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Aguilar DB359 arrived... my thoughts

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by gwreid, Jul 15, 2005.

  1. gwreid


    Apr 8, 2005
    I know there is a review area but as I've exchanged a few postings here on the subject, here are my initial thoughts on the DB 359 I just purchased. I've not been able to play at gig levels and will reserve final judgement until then.

    I have it hooked up to two Trace Elliot cabs. A 2 x 10 with a horn and a 1 x 15, each 200 watts. Bass wise I'm using my '72 P Bass and a VW Classic Fodera. My main point of reference is an Acoustic 220 that I've owned since new.

    Well, as I think Tom mentioned in a recent post, the Aggie is not very loud. In deed, volume wise, my Acoustic blows the rack off the Aggie. Tone wise the Aggie is killer with the P Bass but, for me, gives too much growl, at low levels, with the Fodera. I'm guessing that the 18 volt pre-amp on the Fodera is too much for the Aggie to handle even in the active input. As the Fodera is my main player, I find that a little disappointing but I will need to see how it sits in a band setting. And, I do know to not crank the pre-amp volume. I backed it down from 12 o'clock to about 10 o'clock but the Fodera still growls and I mean at playing along with the CD type volumes.

    It has treble and bass boost switches which are very subtle but add just the right amount of zip to each frequency without unduly upping the volume. I love the warm tube sound which still hangs in even when the treble is added. I like a deep punchy tone with a nice string "click" when you're playing hard and the Aggie delivers on this. Can't wait to play out with the guys to see how it sounds in a group setting. HOWEVER, as nice as it is, I think my Acoustic might be even better. Not much lighter although it's solid state, but possibly with more punch and tone flexibility, time will tell.

    GAS is a strange thing. about a year ago I bought a Two Rock guitar amp for about $2,500 (A truly great world class amp.) to find out that my $500 Ampeg (Designed by Lee Jackson.) was even more of a tone machine than the TR. Not as well made of course but nonetheless, better sounding. I sold the TR within a month. My initial reaction to the Aggie is the same but, as I say, I'll reserve judgement until I've played with the guys... more to follow.
  2. gwreid


    Apr 8, 2005
    And... the Aggie is very touch sensitive. I've found in just the last hour that even at higher volumes I can get a very nice tone (Not too much growl.) by simply not plucking very hard. When I dig in, even at low volumes, is when the growl materializes. This will take a little getting used to but darn, this is neat!!!
  3. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    I tried that Aggie out in a couple of stores and found the same thing... amazing tone but not a lot of volume. I don't think having an 18volt circuit has anything to do with actual 'hotness' of the preamp. My 18volt Fodera, while hotter than a passive bass, was not that overwhelming. I never had the need to do it, but I assume there is a 'gain' control somewhere in the cavity on the Pope preamp that you could adjust.

    Also, if you had the amp shipped to you, you could have an input tube damaged. I had an MPulse600 shipped to me, and had to immediately replace the preamp tubes... the amp was buzzing and humming when I got it... three new preamp tubes and it was perfect.

    Anway, congrats on the purchase... the good news is, if you end up not liking it, a quality brand like that will keep most of its value at resale.
  4. gwreid


    Apr 8, 2005
    Good point about the tubes but if that were the case, wouldn't I also notice it with the P Bass?
  5. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Spend some time tinkering with different combinations of settings on the Gain and Master. I found a lot of variety there, even before engaging the EQ.

    Have fun!

  6. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    sounds like one of the preamp tubes inside may have been changed. either that, or maybe the power tubes might be biased really hot. a servicable tech should be able to fix that.

    also, it might be a good idea to have the gents at Aguilar give the amp a good once over. when brought home my roadbeaten DB728 after its little stay at the Aggie shop, it was literally 10x better!

    in the mean time, do you have the EQ knobs on your Fodera cranking? my 359 rarely growls when i'm using my Fodera fretless. your gain setting should be backed off considerably to reflect that.

    also, much of the growl might be coming from your speakers interaction with the amp. have you tried a different cab?

    and wassup with your signature? you do know this is a bass forum, yes? :eyebrow:
  7. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    I have the DB359 paired with a 4ohm GS410 and I have NO problems being heard. My basic live set up of the amp is 12 o'clock on the preamp, bass boost on, treble boost off and the Volume and master at about 10 o'clock.
  8. gwreid


    Apr 8, 2005
    Of course... "You can always tell a bass player, but you can't tell him much." can be read many ways. I like to think of it as we know all so there's not much we can be told that we don't already know. Of course this forum is a clear indication that we don't really know all, or maybe not very much. That's why we have to help each other out. :D Come on Joker, see the joke! :)

    Anyway, I do usually have the bass and treble cranked on my Fodera with the mids set in the middle. I then use the blend control more as a tone control by bringing in more bridge or neck pickup to taste. I am however tweaking all controls to see what gives. It takes quite some time.

    Folks have mentioned possible tube issues... If this were the case, would I not have the same issue with the P bass?

    I work only a shoprt subway ride from Aguilar so I will take it in for a physical once I figure out how to lug it into the city without shaking it apart. I've been hunting for a suitable rack but the vents and weight limit the option. Ahhh, the price of tone!
  9. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    The only case that I've found to be deep enough is the SKB Style case from Rondo Music. I'd recommend the 4 space:

  10. You can set the power tube bias with a VOM from the back of the amp....... ;) .......very important !

    I put a 5751 in v1,12ax7 in v2, and a military 12au7 in v3. :cool:

    I have mine in a CHEAP "Gator" 2u rack, :D $75 new !

  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    You want volume? DB 750.
  12. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    I'd love to hear a DB359 with my 410.
  13. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    I've noticed that the 359 can be a very different animal depending on what speakers you are using. Admittedly it's not the loudest amp out there, but the tone is killer. I use mine with either the GS410 or an epi 112 and aguilar 112 and it sounds great! I used this combo last night and it was very loud. With the 2 ag 112s it gets mushy and fits in the mix, but is not loud enough if you solo.

    I think tube amps really or more dependent on speaker efficiency and speaker surface. I wouldn't hesitate to match this with an 810 and the volume would be more than enough for anything

    I once had the Trace 210 and it is a good cabinet, but IMO was not able to produce the detail and depth of the 359. Also changing tubes will make a HUGE difference. I've owned my for over 2 years and use it alot and changed tubes about 3 months ago and it let the amp shine.

    I have a gator 4 space shock rack with rear rails. I wrapped the rear rail with foam so I wouldn't scratch the amp and it is deep enough. Got mine for $125
  14. gwreid


    Apr 8, 2005
    Nino, I picked up a 4 space rack from Rondomusic and it works out fine. Thanks for the info.

    With regard to securing this heavyweight in a rack… I bought a piece of 2 inch wide aluminum from home depot, cut a 19 inch length, drilled four holes and mounted it on the rear rails above and touching the top/rear of the amp to keep in in place. No up or down motion there. To stop potential sideways motion which might torque the face plate, I couldn't mount rack ears to the rear of the amp because the screws there weren't man enough so, I bought a couple of 2 inch hinges that happened to be just the right width when in their closed position and mounted one each side of the rear of the amp. The fact that they're hinges is irrelevant, they were metal and just the right size to butt up against each side of the rear of the amp. To protect the amp from scratches, before mounting these hinges I slipped them into a rubber tube that's normally used for sealing wiring connections. When you heat the rubber with a hair dryer the tube contracts around the wires or, in this case, my hinges!

    Well, nicely rack mounted, I had a chance to try out the amp at an outside gig (Nothing special, just a party.) and damn, it sounds great. I was very pleased with the way it sat in the mix with guitar drums and keyboards and it was loud enough with my P bass. I still had an issue with the Fodera though. With the preamp at about 9 o'clock and the master at about 3, the Fodera (plugged into the active input) still managed to overly growl. I have a Lakland 55-94 on the way, courtesy of Ken Jung on the board here, so I'll be interested to see what that does with this amp. Regardless, I plan on taking it to Aguilar for them to give it the once over. I suspect that it will be cleaner and louder once they've worked a little magic.
  15. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Ingenious solution! Nice job on the rack!

    I'm interested to hear about your resolution to the "Fodera issue", as I have an Emperor Deluxe 5 in my future! :p
  16. Jugghaid


    Jun 28, 2002
    Denver, CO, USA
    Personally, every time I've tried a 359 I have been underwhelmed. It just didn't do anything at all for me. It wasn't bad or anything, just far from inspiring.

    the 750, on the other hand, was fantastic. Great great amp. One of the very few I would consider replacing my all tube Trace amps with, even tough it's a hybrid. It's that good and warm and yummy. :)
  17. 44me


    Jun 17, 2002
    Bedford, NH USA
    My 359 sounds anemic at home when played at low to moderate volumes, but at gig levels it sounds great! I don’t think checking out this amp out at a music store is going to give you an honest impression of what it can do. That’s not to say it’s for everyone. It has a lot of harmonic content that works real well with a P, but I think a lot of players will find it’s too much with something more modern.

    - John
  18. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Be sure and give us a mini review of Ken's Lakland, it's a sweet bass, I'm not a 35" scale guy myself, but that bass was easy 500 under market, a Skyline price for a US, nothing wrong with that. The fodera front end overdrive thing sounds weird, I can't overdrive the input on my 750 with my Sadowsky's full up and thats a hot pre.
  19. This may (or may not) be contributing to your problem. Try leaving the bass and treble flat and cutting the midrange. By cranking the active tone controls you're adding gain, and it's conceivable that this could be overdriving the Aggie.
  20. gwreid


    Apr 8, 2005
    I've tried running it with all controls flat but it doesn't provide a sound that I like and although it reduces overdrive, it doesn't remove it to my liking. I played this weekend's gig with my P and had no issues. I'll give Fodera a call today to see if I can reduce the output by tweaking something in the control cavity.