (though in its upper mid "boost range" it was very loud). Note: although "new", this cab is an older configuration, and Jorg has made numerous changes to his lineup. I am not sure that a 1010 is even offered right now.

I've been able to review some pretty killer 2x10's, and IMHO, this is a pretty competitive group. Please read any "negative" comments as references in context to the competition - which is very, very good!

And before Part 3, there was...

Part 2:

Okay, some time back, I did a little shootout among the 2x10’s that I had on hand at the time. Since then, I have acquired a few more, and I figured that it was time for an update. The cabs involved this time around are as follows:

Accugroove Tri 210L (600w, 4 ohm, 39 Hz to 18 kHz, 103 db, 57 lbs, 21.25” x 24.75” x 18.25”)

Acme Low B-2II (350w, 4 ohm, 41 Hz to 22 kHz, 93 db, 50 lbs, 23” x 15.75” x 16.5”)

Bergantino HT210 (500w, 8 ohm, 36 Hz to 18 kHz, 100 db, 64 lbs, 18” x 22.75” x 18”)

Dr. Bass Custom 2x10 (specs unknown – I’ll take some measurements later)

EA CxL-210 (600w, 8 ohm, 42 Hz to 14 kHz, 102 db, @ 80 lbs, 22.5” x 17” x 15”)

EA NL-210 (500w, 8 ohm, 45 Hz to 16 kHz, 100 db, 43 lbs, 22.5” x 17” x 15”)

EA VL-210 (500w, 8 ohm, 38 Hz to 15 kHz, 95 db, 70 lbs, 23.125” x 19.5” x 16”)

Glockenklang Duo Wedge [German model] (400w, 8 ohm, 40 Hz to 18 kHz, 100 db, 53 lbs, 15.4” x 22.8” x 18”)

Here's the lineup shot:

First off, let me say that I think that all of these cabs are very good (or else I wouldn’t have bought them!), and that personal preference will definitely be the deciding factor as to which one is “best” for a given person. My “testing equipment” included my Skjold Custom 5 (which is the instrument that I am the most familiar with right now, and a very clear, yet full-sounding, instrument), into a line driver (with variable high pass filter) built by Jim Bergantino, into a Crest CA9. The little line driver from Jim is deceptively simple, but it is the most clear, pure, uncolored and 3D sounding device I have at my disposal. Basically straight wire with gain (and a variable high pass filter, which I left turned off). Here’s a shot of the Bergantino line driver, if’n you’re interested:

Here are my thoughts/observations:

EA VL-210B – This cab was one of a few that could take all that one side of the CA9 could dish out (with the line driver cranked up all the way). In fact, this cab had no signs of breakup at all, even at the highest volumes I could push. The overall tone is slightly dark, with a deep tight low end – although the lows to low mids were not as full, overall, as some of the other cabs. Good clarity on the whole, with fairly smooth highs. Midrange was nicely present, but again a little dark.

Acme Low B-2II – Very deep and very full sounding. Also a very clear cab, but with less mids than some of the other cabs, and brighter highs than the VL-210B. I’d say that it is slightly mid scooped, though not perhaps compared to other cabs not in this shootout. This cab was louder than I expected, but it couldn’t take all that the CA9 could put out without showing signs of stress.

EA NL-210 – This cab was one of the standouts, and in fact exceeded my expectations (which were actually high to start with). It was as big, deep and full as the Acme in the lows, but with even more crisp high end (compared to the Low B-2). Midrange clarity was exceptional, with a very quick, very articulate tone and tons of attack. Could not handle full power from CA9 without signs of stress.

EA CxL-210 – This cab had probably the most cutting, bright, and clear tone. The midrange response was similar to the NL-210, but not as full, especially in the lows. Very, very quick (slightly more so than the NL-210), but somewhat thin sounding compared to the NL-210 and the Acme. Not as dark sounding as the VL-210, but with some definite similarities to its predecessor, on the whole.

Dr. Bass Custom 2x10 – This cab had a similar tonal range to the NL-210, but was not as polished. It was not as clear/precise as the best in this group, but had good articulation. There was a hint of vintage warmth to the mids. The high end sounded a bit boxy compared to the best in this group, but would probably be praiseworthy outside of a direct comparison to this particular competition. Not quite as full sounding as the Acme and NL-210, though very close. This cab was the punchiest of the group, and also took all that the CA9 could offer.

