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Traynor YBA200 Review (An overdriven perspective)

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by BassJunkie730, May 23, 2007.

  1. BassJunkie730

    BassJunkie730

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    So I just got my used YBA200 today thanks to LarryR in LA.

    The amp was in glorious condition and I had a whole host of tubes to choose from as he added an entire Traynor retube set from Eurotubes for free!!!

    So needless to say I did a solid hour and a half of tube swapping and testing at HIGH volume.

    I am a pretty aggressive player going after a pretty aggressive tone - think more like the Ox and Lemmy.

    Befor I dive into tube swap central - Allow me to comment on the construction of the amp.

    It's not the best I've seen - but it's not the worst either. For a piece of gear that retails for $650 in today's marketplace I was actually surprised. Of course the tubes are all socketed straight into the PCB - which I am NOT a fan of - but doing so saves a good amount of time in construction (think lead dress). Also the jewel light is mounted in a plastic housing - not metal -but once again - a penny here a penny there.

    Now one thing I really like about the construction - is the solid feel of the head once everything is set - could it survive a fall from the top of a cabinet? I don't know - but it can definitely survive crazy cab rides and bumpy load outs and ins. The head is VERY light - even with a one hand carry. I can still effectively load in with my cab in one hand and the YBA200 in the other.
    The jacks are solid - the DI on the front is going to be a god send - and the dials are easy to turn - perhaps too easy.

    All in all this amp sits on par in my opinion with a peavey tube amp construction wise. (which are very much workhorse amps) Not the greatest - but should get the job done. But it's not bulletproof - al though the trannies are located INSIDE the amp - which is awesome!

    On to tone.


    Right off the bat this amp is BRIGHT - I cannot stress that enough. And the stock sound was HORRIBLE to my ears. Shrill (I had the bright switch off and the treble rolled all the way down while playing a P-bass with month old nickle rounds) and ratty. If I played this in a store - I probably would have never brought it home. And playing the amp with the gain and master dimed produced a sound that I wouldn't call cool - or rock worthy at all.

    So I popped in some different tubes.

    I tried an AU7, AT7, and an AX7 in V1 and I settled on a 12AX7 - for volume purposes - I did not like the volume drop at all with the JJECC82 in the front or the Mullard 12AT7 though the sound was nice and clean.

    I tried the mullard in the PI position - and yes - a preamp tube with higher overall gain - will make the amp sound like it's being overdriven -

    BUT those of you searching for a great low volume overdrive sound should pop in a 12AX7 in the PI as it can sound wonderful if you want.

    So I decided to keep the stock EH12AU7 in place. BUT I have a JJ 12AU7 you say? so where did I put that?

    in V2. WHY? well I tried the AT7 and the AX7 both in V1 and V2, and while one was cleaner at mid volume than the other (the V1-AT7 & V2-AX7 combo) I noticed it still got ratty when I drove the amp full bore. the reverse combo had even less head room.

    So I put the JJ12AU7 in V2 and all was well.

    now my V1 tube is not just any preamp tube - it's a special one - that I SWEAR by now. The RFT ECC83 it's an NOS 12AX7 that I bought from kcanostubes.com - check them out - they have some great hard to find stuff. The RFT has an earlier breakup than most 12AX7's BUT it's darker so to my ears the break up happens in all the right places. Those of you who might need a bit less gain and more preamp amp headroom should look into a good NOS 5751 for the same idea. The YBA200 is a BRIGHT amp - I'll say it again - but the RFT works wonders for it in taming the high end (and this is with the treble at 0).

    So by putting the JJ12AU7 in V2 I was able to get a glorious overdriven amp tone that was VERY tight and thick with the amp wide open - articulate, touch sensitive - you name it - the tone rocked. And with the master and gain at 5 - I got a decent still full sound that I could not get with a lower gain tube in V1.

    BUT the real linchpin in this whole equation - are the JJKT88's.

