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Better tone from a Solid State Head?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by RadioDaze, Feb 18, 2006.

  1. RadioDaze


    Feb 18, 2006
    Hey everyone, just a quick question. Ive got a Behringer Bx-300 i think? Basically it's a 300W solid state bass head. Now, for the price it was decent, but Im looking to get a little bit more presance and especially more tone without having to totally upgrade to a tube head at this time. Ive looked around at a lot or review for pedals, etc. Anyone know a good way to improve my tone, get a little bit more of that tube goodness rather than the straight up solid state sound? Would a tube preamp, or some sort of pedal help me out in that area? I play in a 3 piece rock band where my guitarist is running a 2x10" tube amp, and it honestly blows away my tone coming from a 300w solid state head running through 2x10" and 1x18". Any suggestions or personal experience would be awesome, thanks :D
  2. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Tubes add compression and distortion. Look for effects that add these. Dial in your own sounds and mix it up for different songs.
  3. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    My .02 is to get a better head. I had an SWR head that I got for a really good deal, but could never get a good tone out of it. I added a Sansamp Bass Driver DI and an Aphex Bass Xciter, both of which helped - when I played by myself (other than it was pretty noisy with lots of hiss). When I played with the band, my tone got lost in the mix easily.

    I switched to a Thunderfunk head and it sounds great by itself with no "enhancement". In a live mix, it absolutely kills. I tried it with both the SABDDI and the Aphex, both of which detracted greatly from the overall sound. I'm a huge Thunderfunk fan - it is my only amp and I don't think I'll ever need to change. I did try a number of other heads I liked as well, though so shop around (Fender Pro 800, Genz Benz GBE600, Ashdown ABM 500). I tried an Eden WT800 as well and didn't like it as much as the others listed above :bag: , but lots of folks swear by them.

    Bottom line, I think you need to find a head that you like by itself, then add effects you want on top of that if that is your thing. If you start with an amp you don't like, you likely won't be able to get "your tone" by spending hard earned cash on effects - you'll just end up frustrated...
  4. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    The Sansamp Bass Driver DI is a good buy for what you are looking to do. It's a good tool to have overall, even beyond the scope of your current needs. It's a great DI, a great preamp, and a good way to add tube-y sounds to your amp. I love mine!

    You can usually find them used for about $130ish. Or, you can get one new for about $180, and there's a relatively newer three channel model that's a little bit more.

    This is, of course, a good low-budget solution. If you have the cash, you might consider upgrading to a different head. There are also a lot of other preamps that will give you an effect similar to that of the Sansamp. Shop around!
  5. RadioDaze


    Feb 18, 2006
    Lately Ive been loooking at the vintage Fender Bassman heads on ebay. Anyone have any experience with them? Ive read good reviews, but i lack the hands on experience with them. Im looking mainly at the 100W silverfaced ones from the 70's. The bassmans appealed to me obviously because of the tube power, but also because apparently they're good for guitar as well?
  6. I've been told that those old Fender Bassman amps have great tone but very little overall volume when actually used for bass. They break up(distort)at lower volume, which is more often desirable in a g****r rig than bass. I agree w/alexander- find out what YOU like. What's better for you, me, alexander, etc may be several different things.
  7. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    The old Bassmans are really cool if you like the old-school boomy and dirty tone they give when pushed. And you have to push them quite hard to get any kind of volume out of them. In a 3 piece rock band they might work just fine.

    I borrowed a Bassman rig for a while, a silver faced one just like the one you're looking at. 100 watts into a 2x12", or 2x15" cab. Had to go up to around 8/8 on input gain and master volume to compete with my drummer. No volume reserve to write home about, but it had a really cool rock tone that worked fine for me.
  8. ghindman


    Feb 10, 2006
    Bassman is a great guitar head - that's what David Gilmore used on much of the early Pink Floyd - but a pretty mediocre bass head. Personally, I think the difference between an amp with tube power stage and SS head for a bass is much less pronounced than it is for guitar. To me, a tube pre with a solid-state power stage gives you most of the tone of tube, without most of the hassles.
  9. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    Into a decent cab (or two), the Bassman 100 is an excellent head. I've gone toe-to-toe with Marshall halfstacks and loud drummers and lived, though my input volume was around 6 (channels jumped together) and the master at 8 or so. Love the tone - dirty, ugly, and good for rock.
  10. There is nothing very special about any of the cheap tube pres and pedals. They generally use a relatively low voltage power supply and operate on the starved plate principle - not at all the same as a gain stage in an all tube amp. They can be used to good effect providing both some "warming" and compression even without an additional compressor. I own one myself - but they are never going to sound quite the same as a classic tube setup.

    I have owned an old Bassman clone (japanese made from the 1970s) - sounded OK but the one I had was not particularly loud. The genuine items were better and a bit louder. Most tube amps that are designed exclusively for bass at high volumes are damned heavy. Personally, I don't want to haul the weight of a tube bass amp around town. Love the sound but not looking for yet another back surgery.

  11. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    the only Bassman head that was a real 100watts is the Bassman 135. I've been playing my BM 135 for three years now, and it's gone on two nation wide tours with me in an 8 peice band:p
  12. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Yup, as long as you use reasonably efficient cabs, they can definately compete in a band situation.
  13. RadioDaze


    Feb 18, 2006
    The cab Im currently using is an old Fender BXR from the 80's. It's a 2-10" and 1-18" 300 or 350W at 4 Ohms.

    Someone on another forum suggested a Presonus Tubepre. Basically, its a $100 tube preamp. Anyone familiar with one of those? Would that give me an adequate tube tone without upgrading completely to a new head?
  14. Adequate tube tone is in the ear of the beholder. It will likely help but, as I said above, it will not sound the same as an all tube amp.

    Do you have a local (most likely a chain?) store where you could take one home and play with it and then return it if you don't like it? If so, you may just want to try one out. Just make sure you know all the terms of the return policy - length of time, refund or store credit etc. Note that there are a lot of $100+- pres and pedals out there with the sort of low voltage tube stage the presonus has and each one sounds at least a little different and may have different features, controls, construction/packaging and warranty. It pays to compare.

  15. RadioDaze


    Feb 18, 2006
    Thanks for the good advice, i think i'll go to Tom Lee music and check a few out, seeing as they take stuff back if you keep it in original condition.