Practice bass amps dont have to sound rubbish, and were looking to a respected maker of proper amps like Ashdown to really come up with the goods. Review by Gareth Morgan
The Ashdown Tourbus 10 practice combo is made in China, and it’s small – 265mm high by 240mm wide by 170mm deep small, to be precise.
The major consequence of the box being this weeny is a payload of only 4kg/8.8lbs, which is so light that the single top-mounted carrying strap is actually heftier than you need.
The MDF cabinet is an oblong that hints in the direction of wedge-shaped, so the ‘Custom’ 10" speaker fires its noise through the retro-style cloth grille (replete with super-hip maker’s logo) at a slight upwards angle in a pseudo-monitor style.
As with Ashdown‘s bigger amps, the TB10 is dressed in hard-wearing black vinyl, its corners have metal protection and it sits on rubber feet.
All in all, a simple design -and this simplicity is matched by a control panel with a single Volume dial and Bass and Treble controls, each offering a hefty 15dB of cut and boost.
Jack sockets number the usual and highly necessary culprits, Input and Phones Out, as well as the new staple of any self-respecting practice combo, an MP3/CD/MiniDisc/Bass Trainer In of the mini-jack variety.
First up, a word about the MP3 In section – and that word is ‘excellent’. We plugged Tascam’s wonderful CD-BT2 Bass Trainer through the TB10 and it effortlessly handled full volume with full bass boost and an active low B-string equipped bass playing along.
You could argue that a phono socket would have been a better option than the mini-jack, but perhaps that would be rather churlish.
As we mentioned, the TB10 will cope with a five-string bass, but you have to be sensible. A quarter volume with Bass EQ halfway is about the limit – but this is more than loud enough for the TB‘s designated purpose.
At this level the sound is clean with not a hint of distortion, and there’s a natural feel to the sound which means plenty of bottom end growl, an even and well-realised midrange and open highs with plenty of bite.
If you need more bottom end, or your bass is the passive type, adding bass EQ adequately fattens up the sound, while boosting the treble gets you plenty of slicing cut without inducing too much fret-clank or finger-noise.
While the diminutive Ashdown Tourbus 10 doesn't have the versatility of battery power, there's plenty to commend this amp, and it's perfect for chucking in the back of your car when rest and recreation is on the agenda and practicing is a definite maybe. The price is more than generous and the MP3 In socket will cleanly reproduce a fairly hot signal, which is great for play-along practicing. It also sounds damn good, and the EQ is simple and effective - all of which adds up to a really useful little item.