    They are far and away better when overdriven in this amp than the Sovtek 6550s or the pair of SED 6550s I mixed in. I have no need for the tung Sols in this amp - which is nice and saves me money. and the JJkt88 are beautifully constructed too. Thicker glass, more solid positioning on the internal component - all around a great tube - I can see why people dig them.

    One last comment - it's very hard to get a very deep grind out of this amp - because I do not think it was designed that way.

    To me it doesn't sound or handle like an Ampeg (I've played a V4B and a B25B - not an SVT) or like a fender tube amp (I've played a Showman and a Bassman 70 head)

    To my ears it sounds more like a Marshall - and that's where the Lemmy tones start dancing around in my head.

    Will this be my only head? probably not - I see another B1500 or something in my future when I get the money.

    Are there better tube heads out there? Certainly - but they are either three times the price or twice the weight - so this works for me now.

    Do I sound like a bass overdriven or like a big guitar? aren't basses just big guitars? :D No with the tube compliment I listed above you can get a great sounding - tight and defined - yet still wall rattling (I was knocking things off shelves and paint flakes off the ceiling - hey I was in a basement in Brooklyn ;) ) overdrive tone.

    I can't wait to play this amp with the band. Unfortunately we do not have a rehearsal space yet and I don't know if I'm ready to drag this mother in to Smash or Funkadelic yet. But rest assured I'll let you all know if this baby runs out of steam in my rehearsal - which is pretty much gigging volume.

    So that's all I have right now. so far I'm mostly pleased - but only after changing 6 of the 7 tubes (Power tubes to KT88s, V1 to the RFT ECC83 and V2 to the JJ ECC82)

    Peace,

    Michael
  2. BassJunkie730

    BassJunkie730

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    Oh and I'll post clips when I get a chance to get loud again - maybe memorial day.
  3. Phyrexian

    Phyrexian

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    Excellent review! Thanks man. Keep us posted with clips some day!
  4. The 0x

    The 0x

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    Great review. I've only gotten to play these a few times, and not nearly at the volumes I wanted to be able to play them at.
  5. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

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    one man's wall rattling was another man's not quite loud enough for small room gigs ...

    I'm competing with an acoustic kit but a light handed drummer and a guitarist with a 22 watt DR, 4x10 combo. The YBA 200 wasn't powerful enough to keep up and remain clear and defined in the low's. My experience was with JJ KT-88's, I tried a couple of different tubes in V1. Worked the range & scoop - I got some really sweet tones out of it but gig volume ? Nope - the low end jkust looses it's punch when the amp is driven hard.

    If I were a little wealthier, I'd have kept it. The tone is great, simply great!

    If they just would have made it a bit more powerful ... IMO Yorkville missed the mark, probably in the power supply, or maybe it really need 6 KT 88's rather than 4.
  6. The 0x

    The 0x

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    I hope you turned off the scoop on the gig... that's the instant "drop out of the mix" knob right there!
  7. BassJunkie730

    BassJunkie730

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    Ox - I do reccommend someone let you take this head home to your sunn 2x15s cabs as I think the Traynor would sound GREAT!

    Another thing that I WILL try sometime - is to run a quad of EL34's in the thing.

    Traynor seems pretty adamant that the power tubes to not need to be rebiased (just as long as they have the same pin-outs - KT88s, 6550s, 6CA7, EL34 - and I think KT77s) so maybe it's the same idea as the THD amps.

    Either way a quad of JJ KT77s would probably sound AMAZING in this amp for overdrive.

    Might even be able to double as a guitar amp. - who knows.

    If I can really get into the tone live - the Traynor comes with a surprising functional and cheap feature set for the gigging musician. I just wish the preamp tubes were easier to get at - but then again -if you set yourself up with a good pair of valves that have very low chance of going microphonic -I don't see the need to ever unhouse the amp from the head box.
  8. BassJunkie730

    BassJunkie730

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    Sorry it didn't do it for you 4mal.

    I am by no means in any honey moon phase. I've spent way too much money over the past two years bouncing from head to head to fall in and out of love with amps.

    However - what cabinet did you use? Another thing that I know very well about any amp - is that it's limited by the efficiency of the cabinets.

