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Are some amps clearly superior to others

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Green Lantern, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. Green Lantern

    Green Lantern

    Nov 3, 2011
    You look at a bass amp like Mesa/Boogie. They are built like tanks, no short cuts are taken, everything they make is heavy and built with the highest quality, but that does not mean that their amps sound the best.

    If you get a Carvin B2000 head and compare it to a Boogie M6 Carbine, is the Boogie really a better sounding amp?
    Do their cabinets which weight 20 pounds more clearly give you a better sound? If you have a band on stage and the bass player is going through a GK, Hartke, or Eden, would it really make that much of a difference? I have seen Jack Bruce play with Hartke on the Cream reunion concert, I have seen Victor Wooten play through an Ampeg and now he is endorsing Hartke.

    Does it really just come down to personal preference on the look and sound of the bass gear?

    My opinion is the sound first most of all comes from the player. What is their style of playing, and how they play the notes. Second is the bass they choose. These two things are the key in what a bass player sounds like. Victor Wooten and Nathan East told me when recording they just goes through a DI box like the Avalon unit. So it appears that the bass amp importance really is about playing live.

    I welcome your opinion.
  2. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
  3. 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
    Yes, personal preference is probably the biggest factor in choosing an amp that creates "your tone." However, there are vast differences in the reliability and quality of construction between amps. There are also differences in the range of tones that different amps can provide. While the Cheese-o-matic or Chimpeg amp may give you the tone you require, will it give it to you consistently without crashing in the the middle of "Mister Would You Please Help My Pony" during that awesome bass riff? Also, does it have the headroom you need?

    I think there's value in value. Sure, the crappy amp may be able to give you a decent tone, but it's still a crappy amp.
  4. Keithwah


    Jan 7, 2011
    Milwaukee WI
    I think it does depend on what gives you what you feel is the best sound for your liking.

    Keep in my that what you like .....others may not like. For example, a 60's Univox, altho kinda funky to look at, is really a piece of crap construction wise, and to 99% of the people listening, would not sound as good as the Mesa, a Warwick, a GB, an Ampeg, a Trace, a GK, a Peavey and so on. That way cool to look at old Kustom 200, was a way hip to look at rig, actually built very well, but it was noisy as hell and really isn't an ideal rig by today's standards either. That said, if you dig it, it is a free country, and use it.

    To most educated and skilled players...and novice players alike, will all swear that there is that one perfect rig for their sound. And I am also one of those that does search for better sound....and found what is my thing.

    But never discount the player's role in the "sound". That is fingers vs. pick player. There is a massive amount of sound in the way I play the instrument. I can make a bad amp work at an open jam.

    If you are looking for an amp that keeps up on stage with Marshall amps...ya know rock and metal guitars, a cheap crummy Berhinger would not be able to keep up. The cabinets are cheap, using low quality drivers and are going to be more likely to blow up on you. Where your Carvin or Mesa might be able to keep up.

    If you are asking why buy the Mesa when a Carvin is so much cheaper, the answer is, do you like the way you sound through a Carvin? If yes, play the Carvin. If you like the way you sound through an old Sears bass amp, do so then. If you play through a Mesa or GB amp and go...."Holy Sh*t, that rocks...this blows my Carvin away..." then buy the Mesa or GB.

    And if you find nobody will hire you because you play through an old Sears bass amp....you might want to re-evaluate your choice of amp.
  5. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    I think sound quality and preference is pretty much the same thing. It's so subjective that its really a mute point. I do believe that some amps have superior build quality to others and that can be a debate. Music style and image aslo play a role. You don't see a lot of Punk or Rock players playing through Eden gear or Bergatino cabinets.

    The Mesa Boogie stuff is a good example. They are put together very well and are a high quality amp. That's a fact. I also think they sound excellent. That's my subjective opinion. Someone else may not like the tone of Mesa Boogie but they can't say they are crappy amps. They just don't have an argument there.
  6. klejst


    Oct 5, 2010
    Sure, however as others have mentioned and I wholly agree with it comes down to personal preference. Generally speaking and for example a Mesa Titan V12 with matching Mesa Powerhouse 8x10 rig (my dream rig :D) may cater to one bassist, however another bassist may look past a rig like that and go for a older Peavey amp and 8x10 because it fits their tone, perhaps budget as well, and what they are going for better. Now the quality may be a little better on certain brands than others in build and sound, but it really is to each their own.
  7. Personal preference is the easy answer, not the right one.

    To make an simple analogy: ice cream. If personal preference was the answer, one would expect that every flavor would have an equal number of fans. But vanilla and chocolate are by far the favorites, with pistachio in the mix in Europe. So why is that? Because for a myriad of reasons those are the flavors that we as a larger group find superior.

    To make a more complex analogy: movies. How can some movies are revered by critics and common folk alike, and others not? If it were just personal preference, there would never be any consensus. But there can be consensus (Godfather, Citizen Cane, even Empire Strikes Back). How? We all judge movies, consciously or unconsciously, by a set of criteria (story telling, acting performances, cinematography, etc.) and other influences (zeitgeist, buzz, etc.).

    Now, as for amps? Tone, build quality, aesthetic, cost, etc. It all plays a part.

  8. I wish more people caught the reference there....:D

    Are you speaking from experience? Did that actually happen to you?

    ...he coughed up snot in the driveway..
  9. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    That's not a good analogy. Nothing says that personal preference must be equally distributed over population, and more people liking something does not mean that it is better on any sort of absolute scale.

    For example, consider music from the listener's perspective. Orders of magnitude more people liked disco at its peak than preferred jazz; does that mean that disco was "better" music?
  10. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    Did you say something? I couldn't hear it.
  11. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    The test of tone, amps and cabs is how they sound on gig night with the rest of the band. You also want something you can push hard for hours without it being a big deal, and tone that doesn't get buried in the mix. And when the house PA breaks you want something that carries you through.

    Some amps and cabs are clearly better than others at cutting through the mix. My Genz Benz 212t crushes my Bassman 250/115 in the mix. My Shuttle 6.0 I can run all night with more than enough volume and it never even warms up. My Bassman 250 is hot as a pistol if I push it hard for very long.

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