Having stood the bass amp market on its ear with the fabulous Mark Bass range, Marco De Virgiliis turned his attention to the acoustic guitarist with a range of high-powered, light-weight amps that have the tone and projection that modern players require. More recently, he’s been exciting electric guitarists with some new and creative ideas.
HOW ABOUT A LITTLE JAZZ
DV Mark’s latest entry into the pro amp market is the Little Jazz, a mid-powered amp that packs a different kind of punch in a definitely pocket-sized package. At under seven kilos, the cube-shaped Little Jazz is a wonder of design and efficiency. And it’s tiny: less that 270mm in every direction. These diminutive specs belie the tone and power that awaits the user: 45 real watts delivered with a level of grunt that I’ve never heard from an eight-inch speaker. There’s no clever channel switching or multi-effects to get in the way, just bass, mid, treble, volume and reverb – five knobs that control a single channel.
Best of all, the sound is rich, clear and authentic. Authentic? Yeah, this is an “honest” amplifier. It reproduces the character of whatever guitar may be driving it and doesn’t try to impose its own colour. An ES-175 had an almost flat-response breadth to the sound, a 335 produced more tops and a tighter bottom end with a touch of upper-mid snap, while a Godin 5th Ave Uptown offered a warm, controlled balance from its lows through to its highs. Even the front pickup of a trusted Tele produced that warm, woody “thunk” that is usually associated with a
big-bottled Twin or Showman. However, each one of these guitars combined with the Little Jazz to present two common traits: a defined low end that had presence one could feel, and a treble response that was absolutely smooth and simply impossible to make harsh or
What strikes the ear most immediately about the Little Jazz is a bell-like chime that seems to envelop the listener in a way that only 212 or 410 cabs can do. How all this sound comes out of that little eight-inch speaker is a mystery to me but whatever alchemy DV Mark have employed seems to be working. This amp has tone for days and it does it without any effort at all. With just volume, bass, mid and treble, it’s a no-brainer to dial in a great sound and almost impossible to find a bad tone. Even with all the knobs maxed out, this little amp won’t clip without the front end being absolutely hammered by some external preamp – which, of course, I had to do!
BOOSTING THE DB
Using a Boss GE-7 as a boost pedal (it has 20db boost), the Little Jazz eventually clipped in a way that was OK but it lost some of its tonal charm. However, plug in a decent drive pedal (I used a Mesa Flux-Drive and a Suhr Shiba Drive) and dial down the Little Jazz to a reasonable volume, and you’ll be rewarded with that same warmth but with a more subdued “chime factor” and some lovely compression. For a small jazz amp, the Little Jazz is surprisingly pedal friendly and produces some great rock tones. You’ll never play Metallica with any real authenticity but some rock or blues may very well be on the set list.
There’s no denying the thought that went into the Little Jazz. It’s designed to be an easy lug, but without sacrificing real tone and an appropriate level of output. It doesn’t have the volume or spread of a classic Marshall, the broad bandwidth of a Twin or the subsonic 6L6 muscle and projection of a Boogie but, for the jazzer or rocker who wants a finely-tuned, hifi-quality sound, the Little Jazz can’t be beaten. For the traditional jazz guy who favours small Fender combos, it has that sound and vibe – including a beautifully-tuned reverb that blooms out of the initial attack. In terms of clean, round jazz tones, it leaves Polytone in the dust; and for portability (that all-important size/weight/power equation), it out-cubes the Cube, Roland’s benchmark combo.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Sonically, the Little Jazz is a beautifully-tailored amp, with a tonal finesse that is immediately apparent and usually only found in top-end tube amps. Its sophisticated, audiophile voice brings the best out of hollow and semi-hollow guitars, and the smooth 45 watt power stage provides an even reproduction from bass to treble, and without the mids honking-up as one would expect from an eight-inch speaker. In fact, this is an amazing amp. And, yes, it’s authentic – it delivers a hi-fidelity image of the guitar and that’s all. Maybe it could be described as a one trick pony but it’s quite a trick: power, tone and control in a simple, solid, great-looking, ultra-portable combo. Where do I sign up?
- 45 watts into 8 ohms (60 watts into 4 ohms)
- 1 x 8” DV Mark Custom speaker
- Simple control layout
- Great-sounding reverb
- Aux in
- Headphone out
- Balanced line out (XLR)
- Speaker defeat switch
- Ext speaker out
- Appropriate power
- Super-simple layout
- High quality build values
- Great tone
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