PJB BBC Briefcase Combo

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"Unlike any bass product I’ve encountered... in terms of portability and sheer niftiness, the Briefcase is the one to beat"

Jonathan Herrera • Bass Player • January 2005

Packing a punchy tone that will make your jaw drop, the Phil Jones BRIEFCASE is a mighty amp packed into a tiny enclosure which, with the option to operate on AC power or rechargeable battery, takes bass amp portability to a whole new level.

The Briefcase amp section, housed in a rigid metal chassis, features an ultra-low noise preamp with a 5-band EQ and optical limiter combined with a high current, 100 watt power stage. The twin custom designed 5" Phil Jones "Pure Sound" speakers loaded in the rear-vented enclosure deliver hi-fi clarity and a punch that needs to be heard to be believed, making this compact unit ideal for practice, studio sessions or for small venue or outdoor live performances.

Developed for the bassist who needs a high performance amp that does not limit their playing ability, the Briefcase provides a rich, deep response that is usually associated with much bigger boxes whilst its dynamic mid-range and high frequencies cut through with incredible transparency. Small, clean and powerful, it is a great amp for musicians who seek a natural reproduction of their instrument and makes an ideal match for either 4 + 5 string electric, acoustic and upright basses.

The ability to run on AC power or rechargeable 12V sealed lead acid battery makes the Briefcase a highly versatile and portable partner that is truly flexible in multiple performance environments. In addition, a variety of outputs allow you to practice in private, expand your sound with an extension cabinet when needed, or go direct to a mixing board.

The Phil Jones Bass BRIEFCASE Features

  • 100 watt RMS amp @ 4ohms
  • Ultra low noise pre amplifier circuit
  • Switchable Active / Passive input
  • 5-band Graphic EQ
  • Optical Compressor/Limiter
  • Headphone Output
  • Pre-amp Output
  • Balanced Line Output
  • Two Internal 5" Proprietary PJPS Piranah Speakers
  • Drives External Speakers at 4 - 16 Ohms
  • Power Supply : 110/220V AC
  • Can operate on 12V Rechargeable Battery
  • Weighs only 12.7kg / 28lbs (15.4kg / 34lbs with battery)
  • Dimensions W x D x H : 17cm x 44cm  x 39cm (6.7" x 17.3" x 15.5")
Power Output 100 watts RMS @ 4Ω
Speaker 2 x 5" PJB Custom Piranha Loudspeaker
Input Single 1/4" Jack with Switchable Input Level : Passive - 0db / 4MΩ; Active : -10db / 100KΩ
Controls Master Volume; 5-Band Graphic EQ  +/-18db @ 50Hz • 160Hz • 630Hz • 2.5KHz • 10KHz;  Compressor/Limiter On/Off Switch + Threshold Level Control (Compressor operates at pre-set 3:1 ratio)
Output 1/4" Headphone Jack Out; Preamp Out; Line Out, Extension Speaker Out, Balanced XLR Out
Power Universal 110/220V AC
Dimensions (W x D x H) 170mm x 440mm  x 394mm (6.7" x 17.3" x 15.5")
Weight 12.5kg / 28lbs (approx. 15.4kg / 34lbs with 12v battery - NOT included)

Bass Player  Jonathan Herrera | January 2005

"It's unlike any bass product I’ve encountered. There are comparably priced, more powerful amps with more flexibility out there, but in terms of portability & sheer niftiness, the Briefcase is the one to beat"

  << Download the full review

Phil Jones Bass - Briefcase vs. Bass Cub

Jonathan Moody | Bass Musician Magazine

It’s one of those problems I like having; which amp do I take to the gig? It’s usually pretty easy, and comes down to the big rig or the little one. Since October, that little rig choice has gotten harder.

I’ve been using the Phil Jones Bass Briefcase for a couple of years now, and love it. Simply put, it’s the amp I wish I had purchased far earlier than I did. But out of curiosity I bought the PJB Bass Cub last October, thinking it was just a smaller, lighter updated version of my beloved Briefcase. What I found out was that the Cub is a completely different amp with its own sound.

I’ve included the specs below. As you can see, there are are some similarities between the two. Both have active/passive inputs, headphone outs, DI, a limiter and are both rated at 100W. However, that’s where it ends, as I’ve found that both are very good at different things and applications.

