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Updated on January 24, 2012

The 220W Beast.


Crash bags a wallop.

Hey. Welcome to the home of Ampman. A man in search of tone. Crash turned up at my door the other day. His name is Paddy but we called him Crash after he pranged our old Ford transit van on a dark country lane one night in the late 70s coming home from a gig. We all ended up sleeping in a ditch, under the star studded wintry skies somewhere near the Scottish border. We were young then, so it wasn't freezing. It was "cool."

Now, whenever Crash turns up, it usually means trouble. For a start he's about 6'4 and 20 stones (that's 280 pounds, mostly of beer gut). He bust a knee a couple of years ago and has a bad limp. He quit smoking when he was in hospital but when he came out he had turned into a maniac for cigars. He's got a few bob, old Crash, so it's expensive Cuban cigars he has sourced - but that's another story. Point is, you smell him before you see him and when you see him Crash is a hairy giant of a man. Nothing wrong with his fingers though - which is good enough for me.

This time, he's got his 77 Fender Precision bass in hand, so I know he is here to rock. Usually he pops a lead into an old Peavey I've got, but this time he says he needs a hand with his new toy.

And no wonder! I don't really get to see it properly until we have bumped our toes, knocked heads, twisted necks and put our backs out getting the bugger down the cellar stairs into my sound pit. But there it is at last. Wow. And while Crash goes upstairs for a slash, I get a good look.

It's an Ampeg BA 115HP bass combo, 220W on 4 ohms. There's a big 15" speaker and a 1" compression driver, a five position switch, RCA input for backing tracks, 3 band EQ, balanced line out. There's something minimalist about the clean lines. I like that about sound tools, that they don't get in the way . HP stands for "High Power", you can get a Ampeg BA115 which "only" shoves 100W.

Crash gets back, stomping down the stairs like Frankenstein's Monster, and while I fire up the valves on my Marshall he gets rigged up and lets loose with some awesome tone that reaches deep down in the guts. He pinged some harmonies to check his tuning was spot on and I'm surprised by the end crystal clear top ends. Not that this is where we are heading. This beast needs to be taken down, down deep where the raw stuff lies.

The Ampeg ba115's have this cute little button that silences the devil instantly. I need to think, are we in tune? Will I be able to hear myself? Will this blow the sound proofing off the ceiling? Well, you know, what the heck. I go six on my little stack and we are off. Crash has that gutsy roar of The Stranglers so we pepper through Sometimes and Peaches and then some kind of thumpy Riders On The Storm kind of thing that left us rolling with laughter.

It is an absolute belter of a bass amp. Sort of two feet square, built like a brick it weighs 36 kg and it is going to do small gigs and probably even medium sized venues. The 5 settings are great for rock and metal, which is all I care for really - but there's funky slapping stuff and jazzy things in there too.

Crash says he got it on ebay and got change back from £350.

And it's got me thinking. There's a whole lower strata of tone out there to be discovered. Somewhere below the octaves I have called home. Something deep, and outside my comfort zone, was touched by Crash's visit . So now I think I might have to get me one of these beauties to play with too.


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