Some of you may be aware that I am a bass player. It has been a while since I’ve reviewed any bass gear, but then it’s been a while since I’ve needed to, GigBlade aside. Until I met the DB Elbee 10.
Way back I moved from a rather imposing Hartke rig in favour of a more compact TC Electronics one. This has served me exceptionally well and I continue to recommend the RH450 and RS210 to anyone that’s looking to downsize without compromising sound and presence.
As I am not getting any younger, and my back isn’t getting any stronger, I was on the look out for something even lighter and smaller that could still fill a small-medium room and stand up to being heard on stage with a full band.
Elbee 10 review – the search
I thought it best to give some context to how I came across DB Bass. You see, as I would be spending my own money (no gifts or sudden influx of spare cash), I decided that I’d set some tricky targets to achieve for my new purchase. After all, the cab/combo I choose would be with me for a very long time to come.
- Weight: Under 11kg if possible
- Size: Should be comfortable to carry for more than 5 minutes (I still travel to gigs using public transport)
- Budget: £350 – and it had better be lovely
My first thoughts were to get a combo – that way I could leave my amp at home too! This was a bit of a none-starter until I discovered the PJ Bass Double Four. This costs around £315 in black (£340 in red or white) and manages to push out 75w through its pair of 4-inch speakers. The Double Four measures a mere 8.2 x 8 x 6.8-inches and weighs 4kg.
This is all well and good but I did try some Phil Jones amps before getting my RH450 and didn’t really dig them for what I was looking for. The same goes for Mark Bass and Genz Benz. I am sure I’ll have loads of people questioning me about that, but it is a personal choice.
Also, 75 watts will be fine for noodling at home and for acoustic sessions but with a hard-hitting drummer and a guitarist who uses a Mode 4 Marshall and 4×12 cab… it’s not going to be heard, even as a stage monitor.
All the other combos would tip me over budget or weighed way too much to fit my criteria.
I decided I’d try the PJ Bass stuff again now that I am older and, perhaps, a bit wiser. Chatting to the very helpful Charlie at Camden’s Bass Gallery I was informed of DB Bass, a new enterprise who was selling through the Bass Gallery.
This was my lightbulb moment – why was I looking at combos? I’ve got the tone I love through my RH450. I need to concentrate on looking for a lightweight cab.
I checked out Eden (the lightest I could find weighed 11.3kg – the EX10), Aguilar (the SL112 is lovely but over budget and over weight), Bergantino (CN112 was the same story as the Aguilar), even the Mark Bass Mini NY 121 was too heavy and expensive! I did consider the TC Electronic RS112, which would make perfect sense to partner my RS210, but it also fell outside my requirements.
Nothing seemed to come close to the Elbee. Even though the DB Bass cab was outside my budget its dimensions had my intrigued.
DB Bass Elbee 10 – background
DB Bass is the brainchild of Dave Blundy, himself a bass player who was fed up of having to drag around back-breaking equipment. Through extensive research, and after many attempts, Dave finally arrived at the cabinet design of his dreams: lightweight, portable and with a focused tone. He was confident that he had built a compact cab that had big cab performance, perfect for on-stage monitoring.
The DB Bass range includes the Embee 10 and 12 cabs (both rated at 600 watts), the 210 (rated at 1,100 watts) and the Elbee 10, another 1×10 cabinet but rated at 300 watts. The latter was the one I was most interested in as it weighs a mere 8.8kg and is pretty much a 12-inch cube (granted, it’s 38cm deep).
DB Bass Elbee 10 review
DB Bass Elbee 10 – design
I went through to The Bass Gallery to meet the range in person. I was impressed by both the design and execution of the cabs.
Each cabinet is constructed from high-grade birch plywood using a self-bracing design which is said to reduce panel resonance. The cabs are all finished with textured paint which promises to be extremely hard-wearing, and be able stand up to life on the road. This is all rounded off by a smart metal grille emblazoned with the db logo. I like the fact that there’s no corner protectors, like my RS210, as this gives the cabs a cleaner look.
The top of the Elbee cabinet features a recessed carrying handle and the rear features nothing more than two recessed Speakon sockets. Simple, yet effective. An Elbee stack (as above) does look pretty cool, you have to admit.
DB Bass Elbee 10 – sound
I plugged my ’91 Yamaha Attitude Ltd bass in to the store’s TC Electronic RH450 and dialed in my settings as much as I could remember. The Elbee 10 sounded huge. I was cheeky and ramped up the volume of the RH450 and got it around to the 3 o’ clock position and the tiny 10-inch speaker was still as clear as a bell.
This was impressive. I asked if I could test one at a rehearsal and, after clearing it with Dave, I left a holding deposit with the store and then left with the Elbee. Yes, I carried the Elbee and my bass from The Bass Gallery to the Camden Underground station. This is approximately a 5ish minute 0.3 mile walk so was a good test run which went without a hitch. At the other side, I have a 0.5 mile 10ish minute walk (it’s slightly up hill) when I got off at Walthamstow. Again, carrying the Elbee and my bass posed no problems.
For rehearsal my band uses a studio in Luton. I furnished myself with a small lightweight trolley (not the industrial strength warehouse trolley I travel around with when taking my RS210 on public transport) to save my back a bit more.
When I got to the stairs at Walthamstow Central I laughed at them and just grabbed the trolley with one hand and walked casually down the steps. This is a lot different when carrying a bass, amp and cab on a trolley which itself weighs around 10kg!
This was the moment of truth. A drummer and guitarist. How will the little Elbee cab stand up to a Marshall Mode 4 amp with 4×12 cab and a full kit in a small rehearsal room?
The sound was very focused and even without the Embee’s angled speaker or Max-Flo system it still managed to have a decent presence. The Elbee cab is ported at the front and sides for improved bass response but it is never going to shake the room. It did handle the low end (I occasionally play drop C on my Yamaha and also play 5 string) pretty well though, and you could still tell it was a bass being played.
It had me hooked. The week after the rehearsal I had a local radio session which the Elbee passed with flying colours but on the Friday it was with me and the band at The Hope and Anchor in Islington.
All the bands used my incredibly tiny rig (an Indie Rock 4-piece and a Grunge/Stoner 4-piece) as well as my alternative rock 3-piece. Front of house didn’t even bother DI-ing my amp!
Ok, it’s not going to fill a huge room alone but it is plenty punchy enough to act as an excellent monitor on stage for those larger venues. The fact that I can link my RS210 to it via another Speakon when required… well there’s the larger venues taken care of!
The DB range looks great and performs excellently. These tiny cabs, especially the Elbee 10, have superior power handling skills that go way beyond what they should be able to do given their dimensions and weight.
Granted, I went over my budget but the Elbee was way lighter and smaller than anything else I found. There are other boutique cab makers out there, but I liked the fact that I could go to a shop and test the cabs out. Also having the opportunity to test it out in real world situations was a huge bonus.
I think that Dave Blundy should be very proud and these cabinets should become as renowned as the likes of Mark Bass, PJ Bass, TC Electronic, et al.
You owe it to yourself to at least take one for a spin the next time you’re near Camden.
DB Bass Elbee 10 specs at a glance
Impedance: 8 Ohms
Bass Port: Front and side
Power: 300W RMS
Link: Speakon (for connecting an extra cabinet)
Dimensions: H 30 cm, W 30 cm, D 38 cm