All tube head under a grand... hit me!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Ben Clarke, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    Ok, I joined here several months ago, but completely spaced on my user ID. So now IyamwhoIyam...

    Anyway, I'm looking for a bass head that is fully tube, for under a grand (as you can gather from the title). I'm aware of the Ampegs and Mesa. What else that's worthwhile?

    Used is just fine. 200W is adequate, and even a bit under that would probably be OK, I can just make up for it with more efficient speakers than the leftover 2x15 I'm using. SS rectification is something I'm resigned to as the norm in this category. I can at least play with my B-15N in the studio. I was just beating it to death on gigs. Right tool for the wrong job, and all that.

    I don't need gee-whiz features, just great tone. I've been down the SS road, and it's just not for me. I've had the chance to play through all kinds of very nice SS amps, and could probably live with a Walter Woods (if I'm remembering the name correctly), but I understand they are a bit 'spensive? Heh... So I'll pass on the hybrid/MOSFET recs, not that there's anything wrong with that.

    My recent gear includes the aforementioned B-15, and a recently acquired (and possibly not up to snuff) MusicMan HD130. I also own an old Traynor Bassmate that's surprisingly useful in the right setting, for a little EL84/6BQ5. Gotta tune that one back up one of these days... I mainly play a recent vintage StingRay5, but also pull the ole G&L P-Bass out every now and then. It still feels like home...

    I attempted to get some horn cabs built, but can find no one reliable to build such complicated cabinets. Bill Fitzmaurice really needs to get on the stick with production. Check out his DR horns at his website if you're interested. So I'm looking for more headroom in the traditional way. More HP.

    What do you like?
  2. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    Welcome to TalkBass!!!

    I went for brute force... click my sig link to see the pictures.

    8x KT88
    5x 12AX7
    1x 12AT7

    There is a tweed Peavey Classic 400 on eBay right now... it was @ $450 when I looked earlier.

    I started out in 80 on a B-15n... I hated it, but I was a young teen metal head without a sense of tone ;)
  3. Hurley


    Feb 12, 2004
    Cape Cod, MA
    Here. Looks good to me. :) I'm also a big fan of the Sunn/Fender 300.
  4. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    Thanks for the suggestions. Keep em coming! The Traynor piques my interest especially. Their US distributor is about 35 minutes from my house, and a handful of dealers, too...

    Any evaluations of the relative strengths/weaknesses, however brief would be much appreciated as well. Go ahead and extoll the virtues of your Mesa 400+ ;) or whatever. Is that 70's SVT going to do it like no other regardless of cost or heft? Let me know what you think. I'm not only interested in what you use, but why.
  5. natrab


    Dec 9, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Look for some of the older Traynors as well. I have the YBA-3 Custom Special which with 6550s can be a great tube amp. It's also built like a tank.

    I also have two Mesa D-180s which are excellent tube amps. I have yet to try the Sunn amps, but I'd like to.
  6. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    I know you said you don't like the hybrids but what about a good tube pre/power steup? The Trace V-type (my choice :D )or BBE Bmax-T with a solid state poweramp section would give you that genuine tube tone but would be much more roadworthy. Plus, you could have anything just about for wattage.

    Go over to and check out some more preamps. Just a suggestion.
  7. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    While I appreciate the intent, I'm pretty firm on the "no sand" thing. There are no solid state devices in my home stereo, other than the DVD/SACD player. I'm pretty well attuned to the compromises they bring to the table (to my ears, mind you). It's unfortunate to my back and wallet, but this is the bias I've gotten myself into (honestly, no pun intended, but I'm leaving it in...)

    Please let me be clear, I'm absolutley not knocking anybody's gear or tone, it's strictly about what makes me most comfortable with a bass in my hands. You could play me a dozen records, and, unless they are over the top in some way, I probably wouldn't be able to tell you which were recorded using tube or ss, or DI for that matter with any consistency better than chance. It's just the feel I'm after. OK, end of conciliatory disclaimer---carry on...
  8. I now play through Orange OR120, which is primarily guitar amp, but works for bass well.
    It is rated for 120 Watts, but I use it with Ampeg 4x10 classics and have no problem to be heard through Marshall half stack and Fender Bassman 4x10 RI. Volume set at 3, I am in tube tone heaven.
    Here in Europe they can be seen pretty cheap, I bought mine for 500 Euros.
    Anyway, good luck in your search
  9. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    I use a Mesa/Boogie 400. My main reason is 'because I can", but specifically, because it weighs half as much as an SVT, sounds better than anything else I've tried, and costs half as much to retube as my ex-400+. The only con is that Mesa didn't make many of these, and they're getting old, and the graphic eq (which is the only part of the amp that is not tube driven) sliders get kind of hard to move when they get old. I could buy new ones from Mesa, but I never use the graphic eq anyway.
  10. Luckydog

