Schertler’s pickups, preamps, and amplifiers are mostly associated with the reproduction of acoustic instruments. But recently, they entered the world of electric bass with the Bass Fidelity series of combos. These powerful and portable amps are built for bassists on the go and include 1x15 and 1x12 varieties, but we checked out the most diminutive member the family—the Bass Fidelity B10.
What’s in a Name?
The front-ported cabinet houses a 10" ferrite (ceramic) speaker and a 1" dome tweeter. Schertler selected a long-extension woofer to maximize projection and tone. While many speaker-cabinet designs incorporate a high-frequency attenuator, the B10 does not include this function.
Schertler’s solid-state B10 is built for quick response and transparency. The transistor-based, class A discrete preamp contains essential tone-shaping features, including one cool surprise: an input-impedance control that allows the player to set the impedance from 22k ohm to 2m ohm at 1 kHz and expand the variety of pickups that will work well with the B10.
After the gain knob, the amp provides shelving controls for the low, low-mid, high-mid, and high frequencies, along with thoughtful implements like a DI level and a headphone volume next to the master. One of the best design features of the B10 is actually the top-mounted handle. The vertical orientation caters to the natural position of the hand and helps provide easier transport for this 50-plus pound combo than you’d get from a side-handle design.
Perhaps the only slight that could be said about the B10 would be the location of the controls. It’s certainly understandable positioning the knobs on the front panel, but it was difficult at times to make on-the-fly adjustments with the combo positioned on the floor.
I’m typically of the belief that 1x10 combos are incapable of handling the hefty lows of bass instruments, even at moderate volumes. Within seconds of playing through the B10, however, my perceptions changed.
Mated with a Sadowsky Metro Will Lee 4-string, the B10’s driver transmitted barking bridge tones and punchy slap passages with accuracy. Curious to see if the combo could handle an extended-range bass, I plugged in a Ritter R8 5-string, which has a massive-sounding 5th string. The B10 impressively and effortlessly filled the room with deep, detailed open-B notes.
Even more satisfying is the amount of volume this pint-sized powerhouse can deliver. In the cozy confines of my studio, it was never necessary to turn the master volume higher than 9 o’clock. These initial tests seemed evidence enough that the B10 could operate outside of the practice room, and I set out to push it to its limits.
Trio of Trials
I tested the B10 at three different venues. The first gig was a wedding reception supporting a pianist and a drummer where I used a German upright equipped with a Fishman Full Circle pickup. In the past, I’ve had to cut significant midrange out of amplifiers that colored the signal, but the combination of the Full Circle and the B10 relayed more acoustic detail and nearly replicated the natural tone of the instrument. Volume was never an issue with the master kept around 10 o’clock.
Round two took place with a blues quartet performing at a 300-seat club. The rig sounded strong during soundcheck with a guitarist, drummer, and harmonica player, but required help from the PA once an audience filled the room. Although it wouldn’t suffice for transmitting my Nash P-style tones without the PA bump, the B10 was an excellent reference rig and delivered pleasing sounds that covered the stage.
The last (and most ambitious) application of the B10 involved transmitting the notes of an NS Design NXT electric upright with a jazz octet. The venue was a 9,000-seat arena that was being used for a private party of 2,000 guests. Few rigs could come close to covering this massive space, so again the B10 was used as a reference rig with aid from a PA. But the combo provided plenty of volume to adjust for intonation within my playing area on the 40' x 60' stage and I got a big thumbs-up from the soundman.
The Schertler Bass Fidelity B10 combo packs serious power and precision into a portable package. It’s an excellent choice for the studio or small stages, and has the means of functioning as a solid reference rig for larger venues. The price tag may very well scare bassists on a budget, but a strong case can be made that the B10’s benefits are worth the extra cash. If you like truly portable amplification that doesn’t get in the way of your tone, the Schertler B10 is a must try.
Watch the Review Demo: