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Music Man HD130 vs. HD150

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by Dee-man, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. Dee-man

    Dee-man Supporting Member

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    Howdy. Each of these amps are currently for sale on CL in my area (the HD150 is for sale for $300 and the HD130 for $350) and I was wondering if there's any real difference between these two amps regarding tone, quality, reliability, resale, features, type of power tube, and whatever else I may be forgetting.

    From what I've been able to find with a little searching, the HD130 might have a preamp tube, but otherwise the amps are identical save for the 20 watt output difference.

    Assuming overall condition is the same, any comments or confirmation would be much appreciated. Happy new year, DM
  2. banikek

    banikek Supporting Member

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    I think the extra tube on the 130 is a phase inverter.

    I have owned both the 130 and 150, both at the same time. I definitely preferred the 130 and the slight power difference was not noticeable. I still gig with the 130 and even with the ss preamp it has a nice warm tone and is more than enough for most venues. I sold the 150, but you really can't go wrong with either.
    Good luck!
    chris
  3. christw

    christw Always searching for the right Ric... Supporting Member

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    Try both and pick the better one if you can?

    20 watts is a negligible power difference as it takes ten times the power to be twice as loud.
  4. 60bass

    60bass Supporting Member

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    Correct. The tube has nothing to to with the preamp and everything to do with the power section.

    The early MM's used a driver tube for the power section. They were also prone to that tube going out and cascading the whole power section which toasted the whole amp. Some never had that problem but far too many did. That's why they dropped out the tube in the later versions. I saw this happen quite frequently as I worked in a music store where we sold MM's back in the day. I personally would avoid the models that have the tube driver and go for the later ones as they are far more stable.

    They used driver transistors for the power tubes on the later versions and that solved the problem. They used either JE1692 or 2N6488 in those amps. As far as I know you can still get the 2N6488 as I redid a set of those driver transistors in a MM guitar amp a couple of years back using the 2N6488. There's a small trim pot by the driver transistors which many think is for tube bias adjustments but in reality it adjusts bias trim for the driver transistors, not the tubes.



    Check the tube chart in the head. Some of the early amps (75-79) used the 6CA7 tubes and later versions (80-82) used the 6L6GC. They look alike and are often mismatched or have the wrong ones installed. Lot's of people thought "it's like a Fender, just toss in a 6L6GC" when in reality it was a 6CA7. So please check.

    They are solid dependable amps if you find a good one. However with any vintage tube amp, make sure you have it benched out by a tech before gigging steady with it. Lots of stuff can get weak with age and heat in tube amps.

    BTW Unless they are in real clean condition I think $300 or $350 is a bit steep on those but that's just my opinion. Tell the seller it's a 20+ year old amp and you'll need to have it checked out by a tech before gigging with it. See if he will come down on it.

    Keep Low :bassist:
  5. KramerBassFan

    KramerBassFan

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    They are good solid amps when paired with good bass speaker cabinets.

    I fixed a HD130 not too long ago, and it had a great tone through my Avatar 2x10.

    It had some pretty hefty distortion, but a replacement of a few capacitors especially on the power amp bias section tidied it up real quick.
  6. andertone

    andertone Supporting Member

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    I have a HD130 with the tube for phase inverter and have never had a problem. 6CA7's sound much better than EL34s, played Sylvannias when they were available and now wide bottle EH tubes which are decent
    replacements

    This amp shines with a 2 x 15" efficient cabinet (I use an EVB215M) and am amazed at the volume, perfect for clubs.

    Mine was bought in the late 70s, still going strong
  7. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

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    I love my 78 HD130. Please note that this amp has series speaker outputs. This means you can run 2 or 4 4ohm cabs at once. I run 2 2x12 cabs and it gets pants flapping loud.
  8. Dee-man

    Dee-man Supporting Member

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    Thanks so much for the info everybody. No, unfortunately I can't buy both, but hopefully can try both.

    Banikek - it would be great if you could please provide more detail as to why you preferred the HD130 - did you get more tubey warmth out of it, or the same as the HD150 but started at lower volumes, or just some intangible because it was made earlier or it simply weighed less and was easier to deal with? Anything would help. If I can't talk the guy down to a lower price, just trying to figure out how to justify the price difference.

    Yes, the prices seem at about the top end (though Ebay has these going for about $300ish), but I'm in the Bay Area where everything seems expensive. I also assume both of these have the half-power option.

    Any more thoughts? I'm ultimately going to A/B this against an all-tube Mesa D-180 I recently picked up and see which to keep for home practice and occasional jammin to sate my tube GAS (the Mesa cost more).

