Contemplating the tube head route....

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by Smit_Dogg, Dec 19, 2013.


  1. Smit_Dogg

    Smit_Dogg

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Location:
    Cumbria, UK
    Hello fellow TB'ers,

    I've been an avid solid state user for a good decade now. Currently using the Mark Bass LM3 with a 2x10 and 1x15 Mark Bass Traveller cabs. But lately I've had the GAS urge to use an all tube head. I was wondering if it would be worth while considering my current playing habits. I'm mostly playing in a original/covers unit that plays around 10 times a year and been offered a position in 2014 with a very busy covers unit. I do really love my lm3 but think I could achieve a much better sound going the valve head route. I'm thinking of getting the Ashdown ctm100 (with being a brit) and maybe an ampeg as secondary measures. Was wondering what the rest of you fellow bass enthusiast think?
     
  2. David Hayes

    David Hayes Guest

  3. Clammy

    Clammy

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2008
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Neal Moser Guitars, DR Strings
    Marshall VBA 400 + 2x VBC 412 or VBC 810. :D :D :D

    Cheers!
    :bassist::bassist::bassist:
     
  4. B-string

    B-string Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2008
    Location:
    Lake Havasu City, Az USA
    First, every bass player should own and use an all tube head at least once. Second, don't let go of what you have now until you played one at least several months to know if you really like it better.
     
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  6. Downunderwonder

    Downunderwonder

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Location:
    New Zealand
    300w in preference to 100w. The guys swearing by 100w tube amps all run 8x10 with a handy sensitivity advantage.
     
  7. gurensan

    gurensan

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Location:
    Coon Rapids / Anoka, MN
    What B-String said, then what David Hayes said.

    People love Sunn, Traynor, Ampeg, Fender (the Bassman 100T has a lot of very, very satisfied customers), Mesa, Ashdown, Orange, Marshall, etc., even Matchless. I personally dig the SVT sound.

    I can also lift two of myself without getting hurt.. ymmv.
     
  8. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Don't go into this blind. You owe to yourself to do your homework, then go to shops and try as many different amps and cabs as you can.

    Sometimes the band has a preference. In some cases, since they are hiring you, they might want to dictate what sort of sound you should have. Also, find out if you will need a DI.
     
  9. David Hayes

    David Hayes Guest

  10. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    Disclosures:
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Totally spoilt for nice valve amps in the UK, if you are anywhere near Bristol, welcome to come have a go with a bunch of my collection. Idea of the sort of sound you are after would be a good start.
     
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Your current rig will do the job just fine, but tube amps are a whole new dimension. I spent 20 years using tube amps exclusively, then I went hybrid for a few years because I didn't think I could handle moving an SVT and 810 for all the one nighters I suddenly had booked when I joined my current band, but I missed tube amps so much I went back to them in 2008 and never looked back. Sure, I have small amps for when the situation dictates, so I'd hang onto your current rig in case you need to be small, but I'll do the lifting for the tube amps because they're that much better IMHO.
     
  12. Chad Michael

    Chad Michael

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2001
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Was invited to play w/ long term musician friends, at a festival downtown, about 4 yrs ago. The backline was equipped with an Ampeg all tube head and an 810.

    It was the voice of God.

    I'm sure there are other makes and models that do nicely, but that was a sound I'll never forget...
     
  13. kurosawa

    kurosawa Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2001
    Location:
    York County, Virginia
    What speakers will you be using? The following info from the barefacedbass.com site explains why this is worth some thought if using an amp with a tube power section.

    "Valve amps are nothing like solidstate amps. Getting maximum power out of them relies on matching the output transformer tap's impedance with the cab's impedance as closely as possible. However, a 4 ohm or 8 ohm cab is actually only nominally 4 or 8 ohm. The actual impedance varies hugely across the frequency range. The more this varies from the nominal impedance, the harder a time your valve amp has producing its full power. It may even shorten the life of the power valves."

    No question a great all-tube amp sounds best, but if I were playing in a very busy band, I'd probably buy lighter, ultra-efficient modern cabs and power them with a lightweight high powered solid state power amp racked with a good-sounding tube preamp and a power conditioner, and I'd keep an identical rack on the truck.
     
  14. webmonster

    webmonster

    Joined:
    May 19, 2013
    Location:
    New Zealand
    How big are the venues?
    Do you like new stuff or vintage amps?
    Efficient (probably new) cabs will do wonders.
     
  15. Smit_Dogg

    Smit_Dogg

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Location:
    Cumbria, UK
    Thanks for the feedback guys I've read through all replies thoroughly. I was never intending on selling or trading in my current rig just "adding" a tube head to my arsenal.

    I'm well aware that Ampeg are classed as the holy grails, but I've also got to think about repairs/servicing/parts etc would they be costly with Ampeg being an American brand and me being based in the UK?

    The reason why I would prefer to get a 100w over the 300w Ashdown rig is so I can get the driving sound and use more of the amp's room. I don't want to be buying an amp I can't turn above notch one on the volume and sounding too clean a tone. Am I right with that belief/theory?

    Also I'm a little concerned as to how a tube head would mate with my current cabs, would it be worth investing in a 2x12 cab also to stack between my current two and run at 2ohms... so effectively I'd have 2x10s at the top, 2x12s in the middle and a 1x15 at the bottom... Or would this be overkill?!
     
  16. MICKUSS

    MICKUSS

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Location:
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    You are correct. I have Fender 300 pro head(300 watts) that I'll never have loud enough to get that true overdriven tube sound. Love the huge, clean headroom though.
     
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The parts they use are pretty common and should be easily found in any country at a comparable price. And if you get a new one, they would certainly have authorized tech shops that can handle your warranty issues.
     
  18. JellinWellen

    JellinWellen

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    I use a peavey vb-2 right now, veeeery versatile tube amp.
     
  19. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Based in the UK, you say?
    Orange. Orange. Orange. Orange.
     
  20. Smit_Dogg

    Smit_Dogg

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Location:
    Cumbria, UK
    Not a fan of Orange sorry. Tried a few , most notably the tiny terror head , i felt it was nice and warm sounding but lacked note clarity/definition. No matter how much top end I applied..
     
  21. bassboysam

    bassboysam

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2001
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    If you're in the UK might as well get the real thing and go for a Matamp ;)
     

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