Gwin Amplification Big Sur 200 Watt Tube Bass Head

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by topdog, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. topdog

    topdog Supporting Member

    May 18, 2012
    Introducing: Gwin Amplification’s Big Sur 250 watt all tube bass amp

    The name "Big Sur" is derived from the original Spanish-language "el sur grande", meaning "the big South", or from "el país grande del sur", "the big country of the South", referring to its location South of the Monterey Peninsula. Often considered the most photographed beach in the world, this majestic stretch of beach became home to many so called Hippies in the 60’s that found themselves caught up in Big Sur’s majestic surroundings and the roaring sound of the surf.

    Master amp builder Keith Gwin, known for his all tube point-to-point hand wired amplifiers, has created the all new Big Sur 250 watt bass amplifier that is as majestic to look at as the Big Sur itself! Creating something more than just another boutique amp, he has incorporated some very unique features, not found on other tube bass amps. This is an all tube amp with no circuit boards and includes a balanced line output.

    Upon receiving this amp I decided to take a look under the hood. Nice fat orange drops, JJ Tesla tubes and Mercury Magnetics transformers where a pleasant surprise. Nothing cheap here! Starting with aircraft quality all aluminum chassis, you will recognize names on the transformers and other parts that are synonymous with only the top builders and not found with most mainstream manufacturers. You will also note an active and passive input along with a variety of EQ functionality. Starting on the front panel you have a pre-gain drive control followed by bass, middle, treble, resonance and a presence control. In addition, you have a stand-by and on-off switches. The classic vibe of the chicken head knobs goes without saying.

    On the back panel of the amp you will be delighted to see an IEC detachable power cord. Also included are two easy access fuse holders and accessible tube bias controls should you ever need them. This amp has a convenient 2/4/8 ohms speaker impedance selector which makes it nice when you want to change your cabinet combination. Also, not seen on many all tube bass amps are a ¼ TS and the more popular speakon speaker output connections. Next, the ground lift switch compliments a low z balanced XLR direct output which is tapped off the tube pre-amp section providing warmth and pre-master status which minimizes FOH/backline volume conflicts. Powered with four KT88 power tubes and three 12AX7 pre-amp tubes this amp has plenty of power and superb tone that will be sure to impress.

    The hand crafted cabinet of select solid white pine with dovetail joints provides for a rock solid design. A leather dog bone handle keeps with the classic vibe with natural ventilation from back and top keeping the amp cool under extreme conditions.


    • Model: Big Sur
    • 100% all Tube amp
    • Direct driven tube XLR-output
    • Active/Passive inputs
    • 2,4 and 8 ohms speaker outputs
    • Pre-Drive Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Resonance, Presence and Master Volume controls
    • 200 Watts (RMS)
    • Matched Tubes
    • IEC Power Cord
    • Dimensions: 20 ½ ” L X 9 ¼ “ W X 10 ¾ “ H
    • Weight: 45 Ibs.
    • 5 Year Warranty (excluding tubes)

    Using an American 2006 Fretted Jaco Jazz Bass, American 72 Precision Bass,Lakland 44-94,Avatar Neo 410 and a Schroeder 1212L speaker cabinets, I set the controls straight up with the pre-gain around 7:00 and the master around 9:00. Glad I had my Converse (Pepper’s) on tight. It was clear that this amp has a lot of headroom. After playing around with various settings, the Gwin BIG SUR could produce creamy overdrive tones, tight fat clean bottom end and brilliant highs. Not only does it sound great, it just looks plain cool. You can’t go wrong with this amp. Remember, these are hand made by Keith Gwin himself and can take up to 12 weeks to build. Keith is great and will work with you to tweak your sound.

    Just get one,
    Marc Smith

    Attached Files:

  2. jnewmark

    jnewmark Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Play guitar.
    Price ? No info on the site.
  3. Primakurtz

    Primakurtz Registered Nihilist Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2011
    Denver, Colorado
    And, what power tubes - KT-88's?

    It looks like a fine amp, but some of that language is a tad over-blown. I doubt that I will ever be full-on "delighted" to see an IEC connector. ;)
  4. GregC

    GregC Johnny and Joe Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    The OP mentions KT-88s in his post. +1 on your other comment, though. The post reads to me as a mix of a press release with a personal review inserted at the end.

    That said, I appreciate the OP bringing this amp to our attention. It does seem pretty cool--I'm digging the aesthetics and the size for sure.
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  6. topdog

    topdog Supporting Member

    May 18, 2012
    tubes are KT-88's. Price paid 1799.00.
  7. OTOH, I always am. Also happy to see 2 OHM capable. JJ tubes don't thrill me, but they seem to be fairly popular. Price seems good for what you're getting.

    You know the builder's old-fashioned when the site links his Myspace page.
  8. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    Count me among those who are never 'delighted" to see IEC connectors.
    I'd much rather see PowerCon connectors.
  9. topdog

    topdog Supporting Member

    May 18, 2012
    I'm sure Keith would be happy to install a PowerCon connector for you.
  10. Primakurtz

    Primakurtz Registered Nihilist Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2011
    Denver, Colorado
    Thank you! That is pretty competitive with the other boutique makers like Morgan and Satellite. Love to try one.

    I was just giving you a little good-natured grief over the marketing language in the original post. You might be safer putting that text in italics, separate from your own review.
  11. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    Nice-looking amp! :cool:
  12. GregC

    GregC Johnny and Joe Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    That is definitely a nice price if the build quality, etc. is on the same level as the other boutique tube amps that have come out. I've not heard of Gwin myself, I'll check into him. Thanks!