My post got kinda long and gushy, but what the heck ... guess this'll be the Block II "megathread", or at least "megapost".
Originally Posted by Plain Old Me
The way companies rate the wattage differes a lot, making it very fustrating to get a decent spec. .....
Exactly. Some measure things with advantageous ratings (peak vs. RMS) or at frequencies that have little impact on bass playing (the lows distort or bloom out of control), outright make numbers up, have massive THD along with it, little headroom, etc. Then it just seems like there's been inflation on watts same as the cost of living over time.
Whatever the case, I've got one of these amps (and use several others regularly) and it can match or smoke in volume, tone, headroom, and quiet reliable operation almost anything else I've tried (much quieter than all the modern "boutique" amps I've had - iAMP, TF, Aguilar...), and I've tried/gigged/rehearsed a lot of stuff including many of the darling amps-du-jour and/or some that claim many times the power but can't deliver close to as much "ooomph" through the same cabs.
Factor that they're also the toughest amp (for once something is truly "built like a tank") and that they can frequently be found for $100-$300 and you can hardly go wrong.
The only amp that I've liked as much is the Carvin B1500 (cost me over 8x the most expensive Mono Block I've bought) and I perhaps like the DB750 better (cost me over 18x the most expensive Mono Block I've bought and weighs even more). Some of the early Peavey "Mark" series are comperable too but the 5-band active slider EQ puts the Traynor way over the top IMO (slider EQ not found on the Mono Block B = Mono Block I, the "B" standing for the originally planned name "Beavertone").
Cons? They're heavy (42 lbs, Matt) and come encased in an awkward metal case with some sharp edges that's about 2.5u high and perhaps 19" deep once factoring the front handles. Mine has taken chunks out of my car, shins, doorways, concrete driveway, and cabs. I finally had to make custom foam-and-duct-tape covers for the edges to avoid further injury. I eventualy scored a factory cover on eBay for it too, so keep an eye out for one of those. The bright side? That metal casing is also the heat sink so it can run all day long at 2 Ohms without even getting warm. It has no DI either, but does have a preamp out and power amp in. Works great for keys and will do for vocals too.
Why do I even have other amps? Despite all the excellent/expensive amps I have I still ask myself that often. It used to be "nah it can't be that good", then the more amps I tried the more I realized it really is that good but I didn't want the hassle of the casing or the weight, and now that I've largely given up on the laptop-sized nu-amps and instead cart around amps that, once racked, are as large and weigh as much or more ... well I like having a DI with pre/post on my amps and ground lift and such, but really is that worth the extra $1800 or so the DB750 cost me? No, given that I could get those installed on the Block for a couple hundred (including top-quality DI), but I love using and trying different stuff. Still, I wouldn't heistate to pick the Block if I had to chose just one of my amps. Beavertone rocks !
They're not for everyone of course, and are best suited to those who want to rock although given the versatility and quiet I wouldn't be shocked to see someone amplifying a DB for supper jazz either, but they shine the most when rocking loud and hard. When it comes to budgetary concerns though, why people bother with hissy and unreliable crap when they can get these (or stuff like the early Peavey Marks) often for only $100-$200 is beyond me.
Matt, can you post pics of yours? These often have different touches - perhaps the knobs or often the power switch (size and colour) and pilot light (size and type). Pete Traynor would use whatever parts he had in the shop and as a result sometimes the tones vary slightly too, but very slightly.
There's an excellent .pdf on the Yorkville site somewhere called "The History of Yorkville" that documents the many firsts Pete Traynor introduced to live music amplification and it's a must read to find out what a rich history this map is part of and what an unsung here Pete was - loudest bass amp at the time (this very amp), first 8x10 cab, first wedge monitors I believe, many of the first PA arrays for big concerts, etc. ... a very long list I'll let you discover for yourself if you care to.
Originally Posted by Matt Till
THANKS SMASH for the heads up on this awesome awesome head!
You're very welcome! I'm glad you dig it. Being able to play loud, heavy, and yet clean is a revelation eh? You won't be stuck like so many bassists being lost in the live mix, unless you want to push the low sliders up a few notches and get into boom car territory 'cause it'll do that too but God's mercy on your cabinet. Speaking of which, your cab will be fine - these stay clean practically all the way up and are very hard to drive into clipping.
That noisy volume knob probably just needs some WD-40. If you ever do need the amp worked on though, it's easy for any competent tech to fix quickly as it's all simple technology with plenty of room to work (look inside, believe it or not there's almost *nothing* in that giant casing).
I've seriously looked into cloning these in a small, light, modern package, but all the electrical engineers I've talked to say that the modern parts are too sterile per their "improved" tolerances so will not give the same tone - that's the joy of this amp, it has this perfect faint grind/character that sweetens the highs, allows the mids to cut without honking, yet retains tight lows. Very tubey if you set it right and crank it, more so than any emulator I've heard.
Sounds crazy? Read the other reviews (all too few) you can find online or ask cats that have used 'em, even heavies like "Psycho Bass Guy".
Matt, I play mine through a SUNN 2x15 as well *and* a Traynor 2x15. You'll find that with a decent amp that a 2x15 cab needn't have the slow/mushy/dark tone so many people assume all 15" speakers posess.
Clips (all set for a fairly flat/clean tone to cut through, in the case of the 3rd clip to cut through two 100w Marshalls with a total of five 4x12 cabs so it's set quite middy with boost on the passive mid) :
studio, rock, Schroeder 2x12 mic'd, Roscoe Beck 5 passive bass - http://www3.telus.net/tarkake/Gonna%20Get%20You.mp3
studio, funky, same cab & bass - http://www3.telus.net/tarkake/Gonna%...20My%20Job.mp3
live, proggy metal?, two 2x15 cabs, RB5 bass (early rehearsal demo of this, so kinda sloppy) - http://www3.telus.net/tarkake/TARKAK...ing%20Kake.wma
Pics of the ones at jam spot - top for vocals, middle for organ, bottom for bass. Note the different power button and pilot light on each, and mine has a black button with round LED (seen as an old avatar of mine in 2nd pic) so that's 4/4 that are different that I use.