DESIGNED FOR PROS PRICED FOR EVERYONE
• Korina Body.
• Locking Tuners.
• Bass Contour Control.
Powerhouse had been tough to
carry (his regular 4x10 is 23
pounds lighter), though the
removable wheels and recessed
metal handles did help. He used
an active Manson John Paul
Jones 4-string at the show, and he
described the sound as stronger
and more detailed than his usual
active 4-string and 4x10 setup.
In fact, Zach’s drummer felt that
the rig came on a bit too strong
for the band’s indie-rock sound.
Offstage, however, the Mesa
stack was a hit: The soundman
remarked that the M3’s DI tone
was better than most, and fans
raved about Zach’s upfront, distinctive tone that night.
In Your Face
As I plugged in other basses, it
became clear that unlike many
tube-equipped amps that specialize in sounding wide and warm,
the M3—with help from the
Powerhouse—kicks out a more
focused tone, even with the controls set flat. Fast lines and Victor
Wooten-style thumb acrobatics
came through nice and clear on
an active ’ 78 Fender Jazz with
Bartolini pickups, but the M3’s
tube preamp helped keep things
round. A fretless Ampeg AMUB-
1 with old groundwounds was
instantly capable of dub-worthy
and electric upright tones.
The M3’s EQ controls made it
easy to take advantage of the many
sonic facets of stock ’ 61 Precision
and ’ 62 Jazz Basses. Even when
dimed, the M3’s passive, boost-
only Mid control never got nasal
or pointed. Cranking the active
Treble knob while playing upper-
register chords and double-stops
did result in some harsh highs.
But overall, it was easy to get
detailed tones without sacrificing
warmth—whether working with
a tight rock sound on the flat-
wound-strung P-Bass to a variety
of slap tones on the ’ 78 Jazz Bass.
An active Wal 4-string tuned
B–E–A–D sounded rich and
massive. This Mesa setup had no
problem with B strings, and a 34"-
scale Sound Trade 5-string with a
vintage Jazz vibe sounded full and
authoritative all the way down to
the open B—even when I soloed
the back pickup.
One of the advantages of
playing through a tube preamp,
of course, is having the abil-
ity to achieve musical-sounding
overdrive. At first, I was slightly
alarmed at how often the “input
clip” LED lit up, but the manual
assured us that this didn’t necessar-
ily mean I was driving the amp too
hard. Soon, I was turning down
the Master Volume and turning
up the Gain to overdrive the M3’s
single 12AX7 tube for some excel-
lent organic tube distortion.
Finally, I set the M3’s controls
flat and explored the options
on the back of the Powerhouse
4x10. Tweaking the “L-Pad”
tweeter attenuator and 3-position