Classic sounds from a respected builder – this home-grown valve amp packs a real punch.

Design

We’ve been seriously impressed with Ashdown rigs in the past, and the model that caught our eye recently was the LB-30 Drophead, which joins the BTA and CTM amp models in the company’s valve range. All Ashdown valve amps are built, from start to finish, at the company’s valve centre, located just down the road from the
head office in Chelmsford, UK. “We can actually make valve amps here in England at the same price we can make them in China,” says Ashdown founder Mark Gooday. “If you want reasonable valves they are all going to come
from the same supplier. There’s not a huge amount of labour in transformers – it’s just a huge lump of metal and purely material cost, so when you really get down to it, with the shipping, not to mention having to unpack and retest everything, we made that decision to not send any of the valve amps offshore; we’ll just get them all made here, and that makes us very flexible.” The front panel is home to master volume and 3-band EQ controls, as well as an array of jack sockets and switches, including high and low input sockets that cater for active and passive instruments. The cabinet houses a 15-inch neodymium speaker and a high frequency horn, with dual ports at the rear to optimize speaker efficiency. The classic flip-top design means that you can fold the amp into the cabinet for easy storage.

Sounds

The traditional Ashdown formula combines variable tube warmth at the input stage and solid-state tone shaping and Class-D power technologies, but the LB-30 tackles all-valve amplification head on. The core sound is both rich and full, with a thick, forceful mid-range that characterises the EL84 sound. With the EQ set flat the LB-30 reveals a gritty tone that really complements your bass. Add to this the classy looks and high build quality, and the whole package looks very attractive indeed. Features like the carry handles or the front mounted effects loop jacks are hardly revolutionary, but show great awareness of the needs of gigging bass players. In addition to the full complement of bass, middle and treble controls, you can shape the high frequencies via the bright switch or use the bass shift and mid shift switches to shift those frequency spectrums. This is an amp with a classy voice and a 1x15-inch cab that sounds much bigger than you might expect. One feature we’re definitely glad to see is the mute switch, which completely mutes the speaker leaving you free to unplug on stage with zero disruption, ideal for those tricky mid-set instrument change-overs. As with the majority of Ashdown gear, the LB-30 head has plenty of character – both in terms of looks and sounds – while the tonal qualities of your instrument still come through in abundance.

Spec Points

Built in: UK
Features: Master volume, 3-band EQ, mid shift, bass shift & bright
switches, mute switch, effects send & return,
2 x speaker out, XLR out.
Power: 30 watts @ 4 ohms
Preamp Tubes 1 x ECC83, 1 x ECC82
Output Tubes: 4 x EL84
Dimensions: 565(h) x 510(w) x 350(d) mm
Weight: 30kg (67 lbs)