Bergantino HT210 – This cab was very similar to the NL-210, and I was quite surprised by that. Also a true standaout. Most of the comments for C also apply, but it was a bit tighter in the lows (with the NL-210 being a bit more warm). The mids were a bit more solid sounding, whereas the mids from cab EA were a bit more cutting. This cab really sounds like a “bass” cab, but still remains very dynamic, punchy, full and clear at the same time, and fast, yet with a sense of weight and gravitas. This cab also didn’t quite handle all the CA9 could put out, but was one of, if not the, loudest of the group.

Glockenklang Duo Wedge– This extremely impressive cab sounds like a cross between the NL-210 and the HT210 (which were very close to begin with). It was not quite as big sounding as either of these two, but was very close in this regard. Considering its compact size and wedge design, this is to be expected. Great articulation, clarity and precision without sounding at all harsh. This cab could take all the CA9 put out without stressing. Again, a standout cab among a very good group.

Accugroove Tri 210L – This cab shared some similarities with the NL-210, especially in the lows, but was even more full sounding and had the warmest tone, overall, of the group. Even the high notes maintained a certain thickness to them. This cab was not as clear, punchy or dynamic through the mids as some of the rest, but it moved the most air. Handled most of what the CA9 could put out, but not quite all.

Again, these are all very good, very impressive cabs. If I had to pick any “winners”, based upon sonic performance alone, I would have to say that the NL-210, HT210, and Duo Wedge made me sit back and say “day-um!” more than the others. However, I could easily see any of these cabs being someone else’s favorite based upon variations in personal preference. Also, I could gig quite happily with any of these (and in fact, I have gigged with most of them – the Glock being a very recent acquisition and only put through its paces at a gig in "vocal monitor" duty - which it handled quite well!).

Again, the EA NL-210, Bergantino HT210, and Glockenklang Duo Wedge ended up within spitting distance of each other, and for my tastes, my playing style, and with the associated gear used in this test, they would all via for top honors. For a small, compact wedge shaped "monitor", the Duo Wedge has a very big sound, but of course the NL-210 and HT210 both sound a tad bigger. The Glock does have a fairly unique voice, and it strikes me as somehow taking the rough edges off each note, but maintaining the clarity. The NL-210 surprised me with its authoritative sound, great volume, and excellent balance. But again, almost any subjective words that I can use to describe one of these three would tend to apply to the other two, as well. However, the NL-210 is the warmest of the three. The HT210 took the sound of the other two and just added some meat behind each note. Very dynamic, with a sense of deep forcefulness behind the clarity, the HT210 was probably the loudest/punchiest of the group (even though it couldn't quite take all the gain from the CA9 - but it didn't need to).

But, some thoughts on the other fine contenders:

VL-210 - two of these stacked, and pushed by a big old amp, are still a force to be reconned with. The louder you drive these cabs, the better they sound, IME.

Low B-2II - these cabs still offer excellent bang for the buck, and present a very smooth sound, with good clarity, and excellent low end in a compact, lightweight package.

CxL-210 - this cab is exceptionally quick sounding, with good high end zing and clarity. I can see where slappers might really like this sound (of course, it sounds great with other playing styles, too). In my previous 2x10 shootout, I felt that it was slightly more warm sounding and slightly less clear than the VL-210. Well, with the line driver and the CA9, it seems that my results are reversed to an extent, as the CxL-210 had more clarity, and the relative fullness was right about equal. These two really sound a lot alike.

Dr. Bass 2x10 - This thing weighs next to nothing, and it is in a very compact box. Combine its diminutive dimensions with the diminutive prices charged by Dr. Bass for their cabs, and you have a heck of a bargain that won't break your back. I am just amazed at how much power you can pump into these cabs.

Tri 210L - You can move a ton of air with this cab, and the tone is full, full, full. Although it is the biggest cab in the group, it's weight is deceiving and highly manangable. The low end had many similarities to the NL-210, but the mids were rather different. One unique characteristic of Accugroove cabs, IME, is that they sound full and rich no matter where you are playing on the fingerboard.

And starting it all, was...

Part 1:

I am lucky enough to own multiple very good 2x10's, and here is a little shootout I was able to do one night when the wife and kids were out, and I could shake the house a little!

Here were the contenders:

Again, if you don't know them by sight, they would be:

EA VL-210B
EA CXL-210
ACME Low B-2
Accugroove Tri 210L

These cabs were all used with my iAMP 800 (I had put the rack rig away by then), and I played through my Thunderbird, primarily. I did briefly play my 5-string through them, but as I had used all of them with the 5 before, I didn't spend a lot of time with the 5-string. Quick answer: they all do the Low B thing quite well, and do so consistent with the more general observations below. Here is what I found:

With EQ's all set flat and all tweeters (and mids) were all the way on - which is, of course, "flat" for the ACME and Accugroove, but "boosted" for the EA cabs, the cabs in the photo are arrayed from left to right in the order of the tightest low end, and greatest overall perceived clarity, to thickest low end (and least perceived clarity).

