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Reeves Custom 225 - Legacy Bass Tones Condenser Microphones
Old 23rd July 2014
  #1
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Reeves Custom 225 - Legacy Bass Tones

As you guys know, I've concentrated on the sound source much more than the sound capture side of recording.

After my vintage SVT was stolen, more than 30 years went by trying to find a rock solid, professional, touring/recording bass amp that did not make me miss my SVT.

I also wanted those classic 60's and 70's legacy British bass tones that inspired me to play bass in the first place.

After all these years, the Reeves Custom 225 has ended my tone quest.

Inspired by the vintage Hiwatt DR-201, but EQ'd for bass.

One added bonus, the Reeves 225 does not use a cooling fan, operation is whisper quite.


This amp allows the natural tones of my vintage basses to shine through like no other.
I want my vintage jazz bass and my Hofner to sound like they should.

I've been doing some noodling after my '64 Jazz Bass came back from the luthier.

I decided to go back to Black Nylon Wrap strings to help preserve the original frets and also to help smooth out the tone, reducing string and finger clack while tracking.

As you can see, I'm tracking in far less than ideal circumstances, going straight up into my M-Audio Project Mix.
These are bone dry raw tracks No added FX, Comp, EQ.

I'm using a soft nylon Dunlop .60 pick in the first half of the first clip, then switching to fingers.
The second clip is all nylon .60

Mic'd with an AT 4050, about 18" off the grill.

I'm rusty as hell, but I think you'll hear enough to understand why this amp
should be a part of your sonic arsenal. It will also deliver the most spectacular cleans you've ever heard for guitars and also
work quite well for keys and synth tracks.

4XKT88's, all hand wired turret board construction in the Hiwatt tradition,
built one at a time to order in Ohio USA.
225 watts clean RMS into 8 Ohms, 256 watts clean RMS into 4 Ohms.
Active/Passive input switch, 2 channel bright and normal, so you can jumper and blend the tone stacks.

http://www.reevesamps.com/custom225.htm






Dialing in these tones was a matter of minutes, effortless!
Pots were wide open on the Jazz Bass.

This amp has plenty of gain on tap to dial in those perfect John Entwistle tones too!
Old 23rd July 2014
  #2
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Lance Keltner's bass player demo's his P-Bass through the 225 with more grind and mids than I used in the demos above.

Old 23rd July 2014
  #3
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Our friends in U.K. EU, AU, and elsewhere, by all means hunt down a vintage Hiwatt
DR-201 or DR-405 if you can find one.

A DR-103 will do just fine for tracking bass too.

Reeves does ship international on special order if you want a new amp.

I know my chops are rusty as hell, but the response from other bass players over at TalkBass has been overwhelmingly favorable.

http://www.talkbass.com/threads/reev...-bass.1091585/
Old 23rd July 2014
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FFTT View Post
This amp allows the natural tones of my vintage basses to shine through like no other.
I want my vintage jazz bass and my Hofner to sound like they should.


Seems like the best amps (at least not the high gain ones) really allow the tone of the instrument to shine through.

Nice sounds btw, very fast.
Old 23rd July 2014
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
Seems like the best amps (at least not the high gain ones) really allow the tone of the instrument to shine through.

Nice sounds btw, very fast.
The vintage Hiwatts and the Reeves amps both deliver what I consider legacy, rock reference tones.

I can dial it in totally Reggae fat to grinding overdrive.

Much early camera mic clips show that this amp just kills for Live at Leeds guitar & Led Zeppeiin Stadium tones too, just bridge the channels, push the pre-gains hard and wear hearing protection :-)
Old 24th July 2014
  #6
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The whole idea of posting these clips here was to show if I could get these results in less than ideal conditions, straight up into a basic M-Audio interface,
just imagine the results through a much better signal chain in ideal circumstances.

The refrigerator was on 10 feet behind the cab.
The air handler was running non stop and I had a small fan running across the room.

All that aside, the Reeves & the '64 Jazz Bass sounded great.
What would have made it sound even better would be if I had played tighter, in the pocket with a kick, but that would have meant tracking with headphones on.

I was just winging it and the performance was definitely loose.

There's no point spending big money on an expensive mic or improving the
signal chain if the sound source doesn't sound good to begin with.

A great mic & preamp won't make a lousy amp sound better.

$2400.00 for a fine, hand wired bass amp, built to last trouble free for decades is nothing compared to the price of one good mic or one good piece of rack gear in the signal chain.

This was quick & dirty, fast and super easy with the minimum hassle.

I could have set up my DAV BG-1 but there was already too much gain with the interface input gain barely on.

I would have had to turn down the amp volume even further and lost some of that beauteous, rich low end.

