What is it?
It's hard to think of a more compact bass combo than Ampeg's newly revised BA-108. Those used to hauling the refrigerator-sized SVT stacks onto a stage – the amps that made Ampeg name the most recognisable in the bass world – will surely have a hearty chuckle when presented with this little cutie.
Featuring an 8“ Ampeg Custom8 speaker, the BA-108 is a single-channel amp with controls for volume, aux level, a three-band EQ and a -15dB pad switch to make it a very suitable practice option for active and passive basses alike.
It's a small combo, sure. But it is solid, with thick Tolex well-applied, black metal corners, and the amp is protected by an all-steel chassis. It might be small but at 10.7kg there's a bit of weight to it. The combo is finished with a black mesh grille cloth and Ampeg badge.
The BA-108's rubber feet allow it to be positioned flat or titled at 60 degrees a la a wedge monitor, greatly aiding projection. The front panel also features a headphones output and an aux-in for jamming along with backing tracks and other external audio.
Rated at 20W RMS, the BA-108 is the smallest in the series, with 40W, 75W, 150W and 450W options available. The larger amps typically have a few more features – balanced XLR outputs, HF mutes, Ampeg Ultra Hi/Lo tone shaping and so forth, but if you are just looking for the essentials the BA-108 should have you covered.
Performance and verdict
We might have liked to have seen some more practice amp features, perhaps a tuner, or effects, but one of the beauties about a simple design like this is that there is no need for a manual. You can just get down to it.
It feels like a cliché to say that it's loud for its size – have we ever been surprised by how quiet a small amp sounds? – but it is worth mentioning. For small rooms, there is definitely enough juice to fill it with sound. Could you jam with it? Well, a mostly acoustic band would be fine. Though if you need a combo to compete with a big-hitting drummer and one or more electric guitar players you might want to size up.
The EQ is nice and powerful. Set flat the tone is neutral. The low end feels solid enough, the mids don't bark, and the high end doesn't go all tin man on you. This is a nice transparent setting, adding little or no colour to a passive P-style bass.
As you dial in a little more bass, you get a little more boom. You might want more, but with an amp this size it is often a case of positioning it where it can do the most damage. The tilt-back position can help you find the sweet spot in a room.
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As you bring up the mids and the treble, you'll find a nice amount of presence in your signal, a little more detail. Remember, though, this might be a scaled-down practice amp but it's still an Ampeg, and the EQ is always going to lean towards bass amplification's more primal tendencies than offering up pristine clarity. Slap and percussive players will get some joy from going all-in with the treble.
The pad switch does a neat job of cooling an active bass's jets, ensuring that the 8“ speaker isn't overpowered, though it's arguably easier to dial in a tone on a passive bass than an active bass where it can get a little easy to overload a particular frequency range. If you want overdrive, you might be best with a pedal but when pushed you'll get some of that Ampeg grit where you need it.
You'll certainly get more than the amp's stature would suggest, and for a super-affordable practice combo, the BA-108 does the name on the grille cloth proud.
MusicRadar verdict: A very cost-effective bass practice amp with all the essentials and a tone with a little of that Ampeg personality, there's a lot to like about this little combo. It's ideal for the home.
- MADE IN: China
- POWER: 20 watts @ 4 ohms
- FEATURES: -15dB pad switch, volume, bass, middle, treble, Aux level
- SPEAKERS: 1 x 8” Ampeg Custom8 speaker
- DIMENSIONS: 427mm (H) x 381mm (W) x 305mm (D) / 16.8” (H) x 15.0” (W) x 12.0” (D)
- CONNECTIONS: 1/4” jack input, 3.5mm auxiliary input, 1/4” jack auxiliary input, 3.5mm headphone out
- WEIGHT: 10.7 kg / 23.5 lbs
- CONTACT: Ampeg