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Best All Tube Bass Amp for live performance / recording?
View Poll Results: The best sounding, most reliable Bass Amp
Ampeg SVT
56 Votes - 62.22%
Mesa Boogie
3 Votes - 3.33%
Fender Bassman
10 Votes - 11.11%
Orange
3 Votes - 3.33%
Something Else?
18 Votes - 20.00%
Voters: 90. You may not vote on this poll

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FFTT
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#1
14th December 2006
Old 14th December 2006
  #1
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Best All Tube Bass Amp for live performance / recording?

I'm considering a replacement for my long lost vintage '73 Ampeg SVT head.

Yes it was a killer to haul around, but nothing out there seems to be better.

Of course back then, the head only cost $500.00 and now I'm wondering if
the new one's hold a candle to it or if I should consider something else.

I still have one of the original 8 X 10 cabinets, but will also be looking
for something more portable.

Since this may be the last pro amp I buy before I take that eternal dirt nap,

I want to go for quality and reliability.

Ampeg, Mesa, Fender, what else should I consider?

Am I better off these days going AIO Amp head or putting together
a component rack?
#2
14th December 2006
Old 14th December 2006
  #2
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there is nothing better than a SVT
#3
14th December 2006
Old 14th December 2006
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I'd be psyched to check out the Orangethumbsup
#4
14th December 2006
Old 14th December 2006
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I've heard some of the new SVT's that are pretty good. I actually owned one that was better than most of the old ones I've heard too. My bass player bought it from me. I also would check out the Sunn amp as well. I forget the model number off the top of my head, but it's the 6 tube one, similar to the SVT. I think that when Fender did away with the Sunn name, they still offer this head in their catalogs as a Fender Bassman. You'll know it when you see it. I just looked it up on the fender website. It's called the Bassman 300 Pro now. Exactly the same as the old Sunn amp...6 6550 tubes, 300 or so watts...pretty nice.

I do love a fliptop for pure tone, but if you need the volumen, there's no substitute for one of these big boys.

m

Last edited by chetatkinsdiet; 14th December 2006 at 07:03 PM.. Reason: adding info.
#5
14th December 2006
Old 14th December 2006
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Don't know about "reliability", but I haven't heard anything that sounds better (to me) than a real SVT.

Love the portaflex for the studio, though!
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FFTT
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#6
15th December 2006
Old 15th December 2006
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I've been using my Fender Blues Deluxe single 12 for jams and some recording and I have to admit that having something easy to lug around does make my life alot easier.

That's why I'm open to other suggestions.

The FBD is in the shop now, so that has me looking at my options.
#7
15th December 2006
Old 15th December 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasta4lnch View Post
I'd be psyched to check out the Orangethumbsup
Cool bass amp. Apples to the SVT's Oranges..both taste great.
#8
15th December 2006
Old 15th December 2006
  #8
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You should definitely try the 400 watt Boogie! It s killer. (Bass 400+)

Hiwatt 200 watt head - Oh yes!

Orange - Oh yes!
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FFTT
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#9
15th December 2006
Old 15th December 2006
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These prices are killing me, cause when I was a little kid, I used to trip over all the amps in my dad's repair shop. He was THE local repair guy for Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center.

Vox Super Beatles, AC 30's, Marshalls, 50's and 60's Fenders, Gibson, Kustom, Sunn, Ampegs, you name it.

He was used to military spec stuff and thought most of these hand wired amps were great for job security with all the problems they had.

He even told me that my SVT was built by Magnavox, which in repairman lingo
translated to MaggotBox, cause they were full of bugs.

Obviously I could kick myself now for not learning his trade after seeing him work 18 hour days repairing this stuff.

It would bring you to tears to see the stuff they threw out in the dumpster.

He passed away very suddenly in 1978 leaving me a shop with over 4000 tubes and other components
that I eventually was forced to liquidate by the pound to a local buyer.

The local music shop told me that he has a vintage SVT head that he might let go for $1,500.00US Ugh!
#10
15th December 2006
Old 15th December 2006
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#11
15th December 2006
Old 15th December 2006
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Been playing bass since 1974. Owned a dozen different bass amps. Have easily played through hundreds (thousands?) of different bass amps: Aguilar, Trace-Elliott, SWR, Eden, Fender, Mesa-Boogie, Acoustic, G-K, Ashdown, Hartke, Sunn, Marshall, Polytone, Univox, Peavey, Acoustic Image, a whole mess of sick big multi-component rack systems... damn there have been a lot of them. A lot of very nice ones.

The holy grail? You already had it: a 1970's Ampeg SVT.

*Every* time I play through a 70's-era (blue/gray) SVT I think "how can any other bass amp manufacturer stay in existence?" That is *the* sound, period.

Jim Williams can tell you a half-dozen reasons why the SVT shouldn't be a good sounding bass amp. Five minutes playing through one will tell you why that doesn't matter.
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#12
15th December 2006
Old 15th December 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasta4lnch View Post
I'd be psyched to check out the Orangethumbsup

I have an Orange AD200b Mk I bass head. It sounds very nice, although mine is an original hand wired version from the Orange custom shop, but the newer ones probably sound similar.

