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Buying used amp for 5 string... suggestions?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Bongo5, Jun 29, 2005.

  1. Bongo5


    Jun 29, 2005
    Hey, I just bought a new 5 string Musicman Bongo (that freakin rocks) and I need a new companion for it... my 100W Crate combo just won't cut it anymore. Haven't been in any kind of band since I was in high school (grad student now) but I'm finally in something that's getting close to gigging and I need an amp + cabinet or combo that can cut it in a small to medium (hopefully) sized venue.

    My new bass was a very well spent $970 at guitar center on clearance, but it was still enough to put a big ding in my checkbook. So, I'm in the market for a used amp, and I was wondering what kinds of things I should look for if I come across something. Frequency range? Power? Make/model? Speaker size? etc... keep in mind it's a 5 string. Any input would be very helpful, Thanks
  2. If I recall right open B string is 31.5 hertz. It's fairly hard to find cabs that go that low with out a subwoofer in them. Or a sub cab itself. But most of the time a woofer is rated by free-air resonance frequency (Fs). The tuning of the cab (shape, volume, port type, port tuning, ect.) will affect the lowest actual frequency it will reproduce.

    For a used amp any quality head should reproduce the frquencies of the B string. My little rig consists of a Mesa Engineering Walkabout (300w hybrid). Which I picked up a floor unit for $400 it seems. Later I saw one that was a little beat at my local guitar center for $375 w/ rack tabs on it.

    Currently my cabs are Behringer with the aluminum cones. One is 2-10's and a horn. The other 1-15 and a horn. I have them left over from my first head which was also Behringer 3000xt. The Behringer cabs aren't to bad. The horns in them slap nice. And they fair overall ok, but I would recommend looking a bit higher end then that. The low end isn't near as fat as the mesa cab I played the head on before buying it.

    The Behringers head features were almost useless on my 5-string. i.e. ultrabass knocks it down an octave. My overall feeling it's hard to beat the mesa at the price I paid. And I'm currently looking into higher end cabs with metalic cones (aluminum or neobinum). But that is a person preference
  3. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    What's your price range?
  4. Bongo5


    Jun 29, 2005
    Well I was hoping to keep it under $1000. There's no sense in having a good bass with a crappy amp... so I guess I'm looking for as much quality and punch as possible for under a grand.

    I have a buddy that has a 4x10 cab with two blown speakers... I'm toying with the idea of getting a good head and buying some good speakers to put in the cabinet, but I don't know if there are 10" speakers with a low enough frequency range to accomadate my 5 string. But that may be a topic for another thread... thx for the input guys
  5. If you get the 4 - 10" cab. That will do it, with the right speaker (matched to the volume of the cab). I forgot what company I saw the ad for. But they claimed a 6 - 8" cab doing 28 hz. And the open B is 31.5 hz. Therin that particlular cab with 8" will reproduce the sound.

    I feel I may have left it a little unclear on the fs. With fs being the free air rating (with out enclosure). That is a definent of what the woofer can reproduce. What I mean is it is easier to reproduce frequencies in an enclosure i.e. the cab.

    An example is with car audio most subs are in the fs range of 25-28 for a decent piece, 10 or 12". But for high spl the enclosure may be tuned for 32 hz, as it may be the frequency of peak output. But on a daily basis the woofer will be reproducing 20 hz audibly.

    What I am trying to get at here is don't be fooled to much my fs. Volume of the cab vs the speakers in it, and the port shape. Will have a bigger impact on actual out than fs. If you were to go out and get the lowest frquency speakers for the cab that you could. And the cab and / or port is to small for them, they won't reproduce the sound. Because it will be to tight for them. If the cab and / or port is to large. They won't reproduce. Because it will be to loose. and the speaker will become slow and less responcive.

    On every speaker you see there will be a recommend range for volume and port / port type. And a listing of how much volimetric shape the speaker takes up. If you are on the larger end of the volume. Most speakers tend to play lower frequencies there. A properly tuned port also help reporduce all frequencies. Helping alot with hard to reproduce lowend. i.e. a low G is 24.5 hz if memory serves me right. On the smaller end the box would be tighter. more of a punch. Or gut wrenching bass. The same application for a seal encloser.

