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Bass

An affordable—and surprisingly light—1x15, 200-watt combo delivers big, vintage Ampeg-style tones with a distinct SVT bent.

SVT boom in a small package. Headphone and aux capabilities on a larger amp. Lightweight. External speaker output increases flexibility.

Limited distortion channel. No tweeter. No DI volume control.

$549

Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-115
ampeg.com

4
3.5
4
4

Even though Ampeg has made amplifiers based on modern, lightweight technology for years, to many of us the brand represents the gold standard of vintage bass tone. When an engineer or artist asks you to provide an Ampeg sound in the studio or on a gig, they usually want the unmistakable low-mid thump of a B-15 or the unparalleled sub-lows and top-end grit of a ’70s era SVT with tubes that have been cooking for a few hours. So, whenever I try any new product from Ampeg, those sound standards are at the fore of my imagination. The 200-watt Rocket Bass RB-115, from Ampeg’s new Rocket line of combos, captures the essence of many of those foundational Ampeg tones in an amp that’s easy on the wallet, easy to use, and even surprisingly easy to carry.

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Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!

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Flexible filtering options and a vicious fuzz distinguish the Tool bass master’s signature fuzz-wah.

Great quality filters that sound good independently or combined. Retains low end through the filter spectrum. Ability to control wah and switch on fuzz simultaneously. Very solid construction.

Fairly heavy. A bit expensive.

$299

Dunlop JCT95 Justin Chancellor Cry Baby Wah
jimdunlop.com

4.5
4
4
4

Options for self-expression through pedals are almost endless these days. It’s almost hard to imagine a sonic void that can’t be filled by a single pedal or some combination of them. But when I told bass-playing colleagues about the new Dunlop Justin Chancellor Cry Baby—which combines wah and fuzz tuned specifically for bass—the reaction was universal curiosity and marvel. It seems Dunlop is scratching an itch bass players have been feeling for quite some time.

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We've reviewed a ton of cool gear over the past 12 months, but these stood above the rest and won our coveted Premier Gear Award.

This year more than 40 guitars, basses, effects, and amps from a diverse group of gear makers earned the coveted Premier Gear Award from our discerning editors. Here is our gear of the year.

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A bold fusion of Santa Ana and Fullerton styles yields a wide range of vintage-to-modern sounds.

Daring styling. Transparent onboard electronics. Powerful tone controls.

No passive operation. Hard to access upper frets.

$699

Jackson X Series Concert Bass CBXNT DX IV
jacksonguitars.com

4
3.5
3
4

I remember the extreme reactions when the PRS Silver Sky was introduced. The mashup (some might say, clash) of two well-known and classic designs was an earthly manifestation of sacrilege to some. The Jackson X Series Concert Bass CBXNT DX IV could be the Silver Sky's bottom-end equivalent: design elements from two legendary instruments fearlessly thrown together to create something new. The mix already has folks talking. But the real question is whether there is more to this bass than the mix of Fender-style P/J and Rickenbacker visual cues?

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