Ampeg B15: vintage vs re-issue?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Chef, Dec 9, 2005.

  1. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I used to have an old ampeg B15 in. It was old even in the mid 70's when I had it. I t was not very loud, but man, a P or J with flatwounds thru it was *awesome!*
    I was kinda wish list shopping around, and found a few old ones. They seem to sell high-ish, as anything vintage does anymore.
    I also found that Ampeg has re-issued these, with some "improvements" including a bump from 60 watts to 100 watts, and more eq in the form a mid controls...
    Has anyone familiar with the old ones ever played a re-issue, and loved it, hated it or...?
    I guess my Big Q is:
    Re-issue done right with improvements, or older is better?


    you can see the owner's manual here:
    it reads pretty nice...
  2. KingOfAmps

    KingOfAmps Inactive

    Avoid the risk of lying to yourself. Go old.
  3. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    chef, I've had two original B15-Ns (I'm down to one now).

    Both of them needed some work. When they're right, they're really great, as you know.

    I've not had a reissue B15, but I did have a reissue Rocket. It sounded great, but I did need to have it repaired (bad printed circuit board).

    Then, you should ask yourself: Do I really want to carry that thing around? I love these old things, but how practical is it in 2005? And is the newer, louder reissue any MORE practical?
    They aren't cheap!

    I see you're trying to offload an old Bassman head, so you must have a yen for old amps. Me too. I've spent a lot of money acquiring stuff that I wish I could have had back in the 60s when I was going to Hickman High School!
  4. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Second thought: I got my B15-N on eBay a few years ago, for like $550. eBay has resulted in this vintage stuff really being overvalued, in my opinion.
  5. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    AGCurry, we're practically neighbors, I'm just over in Columbia.
    Point: at 120 lbs or some, yeah it's heavy. That's on my mind.
    I've spent a bunch of time shedding gear weight over the last year.
    I'm now primarily using a tfb420 and schroeder 1210, can't hardly swing ahrder with less weight...

    But, if I'm gonna go the B15 route, nearly twice the watts in a amp that's 40 years newer seems somehow prudent. I've never had an old fender ro ampeg that didn't "need something," and I went to great lengths to make my od bassman right.

    I sure did love that old B15 back in the day though.

    I've read that these were designed for upright amplification back in the day, and that would be one of it's primary uses for me. It's been decades since I played one, are they really clean enough for use with DB?
  6. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Played 'em side by side, a '68-ish and a re-issue, played both a passive fretless 4 and an active fretted 4 through them ..... didn't try any extended range stuff at all ....... :meh:

    Hands down, the tone of the old B-15 was my choice. The newer re-issue sounded modern and a bit sterile .... if I wanted that sound I would buy a Hartke Kickback that is lighter and more versatile. The slight increase in power wasn't enough to make a huge difference to me, since neither one is of much use in any venue larger than a coffee house.

    Granted, I'm an old guy and I prefer a more "traditional" sound, so take that for what it's worth. Either way, old or new, the amp is simply too under-powered for most any gig I do, so I didn't buy either one ......... :cool:
  7. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Yeah. As I said, I went to Hickman. I come over a few times a year to act as cantor for the Jewish community there. I love Columbia.

    Well, it's clean enough at low volumes, at least mine is. Start pushing it and it complains. But I suspect it may have a problem needing attention, which I've been too lazy to get to because I have plenty of [lighter] alternatives.
  8. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    That also concerns me. For the place I play most often, I was using an swr baby blue 2x8 with my DB. It worked well with my "responable guitar player." It was not enough for the other two I rotate in and out. My current TFB420 and Schroeder1210 makes mincemeat of them if I need to, but otherwise just runs nice and mellow and has enough extra ooomph that the bbII 2x8 just can't do.

    If I'm gonna schlep 120 lbs in one box up the stairs, it better be able to cover me, ya know?
  9. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Oh yeah, I hear you there! I ended up with an Eden D210XLT that I use with my plain vanilla Hartke 3500 head. Fairly small and compact, light weight (~60 pounds) and has enough b*lls for about 75% of the places I play in. If I need more I wheel out the 410+115 .....
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Maybe you don't know that the reissue (even used) costs even MORE than the originals!

