Acquiring an SWR SM-900, reasonable?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by baxter_x, Oct 7, 2021.


  1. baxter_x

    baxter_x

    Nov 27, 2013
    EU
    Hi,

    I've always been a fan of SWR products. And since the founder just passed away I went to seek for some SWR amps on the web and found a great deal on a SM-900! When I started, that amp was my dream amp.
    Now, is itreasonable to buy such an old amp? In case it needs to be serviced, are spare parts still available?

    Is it possible to date the amp thanks his serial number?

    Thanks
     
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  2. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    Depending on the version, some parts are no longer available. Some parts may possibly be substituted but some haven't been made for quite a few years.

    For example, Sanken has discontinued all of their power transistors using their proprietary MT-200 package, the market has been awash with fakes and counterfeits of these parts for years, I would expect that most of these that are not sourced from AUTHORIZED distributor channels are probably fake.

    Some pots, switches, jacks and the power transformer are also going to be difficult to find. Fender no longer stocks the replacement parts.

    This needs to be factored into your willingness to accept risk and cost associated with any necessary repairs.
     
  3. jeff7bass

    jeff7bass

    Apr 9, 2009
    Use the parts problem to get it really cheap, assuming it works well.
     
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  4. baxter_x

    baxter_x

    Nov 27, 2013
    EU
    I take that in account and the amp is a bargain. So even if something wrong happens and it's impossible to service, I won't lose too much money on that.
    I see many SM-900 from the 90's still selling on the used market, or people still using it. Si I guess it's a reliable amp. If I can use mine for the next 20 years I consider I can take the risk.
     
    Raw N Low and tindrum like this.
  5. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    Another option is to buy a second one of a similar revision to use for parts in case something happens.

    And then you can also run a massive SM900 rig like Ian Hill.
     
    Rockbobmel, Murch, tindrum and 3 others like this.
  6. baxter_x

    baxter_x

    Nov 27, 2013
    EU
    I thought about it and it's tempting. But I should find the exact same model. And it's not easy to guess.
     
  7. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    I think the SM400 / 500 is a better option as they made a lot more and they were going for about $250 on the used market. I passed a few at $300 and found a super clean one for $250. I would expect that the price will be higher for awhile with the passing of Steve Rabe may he RIP.
     
    tindrum, Al Kraft and EatS1stBassist like this.
  8. baxter_x

    baxter_x

    Nov 27, 2013
    EU
    I'm in Europe so the prices are not the same at all! Way more expensive. Currently a SM900 is around 800 to 900 euros (consider 1€ = 1$).
    The SM900 I found is selling for 400€. A steal!

    However I don't think the passing of Steve W Rabe will change a thing. It only affects the TB community, not much more
     
    tindrum likes this.
  9. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Al Kraft likes this.
  10. baxter_x

    baxter_x

    Nov 27, 2013
    EU
    To me it can only be that.
     
    DirtDog likes this.
  11. DirtDog

    DirtDog

    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    But TB only represent a small fraction of the bass playing public. What we do or do not think about Steve Rabe’s passing on prices for SWR gear is nothing but a drop in the bucket.
     
    baxter_x likes this.
  12. baxter_x

    baxter_x

    Nov 27, 2013
    EU
    That's what I had in mind too.
     
  13. Analogeezer

    Analogeezer

    Jul 29, 2021
    I saw Judas Priest a good four or five times back in the day, great live act, they really put on helluva show.

    The thing was you had Halford strutting around the stage looking quite the badass (he is a very big dude) and the Tipton and KK moving all around, jumping around, doing cool rock star poses.

    Then you had Ian Hill just planted in the same spot, never moving LOL

    Me and my friends used to joke they just glued down Ian Hill's boots to the stage and he walked out barefoot while the lights were down before the show started and just stepped into the boots LOL

    Analogeezer
     
    Murch, Slough Feg Bass and MHensleyJr like this.
  14. Sounds like this could be one of those things in life that are fun while you have them, but are disposable. If it works, and is not too beat up and you can afford it, do it.
     
    baxter_x likes this.
  15. Runlikegregg

    Runlikegregg

    Dec 31, 2011
    Brooklyn
    I've had a reliable Eden (I know not the same, but same ilk) for 20+ years.
    I bet you'll be fine. If it's the amp you want, roll the dice and go for it!
     
    Slough Feg Bass and baxter_x like this.
  16. Slough Feg Bass

    Slough Feg Bass Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    San Francisco
    if it works, buy it. If you ever have problems with it, a good tech should be able to find a way to fix it.
     
  17. baxter_x

    baxter_x

    Nov 27, 2013
    EU
    As long as he can find the replacement parts
     
  18. StephenR

    StephenR

    May 21, 2009
    SF Bay Area
    Reverb is filled with overpriced listings that sit, in some cases, for years waiting for a victim. The price increases are more about greed than the passing of the guy who designed the gear. Steve's passing has no effect on the actual used products. As agedhorse has already pointed out one of the true drawbacks to buying used SWR gear is a lack of available parts to service them. When my Studio 220 finally bites the dust I doubt that I will even try to get it repaired, last time I looked for a local tech that worked on SWR gear I couldn't find one.

    Baxter_X ... If you can try the amp you would like to buy, it works, and the price isn't ridiculous go for it but knowing that it may not last. Some equipment ends up with intermittent problems that only manifest after the unit has been on and in use for a period of time so it is tricky to adequately check out a used amp. If you can buy from a local store that has a return policy that would be your best bet.
     
    BasturdBlaster and baxter_x like this.
  19. Slough Feg Bass

    Slough Feg Bass Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    San Francisco
    meh, they can usually find "something close that will work."
    I've had things repaired that were discontinued years and years ago, made in Germany or whatever, and the techs still seem to be able to figure it out, put something in there and get it back up and running. Yeah, might not be factory replacement part, but they can usually make it work.
     
    baxter_x and Runlikegregg like this.
  20. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    The problem is that the actual transistor package has been discontinued and is not compatible with any other package. It's unique in that respect, and while there may be some original Sanken parts available, this particular parts family is riddled with counterfeits. Counterfeit and fake parts are generally not worth screwing with because IME (and I have a lot of experience here) the performance and reliability (and even the real specs themselves) are usually grossly inferior.

    Spending a couple hundred dollars for a repair, only to have it fail again and again is the (very real) risk.
     
    Skip Chucker, Murch, baxter_x and 2 others like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Oct 17, 2021

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