Ken Ritchie's 12-String Bass Rig

"When I got my 12ver, an October / Hades 12-string bass, I didn't have a bass amp yet. This marbled monster is strung with medium gauge strings, two passive soapbar humbuckers, an active pre-amp, neck through construction, and it puts out some great tones! So, I thought I'd go looking for a suitable "bass" amp, but with enough range to carry the high notes, harmonics and overtones. I wasn't sure that could find that all in one combo. I started reading about the others' setups and 12ver rigs on (great articles!)"

"Meanwhile, not content to rock out with just headphones (whenever I had the house to myself) I spotted our daughter's Roland KC-550 'piano' combo amp in the corner. And since she went off to college and decided it was too big to drag along, it seemed like the perfect 'temporary' solution. The 550 is a 180-watt amp, with a 15" woofer, a decent tweeter, and a ported cabinet. Come to think about it, the keyboards have a wide range, wider than my 12ver, so this just might work, I speculated..."

"And work it did! The KC-550 has great tone and presence and sounds good to my ears. The 15" woofer is plenty capable in the low end, and the tweeter could hurt my ears in a hurry. Our family room is vaulted, two stories high, and together with the kitchen, almost 20 feet wide and 50 feet long. I tried cranking it up a bit, but I couldn't take the 550 very far. The alarm system's glass-break detectors started complaining, which means I may break the windows if I crank it any louder - and I'll surely hurt my ears if I get too close without ear protectors! Fair enough. I don't 'need' to turn it up. I just know that it's there if I go somewhere where I do need to fill a larger space."

"Our daughter said that the places she's been playing all have house systems anyway, so she doesn't need the amp very often. I have more or less 'adopted' this lonely piano amp. It's more than I need for what I've been doing - playing for myself - and it is a proven, road-worthy combo if I ever want to take it out on the town."

"The pedals in the picture are the red Zoom B2.1U (more effects than I can count, very low noise, high quality digital circuits), about as near as you can come to an "all-in-one" processor under $200. And the yellow BBE Opto Stomp optical compressor box (very tidy!) that I won in a contest here on courtesy of Mark 'Surf Rat' Rowe and Cory Buckingham at Rock City Guitars. The cables are gold-plated rubber jacketed house specials ('loss leader' bargains) from Guitar Center. All together, a plenty good enough setup to help me enjoy my 12ver!"

"Don't overlook the lowly piano amp if you are looking for an all-in-one combo to handle the range of a 12ver. There are quite a few piano combos out there to choose from, in all shapes and sizes. This Roland KC-550 is pretty hefty (about 65 pounds, on wheels) and there are smaller (and larger) models in the Roland lineup. I just went with what I had on hand... and it worked out nicely."

Ken 'Classmaker' Ritchie

Duluth, Georgia"