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ABM500 vs. DB750 vs. SVT (vs. other suggestions?)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by fiveightandten, Jan 25, 2006.

  1. I took a bass hiatus for a while and sold off everything but my bass, a cab, and by backup head (older model GK400RB). I've recently started playing with a band again and I think it's time to look around for a serious bass head. My bass is a Music Man Sterling, and my cab is an Ampeg 4x10HLF. The bass, I love. The cab, I love as well...but it's REAL picky with heads, as some of you know. Certain amps just have a low end response that doesn't work with this cab.

    At any rate, i'm looking for something that has a nice warm, deep tone, with a nice focused lower mid presence, and maybe a little growl when pushed. This is for a 4 piece rock outfit. I've used Ampegs in the past (V-4, SVT-CL, 70's SVT), and I like them a lot. I've also had a few Mesa heads (D-180, 400+). I dig the tone, and I like that they have a ton of body. But I find them a little slow.

    I need something with adequate power, as the 4x10HLF isn't the most efficient thing out there, and it sucks up a lot of juice. A 4 power tube unit won't cut it. 6x6550 units like the SVT are fine though.

    I've been looking into the Ashdown ABM500, and the Aggy DB750. I'm looking to buy used, no more than $1400 or so (maybe a reach for the 750, I know). I know the AMB500 is a good deal cheaper, but I have played one and I loved it. I've played a DB750 as well, and was blown away. But I never played it in a band setting, just a lengthy store demo. Then there's always the SVT to fall back on, as I know I already love the sound. But they're big, and cumbersome. And in all honesty, with amps like the 750 and the ABM500, i'm wondering if i'd be just sticking to tubes out of nostalgia.

    Concerns I have:
    -Relability of the AMB500, i've read some complaints.
    -The Aggy popping circuit breakers at venues, what a nightmare! How often does this happen to people that own them?

    Thanks guys, apologies for the lengthy post. Any and all input is greatly appreciated.

  2. GRoberts

    GRoberts Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    Hi Nick,

    I haven't had much experience with the Aggie DB750 other than playing through a couple at bass stores. I honestly never loved the DB750. And the weight always put me off even further.

    Alternately, I have been using an Ashdown ABM500 EVO for all my gigs the past three years. It's size and weight are very manageable. I have never had one problem other than the light in the VU meter going out. The VU meter works, but no longer has illumination and I've been too lazy to fix it. My Ashdown never fails to impress me or audience members for that matter. I always get compliments on my tone. what I like about the Ashdown is it's versatility. I can get a great Vintage vibe, all the way up to a sparkly clean slap tone with almost Modern hi-fi tone. It's got Power to spare, the mute button is very handy for tuning between songs, the EQ is both active (with sliders) and passive (the knobs). And the sub harmonizer is a very tasty effect if used judiciously. I would buy another Ashdown in a heartbeat. End of story. Hope that helps. Feel free to PM if you have any specific questions, or post for all to read. Best - Gary
  3. Thanks Gary. My only big concern with the Ashdown is relability, just because of some complaints i've read. I've been working on tube amps for a number of years, but i'm not all that great at troubleshooting solid state stuff.

    The only other thing that makes me a little apprehensive about the Ashdown is how it will pair with the 4x10HLF. When I played one, it was with a 6x10HLF, which seems like a much more forgiving cab. The bass knob on the Ashdown seemed to affect a pretty broad range of frequencies, which gave it great body through the 6x10. But i'm wondering if it may be a bit too much with the 4x10HLF.

    Any thoughts?

    BTW, what's the difference between the different 'evo' versions of this amp?

  4. ctbass


    Jun 21, 2005
    Hey Nick,

    I bought my DB750 new a year and a half ago. I am playing in a 10 pc funk/rock band doing about 85 shows a year. The amp really delivers the exact tone you describe. I have played big outdoor venues, theatres, and small clubs and never had a problem blowing circuits. I have it in a non shock mount case and it has been dropped a time or two with no issues. I highly recommend it.

    I have also heard similar concerns about the ashdown.

