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Reviews from the Road: TC Electronic BG250-210 Bass Combo Amp

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TonePrint gives this compact combo endless tonal dexterity

By Bradley Weinholtz

One of the wonderful things about working at Musician’s Friend are our occasional Friday night jam shows. They began several years back, the concept being to play with a group of coworkers you’d never jammed with before, rehearsing a short set list of songs in just a few weeks. For the most recent jam I formed a southern rock tribute band dubbed Southern Comfort with yours truly on bass. As you can imagine, a great backline is always provided for these jams, and I was excited to see a brand new TC Electronic BG250-210 onstage, ready for a test run.

TC Electronic BG250-210 250W 2x10 Bass Combo Amp
The TC Electronic BG250-210 Bass Combo proved its mettle with fast tone shaping and punchy, fat output.

With lots of bands on the Jam Night roster, there’s no time for sound checks. I was using my Fender P Bass retrofitted with Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounders, a combination that’s always proven versatile.I plugged into the BG250 and was immediately rewarded with warm, soul-embracing fatness and punch as I dialed in my tone.

I took a fast survey of the effects that come loaded in the BG250’s TonePrint slots, choosing a chorus that added a satisfying shimmer. Intrigued by TC Electronic’s TonePrint technology, I vowed to give it a thorough audition once I was back at the Musician’s Friend studio.

Within the first few notes I sensed the responsiveness of the BG250’s three band intelligent contouring EQ (more on that later). Quickly my tone was dialed in—full and robust—just the way my mama likes it. A fast check on my tuning using the built-in tuner and happier than a tornado in a trailer park, I was ready to go.

We opened the show like a herd of turtles with a soft, melodic version of “Listen to the Music.” I was immediately impressed with the warmth and the dynamic range of the BG250. The song ended, and knowing the rest of the set would move into toe-stomping territory, I discretely cranked up the volume. The amp has a balanced XLR DI output so my onstage adjustment didn’t affect the mix on the board.

Just a couple notches up on the gain and volume transformed the BG250 into a hot stompin’ wildebeest. Despite this, the combo remained responsive to my playing dynamics from the lightest of pianissimo textures to perfectly limited hip-slapping fortissimo grooves. The 2 x10” custom drivers and the 1 x 1” piezo tweeter are engineered perfectly to complement the 250 watt power circuit.

Other features on the BG250-210 include a headphone output (which mutes the speaker), a 5-string tuner with mute function, USB mini port, auxiliary input, and footswitch compatibility. At just 44 lbs, this unit is extremely mobile and perfect for both beginners and pros playing smaller venues as well as home studio work and practice.

TC Electronic BG250-210 Bass Combo Top Controls

A view from the top shows the easy-to-access goodies that separate the BG250 Bass Combo from the others.

The following Monday I came to work early to dig into the TonePrint functions and explore the BG250’s EQ section in greater depth. In four words: I was blown away.

As I discovered at the Musician's Friend jam night, the BG250 comes preloaded with lush chorus effects in the first TonePrint slot and crunchy Tube Drive sounds in the second slot. But that’s just for starters.

TonePrint gives you instant access to more than 70 signature effects created by some of the world’s foremost bassists including Nathan East, Divinity Roxx, Eric Smith, Gary Willis, Duff McKagan, Richard Bona, and many more. It’s like getting a crate full of the world’s best bass stomps tweaked by renowned pros as a free bonus with your amp, only better.

First I downloaded TC’s TonePrint Android/iOS app to my iPhone and then proceeded to explore the treasure trove of effects using the app’s intuitive interface. (If you don’t have a smartphone, no worries—you can download TonePrints via your PC then load them into the combo using the BG250’s USB port. TC Electronic even includes the cable.)

This is where things get sci-fi. With the app loaded into my iPhone, I scrolled through all 21 Chorus effects finally settling on Duff McKagan’s Duff Chorus. I then aimed the speaker of my iPhone at the bridge pickup on my P-Bass. My phone emitted a skronky tone, and presto change-o, the Duff Chorus was ready for action. Turning the TonePrint knob on the BG250 let me dial in the right amount of effect. (By the way, it’s a nice tri-chorus that generates a shimmer reminiscent of the bass sound in “Sweet Child of Mine.”) Loving that effect, the app let me save it as a favorite for easy recall.

 

Morton Ehlers of TC Electronic puts the BG250-210 through its paces.

It was hard to get past the Chorus section, but with my workday looming, I explored the other effect categories that include Flanger, Sub ‘n’ Up, BassDrive, SpectraComp, Corona Chorus, Dreamscape, Flashback Delay, Hall of Fame, and Shaker Vibrato. If those names seem familiar, they should be—this amazing collection of effects was crafted using TC Electronic stomps that bear those names. There’s enough tonal goodness embedded in this app to keep a platoon of bassists happily tone tweaking for centuries. But in the unlikely event they should run out of pleasing signature sounds, the TonePrint editor function let’s you create and save your own.

You can audition all all the TonePrint effects here.

Using the optional Switch-3 footswitch, you can switch between the two TonePrint slots on the fly or select the mute function. Very cool for creating those turn-on-a dime tonal shifts.

The intelligent 3-band EQ section adds even more tone shaping mojo to the BG250’s arsenal. Its contouring functions help you quickly dial up satisfyingly shaped sounds no matter what genre you’re playing in. Backing off the treble knob generates the retro thunk of classic Motown. Cranking the treble up adds airy spaciousness to your sound.

Backing off the Middle knob summons up the scooped-out funk factor while cranking up the mids generates classic rock tonalities.

The Bass control is very handy for dealing with room artifacts. Twisted all the way clockwise it accentuates the 100HZ range that in concert with the dual ten-inch speakers produces a lot of punch. Dial it all the way back to cut the 80HZ range, and you’ll control boominess in venues with a lot of echo.

The amazing performance by my buddies in Southern Comfort combined with the killer tone of the BG250-210 left me happier than a pig in slop. But having delved deeper into its awesome TonePrint capabilities, it’s become clear: this combo and I are destined to be together.

Tags: Amplifiers TC Electronic

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