Over summer I’ve been searching for a small combo bass amp to play acoustic gigs and to use for practice. I wanted something small and light but yet still reasonably powerful. A “kickback” design is also what I’m after too. This is where the speaker is angled in its cab to be firing up at you – much like the fold back speakers we all love and hate at our feet at the front of stage.
As I got more into this search I discovered maybe I could “kill two birds with one stone” with this purchase. Could I somehow also use this little rig as a “big rig”?
The first contender was the Fender Rumber 75 which I was able to spend a good 30 mins mucking around with at the local music store (I dunno bout you, but I never know what licks to play when I’m a music store). Anyway, the Fender Rumble is a great package – it has its 12 inch single speaker in a cab which has an angled back panel. This allows you to rock the cab back so the speaker fires its solid state 75 watts of power up at your face from the floor. There’s a usable overdrive gain section on the “preamp” which is foot switch controllable. It has a 3 band EQ with 2 preset “shape” settings (bass boost & midrange scoop). It has some handy inputs for your ipod or mp3 player to practice along with and a 1/4 line out. Like everything you get what you pay for and I couldn’t help thinking.. hmmm MORE POWER!!?
The Hartke Hydrive series of kick-back style combos are about the same size as the Fender Rumble but these babies have 250 watts of power. You get an overdrive section like the Rumble but there is also a 7 band graphic EQ and onboard compressor. There’s also a balanced D.I. input to take your signal to a front of house PA system (Hmmm so could I even use this little amp in small to medium gigs?). The Hydrive is about twice the price of the Fender Rumble. So in Australia, you’re looking at about $550 for the Fender Rumble and about $1,100 for the Hartke. Two hundred and fifty watts sounds very good to me in an easy to transport combo but to pay over $1,000 for a small combo got me pulling lemon tasting screwed up faces.
Then I came across the Genz Benz Shuttle series of bass amps.
The Shuttle series of Genz Benz bass amps are designed to be small and lightweight powerful combos which you could also use to power a bigger rig. The Shuttle has its power amp section in a removable chassis “cradle” which sits on top of a mini cab speaker of varying sizes. The combo range starts from an 8 inch 300w (4 ohms) unit up to a 600w (4 ohms) single 12 or 2X10 design cab. Unlike most other combo amps where the power section is fixed into the cab you can take the amp unit out like a separate amp head and use it. Wicked!! The power amp section has a high power CLASS D module with a 12AX7 tube preamp.
It also incorporates a Switch Mode Power Supply which means you can use your Shuttle internationally on different voltages. All of this is a super lightweight amp smaller than a set-top box that weights less than 2 KG!!
So looking at the Genz Benz Shuttle 6.0 12T – you get an 8 ohms 12 inch speaker mini cab, 375 watts of power with a kickback stand which is great for practicing, acoustic and smaller gigs. Hook up another 8 ohms speaker to the 2nd speaker Neutrik connector and you have 600 watts @ 4 ohms at your disposal. That’s plenty enough power to run a 2 cab rig for a larger pub/club gig. This is great flexibility for working player or regular gigger. A light easy to transport practice/acoustic amp which you could also use as your main rig if you added say another 4×10 cab.
So I ordered one! You can even get a 900 watt model the Genz Benz Shuttle 9.0 which packs 500w @ 8 ohms or 900w @ 4 ohms into the same sized amp chassis!!Ed Friedland does a much better job outlining all the Genz Benz Shuttle features and how they sound in these videos – check em out!