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Phil Jones Nanobass X4
 
A tiny full-range amp with great sound provides a modest volume boost.
May 25, 2022
 

Phil Jones may not be a familiar name to many acoustic musicians, but he’s been active in the pro audio world for decades. For the last 20 years or so, Phil Jones amps have turned heads for their impressive power and clear tone coming from tiny combos. The Nanobass X4, which I recently checked out in the Peghead Nation studio, is the company’s smallest amp yet. And while it still carries “bass” in its name, it’s designed as a full-range system, ready for any application that requires clean, transparent amplification. While players looking for a powerful amp to fill a large room or to compete with high stage volumes will want to look elsewhere, there are many playing situations in which an unobtrusive little box like the Nanobass X4 would be perfect. These might include playing a relatively quiet acoustic guitar with louder acoustic instruments, needing a touch of volume boost at a house concert or similar performance situation, or playing a solid-body bass with unamplified acoustic instruments. 

Built around a 4-inch speaker, the Nanobass X4 measures 6.3 x 7.9 x 7.8 inches and weighs 5.3 pounds. The top of the amp is home to a control panel that includes a power switch, ¼-inch input, minijacks for an auxiliary input (a cable with two male stereo plugs is included) and a headphone output, controls for input level, auxiliary level, bass, mid, and treble, and a master volume. Two metal handles protect the control panel from impact. A standard power cable socket is located at the side of the amp. In addition to the hardware inputs, the Nanobass X4 also features Bluetooth connectivity. 

Given Phil Jones’s reputation with bass players, I started out by plugging in my Fender Squier Jazz Bass (which has active EMG pickups), and I was immediately pleased by the results. This was not a wheezy practice amp. Instead, what I heard were nice, growly bass tones at about the volumes I’d need to play along with acoustic stringed instruments in a rehearsal or jam situation. Next, I tried the amp with my Lowden O10, which has an LR Baggs Anthem SL pickup system. This is a powerful guitar, but the combination of the instrument’s acoustic volume and the sound coming from the amp produced a lovely enhanced overall sound. I got a similar impression when I tried the amp with my Kenny Hill Ruck model classical guitar, which has a Fishman Acoustic Matrix pickup. My final candidate was a Taylor 712c with a Fishman Rare Earth Blend pickup (this is the guitar I also used in the demo video). As a grand concert guitar, this Taylor is not particularly powerful and, especially playing fingerstyle, often needs a volume boost when playing with other instruments. Once again, I found that the Nanobass X4 provided just enough amplification to keep up, all while being small enough to be tucked under a chair. 

Without question, the Phil Jones Nanobass X4 won’t be the amplification solution for everyone. But for situations where only a modest volume boost is needed, either to bring solid-body instruments up to acoustic levels or as a highly portable practice amp, it could be a wonderfully simple solution. I could even see players who already have a larger amp using it as a secondary unit when their primary rig is more than they need. Overall, the Nanobass X4 is a well-made, pro-level product that occupies a unique niche. 

 

SPECS

Combo amplifier. 35 watts digital amp with DSP-based active crossover and dynamic range control. 4-inch speaker. ¼-inch input. Low, mid, and high EQ. Mini-jack/Bluetooth Aux input. 5.3 pounds. 6.3 x 7.9 x 7.8 inches. Headphone output jack. 100–240 volt AC power input. Made in China at PJB/Edifier factory. $449.99 List/$359.99 street. Available in black, red, and white. pjbworld.com

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    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
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