Gallien Krueger RB heads - how reliable are they?
Hey there, my first post (although I have a feeling I might know some of you guys...)
Right, I have a little Genz Benz Shuttle 6 which I really like, but I feel the time is right to get a 'big rig', both living-situation wise and economically speaking... I'm in the right place for it now. I'm keeping the Genz as a backup (also for touring and whatnot) and was thinking about getting a GK 1001RBII.
I used to have a 400RBII a few years back which I really, really liked and was great for the type of music I play (power/progressive metal)... I sold it off because it wasn't powerful enough. But much as I like the GB, and the Ashdown I owned in between, I felt I never got 'my' sound from them like I did with the GK.
TL;DR, I know the sound, I like it, so I'm guessing the 1001 is essentially the same thing.
I've been carrying out research though and it would appear some people have issues with reliability when it comes to GK stuff. I didn't have mine for long enough (and crucially, didn't tour with it) to be able to use my own experiences as a reference point.
What does everyone here think? Shall I go for it?
I have had a 800rb and used it for almost 10 years also 700rbII and never had any issues. Best bang for your buck on the market.
I've personally owned nearly every head GK has made, from my first 400RB-III, to my current 1001RB, and the only issue I've had with any of them was based on me goofing up and not giving the head enough clearance on top, causing it to overheat. Sent it back to GK, they fixed it, and as far as I know, it's still running at my old church. I've found GK heads, like you, give me "my sound" better and easier than any other head I've used. They have, so far, been the most bulletproof piece of gear I've ever used. I put over 120 gigs on my 1001RB last year alone, and it hasn't even broken a sweat. You should absolutely go for it.
Thanks for the responses, guys. My searching led to a few posts made on this forum about a sort of 'buzzing' sound, and pots getting crackly after less usage than one would expect... which is kinda strange, because I think all GK RB stuff is USA-made, and they have a good rep for build quality...
I know I might sound a bit overly cautious but if I'm gonna drop a fair chunk of cash on a rig, I want it to be a tank! I look after my gear very carefully, but still...
I have had issues with my 1001RBII. The first time, the unit sporadically lost power and made odd whizzing sounds. It was under warranty and local GK service replaced the power output circuit board. When the same symptoms occurred again, they were unable to reproduce and did nothing further. Following the advice in another post, I cleaned all front panel jacks with Deoxit and put a jumper in the effect send/return jacks when gigging. So far, I haven't had any power loss issues, but my confidence in the amp is still not 100%. It's a shame, because I love the sound of it.
RB series heads are very reliable. I've got an 800RB from 84' that works like it's it's brand spankin' new. Same with a 400RB from 90' that I recently picked up. The 1001 RB-II is a great head as well.
Just a thought, if you want a "big" rig it doesn't necessarily mean that it literally needs to be a large/heavy. The MB800 head lays down some serious power and is a little smaller than your Shuttle. It does the GK sound very well too. It doesn't do the GK grind thing quite as well as an RB series head, but I find that it's very passable in a live situation.
I used a 1001RB-II for about 5 years. The send/return jacks needed cleaned a couple times because I never used them (which is common to almost all amp brands). Other than that, it was problem free while I owned it. It's currently owned by a backline rental/sound company and, as far as I know, has been problem free for them.
J Schroder: that's strange... maybe something was wrong with the transformer? Or the amp's power supply? GK don't exactly have a name for putting out lemons...
bassgog0gmw: Yeah... actually, the reason I got the Shuttle instead of the MB500 was because the MB500 wasn't out yet, and I needed an amp urgently. They're pretty good but I like the features on the RB series... and the reason I'd get one is to get 'that' sound again.
I'm also probably going to ditch the ABM cab because, although I like the sound, it's too damn heavy for me. I'm thinking about 2 GK NEO2x12s but that's an issue for another thread!
And thanks for the fast responses, everyone! I'll probably hassle you again when I get close to actually pulling the trigger, but it's been informative so far.
If you liked the grind from the 400RB a 700RB may be a better choice. Its going to be real hard to get the volume up on a 1001RB they are loud.
