IN THE PANTHEON OF GREAT ROCK
tones, the sound of a P-Bass driven through an
Ampeg is high on the list of all-time classics.
Whether it’s the creamy bump of a B-15 combo
or the napalm spew of an SVT in heat, there is
no mistaking the signature tone the company
has forged over its long history: warm, round,
and full-bodied. In times past, to enjoy the SVT
grind at home you had to crank it to levels that
would certainly bring law enforcement to your
doorstep. Ampeg’s first attempt at “Honey I
Shrunk the Rig” was the 200-watt Micro-VR
stack, which gained many fans for studio use and small club work; I initially
had to wonder if a smaller version (100 watts) would be of any use. But once I
pulled the adorable little feller out of its box and plugged in, I discovered that
this “Mini Me” is packing some heat of its own.
The Micro-CL has black Tolex, black speaker grilles with white piping, and
a black faceplate, just like its big brother, the SVT-CL. The full-size model is a
bone-crushing 300-watt all-tube head, while the Micro-CL provides a modest
100 watts of solid-state power. The Micro’s control panel has two inputs—
one for passive basses, and one with a 15dB pad for active instruments. With
just a master volume control and treble, mid, and bass controls for tone
shaping, it couldn’t get much simpler. There is an aux input with its own
level control, so it’s easy to port in your favorite sound source through the r”
mini jack. The speaker output is muted when you plug into the headphone
jack, making the Mini Fridge a convenient partner for silent practice. The
unbalanced line out and effect loop give you several ways to connect to the
outside world; the single speaker output uses a ¼” plug.
The supplied 2x10 cab is rated for 100 watts at 8 ohms, and matches up
with the head’s output perfectly. While the Micro-CL head can be used with
any 8-ohm cab, after several experiments, I found that the stack’s native 2x10
gives the most Ampeg-like tone. Its slim, vertical design makes it a snap to
carry, and the small footprint means it will fit easily in a cramped apartment,
or coffee house stage.
The Micro-CL stack is purposed for home use—the size, volume,
and auxiliary features all point to use as a diminutive practice rig. In all,
the Micro-CL does that very well. But this little pony has championship
bloodlines, and it was hard to resist the temptation to push it to the limit.
Keeping the volume below 3 produces a clean
sound with the distinct markings Ampeg is
known for. The tone controls are voiced with the
classic Ampeg palette in mind, and it’s easy to
shape the output from a chocolate-y punch to
in-your-face edge. Rolling the volume up above
4, saturation starts creeping in—the tone gets
brown and crusty around the edges first, but
quickly flames out once you go above the 12
o’clock position. I won’t lie, it’s a total blast to
crank it up and get that quintessential overdrive
tone at a volume level that won’t raise the ire of
my HOA. But beyond pure fun, I immediately saw
the value for recording situations, and began to
wonder if this Munchkin could make it all the way
I brought the Micro-CL stack first
to a gig with two acoustic guitarists
(both amplified) in a 150-seat room.
Without drums, the amp did a
splendid job—the tone was right,
and the output level was perfectly
matched to the task. Next, I decided to
throw it into a higher volume setting
to see how it held up. At a livingroom
rock rehearsal with a drummer
I affectionately refer to as “Bigfoot,”
and a guitarist running through a 15-
watt Fender Champ, the Micro-CL got
pushed into saturation, but easily kept
pace. The amp behaved dynamically,
letting me use my touch to control
the tone—just like the big boy it was
modeled after. I have no illusions as to
how this amp would fare on a balls-out rock gig,
but for rehearsal levels, it did an admirable job.
The amp functions well, but after a few weeks of
pushing the crap out of it, the cabinet did develop
some anonymous buzzes. Of course, once you
take the amp into the red zone, they magically
While best suited for home practice or
recording, the Micro-CL stack does a good job in
small live settings, and provides the unmistakable
Ampeg tone in a tiny package.
MICR - CL STACK
Bottom line Like Spinal Tap’s famed
stage prop, the mini Micro-CL is susceptible
to trampling by dwarfs. But
this diminutive monument to the iconic
Ampeg SVT stays true to its pedigree,
delivering clean, balanced bottom end
at low volume and sweet, saturated
sounds when pushed beyond the pale.
MICRO - CL
Amp type Solid-state
Power output 100 watts @ 8Ω
Controls MASTER, BASS (±11db @ 50Hz)
MID (±11db @ 600Hz), TREBLE (±13db @
6kHz), AUX LEVEL
Inputs Passive (0dB), Active (–15dB),
Outputs q" speaker out, q" line out
(unbalanced), r" headphone out, q"
effects send and return
Dimensions 7" x 12.2" x 10"
Weight 13.8 lbs
Made in China
Speakers 2 x 10"
Power handling 100 watts @ 8 ohms
Dimensions 24" x 13" x 11"
Weight 33 lbs
Made in China