Fender "Tube Bass" TB600 Head

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by idoru, Apr 26, 2009.


  1. idoru

    idoru

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2005
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    g'day guys,

    had this puppy for a few days now and figured I'd share my initial thoughts before I get into the rehearsal room this wednesday with a LOUD rock band, my 215 Pro & the TB600.

    First up, there's a contradiction in the specs on Fender's website - the TB600 does NOT come with the footswitch. A shame, as it switches the Tube Overdrive / Parametric / FX Loop sections, and has it's own inbuilt tuner (which mutes the rig). They do include some rear-mount rack ears & a very solid 1/4" cable - and for those of us handy with a soldering iron, the service schematics!

    So - grab my SX with flats, plug in, and turn it on to be greeted by a charming inner blue glow, and a fairly quiet fan venting out the front. Might double as a hand drier on sweaty gigs. Knowing that you need to set the EQ to 10-2-10 to get a flattish response, it's easy to mess with your tone by adding a little more of what you want. It's hard to get anything too nasty sounding! With everything up full, there's a definite scoop to the tone, but not as extreme as rolling out the mids on a typical three band eq. Bass & bright switches give a couple more options, but I find they're pretty subtle (the bright switch is less noticeable at lower input volumes).

    The Tube Overdrive kicks in the second 12AX7 - at max gain & 100% blend, it gets that gnarly grind you usually attribute to the SVT. Actually sounded a lot like my old Tubeworks RT-902 pre-amp... very usable. I love the bass tones on Queens of the Stone Age recordings, so I'm very happy with this part of the amp. Dial the gain or blend back down & it gets a bit subtle for my tastes, but it's still good for a bit more character than the straight clean tone.

    The Parametric EQ is the icing on the cake. I use low mids to tailor my presence in the mix; depending on the band and the room, I like a little bump anywhere from 250Hz to around 600 Hz. It notches when you cut, so if the room is booming at an odd frequency you might well be able to fix it. One neat trick is to kick in the Para EQ section with the Overdrive - adding a tonne of high mids around 1 kHz to 1.5 kHz makes it really nasty, especially with a pick.

    Anyway, so far all I've done is rattle the house with this thing - I'll post some more feedback after this week's practice (and some pics).

    c-
  2. RickenBoogie

    RickenBoogie

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Nice review. This is one of the new
    "pro series", or no?
  3. idoru

    idoru

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2005
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Brand & spankingly so, yes :)

    c-
  4. idoru

    idoru

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2005
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Just got back from practice. In a word: awesome. Left the EQ with a mild mid boost & let the bass do all the tonal variations. I was jamming out RHCP tunes with my G&L L-2000 in stealth stingray mode (inner coils, treble boost), with the tweeter dialled off. Plenty of snarl for tunes like "Aeroplane", I'm more than a little surprised. Found myself dialling out more bass on the G&L compared with using my old 610 setup.

    Surprisingly, I never got over 2 on the master volume. I LOVE this rig, talk about headroom! And the amp was barely even warm to the touch after 4 hours of jamming.

    My MIM P bass may be a heap of rubbish, but Fender make a mean bass amp these days.

    c-
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  6. steamthief

    steamthief

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    Mentone Beach
    I'd love to hear an update, idoru!
  7. idoru

    idoru

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2005
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Then so you shall :)

    I've taken the full rig out on one gig so far, and ran the TB600 with my old but upgraded SWR Goliath Jr. II (it's got some of the last Eminence Beta 10-Bs in the country in it, and can handle 500 W).

    The full rig experience was just like in practice, except in a 3 piece setting. I set the EQ at Fender's flat position (10-2-10) and ran at about 1 & 1/2 on the master volume... and it was barely warm after 4 hours. The other two guys were very happy with the tone, and the head's DI output was rock solid (it has a gain trim independent of the master volume, which is ideal). Basically it sounded great, and I barely needed to tweak anything to get it there.

    The cut-down gig I stuck the GJ2 on it's end, and used my P bass with flatwounds. I needed to roll the gain up a bit more, due to the reduced speaker area and lower output pickups. Even so I was running the master below halfway, and the amp was still barely warm.

