Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-108 and RB-110: What is it?
Think of Ampeg and you might think of bass amplifiers (opens in new tab) similarly proportioned to your refrigerator but that’s not the case with the new Rocket Bass series, even if this five-strong collection mines the archive for an old-school aesthetic.
No, with the Rocket Bass amps, portability is key, with moderate power, budget-friendly price and some clever tone-enhancing tech to make sure they do justice to the name on the grille cloth. Here we have two compact solid-state combos – the 30-watt 1x8” RB-108 and the 50-watt 1x10” RB-110 – each equipped with Ampeg’s Legacy preamp and SGT (Super Grit Technology) circuitry to compensate for the absence of tubes and deliver rich, warm musicality to your low end.
Both control panels are straightforward. On the right-hand side, you’ll find the on/off switch, mini-jack input for auxiliary audio and a mini-jack headphones output for silent practice. The three-band EQ and volume controls dominate the middle section and on the left of the panel there’s a switch to engage the SGT feature – essentially, an overdrive boost – with a pair of 1/4” instrument inputs over on the far left. The RB-110 has a Level control for the SGT feature.
Both have closed-back cabinets, and on the rear of the 50-watt RB-110 there is a balanced XLR output with ground lift. With a bit more power under the hood, this gives you the option of sending your signal direct when playing live.
The build is redoubtable, with metal reinforced corners to minimise any damage should you drop it down the stairs. The price puts them within range for most players, with the RB-108 presenting itself as the obvious option for home practice, and the RB-110 capable of doing that and playing small gigs. At least, that’s how it looks when they come out of the box.
Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-108 and RB-110: Performance and verdict
While it is disappointing that the SGT feature is not footswitchable, it is on the larger models in the series, and if you are looking for a portable gigging solution then the 100-watt RB-112, 200-watt RB-115, and the 500-watt RB-210 (which at the top of the range is still well under £700 street) would look a better bet.
That said, there’s a lot to be said for the small amp, and these are not slow in turning on the charm. The simplicity of the front panel makes dialling-in tones a breeze. The dual instrument inputs allow them to accommodate any bass, with -15dB of padding meaning you can run your super-duper active bass and still find a clean tone somewhere down the line.
• Ampeg BA-108 v2
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.
• Peavey Max 300 (opens in new tab)
The MAX 300 has all the essentials and places them within easy reach, offering some formidable tones and a fair degree of control over them.
• Ashdown Original C112-300 (opens in new tab)
Never has it been easier to sound killer through something you can throw on the back seat of a car.
Super-clean, bell-like bass tones? Is that what we’re looking for from Ampeg? Well, there’s certainly a lot of detail coming out of each of these, even without a tweeter. Depending on where you position them, they can sound more imposing than they are, but for playing at home this is just fine.
If space is short, the 1x8” model is fine. The RB-110 of course has more low-end, a bit more bruise in the bass frequencies, but if you are in the market for an amplifier of this size then you have already accounted for this.
The SGT feature is superb. For many, particularly rock bassists in training, it won’t be switched off, especially on the RB-108 where it adds a little heat, sizzle and grit to compensate for the size of the output. That sort of thing can be hard to quit. The RB-110’s SGT level control makes an even more persuasive case for leaving the feature on all the time. At lower settings, it serves as a sweetener.
Sure, both amplifiers play to type for such speaker sizes and skew toward the mids, but there’s enough torque in their respective EQs to dial in a decent sound and to find one that plays nice with your bass. For the home, you might need nothing more. If it’s just a practice runabout you need, the RB-108 won’t let you down, but we’d be tempted to go with the RB-110. You might make use of that XLR out, and that adjustable SGT drive circuit will definitely be worth it.
MusicRadar verdict: Versatile, affordable and convincing, these solid-state combos do a superb job of delivering a more accessible take on classic Ampeg sounds.
Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-108 and RB-110: The Web Says
“Nevertheless, both of these combos put in a respectable performance, with the three-band EQ proving to be impressively flexible. Even without a horn or tweeter, the top end is clear and biting, without creating too much clank, especially from the passive basses I used to test the units with... the 110 combo just had the edge with its larger speaker and enclosure, allowing the signal and tones of each bass to bloom and be slightly more effective in terms of their delivery.”
Bass Player Magazine (opens in new tab)
Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-108 and RB-110: Hands-on Demos
Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-108 and RB-110:
Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-108
- PRICE: $209 / £139
- MADE IN: China
- POWER: 30 watts @ 4 ohms
- FEATURES: SGT (Super Grit Technology) switch, volume, bass (+13/-21dB@40Hz), midrange (+16/-10dB@500Hz), treble (+12/-16dB@4kHz)
- SPEAKERS: 1 x 8” speaker
- DIMENSIONS: 433mm (H) x 411mm (W) x 306mm (D) / 17.04” (H) x 16.18” (W) x 12.04” (D)
- CONNECTIONS: 1/4” jack inputs x 2 (0/-15dB), 3.5mm Auxiliary input, 3.5mm headphones output
- WEIGHT: 23 lbs
Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-110
- PRICE: £225 / $321
- MADE IN: China
- POWER: 50 watts @ 4 ohms
- FEATURES: SGT (Super Grit Technology) switch, grit, level, volume, bass (+14/-20dB@40Hz), midrange (+15/-10dB@500Hz), treble(+12/- 16dB@4kHz), ground/lift switch
- SPEAKERS: 1 x 10” speaker
- DIMENSIONS: 481mm (H) x 411mm (W) x 330mm (D) / 18.93” (H) x 16.18” (W) x 12.99” (D)
- CONNECTIONS: 1/4” jack inputs x 2 (0/-15dB), 3.5mm Auxiliary input, 3.5mm headphones output, balanced XLR DI output
- WEIGHT: 22.5 lbs
- CONTACT: Ampeg (opens in new tab)