Connect with us

Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Trickfish Bullhead Mini 500

Published

on

New Gear: Trickfish Amplification Bullhead Mini 500 Amplifier

Trickfish Bullhead Mini 500 review…

When the folks at Trickfish announced the Bullhead Mini 500, the newest addition to the Bullhead amplifier family, I knew it would not be just another run-of-the-mill amplifier.  Trickfish has a knack for finding and filling niches in the bass amp market with products that are remarkably insightful, well designed, beautifully constructed, and impeccable sounding.  Given the brainpower behind the brand, this really shouldn’t be shocking.  Trickfish was founded in 2014 by industry icon Richard Ruse (of SWR, JBL and KRK pedigree), who teamed up with Mike Pope (onboard preamp designer for Fodera Guitars, creator of the Flexcore preamps and ‘bass gear Hall of Fame’ gear Michael Pope MPP-1/MPP-2 preamps) and David Yates to design and build the Flexcore brand and product line.  Soon after, Ryan Owens joined the team as part-owner, bringing with him a wealth of player knowledge and business acumen.  Richard sadly passed away in 2017 but his legacy lives on through the fantastic and innovative work Trickfish continues to do.    

The Bullhead Mini 500 rounds out the Bullhead amp family, following the success of their flagship 1000w Bullhead 1K and 700w Bullhead .5K amps. While the 1K and .5K are certainly siblings, their respective preamp voicings vary a little, and the Mini borrows more directly from the 1K. As Owens puts it: The “1K is clear, quick and detailed while the .5K has a more mid-forward punch that can warm up when pushed.” The Bullhead Mini utilizes a high-end Pascal power module to deliver 500w at 4 ohms and incorporates the preamplifier and 4 band EQ many will recognize from the larger Bullheads, derived from Mike Pope’s legendary outboard rack preamps of yesteryear.  Whereas the larger Bullheads have switches which let players choose between two frequency points per band, the Mini 500 has fixed EQ points, based on their “favorite go-to settings” simplifying the EQ schema and giving a bit more of a plug-and-play vibe.   The EQ points are Bass 80Hz, Low Mid 333Hz, High Mid 1.8kHz, and Treble 8kHz. 

And plug-and-play it is.  The Bullhead Mini 500 sounds fantastic right out of the box with no EQ.   With the Gain knob set just below where the red clip indicator lights up and the volume set moderately, the amp sounds full, warm, and clean, but not sterile.  Trickfish always seems to thread that needle beautifully where other amplifiers can sound a bit clinical or dry in their pursuit for clean and clear bass tone.  Like the other Bullhead amps, the Mini sounds smooth, present, and above all, musical.  The 500w Pascal module is surprisingly robust and puts out a stout volume level for an amp with the word “Mini” in its name.   

Like all things Trickfish, the design, aesthetic, build and component quality just feel top-notch.  Great knob feel, super dialed aesthetic and flawless performance are right on cue.  I struggled to get a bad sound out of it, and paired with their TF112 cab, the tone was immediately balanced and punchy, while still natural and open.   The Mini’s small footprint and clean layout makes it a natural choice for low to medium volume players, and, as Owens says “Because of the heat sink on the [power module] and the aluminum chassis, we are able to keep the inside cooler for longer and we do not generally experience the fan engaging under normal situations. In more extreme environments the fan circuit is there to kick and keep the module cooled. This is great for in-home practicing where you don’t have to hear the fan after a few minutes of playing.

Like the larger Bullheads, the Mini 500 has a selectable input pad, output mute switch, 1/8” line in and headphone jacks, and full-featured 600 Ohm Balanced XLR DI output with pre/post selection and ground lift. A parallel FX loop rounds out the gig-ready feature set.

I am really impressed with the Mini 500.  It manages to pack all the pro features necessary to be a gig-worthy amp, utilizes top-shelf componentry to get the job done, and somehow manages to come in at a remarkably competitive price point. At $799, it’s not exactly cheap, but comes in at a substantially lower cost than some similarly rated amps from competing companies.  Bonus points:  the optional Trickfish Amp Bag is killer, with great padding and more than enough space for cables and other doodads.   

For more info, check out the Bullhead Mini online at Trickfish’s website.  