Bass CUB
PJB Bass Cub BG-100 Lightweight Combo
Size : 7.8" x 12" x 10.8" • Weight : 13.2lb/6kg • Power Output : 100W RMS • Speakers : 2 x PJB NeoPower Type A • Preamp : Twin Channel with 3-Band EQ, Compressor/Limiter • Inputs : Active/Passive, AUX, Mic • Outputs : Headphone, XLR, Preamp

First, the Cub... One advantage that the Cub has is the fact that it’s so light, you can carry it into a gig over your shoulder; the bag that comes with it facilitates this nicely. You can also pick how you want to set the amp up; it has feet for vertical or horizontal placement and even has a stand to allow you to tilt the amp up in the horizontal position. I have used this amp for a couple of theatre runs already, and have mainly used it in the vertical position. However, you can use it in the horizontal position and slide it under your chair, which for a very tightly cramped pit may come in handy.

The Cub also has two channels, perfect for those of us that double on electric and upright, or in my case, upright and ukulele. With channel one accepting an XLR in, this amp is also suitable for those upright bassists that use a microphone in addition to a pickup to get their sound. The one downside is that you cannot switch between channels; they’re both always on (although the second channel does have a “mute” function). Not a big deal for when you’re using two instruments that have volume knobs, but since my ukulele doesn’t, I have to turn the volume down on the amp instead of being able to leave it set when not using it.

Bass CUB
PJB Briefcase Combo with Battery Power option
Size : 15.5" x 6.7" x 17.3" • Weight : 30lb/14 kg • Power Output : 100W RMS • Speakers : 2 x PJB Piranha Type B • Preamp : Single Channel with 5-Band EQ,  Compressor/Limiter • Inputs : Active/Passive Outputs : Headphone, XLR, Preamp

The biggest difference I noticed are the speakers. The Bass Cub uses the newer PJB NeoPower drivers, and they are quite a bit different from the PJB Piranhas that I’m used to. The sound is more mellow and natural, and not as hi-fi sounding. The clarity and definition is still there, but does not have that sparkle that the Piranhas are known for. I’d say the NeoPower drivers are what a “traditional” speaker sounds like in the PJB world. I’ve found that I prefer the Neos for when I’m using my NS Design CR-5M electric upright. It brings a warmth to the instrument that makes it sound more authentic (or, as authentic as you’re going to get).

I bought the Cub out for a theatre run of “White Christmas” and the sound of the Neos really helped me sit in the mix better than the Piranhas would have. I’m currently using the Cub for a run of “The Last Five Years” where I’m playing my Warwick Corvette fretless next to an acoustic guitar and three string players. Again, the warmth that the Neos have over the Piranhas is perfect for this application, allowing me to sit in the mix and not on it.

While the Bass Cub has a lot of great features, the Briefcase is one amp that should not be discounted in the slightest. It’s an older, more well-known model in the PJB line. It does only have one channel (doublers would need an A/B pedal to utilize this amp effectively) and is much heavier at 30 pounds but the Briefcase has a 5 band EQ over the Cub’s 3, which I find to be more powerful to help shape my overall sound with the smalest of movements in the sliders making a very large and definite tonal shift.

Probably the coolest feature of the Briefcase is that it has the option of being battery powered. I’ve never had the need for this feature (or the time to grab a battery for it), but it’s a brilliant option for those musicians that are busking on a street corner or at a spot where power may not be readily available (I’ve had gigs at folk festivals where I’ve wondered about the safety of those extension cords running through the grass).

The sound that many people (as well as myself) attribute as “the Phil Jones Bass sound” comes down to the Piranha drivers in the Briefcase. These are very tight and punchy, while retaining a very clear and focused lower end. They are extremely articulate and precise, while still letting the distinct sound of your bass come through. I prefer using this amp when I’m doing theatre runs that require an electric bass. The sound is so clear that I can keep the amp at a low volume, and it will cut through the entire pit, allowing me to anchor the show.

Bass Cub : Lightweight, easy to carry over the shoulder into a gig 2 channels make doubling easy Neo speakers bring warmth and more traditional mellow bass sound Ideal for situations using acoustic instruments or for more laid back gigs

Briefcase: Very intuitive and powerful 5 band EQ, Battery powered option perfect for busking in the summer Piranha speakers have a brilliant hi-fi sound perfect for cutting through Ideal for situations involving electric bass or anything where that hi-fi sheen is required / appreciated

For me, the tonal needs and goals of the group I’m playing in will determine which amp gets the call. With either, I still get the transparency and reliability that PJB amps are known for, allowing my bass to sound its best, no matter the gig.

Bobby Vega • December 2009

'The incomparable NoCal funkmaster runs his '61 Fender Jazz through the PJB Briefcase


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