Ampeg B-15

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by JamersonFan, Apr 18, 2002.

  1. JamersonFan


    Apr 9, 2002
    New Zealand
    Has any one used the Ampeg B-15, I know the Jamerson used one so I thought I might give it a go, but can't find one. Has anyone used them, and if so any compliments/complaints?
  2. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    great tone, unwieldy weight compared to volume. i had one i traded in on a SWR Bass 350 and a Goliath Jr. regretted getting rid of the amp for the $$$ i got for it, but never regretted the switch.
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    An original B-15 could be a beautiful thing. I've had maybe three over the years, the last one was adjusted by Cesar Diaz and it sounded stellar. There was a limit to it's volume and it wasn't enough to use in every situation so I sold it. I kind of miss that amp but not to the point of kicking myself over it. IMO the new B-100R has that vibe though I find myself not using mine, instead using my EA's since I got them.
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Yes, Jamerson used a B-15 but NOT for most of the recordings he did. At Motown, he was usually DIed. They also DIed the guitars!!! See the Dr. Licks book for the gruesome details.

    B-15s are lovely amps for recording use, pretty low powered for most gigs. Used ones are easy to find, expect to pay $6-800 for one.

    The Ampeg "reissue" looks the same but is very different (essentailly an SVT preamp plus 100 watt power stage) and costs about $1200-1300 new.

    So the vintage ones are actually cheaper than the reissues! I think the Ampeg marketing team is smoking crack :rolleyes:
  5. Hey, I have an Ampeg B-15S. It is a later model B-15, and not quite as nice as some of the originals. Mine does 60 watts rms. It is a pig though. My other rig is a Goliath III/SM-900 set up and the SWR rig is easier to move around by far. The fliptop head on the thing weighs a ton! Either way, it has a really really warm tone, with a natural growl when driven harder. It lacks punch for a lot of newer stuff, but if that isn't the sound you are goin for it is perfect. Don't expect to see your pant legs wavin in its wind though, you'll probably have to mic it in any kind of real gig. Hope that helps.
  6. crud19


    Sep 26, 2001
    Without hyperbole, I can honestly say there is no single better amp for recording than the B15. It works for any bass, in almost any style of music. If you have the means, I would urge you to try and find one.
  7. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2004
    Millbury Ma.
    I've had three: one 60's B-15N, one 70's B-15N and one 70's B-15S which I now own. You ain't going to play metal with these things, but if you want great tone, here you are. The later ones sound better to me, louder and clearer. The S model is a 60 watt version, the N models are 30 watts. The new reissues don't sound as good as these, at least to my ears. The only con I can think of they are heavy, especially the S models, mine weighs a ton, but the tone outweighs the weight:bag: . (couldn't resist) The S puts out plenty of volume though for regular gigs unless you are playing huge rooms, for those bring the SVT. I use a variety of basses with them including Rics, Gibsons and Fenders, they all sound good through them. Mine is very clear and has plenty of top end for a single 15" cab as well as all the bottom you could ever want and it has the original speaker in it. Actually it was not used very much and it also has all the original Magnavox tubes in it except for the 12DW7, these all test well. I highly recommend them if you want that good old round sound, they excell at that, and great for blues and jazz, and they just look cool as hell also. The new SS Ampegs such as the B-100R has essentially the same tone but lacks the warmth IMHO.
  8. morebass!

    morebass! I'm listening Supporting Member

    May 31, 2002
    Madison WI
    I have a '64 B-15N that stays in my basement. It is too heavy and not loud enough for the gigs I play. But the tone is so sweet that I hope I never get stupid enough to sell it. It makes any bass sound better. I've been trying to duplicate that tone in my live rig for years but still haven't got it. I think the combination of the lightweight speaker cone, semi-sealed cabinet, and tube power all contribute to the tone.

    Of course Jamerson could probably make any amp sound good. He used a Kustom tuck n' roll 2x15 for his bigger gigs and you don't see people paying big bucks for those.
  9. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    I have a 60's B-15N which I bought via Ebay. It is a nice amp but has a couple of design issues. First when the amp was designed the standard electricity supply was round 115-117 volts. Nowadays you'll find about ten volts more. This means all the voltages within the amp are going to be higher. B+, heaters and bias. Output power is also a little higher, mine is a little over 60W. The output tubes are run a little colder because of the higher bias voltage. What I did find was that the output tubes would sometimes run away and one or the other would glow red. This happened with new tubes and NOS tubes. This is normally caused by a bias failure but the bias was correct. What I traced the the problem to was the grid leak resistors (270K) of the output tubes. The RCA tube manual recommends no more than 100K for fixed bias operation. I changed the resistors to 100K and have had no further problems. I also doubled the size of the caps feeding them to keep the time constant of the circuit somewhat similar. Another problem I had was with the 5AR4/GZ34 arcing on a warm restart such as a short power cut. This was solved by the addition of a 25 ohm 10W resistor between the cathode of the rectifier and the rest of the amp. The increase in B+ is, I think, responsible for all these problems.

    The amp sounds really nice but nowhere near loud enough for stage use. I dropped a JBL 2205 into the cabinet but I still would not use it for anything other than practice. I does, however, make a nice active sub-woofer for my computer.:)
  10. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    BassmanPaul, if you haven't done it already, please add some series resistors in the filament supplies to bring them back to correct voltage. My old Mil data shows a strong knee in the tube life curve with a sharp decrease in tube life at about Vfil > 105%.
  11. andrewd


    Sep 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I used one this weekend that sounded great. The distortion is pretty sweet.
  12. I think the trick for using the reissue in live situations is to use an extension cabinet... I played a gig once with a rig like that, and you could actually hear yourself much better.
  13. Type-55

    Type-55 Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2000
    Both Will Lee on Letterman and the bass player who plays with the SNL band both use B-15 amps. They sound outstanding in the right application.
  14. Simply buy a V4B (100w all tube-40lbs)amp head & a 1x15" cab or a Berg NV cab- get's U THE tone!!! No hassles re weight & movement!
  15. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    Thanks for the tip sir, but at 6.8V it's not high enough to worry about. The amp is only used a few hours per week so the tubes (Sovtek 6L6GC-WXT's) should last a long long time.
  16. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    No worries, I just don't like burning up nice old tubes. Cheers.
  17. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I agree, and you'll save about a thousand bucks in the process. This is a great rig for practice, or recording, or even in an acoustic jam, but not enough oomph to really rock.