Bass Videos

Review: BITE Custom Bass – The Black Knight PP Bass

Published

on

Review - BITE Custom Bass - The Black Knight PP Bass

BITE Custom Bass – The Black Knight PP Bass Review…

I am sure many of you saw my review of the Snobby Steampunk Bass from BITE Guitars back in February of 2021 and will remember what a remarkable bass it was. BITE has been building custom basses since 2019 and has a unique custom approach where you can configure your bass to your specs.

I am very excited to have another Bass From BITE Guitars in my hands, The Black Knight PP Bass! 

The need for a P-Bass in one’s armamentarium is pretty standard for bass players and I recall chatting about this with Marty O’Brien about a year ago. It turns out that Marty and BITE Guitars got together and came up with this excellent configuration that gives you a P-Bass with a whole lot more.  Marty even played his own Black Knight PP bass at the 2024 NAMM show. You can see his review here.

Join me as I take an in-depth look at this very cool instrument and share all the details.

Here is The Black Knight Bass from BITE Guitars!

For more information, visit online at bite.guitars/product/black-knight-pp

Continue Reading

Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass

Published

on

Gear Review: Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass

Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass Review…

Throughout the evolution of music, bass players have sought tools to sculpt and enhance their sonic landscapes, and one indispensable ally in this pursuit has been compression. Origin Effects, a name synonymous with premium audio craftsmanship, introduces the Cali76 Compact Bass Compressor, a pedal that pays homage to the legacy of compression and brings forth a new chapter in bass sonic mastery.

As we delve into the world of the Cali76 Compact Bass Compressor, we’ll explore how Origin Effects seamlessly weaves together the heritage of compression and contemporary bass demands, promising a pedal that not only honors the past but propels your bass playing into the future. Join us on this sonic expedition as we dissect the nuances of the Cali76 Compact and uncover the secrets it holds for bass players seeking the perfect blend of vintage warmth and modern versatility.

For Starters, the Cali76 is a studio-grade FET compressor pedal, based on the classic Urei 1176, but with some features optimized for bass guitar. For those of you who are not familiar with it, a FET (Field Effect Transistor) compressor is essentially a solid-state tube compressor emulation that allows for fast and precise control over the attack and the release parameters; allows for extreme compression ratios; and finally adds the typical 1176 color and character to the sound.

Together with the common controls we see in most compressor pedals – Ratio, Attack/Release, input (just like the original 1176, the threshold in this pedal is fixed), and output (makeup gain). The Cali76 offers two more controls dedicated to us bass players.

A Dry control – This allows us to mix in our dry, uncompressed signal to the pedal output. This is great for when we want to add back some of our playing dynamics to the compressed sound or for when you want some volume back in situations where the compression starts taking away the volume.

A High Pass Filter control – Low frequencies on a bass guitar signal normally overwhelm compressors. This high pass filter allows the compressor to only react to higher frequencies, which helps preserve the natural dynamics of our playing while keeping the low end intact.

Metering on this pedal can be a bit hard to get used to at first. There’s a single LED light on the pedal, that not only serves as an On/Off light, but it’s also our meter. It glows red when no compression is applied and orange for active compression. The brighter the light, the greater the amount of gain reduction. Yellow signifies that the gain reduction reached 27dB and maximum reduction occurs around 38 dB.

In practical terms, it’s all about working with the input and the LED to find the sweet spot (turn the input to zero, start playing and slowly increase the input level until you start seeing the LED glowing orange, which means there’s reduction going on).

With 6 highly interactive knob controls, this pedal implies some degree of compressor knowledge and also some amount of tweaking and experimentation to find the perfect settings. The good news is that it is very hard to make this pedal sound bad…

It can go from very subtle compression settings to very extreme, and it can do everything in between. Also, the team at Origin has been kind enough to add a couple of sample settings in the manual to get players started and to help us understand better how the pedal works.

Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass

Dynamic Control is a setting that provides natural compression, balancing dynamics between various playing techniques. It is a subtle compression that will work almost out of the box almost all the time. Having a medium setting for the High Pass Filter ensures an honest translation of the lower string dynamics.

Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass

Parallel compression is a popular studio technique, where both compressed and natural signals are blended. We get the sound and feel of hard compression while retaining the natural playing dynamics.

Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Bass

Percussive, lively & Fat is a setting that uses a slower attack time to accentuate the start of any note. Then using a fast release allows the compressor to recover between notes so that the phrases sound more percussive. Ideal for slapping and other percussive techniques.

Finally, I would like to mention the classic 1176 tonal coloration. It’s not a secret that engineers all around would sometimes use the 1176 compressor, without applying any compression, just to get the tonal coloration into the instrument sound.

And the Cali76 compressor is no different, it has such a rich, warm, and full coloration that’s super pleasing to the ear and makes you want to have it ON all the time. So be aware, that if you want a transparent compressor, this pedal is not for you!

All in all, it is easy to understand why this pedal became a favorite of so many bass players around the world. The Cali76 Compact stands as a testament to the meticulous craftsmanship and thoughtful engineering that Origin Effects is renowned for. It seamlessly navigates through the rich history of compression, offering bass players a gateway to the soulful resonance of the past while empowering them to sculpt a contemporary sonic future.

Whether you’re a seasoned bass maestro or a budding virtuoso, the Cali76 Compact invites you to embark on a sonic journey where every note is held in a delicate balance between tradition and innovation. As we bid farewell to our exploration, we do so with the realization that the Cali76 Compact is more than just a pedal; it’s a sonic companion that elevates the artistry of bass playing

For more information, visit online at origineffects.com

Continue Reading

Gear Reviews

Spector NS Ethos HP 4 Bass Review

Published

on

Spector NS Ethos HP 4 Bass Review

Spector NS Ethos HP 4 Bass Review…

Not long ago, I did a review of the Spector NS Dimension HP 5 Bass and I have just been given the honor and privilege of reviewing the Spector NS Ethos HP 4 Bass. I have to say, another great bass from Spector that is hard to put down! While there are some similarities between both basses, there are also some noticeable differences which is why I believe having both is essential to any bass arsenal.

Spector, widely used by many rock and metal bassists like Ian Hill, Alex Webster, Colin Edwin, Doug Wimbish, and many more, just to name a few, has a long-standing in these genres. Well, that’s about to change! The bass I used for the review, didn’t see any of those genres, matter of fact, I used it on a few classic country gigs and at church too! However, when at home in the studio, I let the funk out. The NS Ethos HP 4 Bass is an all-around great bass for any genre and will not disappoint.

Let’s get into the specs about the bass, and here we will find the differences between the HP 5 Bass and the HP 4.

Forget that one is a 5 string, while the other is a 4, while that is a difference, that’s not one that I feel needs to be noted as both models are available as 4 and 5 strings. The Spector NS Ethos HP 4 Bass has a 34” scale, 24 fret, 3 piece maple neck through construction with solid alder wings, ebony fingerboard along with centered and side dots and the 12th fret Spector logo inlay with a brass nut.

While the pickups are different as the NS Dimension HP 5 Bass uses the EMG 45DC and the NS Ethos HP 4 Bass sports the EMG 35DC pickups, they are the same pickup configurations, the difference being, one for 4 string, the other for 5 string. The electronics are the same, consisting of a Darkglass Tone Capsule preamp which consists of +-12dB @70Hz for Bass, +-12dB @500Hz for Mids, and +-12dB @2.8kHz for Hi Mids. Controls for Spector NS Dimension HP 5 Bass consist of Master Volume, Blend, Bass, Mid, and Hi Mid controls. The electronics are powered by a 9-volt battery.

The bridge is a Hi-Mass locking bridge with intonation screws and the tuners are sealed die-cast. All hardware is black. Same as the Spector NS Dimension HP 5 Bass, the HP 4 Bass is available in 4 different finishes, White Sparkle Gloss, Gunmetal Gloss, Plum Crazy Gloss & Black Gloss. The bass also comes with a very nice and well-padded gig bag.

Check out the Spector NS Ethos HP 4 Bass at a Spector Music Retailer today near you or visit online at spectorbass.com/product/ns-ethos-hp-4/

Continue Reading

Gear Reviews

Review: Italia Leather Straps

Published

on

Review: Italia Leather Straps

Italia Leather Straps…

Whenever I get a new bass, I like to get a new strap to christen it and I also like to find one that is “color coordinated” to my new instrument. I recently had a 6-string fretless bass created by a local luthier named Frank Brocklehurst, which started my search for a new strap.

There are a few points that I always look for when searching for a new strap. 

