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January 15
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Line 6 LowDown LD400 Pro Bass Amp Review


Line 6 is best known for guitar amp modeling and onboard effects for the electric guitar, but in recent years the company has been creating the same kinds of modeling technologies for bass gear. The Bass POD has been quite popular and now the LowDown Bass Amps series is making waves, giving bass players another realm of tonal options within a single amp. So, in addition to the normal bass amp considerations—size, weight, power, sound and features—bass players can mull over the flavor-specific options that come with the purchase of modeling gear.

Roll Modeler
The amp weighs 95 pounds and comes with two heavy-duty handles and four sturdy casters that are so smooth and steady I’d almost take them down to the local skateboard park. All of the features are clearly and prominently placed on the front panel of the amp. It runs 400 watts through two 10” Eminence speakers and a compression driver horn, and has stagefriendly features like a balanced XLR direct output, a 1/4” preamp output and an onboard tuner that mutes the DI and the speaker when activated. The amp’s four-channel programmable memory allows you to save, on the fly, that perfect tone you came up with for future use. It’s practice-friendly, too—sporting a headphone out and a 1/8” CD/MP3 input. There’s also a jack for the optional Line 6 FBV Express or FBV Shortboard. Players who like running an extra cab on stage can do so with the right cable if their cab has a NL4M-series Speakon four-pole mono speaker connection.

My basses of choice for this review were a 5-string Fender Jazz Bass and a 3/4 upright bass mic’d with a Shure SM58 wrapped in foam and placed under the tailpiece.

Shake Your Head for Me, Darling Models are what Line 6 is known for so, not surprisingly, the preset amp models offer a range of bass tones that will match up with most musical styles. These are intended to give the player a wide range of versatile amp sounds while reducing the amount of gear you need. There are many fine shades and nuances to be tweaked within each setting but for the purposes of this review, I’ll focus on the preset amp models as they appear from Line 6.

Clean According to Line 6, “It’ll give you all the warm lows and punchy highs you need.” As advertised, this indeed has a warm, punchy clean tone with everything in its place. Flat wound strings on a fretless bass really complement this setting.

R&B This model pays tribute to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and the clean, fat tones of rigs like the Ampeg ’68 B-15 Flip Top. This preset is a very useful bass tone, and I can definitely hear what they were going for as I played some classic James Jamerson bass lines. This is a very functional setting and will sound appropriate in most any situation.

Rock The ’74 Ampeg SVT was the inspiration behind this model, which reminds me of a George Porter, Jr. sound. I find that adding a little bit of drive to this preset gives me a superb rock tone.

Brit If you’re looking for ‘60s Cream and The Who kinds of tones, the ’68 Marshall Super Bass is the way to go. The Brit model definitely has that old Rickenbacker-type tone in the mix. Line 6 gets you as close as possible to the experience without actually making you drag that Super Bass around.

Grind If you put a SansAmp Overdrive pedal in front of an SVT, you get that very popular angry, clear, punchy aggression. This one is all about the power, which I definitely feel while tearing through powerful monster riffs. Mucho massive tone, and yet no pedals to drag along.

Synth For ‘70s funk and modern rock, this tone is necessary. And it’s way cool! While in the bass synth mode, the knobs reconfigure to tweak all of the parameters of the synth (drive, cutoff, resonance, envelope, attack/decay, and waveform). This gives you the ability to create an incredible variety of fat’n nasty, old-school to modern synth sounds. After operating in this setting for a while, I was able to come up with several pure synth sounds, two of which I saved in the programmable channel memory. I could have spent hours coming up with one killer synth sound after another.

Effects Some players may find the onboard effects more useful than others. With an envelope filter, octaver and chorus, you may discover that you will leave the stompboxes behind and just roll with the onboard effects of the LD400 Pro.

The Final Mojo
The LD400 Pro could solve many problems for you in the studio. For gigging musicians with versatile set lists, not having to take additional gear to a practice or a show could make up for what the amp lacks in comparison to similar- sized combos that shine in their ability to power far fewer tones at louder volumes. The LD400 Pro’s array of amp models sound pretty good, especially at lower volumes, and its output options give you the flexibility to do what you need in larger gig settings with FOH help. The Line 6 LD400 Pro really shines in terms of tonal options and useful features packed into a single combo.
Buy if...
you’re a fan of onboard effects and amp models, and want something for rehearsal or the studio.
Skip if...
you need it to be as loud as your drummer on the backline, or you have a bad back.
Rating...
3.0 

Street $799 - Line 6 - ddynamusic.com