You don’t want to haul a full bass rig when popping around the guitarist’s house for tea and a spot of songwriting
Even though lighter and more compact gigging bass rigs have become readily available in the last 10 years, you still don’t want to be chucking that much kit into the car for a bit of a jam with your mates or some low-key rehearsal. A 30W combo, like this one from Chinese company AXL, offers a down-sized, lightweight and relatively inexpensive remedy.
Standing 380mm high, 330mm wide and 254mm deep, the Standard 30B weighs 9.3kg (20lbs). A cool dark green carpet covering and plastic corners protects the porting-free box, and a domed grille guards the 10" speaker beneath. There’s no active/passive option or separate Gain control, just single Volume dial accompanied by Treble (10kHz), Middle (1kHz), Bass (100Hz) and Presence controls plus a handy headphone jack socket.
The S30B handles a passive bass well at any EQ setting, and if you refrain from over-boosting the Bass dial you’ll also get a clean result with active instruments, even with a low B string involved. The flat EQ tone is clean and lively with a pleasing rasp. Chopping back Treble and Presence unearths a smoother, bluesier version, but take care in boosting: the level of cut and bite on offer is pretty excessive and fairly horrible at the extremes. Boosting Middle is more subtle, adding a little body to your sound, although cutting higher frequencies in this mode will give audibly more punch and impact.
In terms of its purpose the S30B is well priced and tonally not bad at all, although an input gain control would be useful.