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I can remember way back to buying my first real bass amp. I was a quick study when it came to playing and quickly outgrew the 8" Gorilla practice amp I used in the bedroom. After a few months of playing I was ready to jam with friends, so I needed something that could contend in a band environment. At 18, I was obviously low on cash, so I finally settled on a mid-priced 15" combo. In the store, I remember thinking that thing was so loud I'd have to really dial it back once I had it in our rehearsal room. I couldn't have been more wrong.

 

That first practice, I was beaming with pride at my new amp. One by one the guys came in and checked it out, giving it the thumbs up as I played a couple riffs through it. Things quickly took a turn as each guitarist fired up his 100W Marshall half stack and the drummer began to warm up. As we broke into the first song, my heart sank—I could barely hear myself above the din of the other instruments.

 

Now, that's not all the fault of the combo. We were a young band and certainly had a lot to learn about volume control. But with that amount of power and a 15" speaker to move some air, it should have been enough. At least in my mind. It's a problem players often run into with bass combos, and quickly find themselves adding extension cabinets to remedy the problem or switching to a more powerful head/cab setup. With the simplest of designs, Gallien-Krueger has found an effective way to beef up the traditional combo by introducing the MBP line of powered enclosures. The company sent me an MB212-II combo and 212 MBP powered enclosure to explore this "combo rig" concept.

 

MB212-II Bass Combo Amp

The MB212-II is a robust combo in its own right, delivering 500 watts through 2 - 12" NEO speakers. Thanks to those NEO speakers and the MB212-II's digital power amp, you sacrfice nothing in the way of tone and get a full-featured sonic powerhouse that weighs only 41 lbs. The MB212-II is also equipped with a switchable horn for emphasizing mid and high frequencies, as are the MB115-II, MB210-II and MB410.

 

All MB combos are loaded with the same pro-level features: 4-band active EQ, XLR direct out for recording and live performance, switchable Contour control, aux. input, headphone out and an output for connecting to MBP powered enclosures.

 

The MB212-II is a powerful and well-rounded combo. The 12" speakers produce punchy midrange tones and deliver a low-end response that's tight, yet deep enough for a low B. I found that the amp worked splendidly with effects as well, really pronouncing the grit and growl I coaxed from a Deluxe Bass Big Muff fuzz and working very responsively with that pedal's crossover and multiple tone-shaping controls.

 

Gallien-Krueger MB Series of bass guitar combo amps

Gallien-Krueger's MB line of bass combo amps

 

MBP Powered Extension Cabinets

Once you've fine-tuned your sound in the MB combo , expanding it into a format better-suited for the stage is as easy a single XLR connection. The MBP powered cabinets are tuned and optimized to be the perfect complement to the MB combos. In fact, there isn't even a level setting to adjust—the MB combo sends its signal and settings directly to the MBP,  and the system essentially behaves as one cabinet with summed output. There's no worrying about one overpowering the other and screwing up your mix.

 

MBP extension cabinets come in 1x12 (200W), 2x12 (500W), 4x10 (500W) and 1x15 (200W) configurations. The 4x10 weighs in at only 51 lbs. and is the heaviest of the bunch, once again thanks to digital power amps and NEO speakers. Each has a Chain output, allowing you to daisy-chain as many units together as you want in whatever configuration. This gives you the ability to experiment with different speaker types and combinations with ease, ensuring the right rig for every gig, rehearsal or jam session, large or small.

Gallien-Krueger MBP Series of powered extension bass speaker cabinets

MBP powered extension cabs come in four configurations

 

The Right Rig For Every Gig

GK's "combo rig" concept is a real winner. It liberates players from the confines of a combo-amp setup while offering extraordinary flexibility when it comes to configurations. They take portability to a higher standard with their lightweight design, while giving you the tone and performance Gallien-Krueger is known for. If you've given up on the idea of a combo-based rig, it's time to reconsider.

 

Resources

Shop Gallien-Krueger MB Bass Combo Amps at musiciansfriend.com

Shop Gallien-Krueger MBP Powered Bass Extension Cabinets at musiciansfriend.com

Learn more about the MB Bass Combo Amps at gallien-krueger.com

Learn more about the MBP Powered Bass Extension Cabinets at gallien-krueger.com

 

 

 

 

Ara Ajizian, Harmony Central's Editorial Director, has been playing bass and guitar as well as singing since he was 18, and soon that love of music combined with a passion for writing; launching what's now a decade-long career immersed in the gear world. He's thrilled to be back on the Harmony Central team after two years as Managing Editor for Musician's Friend covering gear, bands and events and gigging in the Los Angeles area.

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