Since launching in 2002, Phil Jones Bass has become known for making premium amps, cabinets, and combo amps of all shapes and sizes that perform at the highest level. Artists like Pino Palladino, Bakithi Kumalo, Nathan East, Bob Glaub, Tony Levin, and Gail Ann Dorsey have all embraced the vision of innovator Phil Jones, who has spent his life redefining amplification and changing the game at every bend of his career. In evolving with modern times, part of Phil’s recent focus has shifted to packing PJB’s massive sound into compact designs that fit the lives of traveling and gigging musicians. While the tradition of hefting full stacks of 8x10 cabinets has become decreasingly popular in favor of lightweight class-D heads, 2x10 cabinets, and combo amps, PJB jumped ahead of the curve and introduced a series of small and lightweight amps that travel easily but never compromise their tone. The latest creation comes in the form of the Nanobass X4, which is PJB’s smallest and lightest amplifier yet. Perfect for sitting atop your desk or packing for the road, the Nanobass comes in a small, stylish cube design (6.3" x 7.9" x 7.8"), which means it’s smaller than the average toaster.
Offering 35 watts that power a 4" speaker, controlled by a 3-band EQ, this amp has all of the features of its larger predecessors. With the inputs and controls located at the top of the cube, players have easy access to the dials and can plug in without hassle. The amp also offers a headphone out, auxiliary in, and Bluetooth connection to play along with music from your phone or tablet. The knobs include a power switch, input level, auxiliary level, volume, and bass, mid, and treble EQs. Two metal handles sit atop the amp for portability — and at just over 5 pounds, it’s a cinch to carry, even while hefting gig bags and other gear. The amp is available in red, black, and white tolex coverings, which give it a nice leather look.
Portability and ease aside, the true function that matters is sound, which I tested with a number of basses. Beginning with a Fender Mod Shop Precision, I plugged in and kept the levels evened out at 12 o’clock for the initial test. It was surprising how bright and clear the sound was, and the 4" speaker delivered punch and depth well beyond its weight class. The lows came through nicely without clipping or cutting, and the amp shined in projecting mid and high frequencies. I linked my iPhone through the Bluetooth connection to play along with some music. The amp beautifully separated the sounds, without allowing the bass to become muddy when played on top of other instruments. The clarity on this thing is astounding.
The true test would come from seeing how the amp responded to seriously low notes, which I tested first by dropping my Precision’s E string to a D. The amp responded well and projected distinctly, although the D string lost just a little of the growl and bite that it would present on a larger amp. Next I plugged in a Moollon J Classic 5-string to see how the cube would respond to the B string. The amp conveyed all of the Moollon’s distinctive personality and handled the B string well. With such a small speaker powered with 35 watts, of course it lacked volume — but the depth and character were all there, which is what I was hoping for. At the suggestion of PJB Sales and Marketing Director Rick Carlson, I plugged in an electric guitar (the sin!) to test how it handled a different instrument. A Fender Telecaster sounded fantastic through the Nano, making this amp something I would strongly recommend to my strumming friends.
The Nanobass X4 Combo is an excellent tool for woodshedding, playing along with songs, and keeping close by for when inspiration hits. Its compact size makes it infinitely portable, but it still packs a punch and delivers excellent tone. The Bluetooth feature is a definite plus, and the 3-band EQ lets you dial in the exact tone you’re looking for. The 4" speaker retains the personality of each bass and proves that it can handle the sonic deep end. For the price and the features of this amp, you’d be hard pressed to find a better practice tool that can sit atop your desk or wherever you’re compelled to groove. –BM
Phil Jones Bass Nanobass X4 Combo Amplifier
Pros A great practice tool, lightweight and portable, sits comfortably on your desktop, great tone and range
Cons Not quite an amp for performances (but it wasn’t intended for that)
Bottom Line The Nanobass X4 is the perfect tool for practicing at your desk, in your home, or on the go. It provides clear tone, full sound, and clarity, all in a tiny package.
Phil Jones Bass Nanobass X4 Combo Amplifier
Power output 35 watts
Speaker 1 x N52 Neo-Power 4" driver
Frequency response 72Hz–15kHz
EQ 3-band EQ: bass shelf 100Hz, ±15dB; mid 1kHz (bandwidth 120Hz–10kHz), ±15dB; treble shelf 10kHz, ±15dB
Input AUX input jack, Bluetooth5.0 (aptX HD)
Output Headphone out
Input levels Instrument: 240mV–2V; AUX: 300mV (max); Bluetooth: 500mFFS
Power AC 100–240V/50-60Hz; 6' angle plug power cord
Dimensions 6.3" x 7.9" x 7.8"
Weight 5.3 lbs
Made in USA
Street price $360
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