When you think about the electric guitar, the first thing that comes to mind is Marshall. But when you contemplate about the bass, the name that keeps flashing in your head is Ampeg. Nothing tells the story of this instrument better than the amplifiers from this brand. Their SVT, the prototypes of which were constructed back in ‘60s, was a 300 watt beast with 14 tubes – a true monstrous miracle at the time. The sound of that head made its way to the legendary stages and is captured on numerous renowned records. But we are not here to talk about SVT specifically. The gems of this amplifier are present in newer, smaller and more affordable models, including BA-112 v2 – our very target today. Whether you are a beginner who is searching for the first bass amplifier, or an experienced player who wants to find a reliable combo, you are in the right place! Let’s get started, shall we?
When you take a look at BA-112 v2 for the first time, it looks like a pretty typical combo. But it has couple of surprises under the hood, which makes it extremely versatile and capable. It is definitely something to write home about, providing you with the features you will not come across in the majority of models out there.
Let’s start with the basics: the rated output of BA-112 v2 is 75 watts which drives a single 12” speaker. This compact and portable combo has a 60° monitor angle which reinforces the sound and delivers its tones right at your ears. It is featured in a sturdy all-steel chassis with metal corners and Ampeg Classic black Tolex. This makes this fella roadworthy and durable, allowing you to shove it in the back of the van and forget about its existence. More importantly, it comes with the Bass Scrambler circuitry that provides you with that legendary SVT tube distortion. BA-112 v2 can also be modified to suit the nature of active pick-ups or high-gain instruments (with the help of -15dB switch). This combo is compatible with a foot controller which triggers the Scrambler circuitry and enables you to girth up the rig on the fly. It also has the Ultra Hi and Ultra Lo switches that can boost specific frequency ranges, enhancing your control over the tone even further. And when it comes to the connections, we have a single input for the bass, two auxiliary inputs for external audio sources, phones output for soundless practices and a socket for the footswitch.
As everything else on the BA-112 v2, the control section is perfectly thought-out and sorted as well. The Scrambler functionalities are kind of sectioned out, while the rest is clustered in a single bunch. Everything you will ever need (including the sockets) is concentrated on the front which makes all the essentials easily accessible. Let’s break down all the controls and see what exactly can we play with here.
Right above the input you will notice the -15dB button. I have mentioned its functionalities above, but as repetition is the mother of knowledge, it will not hurt to say once again that this switch reduces the input signal by 15dB and compensates for high-gain instruments. Next we have Scrambler section with the switch (triggers the overdrive circuitry), Drive (increases the amount of overdrive) and Blend (mixes distorted signal with the unaffected one) knobs. Then comes the Volume knob that sets the overall output level. Ultra Lo intensifies the low-end by 1dB at 40Hz and attenuates it by -10dB at 500Hz, while Ultra Hi boosts the high frequencies by 5dB at 8kHz. I am pretty sure you know what Bass, Mid and Treble do, so I will not waste your time discussing their functions. We have only one knob left, namely Aux Level. It allows you to control the volume of your audio sources, such as MP3, iPod, or CD player.
The reason why Ampeg is so renowned among bassists is of course their emphasis on the instrument and most importantly, the sound their amps can deliver. Those of you who are familiar with the brand will quickly notice that characteristic feel that follows their models. Even without tweaking, BA-112 v2 has round but a bit aggressive clean tones which are reminiscent of all the predecessors. The EQ section allows you to mess around with various frequencies and create a full-bodied sound. But if you want something more to experiment with, Ampeg has got you covered. Ultra Hi and Ultra Lo switches underline the character of bass and treble even more. The former creates well-defined highs that add some texture to your tone, while the latter produces scrupulous bass with punch and definition. As you crank things up and enter the distortion zone, you can easily move from slight break up to a real muddy mayhem. Speaking of distortion, the Scrambler circuitry which acts as the overdrive effect, delivers the legendary SVT distortion. Though it is not as crazy as the original, nor can it get as muddy, it still replicates the feel and character of SVT overdrive pretty decently and gives you the idea of what all the buzz is about. And let’s not forget that BA-112 v2 is quite loud for its purpose and could easily get out of your bedroom and take you to smaller stages.
I do not think I have much left to say about BA-112 v2. I will simply try to round everything up and summarize everything we mentioned above. This amplifier is quite affordable compared to other models from Ampeg and is an amazing investment if you want a lifetime partner. Due to its rugged and sturdy design, it will last you through years and years of utilization. And when it comes to the sound, its basses are hard to compete with. Just listen to this bad boy, then take a trip down the memory lane and remind yourself of SVT and I assure you, these two will tell the story you will not forget. Good luck!
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