MBF800, Diggin it
I was in the market for a new head, coming from a GK1001RBii. My old setup was a Sansamp into the 1001. I recently made the switch to analog pedals, so most of my tone was not coming from my new pedal setup. I got tired of lugging my 6U rack around, so I decided to downsize. Hence why I decided to make the move to a micro amp. So coming from 700 watts, I didn't want to go too far down in power, but I needed less weight. I debated between the MB800 and the MB800 Fusion.
I play Melodic Death/Tech metal, so I've got a bit of a clanky tone (think boosted mids) to punch thru the mix with my two high gain guitarists. I did a LOT of research looking at the MB and the MBF to find out the tone differences. The MB has a little more of the GK "Growl", and the tube preamp of the MBF kind of rounds out your tone a bit. Most of my "Growl" now comes from a couple of pedals, so I really wanted a good clean tone from an amp for when I wanted to play clean. Besides, to get a proper "growl" from any of these amps, you have to ride them to the rails. When you're dealing with 700-800 watts of power, that becomes a problem. If you cranked up the amp that much, you'd be clipping and blowing speakers.
So here's my list of pros and cons:
1) This thing has power. TONS of power. I play thru an Ampeg 8X10, and with the -10db pad turned OFF I have this thing turned to about 9 o'clock. It's that loud. If you want to get more gain out of it, you have to turn the volume very low and then boost the gain.
2) Light as hell. I shove this thing in a backpack and it's ready to go. Now instead of taking two trips to haul a rack, pedal setup, and two basses, I can do it in one trip.
3) The D.I. on it doesn't suck. On my GK1001RBii, I find that the DI sucks hard. It just sounds like a cheap add-on that GK threw in there as an afterthought because they had space for it. The DI on the MBF800 sounds really great.
4) Visibility. I like that I can look at this thing from across the jam room to know if a knob is activated.
5) Low Boost. This is the equivalent of the 4/5 string setting on the GK1001RBii. But I find on the MBF800, it's a lot more pronounced.
1) Knobs. The knobs on this thing are easy to turn. WAY easy. Taking it out of my bag each practice, I have to look at my settings and make sure everything is where I want it. On my 1001 this is never an issue because the pots have are resistant to turning unless it's intentional.
2) B channel. I bought this amp with the idea that Channel A would be my main, and Channel B would be a boosted channel. Think Channel A but with a hair more gain and a little more volume. I find that when I turn the gain on Channel B up, and adjust the level, it doesn't come out like I want. I find that now I basically use Channel B as a lowered volume setting for when one of my guitarists is soloing, or when we're playing a part when I need to tone the thickness of the bass down on clean parts. The exact opposite of what I intended to use it for. Also, switching between these two channels at higher volumes gives an audible popping sound at times.
3) Rack mounting. I really wish GK would include the rack mount spacers to go with this thing for us people that like to mount these things in standard 19" racks. The fact that the knobs move around so easily makes me need to look into getting a smaller 2-3U rack just for it.
Things I didn't find to matter
1) Fan noise. Sure, the fan blows. I don't hear it at band practice because I'm 10 feet away from it and cranked up. At home I didn't find it to be a problem.
2) When I first used the A/B channel switch pedal that came with it, it stopped working halfway through a band practice. Opened it up and found that the circuit needed to be re-soldered. Not a huge deal, but I wasn't happy at the time about it.
Overall, I'm VERY happy with the MBF800. I ordered from Sweetwater 1) because there's zero interest with financing for it, 2) free shipping (and FAST too), and 3) if I didn't like the Tube pre-amp, I could return it and just get the regular MB800. Despite my couple of gripes with the ease of knobs moving around and not being able to us the Channel B like I planned, this amp is still worth it.