Australian Musician reviews the Little 40 L34 and C212 Standard

June 28, 2011, 5:28 p.m.

"Originally known for their bass gear, Markbass has grown so successfully over the last ten years, that they now manufacture products for guitarists under the label DV Mark. Anyone familiar with the company knows they provide superb value for money, lightweight and intelligent designs that marry traditional concepts with modern technology. After having reviewed a whole bunch of Markbass pedals last year, I was keen to see and hear what the DV Mark brand offered. 

First of all, being a working musician and sound engineer, I have done my fair share of heavy lifting, and have had to deal with some unnaturally heavy gear, namely amplifiers. Thank Christ, the DV Mark Little 40 L34 only weighs 7.25 kg and the 2 x 12 cab a further 10.3 kilos, virtually nothing compared to backbreaking Fender Twins and Mesa Boogie combos I’ve encountered through the years. 

So after a relatively pleasant setup, I was ready to see what the Little 40 and C 212 had to offer. I plugged my Gibson Les Paul in, set the gain low, bass virtually off, cranked the treble, master and presence all the way up. I then set the CPC (Continuous Power Control) off so it was running at 0.5 watts of Class A power in triode mode, and I had a thick, beefy valve tone, at bedroom levels. I was immediately impressed at how easy this was to achieve, as I have to use an attenuator with my Marshall, which puts a lot of pressure on the valves and transformer (which I blew up last year!). The driven tone coming out of this rig sounded somewhere in between a Marshall and a Peavey Classic, retaining its own tonal signature like Laney Amps do for instance. 

Engaging the boost (via footswitch) added extra grit to the overall sound, much like engaging an overdrive pedal, being perfect for lead passages. I preferred to use the boost to saturate an already distorted tone, so single notes really pop out and become very sensitive, on the verge of feedback. Using the boost over a clean tone sounded a little harsh with a bit too much grit and ugliness for my liking and sounded much smoother and more natural with an already driven sound. 

Time for some clean tones. I engaged the -6dB pad switch to clean up the amp, set the gain low, turned the master down and CPC up, I also set the amp to run in Pentode (40w) and engaged the bias to “Hi”, so the tubes were being run at maximum levels. The sound was clean and warm, with only a hit of breakup with my Les Paul, but when I plugged in my Strat, the tone cleaned up a lot more with the single coils, for a warm bell-like chime. I ran through the typical Hendrixy style jangle and open chord playing I do to test clean amps and was very happy with the warmth and response I got. Cranking up the bass made for a more open, throbbing vintage bass response as opposed to a tight modern bottom end. Personally I liked running the bass very low for a tighter response. 

The whole design of this amplifier is unique, musical and user friendly. It’s a single channel amp that I loved to use more with my Les Paul already set to a driven sound, as my main rhythm tone, then engaging the boost for lead passages and rolling down the volume on my guitar knob to clean up the sound. I really prefer using single channel amplifiers, set hot, with the power stage cranked and the input stage running at a low to mid gain. Everything just sounds thicker, string and note response is more even, and the guitar always sounds present in the mix. The CPC and pentode/ triode switch allows you to have these thick tones in any environment, from bedroom to recording studio to stage. 

Essentially the Little 40 is the perfect working man’s amp for Jazz to Rock styles, but lacking the sculpted definition and bass response required for Hard Rock or Metal, in which case you’d be looking at a multi-channel, high power, high gain amp anyways. The Little 40 has multiple gain stages that allow you to go from very clean, to insanely saturated, which is quite a revelation for a single channel amp. This one amp has almost everything you need to get started and could see you through a lot of gigs, rehearsal, recordings or even late night jamming at levels your neighbours could barely hear. 

Also worth noting is the availability of the DV Mark Little 40 L6 model. While the L34 will please fans of the classic Brit rock sound, the L6 will put you in touch with those rockin' US tones."

 

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