Thanks again for taking the time to listen.
Old 24th July 2014
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FFTT View Post
I could have set up my DAV BG-1 but there was already too much gain with the interface input gain barely on.
This doesn't make any sense - the AT4050 has a -10dB pad and the BG1 has a -26dB pad as well and it's minimum gain is 26dB meaning it starts at 0dB i.e. no gain with the pad in. How could this have generated 'more' gain?
Old 24th July 2014
  #8
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Great question!

Both clips were recorded without engaging the pad on the AT4050.

The M-Audio interface apparently has a good amount of gain even at the lowest input setting. I mean turned all the way down.

Also in other threads, I have explained that the ProjectMix only has one input, the front 1/4" TS guitar jack that bypasses the internal preamps.

The output of the BG-1 being +4 (even with both pads engaged) is too hot to go into the XLR inputs of the M-Audio, being a prosumer -10 interface.

The brilliant designers at M-Audio simply did not consider that someone might want to bypass their built in preamps.

Apparently it would have cost to much to include a simple
Preamp Off switch to handle professional outboard gear.

I have a little Rolls 2 channel step down converter that takes +4 input signal down to -10. Just didn't want to deal with hooking it all up.

I was just trying to get these clips done with the minimum amount of hassle.
Old 27th July 2014
  #9
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londonengineer

Has kindly taken the time to review the M-Audio Project Mix specifications and reached out trying to help me solve the issue with the BG-1 output clipping into the M-Audio Project Mix.

I was going XLR out from the BG-1 into the XLR mic inputs on the Project Mix, when I should have used a different cable going from the BG-1 XLR out into the 1/4" TRS line inputs on the Project Mix which opens up a lot more headroom.

Off to Redco Audio to have the right cables made up.

This kind of help is why I appreciate Gearslutz!
Old 29th July 2014
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FFTT View Post
After my vintage SVT was stolen, more than 30 years went by trying to find a rock solid, professional, touring/recording bass amp that did not make me miss my SVT.
I'm gonna call BS. How on earth does one steal an SVT? That's like stealing, I dunno, a Twin Reverb. I think it's the kind of thing that people think they're gonna steal, but instead convince themselves that they really wanted to steal the blender and the VCR all along. Personally, I think you made up the whole story just so you can buy another Reeves.
Old 29th July 2014
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
I'm gonna call BS. How on earth does one steal an SVT? That's like stealing, I dunno, a Twin Reverb. I think it's the kind of thing that people think they're gonna steal, but instead convince themselves that they really wanted to steal the blender and the VCR all along. Personally, I think you made up the whole story just so you can buy another Reeves.
It was stolen or disappeared mysteriously waiting for repairs at Rolls Music Falls Church.
You've been around the region long enough to know how many people wanted to see that store burn to the ground for the crap he pulled.

I was too broke to hire an attorney.

This is the way I was treated after our band had spent $24,000.00 on PA gear through his store.

The entire Washington D.C. region rejoiced when he went out of business.
Old 29th July 2014
  #12
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No, I only moved to the DC area in the mid 90's. I'm from Baltimore.

I wonder if it's still in the area. Did it have any distinguishing marks or odors?
Old 29th July 2014
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
No, I only moved to the DC area in the mid 90's. I'm from Baltimore.

I wonder if it's still in the area. Did it have any distinguishing marks or odors?
Look for a long trail of putrid slime.
Old 29th July 2014
  #14
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I've actually budgeted this amp to be the house amp in my new spot. I'm really excited about it. I think it sounds better than every amp I've tried.

I've had some thefts over the years. A metal band that shall remain nameless walked off with an MD421 on me once...so I feel your pain there, but I think this amp is the beez kneez, so congrats. =)
Old 29th July 2014
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
I've actually budgeted this amp to be the house amp in my new spot. I'm really excited about it. I think it sounds better than every amp I've tried.

I've had some thefts over the years. A metal band that shall remain nameless walked off with an MD421 on me once...so I feel your pain there, but I think this amp is the beez kneez, so congrats. =)
You will be amazed not only how it sounds for bass, but jumper the channels and blend the tone stacks, dime the pre-gains, keep the master about 10:00 and plug in your favorite guitars.

You will very quickly understand what made Pete Townshend Jump!

Hearing protection strongly advisable running guitars at higher volumes, but you're talking Live At Leeds, some very cool crunch rhythm tones and more.

Really looking forward to your review.
Old 29th July 2014
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I got a 1070 DR 103 and can confirm all you said. I never heard any SVT that even got close, that after 30 years of live and studio work. There's not many amps that can keep the tone so "firm" like ironwood AND add no, little, or good doses of grit - and shape your dynamic envelopes in recording-ready ways. Most bass amps just lose their firmness of tone, get rubbery or wobbly or just crap out like the lowend of Sovtek amps, where all that remains is mid/hi.
But I find it a lot, lot harder to record it with guitars, especially the louder the amp gets. Maybe it's the FletcherMunson curves, because the mics and preamps I tried are up to the volume.
Old 29th July 2014
  #17
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Even though it may defy logic, it is easier to get great guitar tones out of the DR-201 circuit than it is to out of the DR-103. Massive transformers & KT88's.

