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Bass amp gurus, please lend me your strength!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by santacruzom, Nov 2, 2005.

  1. Well, I searched and searched through various threads and I got some good information doing so, but I decided I'd better start my own that can express the specifics of my own situation a bit better. This is an incredible forum, by the way.

    So my Carvin 600 Red Line amp recently broke. I'll probably have it fixed just out of principle, but I never really liked it that much anyway and I figure I'll use this as a great excuse to replace it. I still own the Red Line 2x10 cabinet it came with, as well as an Avatar 2x10 cabinet that no longer works. I'm in a band that currently plays small venues. We have two guitarists, one of whom achieves this huge, textured sound through a variety of effects. We're kind of like a Mogwai/Sigur Ros/Cocteau Twins thing.

    Anyway, I need an amp that can cut through. On some songs the tone I look for is very fundamental and warm; on others, I'm looking for something a bit more aggressive (but not quite Tool-like). If you've heard Mogwai, I'm basically looking for a bit of that tone. But I also play James Brown/Meters/J.B.'s style funk and acid jazz on occasion and would like the versatility to cover that tone too.

    I don't drive a big car, we don't play big places, and we don't play too often yet, so I'd like portability. On the other hand, I don't want to get something that will limit me if/when we progress.

    In all honestly I don't know much about amps. I've had this Carvin for 9 years and was never motivated to replace it. Now I've realized how overwhelming the options are. Right now the idea of a really nice combo appeals to me because of its portability. But then, the idea of getting a really nice head and using my existing cabinet (and eventually the Avatar if I fix it) also makes sense... I'm just not sure if my Carvin 2x10 cabinet would do a good head justice anyway. In any case I need something that is clear at fairly high volumes. Ideally, I'd get an amp that I'd plug into, play a note, and just think, "Holy cow, so *this* is what a real bass amp sounds like!" without having to mess with the billion knobs and buttons my Carvin has. I think the max I'd want to pay is $1500, but of course I'd love to pay less than that.

    A few things I've been thinking of:

    -Ampeg B2RE (read great reviews, but some say it's not loud enough) with my current cabinets. Or, Musician's Friend sells it with an Ampeg 4x10 for about 1100.

    -SWR Super Redhead combo. It's almost 1500 at musiciansfriend.com, but Musiciansbuy.com has it for less than 1200! This one is currently my most tempting option.

    -Eden DC-210XLT. However, I'm honestly shying away from it a bit after having read a few complaints about its unreliability.

    -Carvin BRX212. I'm a bit hesitant to get another Carvin, but this line seems much, MUCH better than the Red Line and it's super portable.

    -Aguilar AG 500 head. To show how ignorant of amps I am, I'd never heard of this company until I found this forum. Now I'm very intrigued by it. Again though, I'm wary that my Carvin cab would render its quality kind of meaningless.

    -Nemesis NC410 Combo. It seems to be a great combination of value + quality but I haven't found many reviews of it.

    Anyway, anything else anyone recommends? What do you think about the amps I'm intrigued by?
  2. LarryO


    Apr 4, 2004
  3. protoz


    Nov 30, 2000
    You may not want all the power now but you may need it later.

    Check out the Kustom 1200, Fender 1200Pro, Traynor YBA200(all tube, kinda bulky)

    The two 1200s are 2 rack units tall so they are quite portable.

    Avatar cabs are great if you are a budget (or not)
  4. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    i'd just get the Aguilar head. i've seen a few on ebay for good prices, and it'll go along great w/ whatever cab you decide to upgrade.

    i'm not a fan of anything ampeg, which sounds harsh, muffled, and blurry. and the SWR redhead has NO LOW END whatsoever. tried 3 different brand new units from 2 different retailers, and time and again, i've been disappointed.

    have you thought about Ashdown? IMHO, they make some of the best large scale gear available. also, their prices are very affordable. IMHO, they fit exactly what you need.
  5. Thanks for the advice. I haven't actually checked out Ashdown... I'll start looking around. The Aguilar is definitely appealing based on reviews I've read, but man is it pricey! I haven't had any luck finding it on E-Bay but of course that is prone to change.
  6. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    I was shopping for a medium size rig recently.

    I played the Ampeg B2R, too dark for me. I ended up with a used Eden WT 300 for about 400 bucks I also have a
    SWR 900, which ssems very transparent in comparison.

    I think an Eden would be a nice choice for you if you can find
    a Wt-300, Wt-400 or WT 550 used. A WT- 550 new will also
    run at 2 ohms. I am not familiar with the impedance of your
    cabs as Avatars come in both 8 and 4 ohm.

