Bass Gear: Hughes & Kettner Bass ForceXXL 300W Bass Combo
Author: Val Hunting
Your sound is as personal as your signature. Visit the Hughes and Kettner website and you will find that this is key to their statement of purpose.
I was however more surprised to find the following claim: "We specialise in the Technology of Tone. In contrast to older style amps, which limit your playing style, Hughes & Kettner's new technology liberates you. Your sound is as personal as your signature. The signature on each of our amps symbolises our commitment to the most personal of freedoms, Freedom of Expression. Older amps limit you. Hughes & Kettner liberates you. Other amps make you sound like everyone else. Hughes & Kettner helps you find your own unique voice. Engineered and built in Germany to the highest quality standards, Hughes & Kettner's fresh new technology offers you not just an amp, but also a unique instrument of personal expression. Freedom of Tone for the Passion of Playing. Plug in, turn on, let loose." (Peace-baby! Ed)
What!!?? Older amps limit you? Make you sound like everyone else? Better not be saying that to Jim Marshall and crew, it's likely to start a global war. Is it so bad to strive for the sound of legends? In truth, I think we strive for a signature sound that is rooted in what we know has worked in the past. However if that is the Hughes & Kettner claim, I was open to trying it on. I was ready to 'liberate' myself with the Bass Force XXL combo.
The Bass Force XXL: 300 watts, 4 ohms, 15" speaker plus horn tweeter, active and passive inputs with FX loop, foot switch input, external speaker output and headphones input. It stands 60cm high and is 44cm deep at the bottom slimming to 24cm deep at the top which means it has a nicely sloped front like a monitor wedge and projects sound towards your head not your knees.
The pre-amp section has a bass frequency, mid parametric freq. and treble freq. The mid parametric has two controls – the mid freq. which allows you to select the mid-range, and the mid level which controls the intensity or the extent to which the mid-range is boosted or cut. It also is equipped with a tweeter, which can be activated by an HF/Horn button.
It has been a while since I have played through a combo of any note. My first 'serious' bass amp was a Marshall Combo and we had a very good year and half together before I felt it was time to move on. Hopefully a good combo will deliver you a variety of options and the Bass Force certainly does this.
Aside from the standard EQ controls of Bass, Mid Freq, Mid Level and Treble the Bass Force has an EQ Matrix feature that lets you activate four different settings of a 31-band graphic equaliser at the flick of a switch. The manual says 'Renowned professional players helped define these sounds and we painstakingly tuned them to give you instant tone at your fingertips.' Aha!! What happened to finding my own unique voice without sounding like everyone else? Well, I'm pleased that they did get some professionals in to assist with the EQ Matrix because this feature adds to the overall variety of the sound enormously.