I can't imagine how my 225 would sound with a full compliment of NOS Mullards.

Also remember, I'm running through a vintage flat back SVT 8X10 loaded with
CTS AlNiCo's. These speakers are great for bass, but also great with guitars.
They are also notably low efficiency, so they effectively result in a 30% volume
drop compared to modern bass drivers and they sing under compression.

Also original Fane Crescendos, may deliver that classic Caaaarrrraaaannnng, but they were really more like mid range PA drivers
than guitar speakers.
Old 29th July 2014
  #18
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Could very well be. I'm just saying, because recording bass is dead easy and effortless on my Hiwatt, but guitar - even if it sounds good in the room - is much more work to get it onto a recording that plays back reasonably close to what is heard. Some guitars work better, even if, say, guitar "A" sounds good and "B" sounds good as well, "B" will much easier go down on harddisk. While "A" sounds wrong on the recording only. Comparing these two guitars on the same speakers on another amp - no problem, suddenly both sound good on recording. AND the Hiwatt is picky about tuning. Sloppy tuning is heard all the worse, compared to any Marshall, Orange or THD, or...
Old 29th July 2014
  #19
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These early clips were posted in the guitar and amp threads 5 years ago.

When I first got the amp, people were screaming for demos, but I wasn't set up to track with a proper mic, so those clips have quite a bit of camera mic self noise and were also picking up the fans on my G5.

The camera mic was also getting slammed with 256 watts RMS at about 20 feet.

My buddy John came over and ran his guitar through the 225.
No one expects a bass driver to ring like that on top.



Note the amp settings and that we have the channels jumpered with a dual mono Y cable. He's also pushing mids more than I would have, so the detail is a bit fuzzier on top. The master volume @ 10:00 was about as loud as we could stand it.




Compare those settings to the settings I documented for the GBYBR test clip.
Here much lower gain, normal channel and I've got the mid control Off, Master @ 2:00 ish



For better lack of terms, its like learning how to control a thoroughbred race horse while it's kicking you in the chest.
These are dangerous SPL levels, so you do not want to stand in front of the amp running a guitar through it.
With bass, the volumes are very comfortable low club volume.
Old 29th July 2014
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FFTT View Post
For better lack of terms, its like learning how to control a thoroughbred race horse while it's kicking you in the chest.
Pretty much, yes. I get it going in the (big enough) room, but there's still some variables in translating that to what will come off the monitors after recording. After all those years. Recording any other amp isn't half the effort. Even with the same guitar and speakers.
Old 29th July 2014
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frans View Post
Pretty much, yes. I get it going in the (big enough) room, but there's still some variables in translating that to what will come off the monitors after recording. After all those years. Recording any other amp isn't half the effort. Even with the same guitar and speakers.
I can only guess it's the DR-103 circuit with EL34's vs. the DR-201 circuit with even beefier transformers and 4 X KT88's

If you've ever compared a Marshall 100 to a Marshall Super Bass running KT 88's they are clearly different.

Also if you don't jumper the channels, you're missing out because jumping the channels adds more gain in addition to blending the two tone stacks.
Old 29th July 2014
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I'm jumpering the channels, also tried a few pedals. I have a THD univlalve, so I totally get what you mean with EL34 vs. KT88. Still, what puzzles me with the Hiwatt and guitar recordings is something else. Also tried the THD hotplate knocking off 4 or 8 dB (8 ist the outmost what will work)
Old 29th July 2014
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frans View Post
Could very well be. I'm just saying, because recording bass is dead easy and effortless on my Hiwatt, but guitar - even if it sounds good in the room - is much more work to get it onto a recording that plays back reasonably close to what is heard. Some guitars work better, even if, say, guitar "A" sounds good and "B" sounds good as well, "B" will much easier go down on harddisk. While "A" sounds wrong on the recording only. Comparing these two guitars on the same speakers on another amp - no problem, suddenly both sound good on recording. AND the Hiwatt is picky about tuning. Sloppy tuning is heard all the worse, compared to any Marshall, Orange or THD, or...
Absolutely! These amps will make an honest player out of you.

Too much gain, tuning drift after the guitar warms up, using certain pedals for
overdrive and added sustain, these amps can be quite unforgiving.

Put one in the hands of David Gilmour or Joe Walsh, angels weep!

In my experimentation, the DR-504 circuit, especially the Jimmy Page modded 50 watt circuit and the DR-201
make it much easier to get great results.

The speakers & cab design also matter quite a bit.
Old 29th July 2014
  #24
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Frans, you also have to keep in mind tracking a Hiwatt with guitar in an isolated
studio environment, just won't capture the same energy, room ambience and mic bleed of a band playing live or at least in live sections.