My bass player used the Orange to record rather than his newer SVT because he thought it sounded better.

New SVT's are good but nothing special IMO and those Mesa 400+ sound better for less cash. Old vintage 70's SVT amps sound great and better than new production models.

100 watt Hiwatts are very nice for recording and live if the cab is mic'ed, but for rehearsing you will need at least 200 watts, depending on how loud your band is.
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#13
15th December 2006
Old 15th December 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
Been playing bass since 1974. Owned a dozen different bass amps. Have easily played through hundreds (thousands?) of different bass amps:.....Univox, .
Bob, how are those old Univox amps? A friend is wanting to buy a 150 watt one and use it for guitar and bass.
pgk
#14
17th December 2006
Old 17th December 2006
  #14
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for recording/small gigs - ampeg B15. the heavyweight champeen.

for everything else - blonde fender showman, black fender dual showman, ampeg V4B, hiwatt 200.
#15
17th December 2006
Old 17th December 2006
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Matamp, SVT, Aguilar, or Bass 400+
#16
17th December 2006
Old 17th December 2006
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i've had 2 vintage univox amps.

i think the model numbers were u-1061
and this blue monster..

a UX-1501

150w of 6550's...a very very loud amp

i wasn't too taken with either of them..

i think you could do a whole lot better than univox amps..

i rember trading both of the amps when i found a traynor yba-1

then traded the yba-1 for a yba-1a.

i really liked the yba-1a on bass..

but the cabinets were a bit on the weird side...

i'll elaborate if i have to.

p.s. i was really happy to see that paulie played threw 12" cabinets for recording.

Last edited by r0ck1r0ck2; 18th December 2006 at 04:07 PM.. Reason: found the model #'s
#17
18th December 2006
Old 18th December 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Gaucher View Post
Bob, how are those old Univox amps? A friend is wanting to buy a 150 watt one and use it for guitar and bass.


They sucked. Hard.
FFTT
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#18
21st December 2006
Old 21st December 2006
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I've got a Univox 100 Watt 1221 head.

Might use it for a Ceria Tone enclosure.
C/G
#19
21st December 2006
Old 21st December 2006
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Quote:
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They sucked. Hard.
Too bad since they seem like they would be pretty good. Maybe that is why old minty ones go for pretty cheap.
#20
21st December 2006
Old 21st December 2006
  #20
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Orange kicks b...

Played a gig with a bass player, that had just swapped his RI SVT for an Orange head. With an early 70's P-bass, his sound rocked. I liked it better over his SVT. But it's a more raw and accentuated sound compared to the more boomy SVT. Really tubey sound...
#21
26th December 2006
Old 26th December 2006
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so it seems i'll be using a vintage hiwatt custom 50 for studio bass recording..

very excited i am!..

can't wait.
#22
31st December 2006
Old 31st December 2006
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And the winner is...

Ampeg SVT wins hands down. Those things are monsters.

In a recent session, I ran the bassist to a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe combo head only through an Ampeg SVT 410-HE with a BBE Max and Peavey Kosmos in the FX loop. Worked pretty damn good.
#23
31st December 2006
Old 31st December 2006
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ampeg svt.... for sure...
#24
31st December 2006
Old 31st December 2006
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What about the Acoustic 360. I have never tried one, but isn't that one considered a "holy grail" ?
#25
31st December 2006
Old 31st December 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eide View Post
What about the Acoustic 360. I have never tried one, but isn't that one considered a "holy grail" ?
That is a solid state amp. Not holy grail but the likes of Jaco, JPJ, and Larry Graham depended on them.
#26
31st December 2006
Old 31st December 2006
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I bought a new Ampeg SVT Classic 300 watt tube head with the 8x10 cabinet a little over a year ago. I debated about the purchase for a year leading up to it.

On several occasions I came close to buyng a head off ebay. These heads are very heavy, complex electronically and depend on a large quantity of glowing glass bottles for sound output.

In the end, my Guitar Center rep gave me a deal I could not refuse on brand new pieces "in the box", $790 for the speaker cab and $1180 for the head, all in including sales tax.

I have no regrets, this rig sounds absolutely fantastic and I've had zero problems with it. The preamp controls are quite a bit different than the SVT I bought in the late 70's and I wondered if the new one would sound as good, yes it does. It has less controls and selector switches but it has that massive effortless deep tone and punch.

Now that Ampeg has been acquired by Loud Technologies (also owner of Mackie) the US production plant in Arkansas is being closed and production is moving out of the country. Thank goodness I bought mine when I did, an SVT from Korea just don't seem right.

SLM (St Louis Music) the former owner of Ampeg has bastardized the SVT name with a ton of solid state lookalikes and some that don't look the same but have SVT plastered all over them. I demoed a few of these but they were nothing like the real deal.

