Blackstar FLY 3 Bass
The FLY 3 bass should be familiar to FLY 3 fans as it is a bass iteration of this series of mini amplifiers. This means the amp is a portable 3W unit, capable of running on both batteries & power adapter. We will take a dive into the amp’s capabilities in knowing its low frequency competence.
Build / features
The FLY 3 Bass (F3B) sports the exact dimensions as its guitar counterparts. The control panel is also located on top & features the extension cab possibility at the rear panel. If you are familiar with the guitar version then the bass version isn’t anything new. Like all FLY 3 units, this amp has a solid build giving confidence to the player in the knowledge that it’s a serious amp & not a token implement. The possible issue that might arise are those small control knobs on the panel (OD / Sub); our fingers are forced to observe a pinching demeanour which is bothersome. Also, those small knobs do not feature any visible markings so there’s no telling the level you are at till you do a close-up of things.
The immediate concern here is whether the FB3 would rattle in use considering the tremendous low end it has to deal with in view of its driver size. You’d be pleased to know that with just the volume control in use, no such anomalies manifested. Even with the gain turned up, the amp remains clean. In overdrive mode, no audible distortion occurs until the level exceeds the two o’clock mark or so. What you would immediately hear is a volume boost & clarity. The drive on offer is actually a fuzz & it interfered very little with clarity. The EQ offers more low end when you turn it up clockwise quite the opposite of the guitar version. Also, at its extreme setting, the EQ induces fuzz. The compression feature is a little tricky. While it does what it says on the label, it is unable to bring up low frequencies if this is set to low levels at the EQ end. You would end up hearing dead E & A strings & wonder if there’s something amiss with your instrument. Finally, the SUB feature, simply put, is a fundamental octave generator. Turning it up would induce bottom end overdose & rattle the amp. As it is, you wouldn’t need this feature unless being excessive is your thing.
The Line In option, once in use, is independent of the amp’s control (as with all other FLY 3 models). The Line out is necessary if you wish to link the amp up to an external device (computer / consoles / etc) for recording. These are bonus features that we can appreciate as they add value to the amp’s overall portable nature.
The F3B is a deserving bass counterpart so every guitar adventure can now be complemented with the bass. The overall performance here is definitely above average & it shouldn’t be treated as a compromised tone source in view of its size. The tone options on offer open up many possibilities & tweaking adventures thanks to the EQ, compression & SUB features which we can do without if we are strictly after a no-frills bass performance – thumbs up to these. Putting things into perspective, you can easily get a practice grade amp for about $70 & it would offer more in terms of volume projection & clarity. The F3B is easily $20 more with inherent limitations but its ultimate selling point is definitely portability & integral features preventing it from being a gimmick. If you prefer a wireless setting & constantly engaging the bass on the go, the FLY 3 Bass is it. We hope Blackstar would extend the Bluetooth feature into it in time to come as they did with the FLY 3 guitar amps.
Final rating: 80%
· Compact dimension
· Extra tone features
· Ease of use
· Limited compression threshold
· Octave generator contributing to amp rattling
· Limited volume performance
. Small knobs (SUB / OD)
Blackstar: FLY 3 Bass ($95)
Availability: City Music
Pics: Richtone Music / Blackstar