Couple reliability issues that I know of along the GK lifespan.
1. The early 700 and 1000RB's back when they first came out. These would be ones with lower power ratings than the newer "version 2" amps like the 700-II and 1001. The newer versions fixed that along with upping the power and really, these "newer" versions are old deaigns by now. Don't see too many of the first ones around anymore. Any I've had and anybody I know have had have been rock solid reliable as long as it wasn't one of those first runs from 20+ years ago.
2. The mb500 microamp had some problems when it first came out and went through several revisions. The newer revisions seem to be OK.
So, IMO, if you get a 700RB-II, or 1001RB I or II, you should have rxperience similair to mine with GK's, and that is a solid feeling of reliability, something along the lines of what Peavey is known for. My 400 and 800 are late '80's/90 models and have been great. The only problem I had was a result of user stupidity (me) running one at way too low a speaker impedance and even then, it took about 3 gigs to kill it.
AdamR: Noted... and 480w is plenty loud, I guess, as I'd be running it through at least 6 10's or 4 12's. Plus it would save me some cash!
will33: I'd be buying new, in any case, but thanks for the heads up. I've heard (ok, read) that the mb500 and 800s were made in China before production was moved back to the US... do you think that had something to do with it?
(Mods: yes, I know it's a somewhat sensitive subject here, but I own Chinese-made stuff that works great; plus my Genz is made in Taiwan and has been a tank so I'm not prejudiced or anything, just curious!)
As for killing the amp, I've done worse but I'm impressed it took three gigs to kill it!
Reliability and tone = G-K IME. All G-K heads, cabs, combos and now raw NEO speakers are only built in California. G-K has no share holders or corporations to satisfy, only the man that started and still designs and owns G-K (Mr Gallien). People using his products being satisfied are his biggest concern. The biggest small company I know of in M.I.
As to the China G-K plant, part of the reason Gallien moved the production back to the US was slower response to quality improvements. Even with constant US employee presence in the China plant the logistics just didn't work well enough.
Don't know about the China thing. I think it may've been more of a design problem, which wouldn't really be affected by where it was assembled. May've also been affected by this Rohs crap and wave soldering automation that was either cooking some parts or leaving cold joints. Whatever it was "seems" to have been fixed, but, I'm with you on the reliability thing being of utmost importance. If you went with a new 700 or 1001, I don't think you'd have anything to worry about. Those are a bit older, proven designs. They're also easier and less expensive to repair if something does ever happen.
My GK heads(400rb,400rbII,800rb,1001rbII) have never let me down. Although I'd like to point out something concerning the 1001rb and the signature "GK growl"..it's in there,but it takes some proper EQ-ing to bring it out at small club volumes..
Re: " slower reaponse to quality improvements "
I suppose the o'seas thing could be said to have an effect then, at least in a roundabout sort of way. Design team here sees problem, orders changes. Manufacturing plant there is slow to implement changes = problem amps are already on the boat and on there way to market.
I thought I remembered rag saying they found out they needed more hand assembly on some parts because the whole Rohs/wave machine thing was taking it's toll on some parts.
FWIW, the RB series amps have always been made here, at least as much as something can be nowdays anyway. Always had that direct control/oversight from the engineer. As far as the larger companies go, they may be among a very few. Ampeg--->China. GenzBenz--->Taiwan. Fender--->Mexico. Eden--->China. etc. etc.
Not to hijack, but I'm in the early stages of amp hunting as well. Just need the cash money. GK seems to continue to be at the top of my list as well. The MB I played was nice, very nice.
The elimination of lead in solder has been a pain in everyone's sides as well as elimination of the old rosin flux.
RAG may have mentioned wave soldering concerns (that I missed). Temp and timing issues are critical with mixed board trace widths and component heat tolerances.
The RB series and Fusion 550 have always been made in Cal.
Well I emailed Thomann.de (where I'm most likely to get my amp from) and they confirmed that their GK stuff has been made in USA since June 2012.
After researching further, I think the 700rb is the way to go... the 1001 is a bit too much, as I'm not playing stadiums or anything!
Thanks again for the help, guys.
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