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Markbass' Peter Murray rests atop a TA503, one of the company's 500-watt heads.
De Virgiliis: Like the other Markbass products, our cabinets faithfully reproduce the sound of any instrument played through them. The range of speakers, tuned port configurations, and sonic character give our users a wide range of options to meet their tastes and needs.
Murray: Markbass cabinets are designed to give bassists the real sound of their instrument within the context of a loud band on a gig—that’s when they really shine—when you really hear their full potential. Many other cabinets will sound great in the store or the bedroom, but won’t survive when on a loud gig.
Markbass has designed six combo amps, from the under-30 pound Mini CMD 121P, to the CMD 103H (three 10" speakers and a horn). What is the connection between the Markbass combo amps and the separate heads and cabs?
De Virgiliis: Markbass combos are made using the same cutting edge technology and top quality components as the heads and cabinets. Some manufacturers treat combos as amps for beginners, but there are no corners cut here, and the same quality standards apply to all of our products.
Murray: The CMD and Mini CMD series combos include the Little Mark III in them, as well as the same components and materials we use for our cabinets. The quality level is the same as if you were using separate heads and cabinets.
Markbass has introduced some new effects pedals. How do Markbass pedals stand out from other pedals on the market, aside from their distinctive colors?
De Virgiliis: It was inevitable for a brand like Markbass to complete our product line with effect pedals. Of course, as I mentioned, the distinctive colors are not the important thing. I prefer to talk about how proud we are about the high quality standard we’re able to offer thanks to our 100% made-in-Italy production. Our Markbass Pedal Controller software allows a user to customize their presets on our digital pedals, including the Super Synth, Chorus/Flanger, and Riverbero. The Compressore—a high-quality tube compressor—features all the individual controls normally found on professional studio outboard compressors.
Murray: People tell us all the time that it sounds as good as the larger studio compressors that cost thousands of dollars.
The DV Mark line of guitar amps, cabs, combos and pedals is yet another new direction for Markbass. How does this gear stand out from the abundance of guitar equipment already out there?
De Virgiliis: DV Mark was founded on the same design and production concepts that made Markbass one of the top amplifier brands in the world. After years of research and development, and consultation with some of the world’s best guitarists, I was ready to start on guitar amplification. Yes, there is an abundance of guitar equipment already, but much of it lacks reliability and versatility. In DV Mark, technology and innovation are blended with a profound respect for the great history and traditions of the classic guitar amps. We have several patent-pending features that offer killer tone, extreme reliability, light weight, great versatility, cool design and excellent value. As for Markbass, I started the design, and with my team we developed the products into what they are.
Murray: The response to DV Mark products so far has been extremely positive! It’s been a very encouraging start.
Very few European companies have broken into the U.S. bass amplification market in a big way like Markbass. How does your U.S. marketing strategy differ from your European sales approach?
De Virgiliis: I don’t think our success in the U.S. is related to a different marketing strategy. It is the same worldwide, with a philosophy that gives top priority to the needs and desires of bass players. State of the art technology, innovative production methods, Italian manufacturing, and our relationships with end users who recognize how serious and impassioned our staff are. We get thousands of emails testifying to our unique and friendly work style.
What’s next for Markbass in this tough economic climate?
De Virgiliis: Despite the economic climate, I think that the only way to maintain the growth and worldwide success of Markbass is to keep manufacturing in Italy. We control the entire process, from the quality of our materials to our rigorous testing procedures. For now we stand firm on this, despite the fact that so many other companies have moved their production to Asia, seduced by the short-term economic benefits of lower production costs.
Not only does manufacturing in Italy keep our quality control strong—it also allows us to innovate quickly and continuously. With an offshore factory, we’d be locked into inflexible and long-term production schedules. Our products can’t afford this type of inflexibility! We’re a company with vision, passion, and an irrepressible drive to innovate. In addition, we place a high value on human resources and consider factors such as human rights and the environment in all our decisions.