1-Comfort 
2-Width
3-Great color
4-Price

My most recent quest put me in touch with “Italia Leather Straps.” Italia has been in business in California for about 20 years and has been selling factory direct for the past 18 years.

When you order your strap it begins its “made to order” build process and after shipping more than 50,000 straps they certainly have it well in hand!

To answer my 4 questions regarding comfort, Italia uses some of the most comfortable and luxurious leather in a wide variety of colors. I was able to match almost perfectly the color of my bass and the color of the leather.

You can order it in either a 2.5” or 4” width as well as a standard and long model for tall players. I prefer the 4” for all of my basses. 

I received my strap and I must tell you, the leather was soft, supple, and truly comfortable when I attached it to my bass.

I must commend Italia Leather Straps for their attention to detail and beautiful selection of leather. I would say that when you go looking for a new strap, these guys should be on your shortlist.

Call or visit Italia Leather Straps online:
831-324-4277
www.italiastraps.com

Continue Reading

Bass Videos

Review: The Fuchs FBT-700 Bass Amps

Published

on

Review: The Fuchs FBT-300 and FBT-700 Bass Amps

Fuchs FBT-700 Bass Amps…

Much like our original ODS amps were initially inspired by the legendary Dumble amps, the new Fuchs FBS-1 bass amps have found their inspiration from the iconic Walter Woods © bass amps, but with Andy’s own enhancements.

Andy tapped his years of experience as a working musician, as well as servicing and tweaking guitar and bass amps for many famous clients as diverse as Carlos Santana through jammers like Jimmy Herring, including jazz legends like Dave Stryker for over 40 years as inspiration for our new bass amps. Fuchs’ 20-year list of reviews and endorsers is truly impressive to say the least.

Not unlike the iconic Walter Woods © amps the FBS-300 and FBS-700 amps are designed for maximum power at minimal size and weight. For years, the rare and coveted Woods amps have built a following amongst industry professionals. They were literally the first switch mode class-D style lightweight bass amps ever. Due to Walter being reclusive and now retired, these amps found their way to Andy’s shop to be repaired. While servicing them Andy was able to reverse engineer the preamp and power supply. Mated to a modern lightweight ICE power digital power module we have produced an amp that Woods owners agree, is equal (if not better) than their predecessors.

The FBS-1 bass amps (and our FBT tube bass amps) share identical panels and chassis and are available in 300 and 700-watt models, they feature a solid-state preamp inspired by the infamous Walter Woods © amps, but with improvements like a steep-slope subsonic filter and a DI output using high-speed audiophile op amps and a regulated power supply. The DI output is electrically balanced pre/post switch, ground lift, DI Phase, and a global mute switch.

Small and light, (downright diminutive) at less than 5-lbs and 12 x 3 x 9, they are loud and clean. Want some dirt? Raise the input gain and lower the master volume. Want total clean, lower the input gain and raise the master. They are super easy to operate, and the FBS-1  amps will easily fit in a gig bag, run ice-cold, and feature a well-thought-out, simple configuration for the working musician. A Fuchs gig bag designed for all models is coming soon.

These amps feature an input gain control allowing both passive and active bass use, Baxandall (shelving eq) high and low controls, a parametric rotary midrange control with level and frequency control and an output master volume. With the midrange pot in the ‘0’ position the circuit is flat. In this mode the bass and treble pots emulate the classic Woods and B-15 style amps we know and love. Use the mid circuit for boost and cut of up to 20 db at a fully adjustable frequency.

All models use the industry-standard Ice power modules, which are known for their rock-solid reliability and excellent cool-running, audio performance. These amps feature a buffered patch loop between the preamp and power amp. All amps offer worldwide automatic line voltage selection. Wherever you are, they automatically set their own line voltage. All amps are CE and RoHs compliant.

FBT-300 6 lbs 12 x 3 x 9 chassis. FBT-700 6 lbs 12 x 3 x 9 chassis.

FBT-300: 300W at 1% THD+N, 4Ohm • 260W at 0.1% THD+N, 4Ohm • 380W at 10% THD+N, 4Ohm • 450W at 1% THD+N, 2.7Ohm (Approximately ½ half this value at 8-ohms).

For more information, visit online at fuchsaudiotechnology.com

Continue Reading

Trending