    This time I also had the footswitch. The buttons are a tad close; in my big boots I hit a few strays during the course of the evening! Must remember: small shoes!

    The tuner is great - just hold the mute switch down, then the 4 red leds show sharp or flat & a green led in the middle shows when you've hit the note that is on display. I patched my 1977 op-amp Big Muff into the fx loop so I could kick it in for a few songs, which worked a treat. ("Song 2" "Dakota" & "So What").

    I also used the overdrive channel for "Roadhouse Blues", which we do in D and I play the basic guitar part on the D string. Blend at 50%, max gain - perfect. Got a big smile from our guitarist/singer :)

    The head's coming on tour with me in july/august (just covers), but I think the cab may be staying home due to the band leader having a pretty killer PA. I might take it anyway if there's room - it's nice to have options.

    I set out to achieve one thing when I got this gear: I wanted a good sounding amp with plenty of headroom, that I could use with a variety of cabs. It's definitely on the money.

    c-
  8. AndyMan

    AndyMan Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2000
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    It's the Fender Bassman circuit with modern extras (VariQ, Room Balance, overdrive channel).
  9. idoru

    idoru

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2005
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Jeopardy?

    "What is the short description of Fender's TB600?"

    However, one of the Fender reps I spoke to mentioned it was an effort to reclaim the circuit back from Alembic, who used it in the F-2B. Alembic themselves say they took it from the Showman amp.

    c-
  10. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2003
    Location:
    North central Ohio
    Disclosures:
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I have spent some time with this head (also in combo form with the 2x10), the TB1200, and both the 610 and 215 Pro cabs. Overall, I am really impressed with the tone and build quality (though they sure are heavy!).
  11. steamthief

    steamthief

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    Mentone Beach
    idoru, awesome review, thanks for the write-up! I can't believe more people aren't using these heads. How nasty can the overdrive get?
  12. pgk

    pgk

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2007
    However, one of the Fender reps I spoke to mentioned it was an effort to reclaim the circuit back

    what a Total crock. that circuit was'nt even designed by them, and besides it's been in the public domain for so long low it's not funny. fender is the company most associated with that tone stack, and it's been the signature house sound of their amps forever, since they went to separate bass and treble controls. they've never strayed too far from it, and now they want to "reclaim" it? they never "lost" it to begin with!
  13. RickBlair

    RickBlair

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2004
    Location:
    North Easton, Mass.
    The flat setting on old Fender bass amps used to be 2-10-2 not 10-2-10. Did they change something for the TB600? The Fender website said the TB600 had the 'classic' passive tone circuit.

    Rick B.
  14. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2003
    Location:
    North central Ohio
    Disclosures:
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    We did get so far in our testing of the TB600 to determine that "flat" was, I believe, 0-10-0 (maybe 1-10-0). Unfortunately, we had to send it back before the review was complete. :meh:
  15. steamthief

    steamthief

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    Mentone Beach
    So basically a passive mid and active bass and treble, Tom?

    What up with Fender wanting the amp back before the review was done? With the lack of buzz regarding their line, you'd think they'd encourage in-depth analysis.
  16. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2003
    Location:
    North central Ohio
    Disclosures:
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I believe it is a passive tone stack.

    Well, we did have it for a while, but our review process takes a long time. I would have loved to have been able to hang onto things a bit longer, but I understand a manufacturer only being able to make products available for a limited period of time.
  17. idoru

    idoru

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2005
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    pgk: have a soothing cup of decaf, my friend. For bass amplification, this particular tone stack is most associated with the Alembic F-2B pre-amp. As stated, Alembic clearly admit to taking it from Fender. So, in this sense, the rep is correct - the new "Tube Bass" amplification is attempting to re-associate this tone stack with Fender's bass gear. Fender amps are intended for old-school tone, while they push SWR for modern sounds.

    tombowlus: I've seen a tone-stack calculator which supports that. I'll have a play around tonight and see what my ears think!