    Now I do not think my 1212R is the greatest cab for the job (in fact i have the plans for the greatest cab for the job but I do not currently have the means to build it :scowl: )

    As bassists ESPECIALLY those of us running tube heads - would GREATLY benefit from some sort of response curve for any given cabinet from 80hz to 400hz - to me THAT IS where bass punch lives and if you are playing a cabinet that pushes only 97db at 100hz - with the traynor you'll only be getting about 115db of total output - even then the amp is likely to be sounding kind of grindy.

    However - if you can find a cabinet (like say the Bill Fitzmaurice Omnitop15) that puts out a solid 105db at 100hz - you get 123db - 8db can be quite the difference.

    heck the curve for two omnitop15s looks just like an 810,

    so I'm ready if volume is an issue.

    But I do not care too much about headroom.
  9. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

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    In my case it never left the rehersal studio. I could tell that it wasn't going to do it for me volume wise and sold it shortly after it arrived - I really didn't want to fall in love with it tonally as I really needed a warmish backup to my BMaxT / 2402 rig. As it is a WT 400 came up and that one works beter for me as a backup.
  10. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

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    I'm not at all unhappy with the experience. I basically paid something like $25 to give the YBA-200 a run through for a few days. I found some really nice stuff tonally and hey, I've taken much larger bath's on equipment that I liked a lot less ;~)

    Bag End D-10-B-XD 2x10, deep with co-ax 100db - Not the most or least efficient cab I've met ...

    Avatar 2x12 neo, Dave's latest neo Extended xMax drivers, hi pass on a Galaxy mid driver. I would guess that it is somewhat more efficient than the BE cab. Makes sense. Bigger drivers, larger enclosure. It does seem to make more noise per watt but that's all real subjective as there are no published spec's and I don't have the test gear to know.

    Music Man 115RH loaded with a JBL E140 15, Aluminum dust cap. This was by far the best pairing. This cab is quite efficient - go figure given the era and the fact that it was designed with a 65 to 130 watt amp in mind. Stock it had an EV which was long gone when I acquired the cab. This cab was a dreadful mismatch with an Ampeg V4B that Passinwind rebuilt for me. It sounded great with the Traynor. Seriously good blues band tone. Like I said if it had been just a bit louder - I'd still have it.



    oh, I'm all about the headroom. I like my low end clean, clear, phat and punchy. I'm a portable, tunable, large, kick-drum... I'm actually the mayor of "Quarter Note City" and I'm on the board of Directors over there at the "Half Note, Two Step Beat Corporation".

    Here at the HNTSBC your entertainment is our Job #1. The beat goes down before the beer!
  11. BassJunkie730

    BassJunkie730

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    Taht makes SO much sense now.

    IMO when I think of great blues tone I think of Tommy Shannon - and the Traynor AIN'T the type of amp that when i plug into - I think I could sit in with SRV.

    i really stand behind my assertion that the amp behaves much more like a Marshall guitar amp (from my 6 string days) than say an Ampeg.

    You should really look into a soundcity 120 if you can find one. There is a well respected sales rep from the manhattan GC, named Ron. I asked him point blank once what is his bag and what's his amp of choice.

    Without hesitation he said - I play the blues man and I'd love to get my hands on a big SoundCity tube amp again.

    So there you go - another amp to investigate. Just make sure it's got six EL34s in the back and still has the Partridge Trannies.
  12. Jeralya

    Jeralya

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    It doesnt have the clear low end, that is for certain, BUT for te grindy kind of rock I play it works just fine. Its all about application, and the amp is not really a low machine.
  13. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

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    A rehersal space I use has a Sound City 150 on a 2x15 cab loaded with EV's. It's pretty sweet. The low end is real solid. That amp is all about the bottom. It's anther amp with pretty gucci tone biut probably not the amp for my application.

    I sold the YBA and funded Onemorebass' Eden WT 400. That seems to be more my style... It's a journey though, I expect that there will be more steps along the way but with the Eden as backup to the BMaxT/2402 rig, those steps are going to be incremental and whatever slots is is going to have to be darned good to earn a spot.

