4 and 8 Ω
was awe inspiring. At low volumes, each
note I picked belted out of the cab with an
immediate, quick attack and lows that were
tight as a drum. As I turned up the pre-gain and loudness (master volume) knobs,
the amp took on a beefier, more expansive
stature while relenting slightly in its mid-heavy onslaught. This balancing out of the
tone helped my bass’ onboard controls react
more effectively and allowed me to go from
clean and driving Geddy Lee-type tones to
burly southern rock sounds without touching the amp’s controls.
The mid-shift control was pretty effective at shaping the amp’s unique midrange
response, which tends toward the meatier
side (imagine the midrange of a Marshall
Major crossed with the smooth power section of an early-’70s Ampeg SVT). The
first couple of mid-shift positions reigned
in the subs when the low end got too
heavy for certain volumes—all it took was
a quick flip of the mid-shift knob and a
slight adjustment of the bass knob to rope
them back in.
If you’re thinking the Bass 200 is
capable of serious overdriven grind because
it has a preamp gain control, you’re just as
wrong as I was when I made that assumption. There’s a large amount of headroom
on tap, even with the control cranked.
Pushing the amp hard like this and hitting the Kramer’s strings with more force
than usual didn’t really cause the preamp
to break up anywhere near as much as
The way the Bass 200 filled my practice space with smooth,
velvety lows and rounded, punchy highs was awe inspiring.
you’d expect, and certainly not in a way
that would be considered raunchy and
saturated. Rather, the preamp control
was more useful as a tool for changing
the overall EQ response. Setting pre-gain
above 1 o’clock softened and warmed up
the sound, which was nice for jazzier playing that called for more dynamics and
low-end detail. Conversely, lower settings
helped the amp dish out crispier tones for
progressive and funk styles.
Given that, it’s heartening to find out
that the Bass 200 was designed to take to
overdrive and fuzz pedals extremely well. If
you love the sound of an Electro-Harmonix
Big Muff coating your low-end rumble but
hate that it usually comes at the expense of
low end, you should be quite pleased with
how one sounds through the Bass 200.
Maxing a Big Muff’s fuzz treated me to a
wall of grind so full of blistering mids and
heaving lows that even the most jaded ston-
er-metal fan would turn down his Electric
Wizard record to take a closer listen.
For smooth, tube-infused bass tone that
can perform well in several musical situations—and at varying volume levels—the
Bass 200 is hard to beat. Its ability to fill a
room at low levels makes it a great choice
for studio cats, and the tones it can produce
when pushed into oblivion are even more
impressive—though not as overdriven as
one might expect considering the amp’s
tube topology. As a stock model, it doesn’t
have much in the way of bells and whistles
that a lot of bassists consider indispensible,
but if you’re looking for a workhorse that
will haul huge loads of satisfying low end,
the Bass 200 is well worth checking out.
Pros: Smooth tonality. Great tone at low and high volumes.
Solid build. Tons of headroom.
Scarlett Amplifiers Bass 200, $2, 100 street, scarlettamps.com
Cons: Stock features are pretty bare bones.