Modern technology and clever design can give tons of bass power with less size and weight than some 20W 1×12″ valve Phil Jones Bass Super Flightcase guitar combos. Review: Gareth Morgan.
PJB’s original and rather excellent Flightcase combo garnered lots of praise, including some from ourselves (see the review in G&B, December 2008, Vol 18 No 11). This new, Super Flightcase contains six PJB Neo-Power 5″ speakers instead of four, and offers 250W via its digital switch mode power supply. The front-ported cabinet is covered in tough black vinyl, and it’s both small (320mm wide, 525mm high and 400mm deep) and light (it weighs a paltry 15kg/33lbs). Four of the six drivers face conventionally forwards, while two sit on the top face in ‘up-firing’ mode (handy for your personal monitoring).
The control panel Phil Jones Bass Super Flightcase carries Input Level (+/- 10dB) and Master Volume controls, plus an onboard Limiter threshold control with on/off switch and the same five-band EQ that graces the regular Flightcase. 18dB of cut/boost is available from Lo Bass (50Hz), Hi Bass (160Hz), Lo Mid (630Hz), High Mid (2.5kHz) and Treble (12kHz), and PJB suggests using Lo and Hi Bass to adjust the booty of the B, E and A and D and G strings respectively.
Other features include XLR DI Out, FX loop and Line Out jack sockets, but there’s no extension speaker capability. This isn’t surprising given the unit’s unusual six-Ohm impedance. But it may prove a disadvantage against other similarly priced and spec’d amplifiers.
Sounds Phil Jones Bass Super Flightcase
The best bit about the old Flightcase was its incredible sound-to-weight ratio. And this new Super version ups the stakes still further. With the EQ set flat it delivers a superbly accurate rendition of the natural sound of our bass. And the up-firing drivers definitely add a valuable monitoring element.
Winding up Lo Bass gives serious thunder; at extreme boost it’s wise to bring in the limiter for the sake of the SF’s aural health. Hi Bass provides a fine antidote to weaker strings, giving more body and warmth without much loss in definition. This really helps old-school blues, soul or rock, and an added Treble boost adds surprising width to percussive grooves. The lack of a horn means such hikes to the highs sound natural without any horrible hi-fi thinness.
Reducing the Lo Mid sounds impressively musical and removes tonal rough edges. While turning the knob the other way induces a dark, gnarly tone with a rat-tat-tat attack. Cutting Hi Mid shifts the focus towards the business end, producing a smoother attack that loves straight-eighths playing. And boosting it works like a sonic spring-cleaning, extracting stunted harmonics and adding a natural-sounding lustre.
By the way, if your bass has a low B string you’ll be gobsmacked at how effortlessly the SF reproduces its depth. And delighted at the extra focus it can provide with just a touch of sensible EQ.
Verdict Phil Jones Bass Super Flightcase
Like all the PJB kit we’ve seen, the Phil Jones Bass Super Flightcase delivers large on quality of sound. It encourages the natural finery of your instrument to shine through while providing the means to correct tonally deficient areas without a trace of synthetic encouragement. In terms of tone, portability and build we love it. However, there is one small but the lack of simple extension cab capability. Measured against the competition, it’s unquestionably a black mark. Still, there’s always the option of buying two.