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Bass Newb needs gear advice - help?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by LionSlicer, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. LionSlicer


    Sep 8, 2008
    Oh dear - what have I gotten myself into? It's been almost 20 years since I was serious about playing music and now my friend wants me to play bass in his doomish band. The kicker is that I am a guitar player who's been limited to wanking in the "man cave" in recent years.

    I bought a Yamaha bass on a whim 5 years ago, but I only played it enough to add bass to some vanity project tracks I was working on at the time. I actually like the bass better than guitar and tend to play the guitar more like a bass player. Ironically, part of my home guitar rig includes a Carvin 100w Bass combo with a 15. I took that to practice, but it was too quiet.

    So I need a real bass rig. I could babble on and on about getting good guitar tone with early 90's gear, but when it comes to bass, I am mostly clue free.

    My parameters:

    1. I need to buy gear that will be fairly easy to resell - though chances are slim, they could find a "real" bass player and I just don't have a clue how long the ride will last.

    2. I need to avoid wife-aggro, so I need to keep the total cost down. It would be great if I could buy in stages (like maybe get a power amp + a cab and a cheap pre-amp for now with a plan to upgrade the pre-amp down the road). Overall, I could probably get away with spending 6-800$ now.

    3. Weight of stuff - I'm a pretty wimpy guy and I don't want to end my days crushed by a 150lb cabinet trying to pull it out of my truck. That said, it's not like I have to move the rig around too much. I figure this is the one component that I should buy locally, so I'll be fairly limited in my choice here (well, it is pretty easy to find 4x12 guitar cabs anywhere if that would work).

    4. Sure I'd like to have killer tone, but let's be realistic here - I'm not going to have the cash today to get my "perfect" tone and I am going to be playing in small clubs with crappy sound. Besides, I don't want my gear to be 100x better than I am as a bass player - at least not today. I also don't need much versatility in sound - I just need a solid fuzz that is loud enough to compete with a loud drummer and a guitar player with a full stack. Some compression/limit would probably be good to keep it all leveled out (considering that I have a long way to go to have solid playing dynamics down). It would be nice to have some kind of phase/flange effect as well, but I can fake it with a guitar Digitech multi-effect processor for rehearsal purposes.

    I'll take any general advice I can get, but here are some specific questions:

    1. Does it make sense to use my combo amp as just a 1x15 cab? Maybe get a 2x10 cab to go with it to round out the sound? Or maybe get a decent combo with 2x10 like this: http://cgi.ebay.com/Gallien-Krueger...ryZ64397QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    2. I like the idea of having a solid state power amp because they are reliable and easy to resell since they are used for much more than bass, but maybe that just won't work with my budget?

    3. Considering the style of music (doom) and the sound in the small clubs we'll be playing in, what would be an optimal cab/speaker size mix?

    4. How many watts should I be shooting for? Does it make a difference between a power amp and a regular bass-amp?

    I'm sure I'll have a million more questions, but this is probably a good start (let me know if I left out anything critical).

    Thanks in advance for any guidance that you care to give me :)
  2. rcubed


    May 8, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    For doom, you should go with vintage gear, since that's what most of those bands use. Acoustic, Sunn, Traynor, Orange, Matamp, Electric Amp, etc. are generally the amps those bands like. Cab-wise, can be anywhere from a 2x15, 2x12, 4x12, or 8x10, usually something on the cheap side from Peavey, Sunn, Acoustic, Ampeg, Emperor, etc.
  3. Hey, We all started as noobs at some point...

    Peavey always has been the best bang for the buck. Also check into Carvin. If You can find a used B1500 head, get it. Should go for about $400ish or less used.
    Do not buy a guitar cab unless you plan on running it as a split set up. For doom, you have to go big...the more cabs the better. Not unusual for a doom bassist to have two 8-10" cabs with seperate amps for each. You should be able to get by with a couple of 15's. Just watch your ohm load. You should be aiming for 500 watts or more. Doom Bands get LOUD! as you probably already know. Add a distortion pedal or effect if you can.

    Good Luck!
  4. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    As I always reply to posts like these...

    Used Peavey.

    Best volume, tone control, reliability for the buck. And at this point if you buy it right it will resell for the same price.

    4x10 and a 15, a couple 4x10's, 4x10 and an 18, or your basic 2x15 would great places to start.
  5. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    1. YES! I did exactly that for over a year with the same Carvin 100 watt 1x15 combo amp. It is an 8-ohm speaker and you can easily disconnect the amp via the short 1/4" cable - thanks for the intelligent design, Carvin! I believe the speaker itself is rated for 400 watts, so you should be OK for almost any club you want to play.

    2. This is good thinking. You can probably pick up a good (QSC, Crown, Crest) used 500 to 800 watt power amp for under $400. That leaves several hundred for a used (or new!) 2x10 cabinet and preamp. Avatar 2x10 cabinets are reasonably priced and of good quality. Also, there are usually used Carvin 2x10's available for reasonable prices.

    3. Don't let anyone tell you that any one size or mix of cabinets is better or worse. There is more variability between different manufacturers and models of cabinets than there is between generic speaker sizes. Seeing as how you already own a workable 1x15 cab, I recommend you just add a 2x10, or a 1x12, or whatever so you can move more air and use more watts. A 2x10 will probably give you more focused mids and high-mids to complement the low-end of the 1x15 - or at least that's the conventional thinking.