You've heard me time after time telling folks.

"Don't Over Think Rock & Roll"

Too much perfection can very often squeeze the life out of a recording.
Old 29th July 2014
  #25
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My mic collection is rather limited to the AT4050, AT3035, TAB Funkenwerk modded SM57 and my old road worn AKG D1000e.

While I'm pretty happy with the results I've been getting,

I'm totally open to suggestions on what other mics I should try, budget permitting.

Optimum versatility preferred.

I'm living lean since I retired!
Old 29th July 2014
  #26
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I really like the 225. Don't have one but maybe one day! The audio clips you posted sound great.
My current bass amp arsenal consists of a '61 B15N for the studio, and V4B with 212AV cab, for gigs.
Old 29th July 2014
  #27
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You have excellent taste!

The V4B with a good pair of tight detailed speakers is a great amp, but back when I tried one, they ran out of headroom rather quickly if you pushed them much above 4 on the volume.

My favorite Ampegs are still the early hand wired builds.

The '61 B-15N is clearly a legacy tone machine, but speakers can make a world
of difference. From loose and wooly like the Gauss to tight detailed and punchy
with an EV.

I've learned hard lessons about pushing vintage speakers too hard.
Some sound fantastic, some are just plain worn out, so you either box them up
for preservation, re-cone or run new speakers for daily use.
Old 29th July 2014
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FFTT View Post
You have excellent taste!

The V4B with a good pair of tight detailed speakers is a great amp, but back when I tried one, they ran out of headroom rather quickly if you pushed them much above 4 on the volume.

My favorite Ampegs are still the early hand wired builds.

The '61 B-15N is clearly a legacy tone machine, but speakers can make a world
of difference. From loose and wooly like the Gauss to tight detailed and punchy
with an EV.

I've learned hard lessons about pushing vintage speakers too hard.
Some sound fantastic, some are just plain worn out, so you either box them up
for preservation, re-cone or run new speakers for daily use.
Agree.
I currently have the original Jensen P15-L in the B15 and it sounds wonderful. It's been recapped and re-tubed and is in amazing condition from an lifetime of TLC and indoor use. I rarely push it past 20-30 % on the volume though...at that low level it sounds tight, punchy, and fantastic. And mic'd with an AKG 414 it produces pure bass magic.
I have been considering boxing and shelving the old Jenson and putting an Eminence Delta 15A in it, but since it sounds so sweet I haven't felt the need to do that so far.

For me, since we're not a loud band (Americana/Roots music) The V4B provides all the vol, power and headroom I need for gigs. I do engage the low freq rocker switch and get a nice fat bottom punch from it. The 2x12 cab sounds great BTW...a nice tonal character that lands perfectly between 15s and 10s with some of the good stuff of each of those other sizes, and it transports easily.

But If I ever end up needing more...the 225 with an 8x10 cab is on my list! I love the sound, tone, and physical mojo of the moving air while standing 3 feet from an 8 x 10 cab with a few hundred tube watts pushing it. It's something every bass player should experience and easy to see why so many touring players use the fridge rig.

PS: The nylon .60 sounds very cool...nice attack but still enough thickness to bring out the balls.
Old 29th July 2014
  #29
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I actually discovered the magic of the Dunlop Nylon .60 trying various picks, fingers, harder and softer attacks playing acoustic and electric test tracks.

Since I've gotten used to working with highly touch sensitive amps, my technique has evolved to take advantage of the way these amps respond.

On these bass tracks, I wasn't digging in hard at all. Just letting the pick do the work, nice and easy.

Speaking of hidden magic.

If you have an early hand wired Ampeg with an unconventional factory mod or alteration, like a 12AX7 pre section, rather than the more typical Octal 6L7 pre sections, there may be hidden gold under the hood.

Not to spread false hope or unsubstantiated rumor, but a few months back, it occurred to me that Ken Fischer of Trainwreck, just might have played a role in those custom builds.
He was there as lead engineer before Ampeg moved to PCB builds.

Unlike the conventional builds, some like my '64 R12R-M & '65 Gemini I,
are more powerful, equipped with 12AX7 pre sections, extremely touch sensitive to the slightest change in attack and clearly far more aggressive as you dig in.

Everett HATED distortion, but a handful of rare builds were made, none the less, probably on custom orders from studio musicians.

If there is an unknown maker's mark to be found in those builds, just imagine
what would happen to their value.
Old 29th July 2014
  #30
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I've got a bag of dunlop .60s in the studio and am going going to try that...would love to incorporate that into my live playing
and add some pick punch to my tone.
Re the 61 Ampeg...I'm almost certain it has the "gold". Lots of gray hair and substantial loss of brain cells over the years may play a factor in that recall though
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