Markbass is an Italian company best known for its lightweight bass amps and speaker cabs, all with distinctive yellow accents. Its founder, Marco De Virgiliis, surprisingly identifies musically as a sax player, though he does enjoy dabbling in occasional electric bass work. Early on, De Virgiliis studied electronic engineering and worked in the telecommunications field while developing his bass amplification designs. During a fateful jam session with friends many years ago, a bassist was impressed by the sound of an amp De Virgiliis had built, and asked him if he could buy it. Then another friend asked for one, and another and another. The roots of Markbass were planted, though not yet by that name.
In the early ’90s, De Virgiliis launched a brand called Parsek. After refining designs for several years, he then entered into a partnership with Ernie Ball and created a 500-watt amp head along with 210 and 212, cabs under the name Audiophile. The amps were well received by the bass playing community, but the brand was short-lived and Ernie Ball sold off the remaining amps at bargain-basement prices. It was also during this period that De Virgiliis pioneered the use of neodymium speakers for bass enclosures, through a partnership with Italy’s B&C Speakers. Neodymium magnet speakers—now part of almost every manufacturer’s product line—dropped the weight of bass speakers radically. Though they initially had a few bugs to work out, neo cabs are now widely accepted, and bassists’ backs are certainly appreciative.
After a couple more years of R&D, De Virgiliis launched Markbass in 2001. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Markbass brand is best known for its Little Mark series of amps, anchored by the 6.39 pound, 500-watt (at 4 Ω) Little Mark III. But Markbass offers a variety of other bass amps and cabs, and recently, the company introduced a line of effects pedals and a series of guitar amps and cabs.