    Thanks again, DM
  9. Jim C

    Jim C Supporting Member

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    60bass - Brilliant post; Knew they dropped a tube but assumed it was cost consideration; thanks for the history lesson

    Any difference in tone, touch sensitivity, or compression with or without the driver tube?
    TIA
  10. christw

    christw Always searching for the right Ric... Supporting Member

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    How about clean headroom too? Did one start to distort earlier in either the pre or the power section? Are the tone stacks the same?
  11. 60bass

    60bass Supporting Member

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    Jim C
    christw

    That driver tube 12AX7 was the phase splitter used to push the power tubes. They only used 1/2 of the tube for that and if you pushed the amp long and hard it failed taking out the output tubes and transformer along with it. As long as you never pushed it hard it would indeed last a long time. Simply put don't crank it hard and it lasts almost forever. The switch to transistors eliminated that problem.

    As far as headroom, sensitivity, and compression. As I remember there was little to no difference between the two. The tube driver version would get a bit of breakup but not like Fender tube breakup. MM ran a SS preamp (another reason they're so clean) and I don't think there were few if any changes to the preamp section over the life of MM production.

    I honestly haven't played through one in quite some time. One thing I know for sure is that they were a super clean and loud amp. There is almost no way to push the power tubes into the tube distortion we all know and love. That was by design. Those amps were made to be loud and clean. Leo Fender hated distortion and wanted an amp that was loud and clean. That single reason was why the MM amps were not good sellers overall. Plus MM's were expensive amps for their time and that hurt sales too. Everybody thought you could make them break up just like a Fender, and when they didn't the word got out that the MM amp was "gutless". This was totally untrue as they were powerful amps, just in a different way.

    With the gain control and master volume you can get them to distort a bit but it ain't a pretty sound. Stick a tube screamer in front of one and the MM will sound killer. They handle effects real good.

    Again if memory serves me, the tone circuits were different than the Fender stack. They were strange in the fact that if the tone knobs were all the way down, no sound came out till you started turning them up (please MM owners correct me if I'm wrong). Cooler was they had patch jacks on the front for slaving and switches to run the amps at lower power. Unlike most power switches that turn off a couple tubes, the MM switch actually reduced voltage from around 700 to 450 volts to the power tubes thereby reducing power output.

    I once played the HD150 head through a SUNN 2-15 cab loaded with EV 15's and it was a real solid performer. I like it but ended up buying the SUNN Concert Bass instead.

    Keep Low :bassist:
  12. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

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    Personally, I would lean toward the whichever amp is in better cosmetic shape, provided they're both functionally sound.
  13. Jim C

    Jim C Supporting Member

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    Thanks 60
    I was working in a studio when an artist had a bill for a a few hours of unpaid staudio time and he offered a nearly new MM 4x10 combo guitar amp.
    Try as we might, the Deluxe and Pro-reverb amps always sounded much better for distorted guitar.
  14. banikek

    banikek Supporting Member

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    DM,

    I know that when I A/B'd them at the time that the tone was warmer for the 130. I have owned 2 130's and both had the extra tube. I never had any problems with any of the MM heads but I do get them checked out by my amp tech guy. I do like a super clean sound (ala my other amps being an Acoustic 360 and 370). Recently I have been using a VT Bass effect with the amp too for a nice smooth tone.

    I would agree with the above comments about buying the one that sounds the best. Don't be fooled by exterior cosmetics. Take a flashlight and look into the cab and check the transformers, etc. I have used the MM heads with 1x18, 1x15, 2x12, and 4x10 and have always been able to dial in something that works. I currently use a GK 4x10 and it sounds great, especially with the DEEP switch engaged! It is also fun to daisy chain the two channels.

    chris
  15. guitfiddleman

    guitfiddleman

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    I don't know about bass, but I use a MM HD130 410 combo and an HD 130 Reverb head into a '73 Fender 2x12 loaded with EV/SRO 12L's and love it for guitar.
  16. wcriley

    wcriley

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    I thought Saint Leo was only involved in the guitar side of MusicMan. Was he also involved in designing the amps?
  17. Dee-man

    Dee-man Supporting Member

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    Thanks, Banikek. Any other thoughts anyone?
  18. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

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    The EL34 and the 6CA7 are different tubes. The EL34 is a pentode while the 6CA7 is a beam tetrode. In an amp designed for 6CA7s usually the base wiring has to be adjusted to connect the EL34s suppressor grid G3 on pin one.
  19. 60bass

    60bass Supporting Member

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    There is much speculation regarding exactly how much Leo contributed to the amp line. General information is sparse as Leo was under a "no compete" clause for 10 years after selling Fender to CBS so everything was hush hush.

    The general consensus is Tom Walker was behind the amp design and Leo did some consulting on the design but nobody knows exactly how much.

    We all know that Leo was the the driving force behind the Sting Ray and considered it superior to the Precision in every aspect. It's believed that Tom Walker designed the active preamp and electronics for the Sting Ray basses.

    Keep Low :bassist:
  20. Planetsmasher

    Planetsmasher

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    I owned an HD150, which I could never get the kind of volume I wanted from..(I had likely the most shitless fender 215 cabinet ever made under it however) but my impression was that it would make a really kickin guitar amp with the fuzzy overdrive. Not worth a fcuk as a bass amp though IMHO. Really.. in this day and age with what we know.. 150 watts cannot give you a clean loud bass sound can it? really? realllllyyyyy???......

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