    The Eden has a nice warm tone, and the EQ is fantastic for
    dialing in the sound you like. Best amp I ever had.

    The list on new WT550 is about 1200, but you should be able to do better, and much better used.

    It weighs 20 lbs, and is small. Portability is thumbs up!
  7. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Other good heads would be the iAMP 500/800, Mesa Boogie Walkabout, Eden WT-550 and the Thunderfunk.

    I prefer seperate heads (or preamp/power amp) and cabs to traditional combo amps, as you have more flexibility and upgrade options.

    For some good cab companies, you could go with something used from EA, Accugroove, Bergantino, Epifani, etc. or new from Acme (you'll need a big amp, though!), Dr. Bass, or Low Down Sound. While they aren't quite for me, lots of guys like Schroeder cabs, too.

    I think you have some good options in that price range. Cruise the classifieds here, plus The Dudepit, bassgear.com, and some of the online bass stores, and you can probably put together a slick rig for under $1,500.

  8. Thanks to everyone who's chimed in. I haven't had much luck finding any of this stuff used, but you guys have pointed out some places that I hadn't considered. I'll check them out. I haven't seen the classifieds on this site though... where is it?

    A guitarist friend of mine who I share similar tastes with said he *loved* the tone a bassist he played with got out of an Eden. But he did say that he thought it looked too complicated -- too many knobs and EQ options. I'm trying to get away from that a bit, but I'll have to try one out.
  9. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Eden heads, and other gear with many knobs, can be very easy to understand and operate after just a short time spent familiarizing yourself with the controls.

  10. I have been spending the past year collecting info on a similar choice to yours. Here are my suggestions gleaned from this forum.

    Ashdown ABM 500 EVO II
    Eden WT550
    Aguilar 500 SC
    Thunderfunk 550
    EA iAmp 500

    This is my order of preference based on playing the top 3 and reading lots of comments about the other two. YMMV of course. I would think you and I both would be quite happy with any of the 5 on the list.

    In terms of cabs, I would look at Dr. Bass or Low Down Sound. For $1500 you could put together a fantastic new rig with the Ashdown or Aggie SC and Dr. Bass cabs. Or go used and get even more, like an Ashdown 500 and Berg 112 mini-stack. I check out the www.basscentral.com and the www.bassnw.com websites weekly to keep up on their used gear and prices.
  11. klorence


    Nov 21, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA
    if you're interested in trying the BRX212, i'm
    selling one .

    i haven't owned a redline series, but everyone seems to agree this new carvin line is way better. all i can say is that i really like it - it's a great combo, just louder/bigger than i need.
  12. I'll say.

    I just tried out a WT400 at a local music shop. Good God! I just left everything flat and it sounded incredible. Even the most minute adjustments I made to the EQ resulted in immediately audible differences. And, the thing weighs like 15 pounds.

    Unfortunately I got to the shop just as they were closing and I didn't really put it through its motions yet, but it sure seemed nice. Just not sure if it'd be loud enough for me. Someone in town has advertised a Road Runner 600W amp, but that one seems odd -- apparently, you can't run just one 4 ohm cabinet out of it (has to be 8 ohms in bridged mode).

    EDIT: Plunge taken. I just found a WT550 on E-Bay for 800 that was a demo and never left the store -- it's still under full warranty. I clicked the "Buy Now!" feature, so I'm certain it's all mine. Now I've got that "I hope I didn't make an impulsive mistake" feeling, but I'm mostly confident that I didn't. Now I just need to get some cabs worthy of it.

    Eden's online manual suggests that if I'm to use two cabinets, I get two 8 ohm models so the load is 4 ohms. They say it can handle 2 ohms but they don't recommend it. I'll probably just buy one cab at a time though, so would driving one cab at 8 ohms be quite a bit quieter than driving a 4 ohm cab?
  13. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Let me help you validate your purchase.


    See, there, that was easy!

    Of course, we expect a full report. And PICS. This is
    TB, it isn't a real transaction unless we get pics to drool over.
  14. klorence


    Nov 21, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA
    That might be me (see link above ;) )

    You can run just one 4-ohm cab. Just use one side of the amp. That's how I used it on smaller gigs w/my (now sold :( ) Acme Low B-1. 300 W.

    You can also run two 4-ohm cabs. That's what I used to do with my long-gone Eden & SWR 2x10's, which each were 4 ohms. 300 W. ea.

    And of course, you can bridge mono for the full 600 W, but in this case it has to be into 8 ohms. That's what i do with my Dr. Bass 2x12.

    just wanted to clarify! :)
  15. Thanks for the clarification. I'm in San Francisco, CA though, so it wasn't your ad I saw :)
  16. +1000