    In reality I'm done spending on bass gear for a bit. I can use another set of vocal mon's and a pair of sub's for the PA, I'd like to turn my old Tascam 788 and migrate towards the Presonus Firepod and that means a new laptop ... there's plenty of places to burn cash these days.
  14. BassJunkie730

    BassJunkie730

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    Have you considered giving some of Bill Fitz's designs a shot for your PA - IMO that would be the hard and fast way to get some great mains subs or vocal wedges on the cheap.
  15. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

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    nope. I bought some of Bill's 'plans' and decided that we were incompatible. Interesting stuff no doubt. I'd rather play than engineer. Fact is that building cab's is rarely the cheap way to get 'er done. More often than not it's the more expensive route but - the box you end up with - if you did it well is dialed for your application.

    I have a set of vocal wedges based on P.audio neo drivers inbound. Just over 4 bills landed for the pair with ply boxes and truck bed liner coating. dat's pretty cheap, particularly for p.audio... I have hopes for them. As I'll need another set.

    Rumor's of a 500 watt powered sub in play, unknown at this point sub driver, in the low 300 range from bltsound. That might be a nice match for my EON top's.

    I'm not opposed to building, but I've got a new band to reherse, record & get working, My other band is gigging for the summer as well... and of course there is always my day gig.

    I've got enough on my plate as it is.
  16. Shane Carter

    Shane Carter

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    Interesting comments. I'm using an Ampeg PR-410HLF and I get similar results as you with my old Gibson EBO, which is really a one trick pony.

    When I plug in the Deluxe Jazz and turn up the mids, I could easily drown out the (unmiked) drummer. That's volume that is causing pain and hearing loss.
  17. BassJunkie730

    BassJunkie730

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    Another good point - I think I forgot to mention - when I was tube swapping and playing at high volume - I had the midrange at max. I'm still trying to figure out how the range shifts the entire eq - perhaps I need to have all the controls dime to see what happens.

    Also the traynor seems like THE tube amp for a P-bass with flats to be heard in a live mix - if you like the overdriven thing like me :)
  18. RBasss

    RBasss

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    Disclosures:
    East Coast Sales Coordinator - Crafter Guitars
    From what I've read the EQ on the YBA200 is passive so cranking the Mid all the way is essentially like having it set in the middle on most amps. It's definitely not a middy head. The only tube swapping I've done is put 2 EH 12AX7s in the
    V1 & V2 posititons which did help this out as well. I'm also running an MXR M80 DI in front of the amp to juice the input so that it overdrives quicker. I want to do the KT88 swap out when I can afford to buy some.

    I actually plugged my P-Bass which has an SD Quarterpounder in it for the first time this week and actually found that it did not cut through as well as my T-Bird does. I think the cab has as much to do with cutting through as anything. From what I can tell, using a sealed efficient cab is the best route with this head. I'm using an 810E which sounds huge when I've got my T-Bird going in overdriven through this head.
  19. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

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    The bass, mid & treble are cut only so 10-10-10 is as flat as you get. I'm not a big fan of flat as I prefer a richer tone than that. I ended up cutting the highs quite a lot as I felt the amp was pretty bright. (A Dark switch, rather than a Brite switch would have been a more useful feature IMO).

    The Range shifts the tonal centers affected by the B/M/T controls up. If you think about a typical scoop curve turning up the range shifts the scoop as charted to the right. Make sense ?

    So if the original scoop was bass on a bump at 100, dip at 250 and a bump at 1K, turning the knob to the right might move it to bump at 200, dip at 1K bump at 2K ...

    I thought the tone stack and range control were the high points myself...
  20. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for sharing your adventures with this amp! I have found that paired with the 'right' cabs (Berg NV series, Sadowsky cabs, and believe it or not, Phil Jones cabs, IME/IMHO, of course), this amp sounds/works great, even with the stock tubes. That said, I do anticipate some room for improvement with tube rolling (which I have not gotten around to, yet :rollno:).

    Tom.

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