    Luckydog Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 1999
    yeah I know you said what else besides Ampeg. But it sounds like a used Ampeg SVT-II is right up your alley. I have 3 of them and they are just super. Do a search on them. There is one on the bay now thats been relisted, you can prob get it for around 650 or 700. I have absolutely no need for another bass head ever again. These are perfect for my uses.
  11. JayAmel

    JayAmel Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Aurillac, France
    I'm thinkin' used vintage SVT, but I don't know whether they can be found under a grand...

  12. Luckydog

    Luckydog Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 1999
    I think lots of folks would desire a 70's SVT. I have 2, and occasionally use one of them...the SVT-II is essentially the same all-tube beast as the 70's head, but with the added capability of 6-band graphic eq and line out. I find absolutely no difference in sound between my 70's SVT heads and my SVT-II's.
  13. pbassnut

    pbassnut Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Falls Church, VA
    I'm currently selling an all tube Trace Elliot V-Type bass head which is roughly like an old Fender Showman amp except with a considerable increase in headroom and low end thump. Here's my ad copy:

    FOR SALE: Trace Elliot all tube V-Type bass head
    Posted: : 12/18/2004
    Category: Bass Amps
    Condition: Good
    Age: 8 Years
    Asking Price: $675

    All tube, 220 watt Trace Elliot V-Type (later known as the V4) bass head. Good to excellent condition. Sounds excellent. New matched quartet of Electro Harmonix KT88 power tubes installed within the last year. Pictures available upon request. $675 shipped within the USA (lower 48 states).

    FULL NAME: Steve Reiter
    PHONE: (703) 533-2007
    CITY, STATE: Falls Church, VA
  14. metron

    metron Fluffy does not agree

    Sep 12, 2003
    Lakewood Colorado
    Really?!? Ive only heard otherwise but Im very interested in this. What about difference in volume? Can you run them side by side and tell if one is louder then the other? Does one have more clean sound then the other? Same tubes? Sorry if this is slightly off topic... :D
  15. Jerrold Tiers

    Jerrold Tiers

    Nov 14, 2003
    St Louis
    They aren't the same, but they are quite similar. Tube complement similar but not identical.

    One CAN hear differences, just a question of what's important to you.

    The vintage 70's SVT's usually go for more than a grand, and if cheaper may have problems to be fixed.
  16. metron

    metron Fluffy does not agree

    Sep 12, 2003
    Lakewood Colorado
    What do you mean? Thanks AI!
  17. JayAmel

    JayAmel Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Aurillac, France
    BTW, no meaning to hijack this thread, but I have a question about SVT heads : except cosmectics, are there any differences between the SVT-CL and SVT-AV heads ? Thanks in advance !

  18. Dan Molina

    Dan Molina TalkBass Secular Progressive

    Jul 17, 2002
    Murr Town, California
  19. Luckydog

    Luckydog Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 1999
    Metron and Ampeg Insider, I might have a less discerning ear than many. I truly cannot tell any difference in tone or volume between my 70 heads and my SVT-IIs. Maybe I'm just a deaf geezer. Ben I would think you would be happy with either...the SVTs have a nice warm grind, plenty volume. I don't see how you could have managed with the B-15 on a gig, my gigs are just too dang loud. I used to own a SR 4 and it sounded very nice through my SVTs. I pretty much play Ps or Js exclusively now, and the SVT compliments them very well. Your G&L P should sound sweet through an SVT.
  20. mgmadian


    Feb 4, 2002
    Austin, TX
    You may be able to pick up a used Trace Elliot V4, though all of the TE tube heads (V4, V6, V8) are pretty hard to find. Has 4 KT88s in the power section... I seem to recall it's rated at 220W.