My SVT Classic has some cool LEDs on the back that tell you when the bias is tweaked up right. SLM had some really good engineers on staff, not sure what will happen to them now that LOUD Technologies has taken over.

I'd grab the real thing while you can, soon, they will be gone, replaced with Asian imitations.
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31st December 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4stringerfinger View Post
That is a solid state amp. Not holy grail but the likes of Jaco, JPJ, and Larry Graham depended on them.
Learning something new every day
#28
8th September 2009
Old 8th September 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FFTT View Post
I'm considering a replacement for my long lost vintage '73 Ampeg SVT head.

Yes it was a killer to haul around, but nothing out there seems to be better.

Of course back then, the head only cost $500.00 and now I'm wondering if
the new one's hold a candle to it or if I should consider something else.

I still have one of the original 8 X 10 cabinets, but will also be looking
for something more portable.

Since this may be the last pro amp I buy before I take that eternal dirt nap,

I want to go for quality and reliability.

Ampeg, Mesa, Fender, what else should I consider?

Am I better off these days going AIO Amp head or putting together
a component rack?



Hello,
I hope this will help you in making a wise choice.
The Ampeg 300 watt SVT CL Head costs $1,699.00, and the Ampeg SVT 810E cost $999.99.
So you have a 300 watt tube system for about $2,800.00 with tax. Very expensive.

I replaced the pickups on my my Fender American Jazz bass with Seymour Duncan quarter pound pickups $130.00
From there the signal runs into an Art DPS II stereo tube pre-amp $229.00,
from there into a Crown TXI 6000 power amp with built in crossover's. The Crown amp costs $999.99 and puts out 800 conservative watts per channel at 4 ohms.
This is more than enough power for any venue.
Channel 1 low frequency feeds an 18" EVX180B Electro Voice 1,000 watt sub $465.00 frequency responce 20-100 hz.,
and channel 2 low- mid to high-mid frequencys an 8 x 10" plus a 2” tweeter using Eminence speakers. 100 - 20,000 hz. $800.00.
Both cabinets are home made from 3/4" birch ply-wood.
You could have Home Depot cut the wood for you. All joints and seems are triple glued.
I also hade them leave a 3" vent across the entire bottom of both cabnits so the air would thrust out across the dance floor.
This is a great design.

So for about the same money I created a tube driven stereo rack system with more power then you know what to do with, and it is not a delicate system
like the one mentioned above.
You can't imagine the tone and just how powerful this system sounds. And because of the tube pre amp I get a warm fat sound.
A rack system is definitely the way to go for any professional application.
Caution: " this is no toy ".
Be careful in choosing speakers for this is not your typical SVT set up.
Your wattage is now running into the thousands per side and is extremely powerful.
Once you experience this kind of power and sound you will never be happy with the common commercial bass amps sold.

Good luck.

New York City
D.J. Sal Z.
FFTT
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#29
9th September 2009
Old 9th September 2009
  #29
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I decided it was just too much for me to haul an 85 pound head any longer
and I just couldn't bring myself to pay that kind of money for a Nampeg.

I still have my '73 AlNiCo 8X10 cab, so a new 8X10 wasn't a consideration.

After lots of research,

I am VERY happy with my new Reeves Custom 225.
#30
27th April 2010
Old 27th April 2010
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Sorry to bring this thread back, but I am wanting to get the best possible bass tone/amp for recording only. No large live shows, giggin, etc... BUT did want to mic the bass. I am a vintage tube tone nut.... Styles would be most like 70's music, some 80's like. And hip hop, fusion, rock, funk, etc.. Basically that tone of the bass on that song Magic Man from Heart. Or Brick House from The Commodores, etc..

So thats my goal (recording) and style(s).

So anyway, lots of research steered me towards a early 70's BLUE LINE (made in Lindin, NJ, NOT Magnavox) Ampeg SVT. Ok, no prob. Price, No prob... QUESTIONS THOUGH...

#1 -I notice they are like 300watts !!! Now that may be cool for people that rock arena's or just a live show period, or need to cut through a band, but I don't need 300w for track recording. Now I don't mind having it and never using all the volume, BUT I ask, is it like Marshall's and I will never get the secret Ampeg tone unless I have it cranked ? Or is it still the best tone/thing even at normal recording volumes ?

#2 - Is there anything special about the Ampeg SVT cabinets ? Do I need them for "that tone" ? Or would I still get that tone I'm looking for by getting the vintage head, BUT a custom made cabinet with newer age speakers that handle bass better ? Would a custom made cabinet actually be better due to the fact I could get more modern speakers, but have them run through the vintage circuitry ? For guitar I know the vintage speakers are actually better, but for bass, it seems the older speakers weren't made to handle modern bad ass bass.. ?? yes, no ?

#3 - If 300w is not recommended for recording, is the Ampeg B-25 the same tone, but just less watts ? Or no ? Was the SVT just plain MAGIC ?

Thanks for all input --
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