Lightweight bass combos have become a popular choice in recent years, as more and more of us abandon large and loud amplification in favor of smaller units and in-ear monitoring.
Our lower backs and wallets love us for this, but then again, we miss the big sounds of the big boxes. Never fear: this Bass Cub II combo from the great Phil Jones Bass fits into the ‘small but perfectly formed’ category, incorporating two independent channels of controls and giving us plenty of settings to play with. Let’s plug and play.
Our first impressions are that this is a well-built and sensibly laid-out combo. The controls are recessed into the top panel, to avoid being inadvertently knocked or damaged; it features a black or red vinyl covering; and metal corners and a metal grille are present for protection.
A side carry handle provides easy transportation – and easy really is the operative word, as the amp weighs in at a featherlight 15 pounds – while a spring-loaded foot is fitted to the base of the combo. This tilts the unit upwards for improved projection.
Rated at 110 watts, the combo is fitted with two five-inch PJB NeoPower speakers, utilizing PJB’s Chrome Dome technology. To provide a tighter, fuller bass response, a reflex port has been incorporated into the base of the front. In theory, the tight response of the drivers will be reinforced with an improved bass frequency performance – although positioning, particularly against a wall or in a corner, should also be considered.
With two independent channels, for instruments and vocals, the control set is simple and effective. Channel A uses a combined jack/XLR combo input followed by a mic/low/high sensitivity selector depending on what the channel is being used for, and a clip LED indicates how hot your signal is.
The Input Level control is followed by a three-band EQ, offering 18dB of cut and boost, which is followed by a controllable limiter for speaker protection from excess transients. Then there’s an LED indicator, a 3.5mm Aux In input and level control for external sound sources, a ¼” headphones out and a Master Volume control.
Channel B offers a high impedance input that will suit piezo pickups. Flip the unit around and on the rear, you will find a balanced XLR output with ground/lift selector switch, and tuner and line outs
Armed with a range of active, passive, five-string and semi-acoustic instruments, setting the amp flat and selecting the appropriate sensitivity, the tone is clear and detailed. The combo’s response across all the instruments is rounded and focused, which puts any ‘lack of bottom end’ worries to rest.
Boosting the bass control doesn’t flood your tone into a bass-heavy mush, and the mid-frequency response is very pleasing. The wood tones of both shine through, and if you require a rounded tone for soul or reggae, that’s here, too.
Our active bass benefits from the combo’s clarity, especially with percussive playing, and the five-string’s extended range is conveyed with noticeable authority. The combo doesn’t struggle with the increased frequency workload, even when pushed.
As a coffee-shop amp for use in intimate, reduced volume spaces, the Bass Cub is a sterling performer – there’s no doubt about it. Work with the EQ and the positioning of the unit and you won’t find the output lacking. It’s more than capable in an acoustic setting, but also works fine when pushed to keep up with a live drum kit.
This is an impressive combo indeed; an affordable, but high-quality, product capable of a fine performance. If you don’t want a lot of gear flooding the stage, and you use additional monitoring of one sort or another, you may find it an ideal combo, with easily portable weight and dimensions.
- PRICE: $649.99
- MADE IN: China
- POWER: 110 watts RMS
- FEATURES: Channel A/B – Sensitivity (mic/mute/low/high) selector switch, input level, bass, mid, treble, Limiter on/off switch, Limiter level, Aux In level, master volume
- SPEAKERS: 2 x 5” Chrome Dome NeoPower bass speakers
- DIMENSIONS: Dimensions 220mm (H) x 345mm (W) x 285mm (D) / 8.7” (H) x 13.5” (W) x 11.2” (D)
- CONNECTIONS: Connections Combined XLR/0.25” input (active and passive), 0.25” input (active and passive), 3.5mm Aux In, 0.25” headphone out, balanced XLR DI output with ground/lift switch, 0.25” tuner and line outs
- WEIGHT: 15.5 lbs
- CONTACT: Phil Jones Bass