* Full review and independent analysis of the Markbass Nano Mark 300 by Australian Guitar magazine

 

Yes, size really does matter. By Steve Henderson

 

PRICE: $950 RRP

TOP 5 FEATURES

• Flame Maple on Mahogany body

• Rosewood fingerboard

• 24 3/4” Scale length

• Seymour Duncan 59 and JB pickups

• Volume and tone (with coil tap) controls plus a 3-way pickup selector

When was the last time you heard a bass player pine after their favourite old amp, excitedly recalling those heady days of lugging an SVT 810 or an over-sized Fender 215 up three flights of stairs, or longing for the thrill of seeing a power tube glow bright orange – right before it fizzes out? No, I don’t remember either. And yes, we still see large backline rigs at some festivals and arenas, but even that is becoming the exception rather than the norm. The fact is, 21st century technology has allowed our equipment to be smaller, lighter and more efficient, while producing the same SPL and frequency range.

LIGHTWEIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

At the forefront of this new, hi tech approach is Markbass. While others innovate and then rest on their laurels, Markbass continues to develop ideas that are designed to be completely user-friendly, functionally simple and tonally superb. The Nano Mark 300

is a perfect example of these ethos. The Nano is a simple, light-weight head that offers 300 real watts and features a control panel that even a drummer could understand: Gain, Low, Mid Low, Mid High, High, Master – that’s it! Likewise, the back panel is straightforward and functional: a tuner out, an effects loop, a speaker out (speakon) and an XLR DI (with a ground lift switch) that can be assigned pre- or post-EQ. And it weighs, wait for it... 1.45kg!

At just 200mm wide and one rack unit high, the Nano is a go-anywhere amp that can fit into the pocket of most bass gig bags without any trouble at all. It’s built small and solid, and with that confident feel of high quality precision throughout. The livery is eye-catching without looking overly tricked up: yellow and black knobs on a red face plate.

 

FINDING THE RIGHT PAIR

Variously teamed with a Markbass 102HF (front ported, with a super- tweeter), a Hartke 410 and an old EV TL15, the Nano produces a wide range of tones and dynamics. It can be warm and soft, as if compressed a little, or bright, bold and immediate. Out of each box, the range of tones is generous and the Nano never produces that “loaded down” feel. Output isn’t a problem, either: even into the 8 ohm TL15, there is plenty of volume on tap and, since the EVM-15 driver ranges from 60 – 6k, the delivery has oodles (technical term) of tight bass and top end presence. If you’re into poppin’ and slappin’, this is a great combination. But then again, so is the Nano with the 102HF (fancy that!). This pairing (Nano and 102) has a certain hi fidelity vibe, but without the clinical flatness so loved by the more audiophile aficionados. You can hear every little string squeak or finger tap but they’re not annoying, just honest. The neodymium drivers have

a kind of psycho-acoustic character that radiates more true bass than the cab size would suggest, so you need to stand a little further away to hear everything. Unsurprisingly, this proved to be a super efficient set-up, with loads of power and a very even delivery across the spectrum.

SOUNDS LIKE REAL SOUND

But, for old-school rock, plugging a P Bass in one end and the Hartke 410 in the other really does the business.

It’s everything we love about rock, R&B and country/rock bottom end: punchy, present, and fat. This is not a widely-versatile combination, it just does the P Bass “thud” super well, and the Nano provides for plenty of tonal range. Fiddle with the knobs and you can hear a little Phil Lynott, a little Duff McKagan, a little Adam Clayton, a little Carol Kaye, a little Geezer, James, Bootsy, Duck...

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Nano offers a whole bunch of classic sounds, and with the kind of punch that you’d expect from a much bigger rig. Through any of the speaker choices, it’s a pleasure to play and there always seems to be another sound to dial in and try. Once again, those clever Markbass folk have delivered a high spec, tonally-rich amplifier that ticks all the boxes for the serious, versatile, go-anywhere professional. Yes, size matters. But it’s about big tone, not big hardware, and the Nano 300 proves just that.

 

WHAT WE RECKON

PROS

• Great tone, power and portability

CONS

• Not for the player that prides themselves on size

 

Contact:

CMC Music

02 9905 2511

 www.cmcmusic.com.au