Mark­bass Lit­tle Mar­cus 1000

BIG CON­CERT SOUND IN A LIT­TLE BOX? IS THAT EVEN POS­SI­BLE? WORDS BY STEVE HEN­DER­SON

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

Mar­cus Miller, con­sum­mate player, com­poser and pro­ducer, is a legend, plain and sim­ple. His superb play­ing and ex­tra­or­di­nary mu­si­cal­ity has con­trib­uted to such a va­ri­ety of artis­tic styles that a mere discog­ra­phy doesn’t do him jus­tice.

He hasn’t just played the dots, he’s helped make those records as spe­cial as they are. From Chaka Khan to Eric Clapton to Her­bie Hancock to El­ton John to the great Ge­orge Ben­son and even the queen of soul her­self, Aretha Franklin, Miller has cre­ated an un­mis­tak­ably mu­si­cal pres­ence in their tracks.

Grammy Awards and plat­inum al­bums aside, Miller is known in the play­ing com­mu­nity for tone and groove. It makes per­fect sense for him to part­ner with Marko De Vir­giliis, the leader in bass am­pli­fi­ca­tion, to cre­ate a sig­na­ture range that fo­cuses on tone – qual­ity sounds we can all ac­cess.

The in­stru­ment in ques­tion is the new Lit­tle Mar­cus 1000: a pow­er­house head that com­bines ex­tra­or­di­nary tone with real grunt, in a pack­age that weighs in at just 2.4 kilo­grams. Phys­i­cally, it’s roughly two rack units tall and just over half a unit wide, mak­ing it su­per por­ta­ble. But there’s noth­ing diminu­tive about the tone-shap­ing op­tions. Five ac­tive tone knobs (cen­tred at 65 hertz, 180 hertz, 500 hertz, 1.4 kilo­hertz, and 3.8 kilo­hertz) pro­vide plus/mi­nus 16 deci­bels, all with an in­ter­ac­tive Q that elim­i­nates the knee found in some bass amp tone stacks. In other words, play­ing through the range of your in­stru­ment will be smooth and even.

TONNES OF TEX­TURE

There was no ev­i­dence of elec­tronic “soft spots” in the test in­stru­ments (a Pre­ci­sion, a Jazz and a fret­less StingRay) – each sounded char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally true to its own per­son­al­ity. The Ul­tralow cir­cuit, es­pe­cially, pro­duces a “tuned in” fun­da­men­tal on the fourth string with­out the wooli­ness that some other amps pro­duce. Dial in a lit­tle of that 500 hertz Mid con­trol, and you’ll hear a bot­tom string with a lit­tle more snap than usual. For the fret­less, di­alling out the Mid and push­ing the 1.4 kilo­hertz High Mid cre­ates a wood­ier tex­ture, ac­cen­tu­at­ing the sweet fret­less whine that sounds so ex­pres­sive.

If you’re af­ter that rock’n’roll thud, a Pre­ci­sion Bass through the Lit­tle Mar­cus into a ported two-by-ten will do the busi­ness. Our friends at Mark­bass supplied two quite dif­fer­ent two-by-ten-inch cabs: a Trav­eller 102P and a Mar­cus Miller 102 CAB. The lat­ter is a rear-ported cab (400 watts/8 ohms) that has a good deal more in­ter­nal vol­ume than the Trav­eller.

The P-Bass loves this box, and hear­ing the 41.2 cy­cle bot­tom E makes you re­alise what you might have missed with other bass cabs. Place it close to a wall, and you’ll find a top end with no la­tency and an im­me­di­ate bot­tom end that is fol­lowed by a sub­sonic bloom. This is an ab­solute killer speaker cab for al­most any style.

The Trav­eller, by con­trast, is a small cab (also 400 watts/8 ohms) that of­fers that same fast re­sponse but with­out the depth, mak­ing it ideal for more crit­i­cal gigs – maybe those where the room size would pre­clude the sub­sonic thump. The Jazz Bass sounded fab­u­lous through the Trav­eller, high­light­ing all of those de­light­ful mids and highs for which the in­stru­ment is fa­mous.

Tak­ing ad­van­tage of the sit­u­a­tion, I stacked them to cre­ate a four-by-ten, 800-watt (at 4 ohms) speaker

sys­tem that eas­ily han­dled the Lit­tle Mar­cus with­out work­ing up a sweat. It was full and sweet, punchy and sen­si­tive, loud, and with­out any clip­ping or weird cabi­net arte­facts. This may be the dream rock or blues or jazz setup: a great head, a wide range speaker sys­tem, and an easy lug at the end of the gig.

PACK­ING THE PUNCH

The Lit­tle Mar­cus 1000 has two EQ sys­tems. “EQ1” is the pre­vi­ously noted five­band tone stack, while “EQ2” is the Old School/Mil­ler­izer com­bi­na­tion – two fil­ters that can work to­gether or in­de­pen­dently. Old School pro­vides that vin­tage thunk that works so well in rock and rock­a­billy, and it’ll even do the warm, flat wound sound that is great for a lot of jazz gigs. The Mil­ler­izer af­fects the other end of the scale, of­fer­ing more def­i­ni­tion for the pop and slap of Miller’s funkier side.

Both cir­cuits are in­de­pen­dently footswitch­able (an op­tional two­but­ton footswitch is re­quired, or sim­ply di­alled in on the front panel.

This dual EQ ar­range­ment is sur­pris­ingly ef­fec­tive and cre­ates an enor­mous range of tones. No mat­ter which bass was used, they seemed to be right at home with this amp. Rolling in some Old School gave the P Bass a lit­tle ex­tra thud, and made the J Bass a lit­tle more rock’n’roll. If it’s funk you want, the Mil­ler­izer makes it hap­pen. The P Bass sounded edgy and punchy, and the StingRay sounded rich and full, en­hanc­ing that tonal ar­tic­u­la­tion for which Mu­sic Man basses are renowned. Try­ing to dial in a bad sound is near im­pos­si­ble.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

The Lit­tle Mar­cus has all the ins and outs you’ll ever need, and the kind of la­tency­free clean power that will cover any venue. The tonal op­tions are so com­plex that it’s clearly not just de­signed for Miller’s own basses, but to have a much more uni­ver­sal ap­peal. This is an “any gig, any­time, any­where” amp: plenty of vol­ume, sim­ple to op­er­ate, easy to lug and, best of all, a superb tone.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.