    4. Gigging live with a reasonably loud band will require 150 watts or more for your on-stage sound only if you always run your bass through the main PA system for front-of-house. In many clubs, however, you will need to supply most of the bass volume to the audience from your own rig. In that case, you probably need at least 300 watts, and more is always better. All of the above discussions of wattage assume solid state power amps or solid state heads or combo amps. There is no difference between types of amplification as long as we are talking solid state - except, of course, for amp manufacturers who overstate or understate their true power output! :spit: Tube amps are a whole 'nother story - 150 watts of tube amp can produce volume levels equal to (or greater than) most 400 watt solid state amps.
  6. Part of the Doom band genre is looking like you are bringing the doom.
    You could get buy with 100+ watts for stage monitoring but it's also about the looking the part. Look at any (((0)))Sunn band photos. The have a massive wall of cab behind them. Not sure how many are functional, but its there.

    Druid robes also help :p
  7. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    Yes, I understand asthetics are part of the deal for a doom band. However, the OP has a budget of $600 - $800 for a power amp, preamp AND cabinet(s). Maybe he should spend $50 of it for plywood, grille cloth & flat black paint so he can build a few big empty cabs for his backline? :p (jk)
  8. bggeezer

    bggeezer Guest

    May 25, 2001
    to fit the above criteria i would go for hartke gear.

    i would get the 350watt head with a 1x15 cab. that would be portable, and give you enough headroom for a club of about 250 people. Plus it fits with your budget.

    I would also get a 2x10 extension for bigger venues.

    If you want bigger they also do a 500w head and 4x10 or 8x10, but this is less portable. Very sellable:D
  9. Captain_Arrrg


    Jan 23, 2008
    Mountains of Colorado
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    +1 to everything scottbass said, look on eBay, craigslist and the TB Classifieds. Get at least a 300w power amp and I would use a Tone Hammer as my pre-amp (if I could find one)... Add the 210 later on if you need more volume.
  10. rcubed


    May 8, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Sunn (the band) actually use all those amps. When I caught them live you could clearly see the drivers moving in them (a lot). Loudest show I've ever heard.

    Because of those bastards, all the Sunn gear has been going up in price so it's probably not budget friendly anymore.

    You could probably get the sound you want with some good OD/fuzz/distortion pedals in front of an SVT modeler (SansAmp or VT like pedals set to the sound of a cranked Ampeg) into a power amp. I'd definitely have at least one 15" cab-wise.
  11. Bassmore

    Bassmore Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2007
    With your own ears, check out the New Acoustic B200H (200W RMS) head along with their B410 and B115 cabs at your local GC. Very affordable, but not "cheap". Plenty of "Old School" tone and watts. (approx. $750.00 for a stack!) I did.
    If that's not enough, they should have a B600H head out later this year (450W at 4 Ohms, 600W at 2 Ohms) along with an 810 cab but now your back into the "heavy lifting". I think the new head will go for $399.00, it's on another thread, try the "Acoustic club" I think.

    Good Luck

    Play On!:bassist:

  12. LionSlicer


    Sep 8, 2008
    Thanks so much for all the advice given so far. Some more questions:

    1. From a cab perspective, I have a workable 400w 1x15 cab. Just looking on craiglist, I found a Peavy cab with an 18 and 2 10s for $150 (probably heavy as hell, but I could probably use this for a while and resell without losing any cash), and a Mesa 4x10 cab for $300. Not sure how either would impact my sound - are 10s more for funky styles or would adding 10s to my 1X15 help to round out the sound?

    2. Beyond the cab(s), it seems like I have a clear A/B choice and roughly $500-$600 to spend on either:

    A) buy a bass head - at my price range, I could either get a new head from a "tier 2" manufacturer (beringer, acoustic, etc), or I could find a used head from a tier 1 (Ampeg, Eden, Fender, Trace Elliot, etc)

    B) get a power amp (I could get a new Crown XLS202 for $250ish) and use some kind of Pre-Amp, which could be a tube pre that will give me a specific brand sound or a "modeling style" pre (SansAmp, etc). For tube pre I could get an SVT for $500 or a Trace Elliot for $300 for example. Or I could get a sansamp DI box or something similar for $200.

    So the question is: how does the sound compare between option A and B? Will an amplified modeling pre really sound close to an option A amp that I could afford? If it is close, I am inclined to go with option B for the versatility in helping me dial my sound in and for the easier sale in the future when I decide to divert cash from another hobby to buy a rig that is 100x better than I am as a player.

    Either way, I will need a big muff or some other fuzz type pedal, so that eats into my budget a bit (unless I don't need one if I get a DI box?)

    Again, I really appreciate all the great advice!
  13. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    10's are going to add punch, cut and clarity. The 15's and 18's are going to add your oomph, boom and gut pounding bass.
  14. I wouldn't consider Behringer a 2nd teir company... YMMV. The pre and power setup is definantly workable, gotta get a rack for that gear and the appropriate cables. As far as a head unit, I really think you should go used on whatever you decide. You are going to get the best bang for your buck used.

    Your gear right now: One 15" cab 400 watts at 4 ohms?
    This means if you add another cab at 4 ohms, your amp better be able to accomodate the potential 2 ohm load. That will narrow your options alot. Peavey will do 2ohms. You might want to look for the Firebass head. 700 watts at 2 ohms. It is kinda heavey for a bass head, but it is built like a tank. Should sell for about $300 used.

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