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Ampeg B-15 Models

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by gwx014, Nov 20, 2012.


  1. gwx014

    gwx014

    Dec 22, 2005
    Hi Everyone,

    I'm looking into purchasing a B-15 and was wondering the sonic differences between the 1960's models and the 70's models. Also how does the newer 100 watt model compare? What is your preference?

    Also, what would be a ballpark fair price for a good condition amp? The ones I have seen are in the ballpark of $1000+.

    Thank you!
     
  2. jumbodbassman

    jumbodbassman Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    Stuck in traffic -NY & CT
    Disclosures:
    Born Again Tubey
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  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps
    60's models are a little brighter and don't go quite as low in the lows as the 70's models. I prefer the 60's models, some prefer the 70's models. No right or wrong answer, merely matters of taste.
     
  5. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    Montréal,Qc,Canada
    I have both a 63 and a 76. The 60's are 45 watts, the 70's 60 watts.
    i do prefer the 76 because of its power, low end and headroom.
     
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps
    The only B-15's in the 60's were either 25 or 30w. The 63 model is the B-15NB, which is likely what you have, and it's 25w. The 70's B-15's are the B-15N and B-15S. The N was 30w, the S 60w. I suspect your 70's model is the S, correct?
     
  7. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    Montréal,Qc,Canada
    Yes the B15-S is what i have in 70's.
    And the 63 is a B15-N which I thought was rated at 45 watts. I stand corrected, I just looked in my Ampeg book.

    Thanks, no wonder why I love the headroom on the B15-S ;)
     
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps
    Ya, I seem to be one of the very few who can get away with the 25w B-15 on gigs. I ain't complaining, though!
     
  9. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    Montréal,Qc,Canada
    LOL
    I hear you!
    I think that the B15-S is the best Portaflex IMO. It was my first amp that I carried everywhere. I took the head off the wooden plate for transport and to avoid too much vibrations on the tubes. It is still heavy but not as much as any other powerful amp that were made after this one.

    Now I use the head with a 4x10 Bergantino and it really rocks.
     
  10. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    I'm a sucker for the early 60's B-15 amps and cabinets. Others go for the 70's tone. They are both great sounding but slightly different.

    Adding a second cab, as Jimmy does, can help with a little more volume. But it is still a 25W or 30W amp. The wattage needed will be dictated by the type of music, the size of the venue, and whether or not you are mic'ing the cab.

    Did I mention that there is also a cool factor in using a B-15?

    Prices are all over the place. It depends on where you live, the time of the year, and condition. Prices tend to be up a bit now because people are buying. In general they continually keep increasing because of demand. I've recently seen a 65 B-15 for $1200, a 70's model for $1850, and a B15S for $1200. These are all good prices. Good B-15's can sell for over $2000. There are always deals to be found. Be patient and hope for some luck.

    How much work needs to be done is a big factor. We are talking about amps that could be 50 years old! Don't underestimate the need to have a tech service the amp when you get it. Buying an already serviced amp is a big plus that can save you a lot of money. Otherwise it can cost you a lot depending on how far you want to go. It depends if you want the amp to be just gigable or you want to take if further and get into a restoration. An older unused amp might need new tubes and some components, a good cleaning inside the chassis and out, the power supply might need to be re-caped, a re-cone or speaker replacement, the cab might have buzzes, and it needs a three-conductor power cord.
     
  11. stiles72

    stiles72

    Mar 20, 2009
    Albany IL
    I have a '63 B15, but truthfully prefer the tone from the 70's models. I also really like the B15R (100 watter) and I own a 50 watt Oliver which has a pair of 7027 tubes (same as a B18 or B15ND) that sounds really good. The extra wattage on that makes a big difference for live use. When I do run my '63 live, I used to run a B-100R alongside it - but now I use a B15 extension cab and we mic it up. Lot's of variations in the B15 / Portaflex family, and you can't really go wrong with any of the vintage units. Even the solid state fliptops from the 60's are excellent choices if the price is right.
     
  12. aborgman

    aborgman Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2007
    Ypsilanti, MI 48197
    B-18 head FTW.
     
  13. gwx014

    gwx014

    Dec 22, 2005
    Thanks for the great replies everyone! I'm looking to mainly use the amp for recording so wattage isn't a huge concern. I guess I'll just keep my eyes open for one that needs minimal work!
     
  14. Rea

    Rea Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2014
    Brooklyn
    I got a '66 and a '72.

    Something interesting about the tonal variation IMO is that, to begin with, the "tone" of a B15, not unlike the tone of a P Bass, is seemingly limited compared to "Modern" products, however, soon enough you find out that its the "Right" tone that, for me, beats the tone of the "seemingly" modern options out there.

    In the comparison between my '66 and '72 B15's (the 72 as noted above goes deeper and "wider"), My take on the whole thing is, again, as explained above;
    The '66 is the more "limited" of the two, yet epitomizes the whole concept of the B15 tone IMO.
    So my ears may, at first listen, vote for the 70's model as it is wider, but then the '66 is, in a way, sweeter and and more gloriously limited;) like a good old P bass...Its no 8 string Pedulla with active electronics, but its the boss!;)

    YMMV
     
  15. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    A good test would be to plug the 70's head into both cabinets and evaluate them, then do the same with the older head. Hopefully, that will allow you to better evaluate the cabinets. You have to be careful though, with the 70s model there should be a little more oomph. The increase will make the head seem better. You'd need to find a way to normalize the settings.
     
  16. Rea

    Rea Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2014
    Brooklyn
    Totally. a note: there is a CTS square magnet in the '72 and an Altec in the '66.

    How do you suggest to "Noramalize"? putting all on flat and backing the volume on the '72 a bit? or matching the EQ even if there is a boost or cut on one of the two.

    Also, is it important to go to standby every time i change Cab?
     
  17. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Yes, go to standby every time you change the cab.

    What you are suggesting is about the best that you can do using your ears. Normally looking at the signals on a computer could help you ensure that they are adjusted equally or normalized.

    Another approach is use a spectrum analyzer app on your phone. Use the phone mic for input. Try to set the amps so that the spectrum levels and frequencies are about the same. Note the pot settings. The results can be revealing.

    I use an iPhone app called Spectrum Analyzer from Onyx (https://itunes.apple.com/app/spectrum-analyzer-real-time/id490078884?mt=8). There are many similar apps to choose from for any type of phone.
     
  18. Rea

    Rea Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2014
    Brooklyn
    Awesome. Thanks
     



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