RedSub BT5110 500w bass amp

A powerful punch in a small package

Bass guitarists have the edge on their six-stringed counterparts, certainly when it comes to amplification, anyway… Should they so desire, four-stringers can dispense with amps altogether.

Take Geddy Lee, the enigmatic bassist of Canadian trio Rush, for example; he has only recently gone back to traditional amplifiers after three world tours having his bass DI'd straight into the PA.

He retained a huge and clear tone and instead of the usual stack of amps and cabinets, his backline during these tours comprised of washing machines, chicken rotisseries and other random machines totally unrelated to sound production. This type of signal path depends entirely on the quality and size of the PA and most jobbing bassists will find a traditional amp or two much more appealing.

You're not going to have a problem making yourself heard with the RedSub BT5110's huge 500 watts. One of the advantages of such a large output is the level of clan headroom available and it's possible to really shake the room whilst retaining a clean tone. If you enjoy bass overdrive, there are plenty of pedals on the market to help you in your quest for filth.

Features

It's not all about power, though. The amp provides a mind-boggling array of tone-tailoring features to help you dial in just the right sound. All are based around EQ, the most obvious of which is the six-band graphic equalizer, which runs from 50Hz to 10KHz.

We'd suggest beginning here and experimenting until you get the right balance of high, middle and low end for you. Then, use the contour, which provides a subtle EQ notch, to refine still further, and the colour, which to all intents and purposes is a presence control. All three of these options can be switched in and out via their own button on the front panel and if your bass tone isn't in here somewhere, you may have to rethink.

The spread of the tone is aided by the speaker configuration. Alongside a traditional 10-inch speaker that boasts a natty red diaphragm is a 1.5-inch tweeter that gives the high-end some real punch.

The shape of the cabinet, not far off a perfect cube, also aids in both cut and projection, and if all this wasn't enough, the amp section is wholly and easily detachable. Simply remove the four side-mounted screws, unplug the internal speaker and gently pull upwards. To reinstall, just reverse the process. Not only does this aid with transportation, but also it will be a great help in those instances where the backline is shared between bands: you'll never be without your carefully crafted bass rumble.

Other features include boost and bright buttons, plus a mute switch - useful for when changing instruments. Round the back in the wrist-bending cavity is a tuner out, the XLR DI out and, most important of all, the on/off switch. As we've said, this amp is loud indeed and there is a wealth of tones to enjoy.

Sounds

Recreating the classic Iron Maiden clank of bassist Steve Harris is a matter of scooping the six-band and adding maximum contour. If you want a fat jazz tone for a soupy walking bassline, add in extra bass and switch in the boost - nice.

Adding an overdrive pedal gives the right amount of rasping bark and best of all, you can switch the six-band in and out at will, thus giving you two distinct tones at the push of a button. Once you are used to using the amp, you can also use the colour and contour options on the fly.

Loud, portable and almost limitlessly versatile, the BT5110 is a serious bass amp for players of just about any stature. At a shade under £400, it represents genuine value, too.

MusicRadar Rating

5 / 5 stars
Pros

Small and portable, extremely powerful, great sounds, excellent price.

Cons

Not much.

Verdict

The Ricky Hatton of bass combos, RedSub's BT5110 packs a big punch into a small package. Add to that impressive sounds and a great price and you really ought to check it out.

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.