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PJB: Briefcase vs. Bass Cub by Jonathan Moody

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PJB: Briefcase vs. Bass Cub by Jonathan Moody… It’s one of those problems I like having; which amp do I take to the gig? It’s usually pretty easy, and comes down to the big rig or the little one. Since October, that little rig choice has gotten harder.

I’ve been using the Phil Jones Bass Briefcase for a couple of years now, and love it. Simply put, it’s the amp I wish I had purchased far earlier than I did. But out of curiosity I bought the PJB Bass Cub in October, thinking it was just a smaller, lighter updated version of my beloved Briefcase. What I found out was that the Cub is a completely different amp with its own sound.

I’ve included the specs below. As you can see, there are are some similarities between the two. Both have active/passive inputs, headphone outs, DI, a limiter and are both rated at 100W. However, that’s where it ends, as I’ve found that both are very good at different things and applications.

Model Bass Cub BG-100
Type Lightweight bass combo
Size 7.8 x 12 x 10.8 inch (H x W x D)
Net Weight 13.2 lbs / 6 kg
Power output 100W RMS
Speakers 2 x PJB NeoPower Type A
Channels 2
EQ 3 band, limiter
Inputs Active/passive, AUX, Mic
Outputs Headphone, DI, Pre-amp

Model Briefcase
Type Practice/studio combo with battery power option
Size 15.5 x 6.7 x 17.3 inch (H x W x D)
Net Weight 30 lbs/14 kg
Power output 100W RMS
Speakers 2 x PJB Piranha Type B
Channels 1
EQ 5 band, limiter
Inputs Active/passive
Outputs Headphone, DI, Pre-amp

First the Cub. One advantage that the Cub has is the fact that it’s so light, you can carry it into a gig over your shoulder; the bag that comes with it facilitates this nicely. You can also pick how you want to set the amp up; it has feet for vertical or horizontal placement and even has a stand to allow you to tilt the amp up in the horizontal position. I have used this amp for a couple of theatre runs already, and have mainly used it in the vertical position. However, you can use it in the horizontal position and slide it under your chair, which for a very tightly cramped pit may come in handy.

The Cub also has two channels, perfect for those of us that double on electric and upright, or in my case, upright and ukulele. With channel one accepting an XLR in, this amp is also suitable for those upright bassists that use a microphone in addition to a pickup to get their sound. The one downside is that you cannot switch between channels; they’re both always on (although the second channel does have a “mute” function). Not a big deal for when you’re using two instruments that have volume knobs, but since my ukulele doesn’t, I have to turn the volume down on the amp instead of being able to leave it set when not using it.

The biggest difference I noticed are the speakers. The Bass Cub uses the newer PJB NeoPower drivers, and they are quite a bit different from the PJB Piranhas that I’m used to. The sound is more mellow and natural, and not as hi-fi sounding. The clarity and definition is still there, but does not have that sparkle that the Piranhas are known for. I’d say the NeoPower drivers are what a “traditional” speaker sounds like in the PJB world. I’ve found that I prefer the Neos for when I’m using my NS Design CR-5M electric upright. It brings a warmth to the instrument that makes it sound more authentic (or, as authentic as you’re going to get). I bought the Cub out for a theatre run of “White Christmas,” and the sound of the Neos really helped me sit in the mix better than I think the Piranhas would have. I’m currently using the Cub for a run of “The Last Five Years,” where I’m playing my Warwick Corvette $$ fretless next to an acoustic guitar and three string players. Again, the warmth that the Neos have over the Piranhas is perfect for this application, allowing me to sit in the mix and not on it.

While the Bass Cub has a lot of great features, the Briefcase is one amp that should not be discounted in the slightest. It’s an older, more well-known model in the PJB line. It does only have one channel (doublers would need an A/B pedal to utilize this amp effectively) and it much heavier at 30 pounds. The Briefcase has a 5 band EQ over the Cub’s 3, which I find to be more powerful to help shape my overall sound. Little moves in one of the sliders make a very large and definite tonal shift.

