Thinking back to the amount of hard earned money lost to buying promising amps and selling them later, I have become weary of amplifications. Upright Bassists didn’t have dedicated amplification. Let’s recall our options; Polytone general purpose amps that were shared with guitarists in Jazz Band, GK MB combos that never sounded like the bass, and a myriad of bass guitar amps that were designed with a lot of scooped range and coloration so that bass guitars could sound better. Walter Woods amps were legendary among upright bassists, but the price put it out of my reach and the amp was still at the mercy of scooped speaker cabinets. I liked my SWR Baby Blue (combo) since it was the cleanest and flattest amp out there, but it still had some scooped frequency response. That didn’t matter as much because pickups were still not flattering to hear and didn’t do a good job of reproducing the actual sound of the bass. Older bassists thought that us youngsters had it good because we had choices: the Underwood or the Fishman.
The planets aligned in the last ten years and things got a lot better for us upright bassists. There was growth in the upright bass world more bassists discovering or rediscovering the upright bass., technology got cheaper, and a demand for better products. There were career engineers at companies such as BassBalsereit and Acoustic Image who wanted to come up with products that improved bass amplification. Computer aided design and manufacturing led to better pickups, strings, speakers, amps, and the upright bass took a leap forward in sound and playability. We could actually have pickups and amps that could accurately reproduced the natural sound of the bass.
Go back a little to the 1990’s and Acoustic Image was on my radar from the very first Ad that I saw in the bass magazines. While I liked the idea of an upright specific amplifier it didn’t sound any better than the SWR Baby Blue. Maybe it was actually better, but none of the pickups were accurate enough to take advantage of the improvements. As the years went by, I saw AI improve their amps with each generation. I started using the then revolutionary David Gage Realist pickup and which was far more responsive and full than the Underwood. The difference between the SWR Baby Blue and AI Amp was less subtle. Finally came the BassBalsereit Studio Aktiv pickup and it was time to change amps. However, word on the inside was that a new version of the Coda was in the works so I waited patiently for them to ship it.
This Brings Us to Now
I had the biggest grin when I hooked it up with the BassBasereit Active Studio Pickup. I set everything up and started to play. My bass was louder, but I wasn’t sure if it was the room making the bass louder. I hit the mute switch which brought the level down and unmuting the amp only brought the volume up, but the sound remained the same. “This is what amplification is about” I said to myself, aside from electric guitars and bass guitars, it’s the whole goal of amplification and sound reinforcement to be as accurate as possible? I loved the sound of my bass and amplification didn’t change any of that, nor did I want it to.
I’m very happy with the Acoustic Image Coda+. It’s dead quiet, no hiss, no buzz, no hum. Loud or soft, high or low, arco or pizz my bass sounds like my bass from the amp. I’m glad that I’m all set with amplification so that I can focus on more important things such as playing.
The amp is also compact and very light at 23 lbs. I purchased the Mooradian Bag with it and I can get the bass and amp in one trip. The padded bag is a must if you want to keep the amp in good condition, because its girth tends to make it bump door jams and catch pneumatic closing doors when you are maneuvering your bass through doorways.
Acoustic Image has a high level of customer support and their warranty backs their amplifier. AI amps are regarded as highly reliable since they are well engineered and well built. My conversations with Rick Jones of AI for various reasons, have been very pleasant. A good company with a good product, that’s a great formula.
After playing some gigs, I’m happy now that I don’t have to worry about amplification. No one comments how great the amp sounds, they comment on how great the bass sounds, which is the best compliment that an amp can get. They wouldn’t be able to appreciate the sound of the bass without the amp. It’s a thankless job being a transparent amp, but it’s the way things should be.
I’m all set with my amplification. DONE!