There were two big surprises for me, here. First, was that the CXL-210 was slightly more warm/round than the VL-210B. The CXL-112 is a very cutting and clear cab, and I thought that the CXL-210 would be between the VL-210B and CXL-112 in this regard. To my surprise, though, the CXL-210 takes a good bit of the edge off the CXL-112, and the VL-210B (with two mids and a tweeter, versus the CXL-210's single coax tweeter) has the edge in overall clarity, but is slightly thinner sounding than the CXL-210. This is even more intriguing given my prior comparison of my CX-310 to two VL-210's. In that scenario, the CX-310 had more cut and clarity, and equal "heft" and "weight." I can see why one VL-210 might sound thinner where two did not, but I am not sure why the CX-310 would have more perceived cut/clarity than the CXL-210. My guess is that it is, indeed, a perception thing, where once you stack two VL-210's, the low end beefs up to the point that perceived cut/clarity is reduced. I don't know...

The other surprise was that the Tri 210L was even thicker in the lows than the Low B-2. Accugroove cabs certainly are known for being full, rich, and phat, but the Low B-2 is the king of thick 2x10's (or so I thought!). Granted, the difference between the two was not huge, but nevertheless, I had expected the ACME to have the deepest, fullest, thickest low end, and was surprised when the Accugroove bested it in these regards. [For those desiring truly collossal tonal girth, I should point out that the Whappo, Jr. has even more low end weight than the Tri 210L!] Along with this, the ACME had more upper midrange and high end clarity than the Tri 210L. Keep in mind, this is with everything set totally flat, EQ-wise.

Overall, the two EA cabs were more similar than different, and the ACME and Accugroove cabs were also more similar than different. The EAs, had a thinner, cleaner sound, but could easily add bass boost to crank out truly massive low end. The ACME/Accugroove cabs appear to be designed from the opposite end of the spectrum, where you start out with a full, rich, tone, and cut low end if need be. Set flat, the Low B-2 or Tri 210L would be the kind of cabs that I would bring to an outside gig, or a room that is known for being a bit on the thin side, whereas the EA's are better suited for situtations where you might have to fight some boominess in a room or onstage. The latter seems to be more common for me, although I have played more and more outside gigs of late.

I guess there is a third surprise. The perceived loudest of all three cabs, with the gain set equal? The VL-210B. This came as quite a surprise, especially since the Low B-2 is a 4 ohm, and the Tri 210L had its Accuswitch set to 4 ohm. Both EA cabs are 8 ohm models.

I am not sure if these types of "shootouts" are at all helpful to the rest of you, but I do have people ask me about comparisons between these cabs, so I thought I would share.

Take care, Tom.

[Edit 10/25/05]

I have been meaning to get back to this 2x10 shootout for some time, as I have picked up some additional cabs (EA NL-210, Bergantino HT210, and a custom neo 2x10 from Dr. Bass). I still have not done a comprehensive test of all the available 2x10's, but for the sake of sharing some information (as opposed to none) concerning these cabs, let me state the following limited observations.

The NL-210 is a very light weight cab, and a breeze to manhandle. It is more warm sounding than EA's prior 2x10's, but is still very clear (though perhaps not as ultimately clear as the VL-210), and the bottom end on the whole is more full. Very nice balance of warmth and clarity in a very compact, lightweight package.

The HT210 is a real eye opener. So far, I have only compared it against my Tri 210L, but despite being rated at 100 SPL (versus the Tri's 103 SPL) and despite its 8 ohm rating (versus the Tri's 4 ohm load), the Berg was louder, punchier, more forceful, more clear, and had more dynamic impact than the Accugroove. Wow! I can't wait to put this cab through its paces!

The Dr. Bass cab is a custom compact/lightweight cab that Marc Serio built. After I provided him with some detailed feedback and some suggested modifications to make it even better, he offered to take the cab back and make the modifications for free! Great service, if you ask me. And indeed, it came back sounding even better than before. I love the size/dimensions on this cab, and it is also extremely light. The tone is very well balanced, and it can hold its own against the "big boys!"

Ultimately, depending on your personal preferences, playing style, and associated gear, any of these cabs might be "the one" for you.

Later, Tom.