Probably the coolest feature of the Briefcase is that it has the option of being battery powered. I’ve never had the need for this feature (or the time to grab a battery for it), but it’s a brilliant option for those musicians that are busking on a street corner or at a spot where power may not be readily available (I’ve had gigs at folk festivals where I’ve wondered about the safety of those extension cords running through the grass).

The sound that many people (as well as myself) attribute as “the Phil Jones Bass sound” comes down to the Piranha drivers in the Briefcase. These are very tight and punchy, while retaining a very clear and focused lower end. They are extremely articulate and precise, while still letting the distinct sound of your bass come through. I prefer using this amp when I’m doing theatre runs that require an electric bass. The sound is so clear that I can keep the amp at a low volume, and it will cut through the entire pit, allowing me to anchor the show.

The Bass Cub and Briefcase from Phil Jones Bass bring a lot of similar features to the table, while still offering something unique that makes each of these small amps perfect for different situations.

Bass Cub:
Lightweight, easy to carry over the shoulder into a gig
2 channels make doubling easy
Neo speakers bring warmth and more traditional, mellow bass sound
Ideal for situations using acoustic instruments or for more laid back gigs

Briefcase:
Very intuitive and powerful 5 band EQ
Battery powered option, perfect for busking in the summer
Piranha speakers have a brilliant hi-fi sound, perfect for cutting through
Ideal for situations involving electric bass, or anything where that
hi-fi sheen is required/appreciated

For me, the tonal needs and goals of the group I’m playing in will determine which amp gets the call. With either, I still get the transparency and reliability that PJB amps are known for, allowing my bass to sound its best, no matter the gig.

Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

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Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.

Specs:

Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.

Controls:

At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance:

True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.

Pros:

The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.

Cons:

While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at Amazon.com

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

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Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

Joyo Scylla Compressor: When Quality meets Budget-Friendly

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the diverse landscape of effects pedals for bass guitar, finding a compressor that strikes the balance between performance, versatility, and affordability can often feel like a daunting task. 

However, amidst the sea of options, one pedal stood out as a true diamond in the rough – the Joyo Scylla compressor. Despite its wallet-friendly price tag, the Scylla boasts a great array of features and controls typically reserved for pedals with much higher costs. Let’s take a closer look at why the Joyo Scylla is turning heads and earning praise among bassists on a budget.

Specs: The Joyo Scylla compressor measures in at 109 * 72 * 48 mm and weighs a mere 234g, making it both compact and lightweight – perfect for gigs or studio sessions where space is at a premium. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Scylla is efficient and versatile, compatible with a wide range of pedalboard setups.

Controls: What sets the Scylla apart from its direct competitors is its comprehensive control set, offering bassists a good amount of flexibility in shaping their sound. With six knobs, the Scylla allows for a very precise adjustment of key parameters:

  • Input Gain: Adjusts the amount of signal being fed into the compressor.
  • Output Volume: Controls the makeup gain after compression, ensuring consistent output levels.
  • Compression Ratio: Unlike traditional compressor pedals with preset ratio options, the Scylla features a continuous knob, allowing for seamless adjustment from subtle compression to limiter-like effects.
  • Attack and Release: Determine how quickly the compression engages and releases, offering a range of tonal possibilities from punchy and aggressive to smooth and subtle.
  • Output Tone Control: A unique feature not commonly found in compressor pedals, the tone knob adjusts the coloration of the compressed signal, adding warmth or brightness to your bass tone.
  • LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal, adding a touch of visual flair to their setup.
  • Performance: In practice, the Joyo Scylla delivers where it matters most – in sound quality and performance. Whether you’re aiming for a tight, punchy bass sound or smooth, sustained notes, the Scylla excels in providing transparent compression that enhances your playing without sacrificing dynamics. The granular control offered by its knobs allows for precise tailoring of compression settings to suit a wide range of playing styles and musical genres.
  • Pros: The Scylla’s strengths lie in its granular control, versatility, and compact design. Its sturdy build quality and diminutive size make it a welcome addition to any pedalboard, occupying minimal real estate without compromising on functionality. However, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Scylla is its price point. Despite offering professional-grade features, the Scylla remains accessible to bassists of all budgets.
  • Cons: While the Joyo Scylla excels in many areas, it’s not without its drawbacks. One notable omission is the lack of metering, which may pose a challenge for users seeking visual feedback on compression levels. Additionally, the plastic knobs, while functional, may feel somewhat less premium compared to other pedals. 
  • Conclusion: In conclusion, the Joyo Scylla compressor emerges as a great option in the world of budget-friendly effects pedals for bass guitar. Its comprehensive control set, transparent compression, and compact design make it a compelling choice for bassists seeking professional-grade performance without breaking the bank. From its intuitive interface to its thoughtful touches like the tone knob and customizable LED lighting, the Scylla delivers a level of versatility and functionality that belies its modest price tag. For bassists looking to elevate their tone without compromising on quality or affordability, the Joyo Scylla compressor is a clear standout.

