Lab Systems SS600

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Lab Systems all is forgiven!

To give a bit of background, I have been playing bass in a cover band for 7 years now and learning as I go, to the point where now I am stretching my ability to the more intermediate bass lines from songs like Shape I'm In (Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons) and Dani California (RHCP), songs of that jenre. While my ability is catching up to what is going on in my head the frustration is always that the right notes have never been heard in the right places. "Learn to play it properly" I hear you cry. Well the fact of the matter is, it's all well and good to play teh passing notes and runs in between the main action to 'fill the gaps' in teh melody so to speak, but if you can't hear it, there was to me, no point! Hence the frustration of the search for that fat tone yet punchy mid and high when required.

When the band I'm in formed in Nov 1999 I had a 100 watt Yamaha (can't even remember the model). This had given me the room to keep up with the drums during rehersals and I was happier, yet that nice bass tone still eluded me.

A couple of years on I traded the amp and a Washburn AB10 acoustic bass for a Marshal Bass State 150. Better, with more of the tonality I wanted, yet still without the punch I expected at higher volumes.

After getting a half decent bass (WA made Formentin Grunter P bass) there was an improvement in tone and punch but still not that 'hit you in the guts' that you need for a live performance.

I lucked upon what I thought was a great deal 3 years ago in a music shop whilst browsing for ideas about amps when I spotted a second hand head and speaker setup. It was the Ampeg SVT410HE classic that initially caught my eye. A bit battered and bruised but an Ampeg is an Ampeg and they are a tank of a thing. The Lab Systems SS600 sitting on top was a relative unknown to me although I had heard the name before I thought it looked to be a bit of an 'odd couple' style setup.

Having given the saleperson my budget for an amp I had initially been directed toward the Hartke 3500A through the transporter 410 from the same manufacturer. Nice, but a little bright for what I wanted. And for the price, I wasn't prepared to compromise on the tone that I was looking for after searching for 4 years or so at that point. I requested to plug into teh Lab/Ampeg and hear the thing seeing as how it looked like the most likely option of affordability for me at the time. I was not disappointed. The tone you expect from a bass was all there. BOOM! here I am, not to be ignored or lost but felt right in the chest. This was mostly due to double the wattage of the Lab vs the Hartke and the older, warn-in speakers of the Ampeg.

After purchasing the Lab/Ampeg rig I was at pains to re-establish the same kind of tone I had heard in the store in the studio. Hmmm? what a disapointment. Had I done my dough? I wondered.

For the next year I sparodically workied with a good friend and the guitarist in our band to find the cause of the loss of punch and tone that really should have been there. (Stick with this, as it sounds like a bad review at this point but there is a 'fairy tale' ending). I had lost the punch of the mid and high notes and half of what I was playing was being lost. Now it just sounded 'muddy' again.

I have recently sent the 600 SS back to Tim Evans for him to do a diagnostic on it and tell me where my tone had gone. Tim told me there was nothing he could find, apart from a shot volume pot. That was replaced and I asked him to 'tune' the head for the Ampeg while he was at it which he duely did. All this for a very reasonable price, which I was pleased about.

When the head was returned it was still lacking mid and high tones and was still producing a squealing feedback when utilising the mid to higher freq. eq. I was disappointed and prepared to sell it there and then. recouping what I could to pay for some alternative like a 400w/500w PA.

Last week, my friend and fellow band member convinced me notr to be so rash and took the Ampeg home just to be sure. This week he supplied me with a $2.00 light globe to replace the 28 watter in the back of the 410. "This ought to do it."

IN SPADES! The tone is back, and better than ever. It's all there, and all manageable from the tone and pickup balance from the bass. Whatever you want. Smooth blues or rock tones for those 'sit at the back and drive' songs to clarity in top funk and indie style 'grab the throat and pull' songs.

My faith is restored and I'm sorry I ever doubted you Tim. Lab Systems bass amps kick a*se. I'm as happy as the preverbial pig in muck after last nights rehersal and can't wait to share it with our next audience.

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