Gallien-Krueger MB Fusion 800 Head & NEO 410 Cabinet Bass Rig
By Ara Ajizian |
As musicians, we're always looking to get the most for our money when it comes to gear. More power. More tone. More flexibility. Because all that "more" leads, hopefully, to a rig that inspires you when it comes time to create and play. Unfortunately, for decades we've trained ourselves to think that when it comes to amps and speakers, all that "more" you want also means more weight. Back-breaking weight,in many cases, especially when you think of the monstrous tube heads and 8x10 cabs that bass players have grown accustomed to. Gallien-Krueger has mastered the art of removing the weight from heavy tone, so I was thrilled to have a go at the big daddy of their MB Fusion Series of heads, the MB Fusion 800. They also sent an 8-ohm version of the NEO 410 cabinet, which was an ideal partner for the head.
The MB Series of heads from GK embraces a design that aims to put maximum power and tone into amps that are the epitome of portability. All models, including the two MB Fusion heads, utilize a digital power amp to achieve this goal. Where the Fusion models differ from their standard MB Series brethren is the preamp—both Fusion models employ a 3x12AX7 all-tube preamp running at high voltage. The result is dynamic, warm tone you can shape to your liking with the MF Fusion's extensive control set.
The MB Fusion 800 from Gallien-Krueger offers 800W of power, an all-tube preamp and much more
A tube preamp and high-wattage digital power amp are just the start with the MB Fusion 800. With that foundation and the comprehensive tone controls, virtually any sound you can imagine is at your fingertips. At the core are the footswitchable Gain A/B channels which allow you, along with the Level B control, to instantly jump to a dirtier, grittier sound with a simple toe tap. Of course, you're not limited to grit...you can dial in these two settings to whatever needs you have for your instrument and musical environment. The Contour control offers you a quick mid scoop if you need it for your particular playing style. Fingerstyle players, for example, demand a different sound than pick players, and the Contour control helps you quickly achieve the right sound. It also offers a push function that changes the center frequency, and it incorporates some compression to keep volume levels consistent as you scoop out the mids.
Moving to the EQ section, with four bands of active equalization it's easy to get precisely the tone you're after. The Treble knob also boasts push functionality that engages a Presence circuit for enhancing clarity and top-end sparkle. Midrange shaping is further achieved by the Lo-Mid and Hi-Mid knobs, which give you complete control over the punchiness and fullness of your tone. On the lower end of the spectrum, the Bass control not only offers boost and cut down to 40Hz, but with a simple push extends that control down to 30Hz, something five-string players will absolutely enjoy (and four-stringers can certainly experiment with it as well). The Master level knob controls the overall output of the amp. It too is equipped with a push function, a limiter that you can engage to control clipping of the power amp.
What this all adds up to is an incredible amount of control over a very rich, tube-driven tonal foundation. Translation: the MB Fusion 800 is ready for pretty much any style of music and any playing technique. Whether you're delivering the pop and slap of old-school funk or digging in with a pick on a five-string in a detuned metal band, this amp is ready for the challenge. As a bonus, all the front-panel knobs are lighted, so you know exactly where things are set from anywhere on the stage. The dual-function knobs will illuminate a different color when engaged as well.
The back panel of the MB Fusion 800 offers every pro-level feature you'd expect from an amp in this price range: balanced direct out with pre-/post-EQ selector, tuner output with mute function and effects loop. Additionally, the MB Fusion 800 offers a unique output with a selector switch that lets you connect either headphones for practicing, an unbalanced line out for recording or a Gallien-Krueger MBP Powered Extension Cabinet. With all these features and power, it's really hard to believe the footprint of this amp and the fact that it weighs in at less than six pounds.
As much as I was impressed by the MB Fusion 800's power and feature set, a ton of credit goes to the NEO 410 cabinet that GK sent. It's available in both 4- and 8-ohm versions (as are all the NEO Series cabs), giving you the option to explore different setups and maximize the amp's output. Though I've become a fan of 12" speakers for bass, the four 10" neodymium drivers in the NEO 410 provided an incredible amount of punch and depth, and handled the grittier settings on the MB Fusion 800 head. The NEO 410 weighed in at just 64 lbs.—impressive for a 4x10 cab. The construction on the cab was road-ready and rugged, with reinforced corners, spring-loaded handles and included casters. The bracing and construction of all NEO cabinets reduce resonance and standing waves, ensuring unadulterated tone that always sounds accurate and true. Bi-ampable horns with selectable range in all models guarantee gorgeous, full-range sound. With the heaviest of the bunch weighing in at 90 lbs., it's easy to put together the rig you need and still maintain an unparalelled level of portability.
The NEO Series of bass speaker cabinets offer portability, pro features and pure GK tone.
With their MB Series of heads and NEO cabs, Gallien-Krueger aims to change the way of thinking that's led us to bigger, heavier rigs. No longer does musical, reactive and punchy tube sound have to come from an 80-pound head and titanic cabinet. Even in a small-format amp, versatility abounds thanks to an impressive array of equalization and tone-shaping controls and the 12AX7-based preamp. All the connectivity and power you need are also onboard, making the MB Fusion 800 a robust workhorse for any style and any occasion, from funk to rock and metal, from the studio to the stage. Pair it with the GK NEO Series cabinets best suited for your sound and you'When you're ready to experience the ultimate in tone and portability, Gallien-Krueger is a name that should definitely be on your list.
MB Fusion 800 demo by Norm Stockton
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.