For more information, visit online at joyoaudio.com/product/265.html

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Bass Videos

String Instrument Humidifiers

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String Instrument Humidifiers

String Instrument Humidifiers

After living in some very humid parts of the country for decades, we moved to a dryer, much sunnier location. As a result, I started noticing some fret sprout on my string instruments and recently did a video on fret sprout correction.

It occurred to me that I should take a more preventative approach to string instrument humidification. Of course, I turned to my instrument maintenance experts, Music Nomad Equipment Care, for a solution and they suggested their Humitar series. (Note: They sent two press samples and I purchased the remainder online.)

Join me as I look at these useful tools for keeping my string instruments in tip-top condition.

The Humitar series is available online at Music Nomad Equipment Care, as well as Amazon.com

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Bass Videos

Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

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Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

CrystalBright Rombo Picks

PR Sample

Playing bass with a pick is still a touchy subject in our community. I believe you should be able to use whatever you need to get your sound. Even though I mostly play with my fingers, I like to check out innovative new picks that might have something new to offer, sonically speaking.

Judith and Carlos from Rombo recently contacted me about a new material called CrystalBright that they have been researching for the last 12 months and offered to send some prototype picks. After trying them out, I put together this video with my findings.

For more info check out @rombopicks

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Gear

New Joe Dart Bass From Sterling By Music Man

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Sterling by Music Man introduces the Joe Dart Artist Series Bass (“Joe Dart”), named after and designed in collaboration with the celebrated Vulfpeck bassist.

Above photo credit: JORDAN THIBEAUX

This highly-anticipated model marks the debut of the Dart bass in the Sterling by Music Man lineup, paying homage to the Ernie Ball Music Man original that all funk players know and love. The bass embodies many of the original model’s distinctive features, from its iconic minimalist design to the passive electronics.

Joe Dart Artist Series Bass

The design process prioritized reliability, playability, and accessibility at the forefront. Constructed from the timeless Sterling body, the Dart features a slightly smaller neck profile, offering a clean tone within a comfortable package. The body is crafted from soft maple wood for clarity and warmth while the natural finish emphasizes the simple yet unique look.

Engineered for straightforward performance, this passive bass features a ceramic humbucking bridge pickup and a single ‘toaster’ knob for volume control. Reliable with a classic tone, it’s perfect for playing in the pocket. The Dart is strung with the all-new Ernie Ball Stainless Steel Flatwound Electric Bass Strings for the smoothest feel and a mellow sound.

Joe Dart Artist Series Bass

The Sterling by Music Man Joe Dart Bass is a special “Timed Edition” release, exclusively available for order on the Sterling by Music Man website for just one month. Each bass is made to order, with the window closing on May 31st and shipping starting in November. A dedicated countdown timer will indicate the remaining time for purchase on the product page. Additionally, the back of the headstock will be marked with a “2024 Crop” stamp to commemorate the harvest year for this special, one-of-a-kind release. 

The Joe Dart Bass is priced at $399.99 (MAP) and can be ordered globally at https://sterlingbymusicman.com/products/joe-dart. 

To learn more about Joe Dart, visit the official Vulfpeck artist site here https://www.vulfpeck.com/.


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