  5. Thanks Chris. What I really liked about the 750 was how focused it was. Not a lot of overall girth to speak of compared to say, an SVT or a 400+. But I don't think that would be a problem with the 4x10 HLF. I know it'll have plenty of power. My only concern (other than the popping breakers complaints) is that it'll be a bit too hi-fi for me. I'm used to playing tube amps, the GK is the only solid state amp i've owned (which I only bought as a backup). How does the pre-amp on the 750 sound at band volumes when you dirty it up a bit? I'm more concerned with response then how the highs sound or anything. I dial in very dark. But I like things to stay focused when they're brought to the edge a little.

    It is a lot of money for an amp, even used. I'm not the type of person that likes settling due to price, because i'll just wind up with what I really wanted sooner or later. But i'm also mindful of not getting caught into thinking that the most expensive thing is necessiarily the best, or the best for me.

    Have you ever had any problems with yours popping breakers? We play some smaller clubs and bars, sometimes without the best wiring in the building. I'd hate for it to be an issue.

  6. GRoberts

    GRoberts Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    Nick, It's so easy to generalize. I've read the predisposition that say's; "ashdown reliability is in question." All I can tell you is that while I read those threads for the past few years, I never had one ounce of trouble from my Ashdown ABM500 and I've gigged over a couple hundred times with the amp in every condition you can imagine. I played it loud and punchy in a classic rock band for a year. (almost stupid loud) and it never missed a step.

    Not sure about the 410HLF. I'm not a huge fan of those cabs personally. You might do a search. I vaguely remember someone using that 410HLF cab with the Ashdown ABM500 and they were wondering what all the Ashdown fuss was about. IIRC, they tried a different cab with the Ashdown and instant Magic. Depends on the sound and performance you are looking for I suppose. I did try the Ashdown with an Aguilar 212 and an Aguilar 410 once and they were both nothing less than stellar.

    I use a Bergantino HT322 (1x12 and 2x10's) and it kicks big time. The Bergantino cab is known for being power hungry too. - Gary
  7. In three years that is the only problem I have had. The VU meter looks cool in the store, but I really don't find it useful, so I don't worry about it. I had the same problem with an Ashdown guitar amp. This is the only reliability issue I have ever heard directly from other Ashdown owners. I'd own another one in a heartbeat.
  8. Thanks for the honest and unbiased opinion.

    I've been through a few cabs. I had an 8x10, and a 6x10HLF. I had a Mesa Deisel 4x10, I had a Deisel 6x10, and then I got the 4x10HLF because it was an oversized 4x10 and I wanted to downgrade while loosing the least amount of fullness.

    I actually still have my Mesa 6x10, but i'll be selling it. It's too heavy and just plain overkill for what i'm doing now. I'm playing with 2 guitar players that use Vox AC-30's. We're loud, but we're trying to keep things minimalized, so a big cab towering over those 2x12 combos isn't on the agenda.

    What I got with the 4x10HLF was what I wanted...a nice full sounding 4x10 cab that's much easier to transport than my 6x10. But it IS a very very picky cab. For instance, my Mesa D-180, which sounded great through every other cab, wasn't so hot through the HLF. Same thing with my Hiwatt head, which I use for bass sometimes. My GK, and Orange OR-120 on the other hand, they kill through this thing. It seems to be very finicky, and pretty hit or miss as far as pairing it with an amp goes.

    When you get a head that goes well with it, it's fantastic. But sometimes things just don't jive, and it's horribly muddy and boomy.

    I'll see what I can pull up with the search function. Thanks again.

  9. ctbass


    Jun 21, 2005


    I go for a very focused tight punchy sound. I use a BergHT322 on the bottom and an SWR 210 on top and it is super tight and very clean. I can also achieve a nice "growly" tone simply by digging in and not really overdriving the preamp. I usually set the master somehwere around 1:00 - 3:00 oclock. Rarely have I had the gain up above 9:00 oclock with the master at 3. It is loud!!! but again very punchy and clean. So it seems we may be going for some different types of sound. Another thing to consider if you do get it new it comes with a 10 year warranty.

    I have never been responsible for blowing any circuits but I cannot really speak to the wiring in clubs we play. I hope that gives you some more insight.

  10. GRoberts

    GRoberts Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    Yikes! I'll bet that is one Smokin NICE rig! Would love to hear it. I heard the bass player with Keb'Mo at a concert through his DB750 and it was one of the greatest sounds I've heard. But for some reason when I played through a couple DB750's at different points in time, they always sounded too wooley for me. All tube and no sparkle. Who knows? I've heard Nathan East through a DB750 also and his sound was amazing!