    Okay, so they may or may not have fiddled with the values a little, but it's definitely a passive stack, including the input gain. The push/pull Bright switch simply engages a hi-pass cap on the input gain so you get some high-end back if it's rolled off.

    steamthief: The Overdrive channel is much like an over-driven SVT. If you think of Nick Oliveri's tone on QOTSA "Songs for the deaf" you're in the right area.

    c-
  18. idoru

    idoru

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2005
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Boomy room last night. Found the Room Balance eq helped quite a bit; we later discovered the culprit was a cheap kick drum mic that was filling the PA with woolly bleed-through. SM57 to the rescue again ;)

    Mr Bowlus: I realised we're not on the same page - I meant 10/2/10 in o'clocks, which is absolutely wrong! It's 2/10/2 by the numbers on the faceplate, according to the manual.

    Punch those figures into Duncans Amp Tools Tonestack 1.3, and I get a -6dB scoop centred on 700 Hz. Dialling 1-10-0 in generates the flattest response. If Fender is correct in defining 'roughly flat' where they say, they must have changed a few components since they gave you the head to test. The reason I haven't noticed any real scooping is probably twofold - 1) I'm not used to 15" drivers yet, and 2) both the P & the L-2000 throw out a fair chunk of mids.

    Next step for me is to get some white noise going into this thing & plot some responses for the greater good of the bass community.

    c-
  19. steamthief

    steamthief

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    Mentone Beach
    Chris, the more you post about this head, the more I want one. The overdrive sounds like what I'm looking for, and I really love every clip I've heard of the TBP-1 - I assume this is very similar. How do you think this would sound through a pair of Orange 15s?
  20. pgk

    pgk

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2007
    pgk: have a soothing cup of decaf, my friend. For bass amplification, this particular tone stack is most associated with the Alembic F-2B pre-amp. As stated, Alembic clearly admit to taking it from Fender. So, in this sense, the rep is correct - the new "Tube Bass" amplification is attempting to re-associate this tone stack with Fender's bass gear.

    i prefer my java full strength and real my friend, and i stand behind what i said; i think it's nothing but a bunch of marketing hooey and fender trying to regain some market share, nothing more. but don't think i dislike like the amp though, on the contrary i like it a Lot (on paper at least) and am seriously considering purchasing one, once the new product smokes settles down a bit. i agree wholeheartedly with what you say about that stack being old school, and i take it you mean that in the best sense of the word. that stack is All i use; my main amp for everything is a heavily modded bf bassman running huge iron and 6550's, among other things. shockingly loud, ballsy and with more padunka-dunk than you can shake a stick at, esp with a pair of 15's at 4 ohms. regarding a "flat" setting with that preamp; it will never happen. not with any combination of settings, unh uhh. but a baxandall stack you Can set very close to flat, with bass and treble at noon. that's the only stack i'm aware of that lets you do that. duncan's tone stack calculator (a very educational and fun tool) shows the diff between fender and bax very clearly. go to "fender" and set it to 2-10-2 and you'll see what i mean

    http://www.duncanamps.com/tsc/
  21. idoru

    idoru

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2005
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Heh, got back from my gig at 4am and I can say "Amen brother!" to that.

    Aren't the terms 'marketing' and 'hooey' the same thing? ;) As a guy that's getting into making pedals, amps and suchlike, it's interesting that there is no real ownership of schematics. You want to rip off somebody else's design, you can generally do it. It's just polite to give credit where it's due, so kudos to Alembic there.

    I absolutely agree with you re: market share. Compared to GK, Eden, Ampeg & others, Fender just don't pop up in the front of your mind when you say to yourself "I want a new bass amp".

    Yeah, I've had 1.3 installed for a while. That's where I got the curve that backs up tombowlus' 1-10-0 eq for a flat setting (there's still a subtle bass bump).

    I ran it at 2-10-2 at last night's gig, and I found my pick tone was actually a bit more aggressive than my previously set eq which was around 4-7-4 (10-2-10 in o'clocks, roughly). Fingerstyle definitely had more body, and I wasn't as happy with the Precision's tone knob rolled all the way back. Just a little too woolly for my liking; fortunately I only need that tone for a song or two.

    Ack, just remembered: my DI feed last night was pre-eq and fx loop, and I had a great monitor in my foldback so pretty much the majority of my tonal interpretations re: the tone stack are moot. I'll go post-eq next time and see what I think.

    I'll have to run a comparison of the DI feed pre & post EQ, that should prove interesting.

    c-

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