    B15R: $2,799.00 list, $1,999.95 street

    Yes, it has higher wattage so it might be better for gigs, but then it doesn't really sound like the old ones anyway...different preamp and power amp circuits.
  11. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    Most people keep the B-15s as studio amps. As such, weight is not really an issue. They also SHINE on a track.
  12. main_sale


    Apr 26, 2004
    Cape Cod
    Yep, I can help. I have a 1967 B-15-n and a B-15R-15E. I have never been able to make the reissue sound anywhere near the B-15-N. Not even close, but I'm still trying. If you have and old B-15 you definately have a treasure. Keep it and continue your tone search!
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    You know how people always talk about deals that are outrageous but they never seem to happen to you? I actually had one happen to me. A few years ago I bought a B-15N with matching cabinet for $150! It was all rusty and beaten up looking, but it still had the sound. Still does, too! I use it for all my work that's not too high volume. And I'm also using it to cut distortion tracks for a guy I'm producing in my little home studio, though I'm using a 4 x 10" cab.

    I agree with others that the reissues aren't quite the same, but they're still not bad, and they do have a lot more usable volume. Will Lee uses one on the Late Show these days. We never hear it but he does and seems to dig it.

    But for upright, I like 10's a million times better. It sounds alright with the 15, but 10's make the upright sound more of what they sound like acoustically. At least that's how I feel.
  14. justBrian


    Apr 19, 2002
    Surprise, AZ
    Hey Chef-- I'm a neighbor too. But I've yet to run into AGCurry around here. ;)
    I just got my first B15n a couple of months ago--a 1965! It is the sound I've been hearing in my head all these years (well, except the tinitus). I've taken it to several rehearsals and it is pretty quite, but it sounds amazing. Last week I took along an AGK D112 and miked it and it totally killed. The guys told me that I don't ever need anything else because this amp really did it for them. Plus, both guitarists told me that I have to coolest rig. :D
  15. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    The B15-R re-issueis listed at 117 lbs...what's an original B15N wiegh?
    I'm still thinking either would be a neat thing to try, but I really think 117lbs in one box is something I'm kinda not up for.

    One venue I play regularly at has *stairs!*
    117lbs up stairs-ugggh:)
  16. justBrian


    Apr 19, 2002
    Surprise, AZ
    I think mine weighs between 75-80 lbs. Not too bad, but I'm not lugging it up stairs either.
  17. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    So the re-issue is dang near 40lbs heavier than the old school? I find that real surprising!

    With Schroeder getting ready to release neo driver cabs that are gonna be feather weight ass kickers, there's a lot for me to ponder right now;)
  18. demon666


    Jul 16, 2005
    Brooklyn NY
    Well first off the reissue has a different tone section (one channel with mid control as opposed to two sections) and also the cab has a tweeter. The extra wattage is nice but for the weight of it it doesn't make sense to lg it around for gigs(even though I did for about 6 months carrying the head and cab seperately help but again whats the point) I would definately recomend swapping out the tubes in the reissue to EL34's I think it sounds alot better. as for the upright question I have used it and its good it would have enough clean volume for alot of gigs plus it has a DI for larger ones. I know a couple of people who use the vintage ones for they're upright gigs and the sound good when you can hear them ( I think the older ones are great studio amps thats about it ) If your looking to get a vintage tube sound like that from a combo I would look into a Mesa Walkabout scout with the 15" speaker plus it weighs alot less somewhere around 50-60lbs and has a ton of volume.
  19. Denyle Guitars

    Denyle Guitars

    Nov 30, 2005
    Go for the vintage one. Nobody buys a B-15 for the power, they buy them for the tone, which the old ones have in spades over the RI.
  20. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    If you want to get some more volume out of the vintage B-15 you can recoil the driver to 4 ohms and get a solid state rectifier, the latter of which costs about $20. Jess Oliver recommended these mods. He said he thought the 4 ohm driver sounded better, as well as being louder. He does some work on these, so if you get a vintage B-15 and want someone to go over it he'd be a good person to turn to.