Another "Help me pick a new head" Thread

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Alexander, Feb 19, 2005.

  1. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I am looking to replace my SWR SM-500 head - I've had it a bit over a year and am just not getting the tone I want out of it. I play a very wide variety of styles - classic rock and blues mostly, but also R&B\funk (mostly fingerstyle with some slap). I love the Fender tones (I have a Jazz, Precision and Tribute L-2500) and play into Berg 112 cabs. I'm not really considering a pre\power setup at this point.

    Here is what I am looking for:

    1. Tone - Warm, fat, punchy, clear. Something easy to get good tone out of. I'd rather play than tweak around trying to find a decent tone, which is one of the #1 complaints I have with my current head.

    2. Size\Weight - 2 rackspaces and light to moderate weight. Again, I would rather play then schlepp around heavy gear (I also have a bad back and a small trunk). Though I like these amps, the SVTs and 400+ are out.

    3. Power - The more the better, obviously. I don't think I would go below 400W and prefer 500W+.

    4. Price - $1,000 or less (used amps are okay if not preferred).

    5. Features - I like all of the features my SWR has. Speakon connections, xlr out w\level, mute switch, limiter, etc. The new amp doesn't need to have everything, but the more useful features it has, the better. Needs to work with both 4 and 8 ohm loads.

    6. Quality\Reliability - this goes without saying.

    I know the right answer is to try a bunch out and get what I like best, but would love advice to get started. I'm thinking about Eden (Traveler 550) or Ashdown (EVO 500), although the I'm not sure how straightforward getting a good tone out of one would be. Mesa is another possibility. I would love feedback on these heads and any others you may suggest.

    Thanks for the help!
  2. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    eden 550 or thunderfunk come to mind both have similar interfaces to the swr and are much warmer sounding.
  3. Rvl


    Dec 23, 2003
    Aomori Japan
    Have you tried replacing the tube in the SWR
    I bought a selection of tubes and tried them out.
    It made quite a noticeable difference
    Also I put a tweeter cutoff switch in the cabs
  4. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i haven't tried this yet with my swr but a lot of cats dig the sound of using an EH tube in the SWR heads (i think they're sovtek). i used one in my eden before and have some in my demeter right now. they have kind of a darker "meatier" sort of sound. I actually didnt like it as much in my eden as it go ttoo dark, but for the swr it might be the ticket.
  5. Jason Carota

    Jason Carota Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2002
    Lowell, MA
    There is your choice. To put it up against your requirements:

    The Ashdown is exactly this. I run all of it's EQ settings flat.

    The RC (rack/chrome) model is 2 spaces in size and moderate in weight.

    The 500 has 575w @ 4 ohms.

    I purchased mine used (in excellent condition) from a TB member for $700.

    The Ashdown has a Pre/Post EQ DI (w/ XLR), Sub Harmonizer, Tuner Out, Line Out, Input Mix (from clean to grind), foot-switchable mute and/or EQ, and Sub Out.

    It can be run with either an 8 or 4 ohm load.

    I have had no problems with mine the 2+ years that I have owned it. Just the standard maintenance issues such as one blown fuse (easily replaced) and a new preamp tube.
  6. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    I'm going to suggest the old GK 800 RB.
    I think you know the sound. It was extremely popular in the 80's, and it's still the default jazz amp here in many clubs.
    Nice tone out of the box, many features, and can be found used.
    For a bit more power, I think the 1001RB is based on the 800 RB (though I'm not absolutely sure)
  7. I suggest you try the EBS HD350, it's a quality head, 2 racks high, and easy to get the sound you want.

    Ashdown would be a great choice too
  8. petch

    petch Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Medina, Ohio
    I'm using the Eden WT-550 with my two Berg 112's. The tone with my Fenders (and Rumblefish) just rules. I am absolutely thrilled with the combination. From the description of your needs, I would say this fits the bill very closely. EQ- wise, I hardly touch the knobs. It sounds great set flat! Sometimes I dial in a bit of of the enhance knob, but not a lot. As you've probably heard, just a small change on Eden knobs makes a huge change. The tone will be much warmer and rounder than the SWR. It has lots of balls for such a small package. You should check features carefully to make sure the Eden doesn't lack any that you must have. I overcame the lack of a mute switch with a Boss TU-2 tuner. Price is in your range.The Ashdown is also a good choice, but I do believe it's a bit heavier if the weight is a concern. Good luck! :)
  9. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    These are not well known yet but seem to meet ALL of your qualifications. Lots-o-watts (1200), 2 rack spaces, moderate weight, great WARM tone, tons of adjustability, tons of features - DI w ground lift switch, Speakon out (w free 8 ft cable), tuner out, effects loop, footswitch mute and solo (footswitch included), etc, etc, etc... All for about $500 new! I love this head. It's the best head I've ever owned and I've owned MANY (most recently an SWR like you). Too bad this baby as been generally overlooked thus far, but it just came out this past summer.

    Link---> Click Me
  10. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks for all of the replies. I did change out the preamp tube abd it helped A LOT. Still, though lacks the warm, round sound. I play through a SABDDI, which helps in this department, but still isn't the tone I want (and actually kills some of the nice aspects I like about the SWR). I played yesterday at one of the local stores - tried the Fender PRO 800 (I think that is what it was called), WT800, Peavey Pro 500 and Genz-Benz 600. I need to try them again with my bass (the one I tried through was a Jazz with new strings and stock PUPS - I prefer mine with really old strings and SD Antiquities). In terms of just a flat sound, I actually preferred them in this order - Fender, GBE, Eden, Peavey. Surprising as I expected the Eden to be #1, but I didn't spend a whole lot of time with it...
  11. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    I love Eden but stay away from the WT 800 unless your running a bi-amp rig. The WT 550 is the ticket, small light, available for under a grand. The WT 550 is actually more powerfull (500 into 4 ohms) The WT 800 will not bridge into 4 only into 8. So if your running 2 cabs in most cases your at 4 ohms the WT 550 is more powerfull. I'm running an origional Traveler (300 into 4) and with two cabs I bleed ears. Also like you probably discovered Eden power is rated very conservitive. I've played 500 watt heads that my 300 would blow away.
  12. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks for the advice - They didn't have a 550 hooked up, but did have the WT800 which is why I tried it instead. I assumed the tone would be the same.
  13. uglybassplayer


    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    I'll see your Eden and raise you one Thunderfunk :D
  14. KB


    Jan 13, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC

    I've owned a SWR SM500 and Ashdown in the past and the Thunderfunk is the best of the group by far. Great tone with warmth and punch. Sounds great with EQ set flat and you can make quick changes via the Timbre knob.
  15. I think that I'm so used to my Eden wt-800 that it is the first thing I recommend...I do hear that the Thunderfunk heads are great, I'd like to try one out.
  16. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Bang for buck, you still can't beat the above. I am very interested in hearing a Thunderfunk, just don't have that kinda $$$ right now...