    My personal preferences in my car and home audio. Is a large seal enclosure, with harmonic dampening foam [studio wall stuff (takes up vol. making encloser samller)]. That gives me a balance of real low and pounding bass. While listening to tunes. My current cabs are a slot port. I don't know how the volume size of them equates to the woofers. I haven't done enough research on the woofers in them (oem). But though out the audio world slot port is popular and highly recommend. Usually with a L shape bend up into the enclosure. To help tune the frequency for high spl with minimum "port volume" (unwanted distortions / harmonics).
  6. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    You may be able to get those two speakers reconed, too. This option would have the added benefit of keeping the drivers at the parameters for which the cab was designed. Or, just learn as much as you can about the box and hope for drivers that work well...

    If you are looking for a head, and you have up to a grand to spend, you are in luck! There are many options, especially if you hit the used market. Some heads that I would recommend include:

    iAMP 800
    Thunderfunk (or AMP BH420)
    Mesa Boogie M-Pulse line (incl. Walkabout)
    Eden WT-550
    Mesa Boogie Bass 400/400+ (for an all-tube option)
    Any pre-Gibson Trace Elliot

    I've also heard people speak highly of the Ashdown EVO II 500/900, Kustom Groove Bass, and if you want a new all-tube head, the Traynor YBA200.

    As I said, there are lots of great options, and for the most part, a good bass head will be a good 5-string head (and conversely, a bad bass head will be bad for 5-string).

  7. Bongo5


    Jun 29, 2005
    Thanks guys, that helps. Tom, I guess I was a little unclear when I said I could spend up to $1000 on an amp, I meant on the amp and the cabinet combined... hopefully I'll find a quality used head, and then hopfully figure out an inexpensive solution for the cabinet. It really all depends on what's out there... I've been checking craigslist and ebay ritualistically, and I've stopped by some pawn shops.

    Any more input is welcome though, you guys really know your stuff.
  8. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Well, keep checking the classifieds here, at the Dude Pit, bassgear.com and evilbay. Some great used gear does pop up, and you could get a great rig for $1,000.00 if you time it right and you have a little luck. What general tone are you after?

    If you decided to go new, you could still get a very good rig together with a head from, say Ashdown, Yorkville, Traynor or Kustom, and a cab from Dr. Bass, Avatar, or Low Down Sound.

    You still have a lot of great options in that price range.

  9. Platypibri

    Platypibri Technician, Kaman Music

    Jun 28, 2005
    Riverside, CA
    I can say this fairly confidently, as SWR is not a Kaman Product, I have an SWR LA 15 that I absolutely love. The B String speaks pretty authoritatively through it, and it can get loud enough to make you uncomfortable. The problem with mega-rigs is that, unless you are touring stadiums, they are almost always overkill. Anything that is too big for the LA 15 usually has me wanting to choose the Country Man or Sans AMP anyway. I may take some heat for this position, but I'm really happy and this is only going to set you back 300 - 400 depending on where you get it.
  10. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    I'm with Mr. Bowlus, look around used, don't be afraid of the web either, there are some great bass shops on the web. Most offer some kind of warranty. For a grand you aught to be able to find a great club rig used! I'd suggest a 4 X 10 cabinet, just because they move a lot of air and there's a pile of good used ones out there. A few shops to check are:







    I've either dealt with or had friends who have dealt with all of them, My 4 X 10 (eden) will be a at Low down in a couple of weeks, good luck
  11. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Buy yourself an EA iAMP500, which you can score for $750. With the leftover you can get a used Eden 210 or Acme 210 for $350. Yeah, it's a hair over your limit, but I just listed some high quality gear that will make the Bongo sound sweet. Like you said, you don't want cheapo gear with such a nice bass. If it is impossible to go over $1000 total, swap out the iAMP for a GK, Eden, Yorkville, Kustom, or Ashdown.

  12. Bongo5


    Jun 29, 2005
    I was just checkin out bassgear.com (thx for the tips tom) and someones selling a GK 410 SBX for $350, says its 2 months old. It looks like a quality cabinet from what I've read, and the SBX series has lower freqency ratings that other GK cabinets, this one goes down to 36Hz. So, I pose 2 questions:

    1) Is 36Hz low enough to capture my low B?

    2) Should I go for it? I don't have a head yet, and haven't looked around as much as I could...

    On top of things, my car broke down yesterday :/ thought I was screwed, I was afraid I couldn't afford a new setup but turned out it was only the valve cover gasket... fixed it today for $9.87. Anyway, I'm back on track, and my new bass is begging for a new rig...

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