Thursday, December 02, 2010

Gear review: Fender B-Dec 30 Amplifier

Today I'm going to review my Fender B-Dec 30. This assumes you've already perused the product literature and are already familiar with the features listed. If not, you can check it out on the Fender website. It's a small bass guitar amp, designed mainly for practice, but packed with features. I bought it new for around $350. I've owned it for a little over 2 years now, and have used it quite a bit for:

-Gigging with my upright bass (stage monitor)
-Gigging with my electric bass, with no drummer
-Rehearsals, campfires and impromptu jams (even with drummers)
-Practice and noodling around

Physical Aspects

Although the B-Dec was designed to be a practice amp, I have used it many times for gigs. It's small and light enough to be carried with one hand. I really love this: with a bass in the other, and a gig bag slung on your shoulder, you can walk into the gig in one trip. I also love the fact that it is a "kick back". I'm a big fan of putting the sound where you need it, and lowering the volume. No one has ears on the backs of their legs.


The controls, which are actually all encoders. This allows the settings to be stored and recalled in patches, which is pretty neat. The knobs all feel pretty sturdy and work well. The knobs don't stick out too much, so you don't really have to worry about them catching on anything.


Okay, it's not a tone monster, but it's solid. It sounds great throughout the entire volume range, and doesn't distort. It also holds down a very good bottom end throughout. I have been using it with a drummer for rehearsals and it is fine. I place the amp right behind the drummer.Volume-wise, let's say that if I ever turned it all the way up in my house, it would be pretty crazy. Not bad for 30 watts.

Bonus Stuff

Certain bonus features of the amp I frequently use, mainly the built-in tuner and the line out (which I plug into the mixing board). Incidentally, these are the things that convinced me to buy this amp in the first place.

The other doo-dads on the B-Dec, such as midi, back tracks, and FX, are neat, but I rarely use them. I do find them fun to play with when practicing. I thought I might use the RCA inputs, but not so much. The built-in backing tracks are actually helpful for doing certain kinds of drills. The phrase sampler, delay and reverb are inspiring when sitting around creating music.


When I first bought this amp, I was a little nervous - it was kind of an impulse buy, but I figured as long as it has a line out, tuner, and it sounds decent, I can do quite a bit with it. Well, I've actually ended up using this amp a lot more than I thought I would. As I mentioned, the B-Dec does way more stuff than I actually use, but they are not really the kind of things that get in the way. I definitely feel like I've gotten my money's worth, and would recommend it as a part of any active bass player's arsenal.

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