The BASS STRATEGY™ EIGHT:88™ begins with BRIGHT, NORMAL and ACTIVE INPUT Select choices feeding an all-new tube preamp that borrows subsections from our CARBINE™ hybrid architecture. This preamp design allows increased control over a broad spectrum of frequencies and incorporates active BASS and TREBLE controls with increased shaping power - while retaining the sweet, musical blend of our traditional passive MID control. In addition to these we’ve included a reworked-for-tubes version of the CARBINE’s 5-position rotary VOICE feature that allows notching or enhancement of specific midrange regions in addition to bass and treble frequency boosting. The VOICE feature puts you instantly in iconic stylistic realms – from elastic, mid-scooped Thumbing to articulate, mid-flat Fingerstyle, to the Classic metallic, scooped American Pick sound – with a flick of a switch. The ability to jump right to these classic “curves” makes re-voicing on the fly in performance situations a snap, is also footswitchable (footswitch sold separately), and adds immensely to the STRATEGY’s versatility.
In addition to the effective and superbly musical shaping power of the STRATEGY preamp, the 9-Band Graphic Equalizer is included for accurate fine-tuning once you’ve dialed-in a sound style with the Tone Controls and VOICE Feature. This inductor-based circuit is a tried and true, yet expanded carry-over from the BASS 400+™, and has been an integral part of both our Guitar and Bass amplifiers for well over 40 years. The EQ is controlled by a mini toggle on the Front Panel and allows you to bring it on-line manually or via the EQ button on the optional STRATEGY Footswitch or any tip-to-ground latching switch that is plugged into the EQ External Switch Jack.
Control over the Tone would be incomplete – at least in our minds – without control over the power as well. So the STRATEGY gives you three choices as to how to utilize the power section. As wattage ratings are often misleading and irrelevant to volume when it comes to describing tube power, the STRATEGY offers FULL, HALF and LOW power settings on the MULTI-WATT™ switch. Each of these choices has a distinct tonal color and persona, with FULL delivering the maximum punch, authority and headroom. HALF can deliver some valuable and surprising mid to lower power applications for tube-driven Bass while still offering plenty of volume for a lot of live situations. LOW opens up many stylistic possibilities in the recording domain and may also work for some lower volume gigs.
An important collection of vintage-inspired sounds await you here in HALF and LOW POWER ranging from round and warm, to edgy, to clipped and growling – depending how you dish it out from the MASTER. And best of all, all the sounds in HALF and LOW beg to be recordedA MUTE/PLAY/SILENT RECORD switch allows convenient Front Panel muting for instrument changes, silent tuning or recording, or any time where signal muting is needed. An AUTO-MUTE circuit is fitted to the Speaker Jacks to protect the transformer and power tubes if no speaker is connected and is indicated by the same Front Panel LED triggered by the mini-toggle MUTE/PLAY/SILENT RECORD switch (Red LED ON = MUTE). The SILENT RECORD setting allows you to safely mute the signal at the Power Amp and use the Strategy preamp (including processing in the EFFECTS LOOP) to record using the D.I. OUTPUT without the need for a speaker cabinet.
The Rear Panel D.I. OUTPUT signal can be derived from either PRE (your instrument) or POST (the entire preamp) with the Front Panel D.I. Switch. The D.I. OUTPUT signal strength is controlled by the Front Panel D.I. LEVEL located at the far right side of the Chassis next to the SOLO Control.
The STRATEGY incorporates our SOLO feature that has become so popular on our guitar amplifiers, which gives you a pre-settable and footswitchable boost (footswitch sold separately) for any time you want to feature a specific part or featured solo in a song. The SOLO control can also be used to compensate for EQ settings where several frequencies are cut creating a drop in overall volume or for an instrument with a lower output due to weaker pickups.
Up next is the 8-Pin DIN jack that accepts the 8-Pin Cable from the optional STRATEGY Footswitch. This optional footswitch allows remote control of the VOICE, MUTE (TUNE), EQ, FX (LOOP) and SOLO. Make sure the cable is oriented correctly - with the pins lining up with the sleeves in their jacks and then be sure it is properly seated (all the way in) when inserting the cable into the 8-pin DIN receptacle and the footswitch.
To handle virtually any speaker cabinet scenario the STRATEGY is fitted with 5 SPEAKER OUTPUTS capable of handling a variety of impedance loads. 2 x 4 OHM , 1 x 8 OHM and 2 x 2 OHM Outputs ensure that you can always find an impedance-correct match regardless of your cabinet choices.
Next up is the D.I. OUTPUT, which provides a standard XLR interface to mixing consoles for both live and recording environments. The signal here is derived from either your unaffected Bass (PRE) or the culmination of all your settings in the STRATEGY preamp (POST) depending on your selection at the Front Panel PRE/POST switch. The valuable D.I. LIFT switch next door allows you to “float” the Circuit Ground from Chassis Ground to reduce noise into a Console when the Ground references are different.
From there we find the buffered Series EFFECTS LOOP that allows seamless interfacing of your high quality outboard processing.
Try to use outboard processing of the same caliber as your amplifier. Ignoring this advice will likely result in compromised sound. The Loop is a critical junction/impedance crossroads point between preamp and power and to put inferior foreign objects in the signal path here will produce Tone of the lowest common denominator. Directly adjacent to the LOOP jacks is the LOOP EXT. SWITCH jack which provides a standard ¼” interface to a master (usually midi) switcher or a single button tip-to-ground footswitch and allows for remote on/off control of the LOOP feature. This switchjack is handy if you don’t have or don’t want the optional STRATEGY Footswitch as it allows control of just the FX Loop with a single latching footswitch. Some players may want only this feature on a small pedal board and this jack accommodates that mindset.
Next you’ll find a pair of jacks for the SLAVE and TUNER Outputs. The SLAVE jack provides a 1/4" output for capturing the sound of both preamp and power section tonality right off the SPEAKER OUTPUTS to send on to additional power sections and cabinets for truly coliseum grade rigs.
The SLAVE LEVEL control is located on the upper Tube Deck, just above the Rear Panel SLAVE Jack. Always begin with the SLAVE LEVEL on “0” (off) to avoid overloading of the destination amplifier - and your ears! Remember, once a signal has been taken from the SLAVE it cannot be re-inserted back in to the same STRATEGY or a feedback loop (producing an unpleasant squeal) will occur. Also, the SLAVE IS NOT recommended for connection to Consoles as its level may be too hot and it's Tone will most surely not be good. There is no speaker emulation here! The SLAVE is for Power Reinforcement to drive additional speaker cabinets for large venues. It is not intended for Live PA or Recording applications. Use the D.I. OUTPUT for all Console interfacing needs.
The buffered TUNER output captures your instrument and preps it for the long journey to the front of the stage or just upstairs to the top of your amp. The optional STRATEGY Footswitch has a buffered TUNER OUTPUT jack routed through it’s cable from the DIN jack built in so you can place your Tuner at the front of the stage and not need to run another cable down to your pedalboard or stage/microphone location.
Finally, a MESA® first – a pair of two position SET BIAS switches and adjacent recessed trim pots reside on the rear Tube Deck labeled OPERATE and SET BIAS. The SET-BIAS position allows you to check and set the correct bias yourself for each half of the power section quickly and easily when replacing power tubes. There’s no need to take the amp to a technician when it’s time to change tubes as this bias method is completely user-serviceable and it’s easy to dial in the important bias setting on these big KT-88s just right by yourself!