Hey guys its Brian with World Music Supply again, here to bring you another dose of gear and guitar reviews. In todays blog I am going to bring you a nice change of pace, I get to bring a review of a really cool amp from our friends over at TC electronics, the Classic450. I know I do a lot of reviews for guitars and guitar equipment, and while I did start out on guitar, I started out playing for my first band as the bass player. I tested the amplifier today with my personal Fender 4 string Jazz bass that I have used for years, and an active 5 string fretless that we keep laying around the warehouse, all plugged into a TC Electronics RS410 speaker cabinet.
I liked the overall look of the amp, its compact enough to fit in a backpack, and the simplified control layout leaves little room for error. The amp looks rather diminutive atop the RS410, although that is part of its charm. I tested the 450 in the most classic way possible, plugged it right in, put all the EQ at 12 o’clock and left everything else alone. Even without the spectracomp, or the tubetone control (which I will explain in a moment) the 450 has a very cool, clean tone. Very, very even attack, and a smooth even sound to it altogether.
Sitting down, actually reading through the control manual and watching a handful of youtube videos, I started to see the genius behind the TC’s overall amp design. First off, the gain structure is very clean, it doesn’t really start to distort until way after 12 o’clock and even then, it distorts in a much more subtle way. The selling point for me on this amp, are the spectracomp and the tube tone knobs. The spectracomp is actually a plethora of compressors, which compress each frequency range individually, rather than altogether. This means one compressed the low end, one the lo mid, another the hi-mid, and finally the treble response. This results in a much more even sound, which has more of the organic quality of the instrument allowing for much more dynamic alterations than if you run through a global compressor, like a compressor pedal like I had for years.
Next up is the tube tone circuit which mimics in a rather realistic way the way a tube reacts when its overdriven, but it doesn’t just mimic the power amp or pre amp stage of a tube amp, instead it actually changes parameters across the entire amp, and shapes it to sound more like an actual tube amp. I have gotten to play a few tube bass amps over the years, and I know that they distort in a very particular way, they don’t have a nice angry buzz, or a warm bark like a guitar amp does, they have a very dark, growling quality to them which work particularly well with a fretless.
Turning the tubetone up, I was actually surprised by how close this circuit got to the real thing, sure it isn’t perfect, but it is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. The growling quality was there in spades, and slowly raising the spectracomp really helped to enrich this voice. With the tube tone turned up around 3 or 4 and the spectracomp about noon, playing slap on it I got a very good mid 90’s rock/funk sound, with just enough teeth to keep me heard, and enough low end to keep the snaps from sounding thin or whimpy. Turning up the tube tone and gain, and picking some heavier lines out, I was amazed at how even and aggressive I could get this amp to sound.
Playing some mellower jazz lines was amazing with the tube tone turned up just a bit to keep it sounding warm, the lows and mids raised a bit above noon, and the treble up a bit more than I should have it up, with the comp at about 7 I got smooth, warm low end, and with enough body to support a whole group, and enough presence to keep my solos and fills in the mix without falling below everyone else. This amp is amazingly versatile, and as I later found out, this control layout, is the one that TC uses for almost all of their bass amps, and it’s easy to see why. For the simple fact that it sounded perfect for what ever I wanted to play, from punk, to funk, and metal to jazz, the Classic 450 is amazing, and lets not forget it can fit in a backpack with ease, and for all of those reasons and more the Classic 450 earns itself a 10 out of 10.