BGRA: Ampeg B-50R

Manufacturer Ampeg Model B-50R
Reviewer chris_in_la
Experience 2 Item owned 1-2 years
Review Date 2002-03-22 Price paid $300 Used
Dimensions18.25 x 20.5 x 12.5
Weight48 lbs.
Power50 watts
SpeakersOne 12 inch
I really like this amp. It is very solidly built, has great tone, great EQ, and visual style. I really dig the retro look. The only downside to this amp is the weight. At 48 lbs it is manageable, and extremely easy compared to larger bass amps. But I have found myself wishing for a smaller combo or rig that would be a little easier to move around. I have to transport it about once or twice a week and carrying it in one hand for any distance gets a little wearying. It only has a top handle, although as handles go it is very solid and pretty comfortable. The amp is also kind of an unweildy shape, being pretty much a cube. I wish it were a little taller and thinner like some combos that have the controls on front instead of on top. With that said, you really get what you pay for in terms of lugging it around. This is high a quality amp. The tone is excellent, and it puts out some serious volume for 50 watts. I'm not exaggerating. In my quest for a more portable solution I've tried a bunch of other combos and this one just dominates. It even sounded louder to me than the Ampeg BA-112, which I thought would be pretty much the same amp. I definitely can't find any lighter combos that can compete in terms of volume, and similar weighted combos from other manufacturers don't sound as good to me. At the store I've tried a couple different Hartke combos, a couple of GK combos, and the carvin PB series. I've also set my amp up next to the Peavey TKO 115 that I play at church, an SWR Workingmans 10, and some Vox combo. In all cases I thought the Ampeg had a much tighter, sweeter, and overall better tone. Of course, this is all just my ear and my opinion, but I supposed that's what you are reading this review to get. The only exception was when I checked out the Ashdown Electric Blue 130-12. That amp had a nice tone too (different, but cool) and it had some real power (130 watts) and was lighter. But the build quality was obviously inferior to my very solid Ampeg. The Ashdown I tried had a lot of weak feeling parts on it, it rattled when you picked it up, and both the gain knobs were broken in exactly the same way. My Ampeg, in contrast, feels like it will last me as long as I want it to without any repairs. The EQ is sweet. I generally leave it flat and it sounds great, or I drop the lows down to about 10:00 to counter out the boominess of one particular room I play in. It's easy to get a variety of nice sounds out of this amp, even without all those deep, bright, and contour buttons that come on so many combos. And as far as volume goes, I have yet to need it above 3.5. I usually play in a group with a slightly amplified accoustic guitar, a keyboard, and congas. In those situations it stays at about 1.5 or 2. At home I keep it around 1.5 or 2 so as not to bother the neighbors (it can really thump in a small room). I used it at about 3.5 when I played once with 2 amped guitars, 3 singers, and a full drum set. I was asked to turn down because there was too much bass noise in the mix. I only turned down a tiny bit and I mostly just cut some of the lows so I wouldn't boom as much--I still wanted to be heard in the mix. This is a great amp! Perfect for someone who needs a quality bass amp without the large cabs, etc. If it were a little lighter and had a balanced DI it would be perfect for me.
construction (95%)
Well built!
clarity (90%)
versatility (90%)
volume (95%)
portability (85%)
value (90%)
overall (95%)
The BGRA is generously underwritten by David King of Bass Guitar Systems.
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