    I hear you about matching your cab with the right amp. There is a lot to be said for that. A friend of mine had a 410HLF and he used an SVT head and it sounded great too. Good luck and keep us posted.
  11. you say your cab isnt very forgiving. have you considered getting an ampeg 410HE instead? for the sound you are going for i think a sealed cab might do the trick. it would probally sound better with the tube amp sound you are going for.
  12. No I haven't. I really love the HLF with most of the amps i've played through it. It's just that it makes some pretty nice sounding amps sound bad. The only problem that poses is if I happen to buy one of those amps. ;)

    I like how it sounds much bigger than it is. I like how it's always in contact with the floor and I don't need to mess around with removing casters. It's the perfect size and I find it easy to transport with the dolly casters. I do like the cab a lot...I just realize it's limitations, and I understand why some people have had really bad experiences with them.

    I want to try and keep it, as it's been very good to me for the most part. But if it happens to sound bad with too many of the amps i'm looking into, the solution will be pretty obvious. ;)

  13. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    Nick, I've got an svt-cl and had a 410hlf. My backup amp was a gk700rb. I think I've got a pretty good idea of what you like about the hlf. Just a suggestion, but if you've got an ampeg shop near you try running an svt into the hlf with an svt210he on top. It comes in at around 2.66 ohms so you need to be careful what amp you plug in but the hlf sounds great paired with this cab. The barky mids of the 210 sit really well with it and help to balance out it's deep lows. It's a lot to carry around (too much for me I must admit) but if you hear it you just might decide it's worth it.
  14. I must say that I really don't need or want to add any more speakers, but i'll defnitely check it out.

    How is the SVT-CL with a 2-ohm load? I know they can run one, but have you heard of any bad experiences with the output transformer not liking the results over a long period of time?

    I haven't played a CL with the 4x10HLF. But i'm very familiar with that amp through an 8x10 and the 6x10HLF. A friend of mine has a 70's SVT that he let's me use whenever I need it (he also happens to be one of my guitarists, and loves to borrow my Vox AC-30, so we help each other out like that very often)...that amp sounds great with the 4X10HLF. Just as long as i'm careful with how I dial in the low end.

    Guitar Center near me has a 4x10HLF and a CL. I'm sure they have the 2x10 as well. Thanks for the suggestion.

  15. the dude

    the dude Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    The SVT-CL shines with a 2 ohm load.

    I used to run mine with a 410hlf and a 610hlf and it sounded great.

    I highly recommend an SVT with the 410hlf. If you can find a 70's model, that's cool as well, but the CL is no slouch.
  16. ampeg66


    Dec 29, 2002
    With that description, another suggestion: Eden. A Navigator tube pre + big SS power amp should fit your budget if buying used (there's a new/demo unit on eBay for $659 BIN; I am not affiliated with the auction in any way).

    "Focused lower mid presence" is EXACTLY what I get from the Nav, compared to an SVP-Pro with the same rig. Extremely powerful EQ section, flexible signal routing, lots of nice features (just make sure you leave the tone-sucking "Enhance" knob turned off!). Nav + PLX2402 weighs in at less than half of my 85-lb. SVTII.

    Not sure if Eden will play nice with your HLF though. Plus it sounds like you may have a tube addiction (can't blame you). :)
  17. Thanks for the suggestion. I actually played one of those Edens at the music store I tried the Aggy 750 out at. Sounds great, but it's just not my style. WAY too many knobs for me. The Ashdown ABM's are about as complicated as I want to get. I prefer real barebones amps.

    I'm not sure I have a tube addiction ;), but i've always played nice simple tube amps...SVT, V-4, Mesa D-180, 400+, Orange OR-120. Heck, when I used the 400+, I didn't even use the graphic EQ. I've always gotten the sound I want with nice simple tone controls.

    Does anyone have any other suggestions for nice simple 6 power tube amps or 450W+ solid states or hybrids?

  18. jdwinva

    jdwinva Supporting Member

    Aug 3, 2005
    Leesburg, VA
    Having owned all three amps I can say this. The Ashdown sounds amazing until you get it in a live situation and it will not cut through. The DB-750 is the voice of God with scary amounts of raw power and sounds wooly and wonderful. The SVT depends - new or old. The 1970's SVT amps will eat the new ones for lunch.