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This article was originally published in issue #35
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US maker Phil Jones Bass threw the rule book out of the window - especially the pages headlined Bass Means Big - when it developed its ground breaking range of micro bass amps. But bass amps have to be big and mean to sound right, don't they? Dan Veall finds out.
The Phil Jones Bass Double Four combo is easily the smallest I've seen here in the Bassment and is also the smallest in the Phil Jones range - and that's saying something, because the company specialises in doing the seemingly impossible by downsizing traditionally muscular bass amplification. Don't let the diminutive dimensions fool you, though. This little chap has a lot going for it and from the get-go, I was smiling.
Starting with the cabinet, this is a well braced and acoustically solid shell rather than a ply wood box with generic speakers bolted in - far from it. On the subject of speakers, Phil Jones has long extolled the qualities of smaller drivers. I should be clear here though: the pair of speakers in the Double Four are precision made and custom designed for this application. They deliver a wonderfully clear sound all the way up through the range, including a sparkly top end sizzle to my new bass strings.
Of course, what you'll really want to know is about the low end output and of course, there's no way this combo on its own is going to keep up with Mr 5150 running at warp 5. That said though, you will be surprised at the punch this cabinet that sits in the palm of my hand can deliver. It's ideal for practising and for those needing an ultra mobile teaching rig such as myself, this is a great way to achieve that. There's also an auxiliary input for your laptop, MP3 player or other devices for jamming along within said teaching setting.
Along the fascia, it's a clear and tidy layout and there's nothing that will make you want to reach for the manual (though I always recommend you take a look at it anyway as there's often some useful guidelines to follow!). Right to left we have the input jack and next to that an input gain switch to help set the incoming level. Used in conjunction with the gain control, this switch also features a mute position for silencing your instrument. There is a 3-band equaliser and what is interesting about the pre-amplifier design is that the audio doesn't pass through the individual potentiometers as it would in, say, an amplifier with a passive tone stack. Instead each knob is connected directly to a processor which in turn applies the boost or cut. In fact, the whole amplifier design is very complex but the net result is a clear and faithful reproduction of your bass tone. To further enhance low end, the cabinet has a passive radiator around the back that, as I understand it, helps to enhance the low frequency output of the combo. Indeed, my own studio monitors feature the same technology. It certainly works.
To the right of the Low, Mid and High EQ knobs, there is a master volume and also the auxiliary stereo input with its own level control that I mentioned earlier.
An all-important headphone jack for silent practice and also a very useful line out socket are also included. Need more power? Phil Jones is one of the few companies to offer a selection of powered bass cabinets to compliment the range. What this means is that you can turn the BG75 in to a fully gig-able stack up to the likes of the PB300 with its six drivers in a ported cabinet and 250W internal power amplifier can up your levels dramatically just linking the line output of the BG75 straight in to the powered cabinet. Neat! You can even daisy chain another PB300 to that too! That makes this a flexible and modular set up for a range of different performance situations.
The BG75 comes in a choice of three colours - the finish is a painted-on, hard wearing coating in the white you see here, or red which is very fetching and of course, good ol' black.
You'll notice the rubber feet on two sides meaning that you can lay the amplifier down or stand it up - it's stable either way.
Power comes from a PJB mains adaptor rather than using an IEC mains lead for connection. I have no problem with this as I realise that Phil Jones is wanting to keep this unit light and small but at the same time able to produce a quality sound from those two 4” drivers. They need a bit of space inside to make that happen.
Weighing in at 8.8lbs (4Kg), it's undoubtedly easy to carry and you're probably going to want to take it everywhere!
A superb and very well made amplifier.