Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Gallien-Krueger 2001RB Bass Amplifier Head Review


It does not come up very often, but sometimes you need a bass amp with just a little more oompf. When that time comes, one amplifier to consider should be the big boss Gallien-Krueger 2001RB. This thing is a monster!

Gallien-Krueger has been building quality solid-state amplifiers in the United States since the company was started by a pair of Hewlett Packard engineers over 40 years ago. They have become the biggest bass amplifier manufacturer out there on the back of their RB series of bass amplifiers, which were introduced back in the early 1980s. Their products and customer service are very well regarded in the music industry.

The pinnacle of their solid-state bass amplifiers is the rack-mountable 2001RB. This unit measures 19 x 5.25 x 12 inches, which equate to 3 rack spaces. It weighs in at around 42 ½ pounds, which is not too terrible when compared to my SVT. This is an unavoidable comparison, which will surely come up again. It certainly makes it the heaviest solid-state head I have ever used.

It heavy because there is a huge power supply and four amplifiers inside of that pretty case. These include two for the low end with 540 watts each at 2 ohms (or 1080 watts bridged at 4 ohms) and 2 high-end amps with 50 watts each at 8 ohms. You can power up to 4 cabinets with this thing! That is a ton of power, and there are two continuously variable speed fans inside to help keep things cool (and to make the amplifier last longer).

There is plenty of stuff going on the front of this amplifier. There is an input stage, two sets of channel controls, voicing filters, an EQ and an output stage.

The input stage includes a the ¼-inch input jack, a -10dB pad switch, a pre-input clip LED, tuning mute switch and a channel select switch.

The channel controls are set up with channel A for clean and channel B for overdrive. You will see that channel A has a Level control, while channel B gets four knobs. These include: Level, Gain, Edge (overlapping treble) and Bottom (overlapping bass). By overlapping, I mean in addition to the 4-band equalizer and voicing filters that both channels share. By the way, the channels are switched via a button on the front of the amp or with a foot switch.

Tone controls include an active four-band equalizer, and two voicing filters: contour (flat to +2dB @ 50Hz,-10dB @ 500Hz, +3dB @ 7KHz) and presence (flat to +9dB @ 10KHz). There is also a 5-string bass switch that adds 10dB at 20Hz.

The output section consists of a Boost knob, which add in the traditional Gallien-Krueger growl, as well Tweeter and Woofer volume controls. There is also a tweeter hi-cut b switch (above 10KHz) and a Woofer crossover switch (above 5KHz).

The back of the amplifier is where you will find the four Neutrik Speakon and four 1/4" speaker output jacks, and a switch to select dual mono or bridge modes. The right side speakers have their own level control knob. There is also an adjustable direct out with a pre/post switch and a ground lift. There is also plenty of other good stuff, including an effects loop, a footswitch jack, a tuner out, remote trigger in and out, and chain in and out. The remote trigger and the chaining jacks are used if you want to connect a bunch of 2001RB amplifiers together. The idea of this scares me, frankly.

I tested the G-K 2001RB out with my Stingray, an assortment of passive and active Precision and Jazz basses and even my Kala U-Bass. This amplifier is a powerhouse, yet still has all of the Gallien-Krueger tones that I have been using over the past 25 years. The clean G-K tone is there in spades, but this is not a one-trick pony. It can distort out for rock, play smooth for jazz and blues, and can pop like a mofo for funk. The 5-string switch really boosts the low end, maybe even too much. The filters and channel switching work flawlessly and it will do most anything you want it to do. Except for sounding like an SVT, that is. The tube warmth is missing, but if you are playing at the insane volume levels this thing is designed for, warmth is a pipe dream.

As far as output, this amplifier can put our more volume than any single amplifier I have ever played. I tried it out with everything from a single 15-inch speaker to a pair of 8-10 cabinets and the 2001RB made the most out of all of them. I do not think there is a speaker cabinet out there that this amplifier will not be able to drive to its fullest.

That being said, I need to editorialize and throw in my 2 cents worth as a sound guy. If somebody showed up for a gig I was running with one of these amps and a truckload of cabinets, I would not be terribly happy. Things like this almost always lead to volume creep. The bass player is too loud, so the guitarists turn up their amps, and the bass player adds more volume. All the while I am cranking the vocals and drums up to match, and soon the audience is holding their ears and having a terrible time. If you need your bass sound to go that huge you should probably be going through the PA…

Anyway, everybody will disregard my advice, and that is ok because the Gallien-Krueger 2001RB is certainly a top-notch amplifier. It sounds great, has versatile outputs and relatively simple controls, and is can be terrifyingly loud. There is not really much out there to compete with it, especially at its street price of $1299 (MSRP $1856). If you need this much output, it is totally worth every penny!

p.s. Don’t forget that GK includes a 2-year warranty and has the world’s best customer service.


1 comment:

  1. Just got one. The headroom is why, also I really wanted to make venues vibrate.
    Next day our guitar player got a 6505 to compete lmao. We are loud yes! Fuhquary!