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Can anyone describe the Hiwatt Sound?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by jock, Feb 16, 2002.

  1. jock


    Jun 7, 2000
    Stockholm, Sweden
    How do they sound? The 100W or the 200W as thats what I´m looking at.
    Can you compare them to any other heads new or old like Ampeg, Aguilar, Demeter, Kern...
    Any info is wanted!
  2. Listen to "Providence" by King Crimson, from the album Red. John Wetton used a Precision with Rotosounds and a cranked DR103 pushing a 15" cabinet to get his tone, which was simply monstrous--before he added the fuzz and wah...
  3. Tapp


    Aug 29, 2001
    USA, Mississippi
    Yep, Psycho is right; it's something about the midrange that sets the Hiwatt heads apart. I'm playing my early 70's DR103 right now and I'm really digging the change. It's not a boomy low end sound, but more of a punch and it cuts right through the mix. I use mine with an Eden D-210XLT sometimes drive 2 of them. I also have fitted mine with Svetlana 6550's but you can only do this with a bias supply voltage doubler mod.

    Psycho, have you had any experience using 12AU7's in certain places in the preamp of a Hiwatt? The reason I ask is that the Audio Bros mention something about using this tube in they're reissue heads and was wondering if you've experimented any? I'm running 12AX7 EH's that are sounding nice.

  4. i thought they only made guitar amps...
  5. Johnny BoomBoom

    Johnny BoomBoom Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2001
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Steve Harris of Iron Maiden uses HiWatt amps. He did have a Trace Elliot endorsement for a while (he's an artist on their Webpage) - but last time (in fact every time) I saw them live it's HiWatt that he uses!
  6. Hiwatt amps were all-purpose, meaning they were intended for use with any instrument.
  7. I think the 405 was a dedicated bass amp. I'd love to have one, but I think they were limited to something like 100 pieces.

    But then again, Ampeg made the V9 specifically for guitar, so I guess anything is possible.
  8. Rickenbackerman


    Apr 17, 2001
    Laurel MD
    Didn't the 405 have EIGHT 6550's? That is sooo nuts. I'd love to get my grubby hands on one of those... :) the bass player for the band Sleep had one. I think he ran 2 4x15 cabs!

    I've got a Sound City 200+ which is more or less 2/3 of and SVT done hiwatt style('cept it's got active tone controls). Sounds nice. On 10 it's pretty dirty, but 'sounds' cleaner than an SVT.
  9. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    I think Peter Hook used one in Joy Division. I don't know which model exactly, it's a big "guitar head" type box. Like Psycho said, grindy midrange when overdriven. Very solid and full sounding though.

    Some samples I found online:


    Live recording, not the best quality, but I'm reasonably sure this was an Ibanez Rick copy with roundwounds through a Hiwatt. 4x12 cabs, I *think*. Try the first track.


    Try track 6, "Walked in Line". Doesn't sound so hot over the RealAudio, always been one of my favorite bass tones. Try track 7 too, "The Kill". Ooh that's good stuff.

    [edit] and, uh, track 8. :)
  10. Try this:


    This is Hooky's primary Joy Division rig.
  11. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Don't know why they don't list the Ric(copy) there. That seems to me to be his early New Order setup. Not that there was much time between the two. But JD video from 1980 shows the Ric into the Hiwatt, and New Order video from 1981 shows the Yamaha or Shergold into I think the pre/power setup (at least not the Hiwatt). Anyway, guitargeek is all user-submitted . . . :)
  12. Rickenbackerman


    Apr 17, 2001
    Laurel MD
    PBG - I knew I read it somewhere, but who knows how accurate the info really is...


    DR405 - This legendary and very limited production model (less than 100 units were produced by Hylight Electronics),first saw the light of day in 1970.It was also designed by Dave Reeves and was originally designed and produced as a "bass-only" model to directly compete with Ampeg's popular SVT.This 400-Watt "monster" sported 4 ECC83s and 1 ECC81 in the pre-amp section and 6 KT88s in the output stage.

    A few DR405s were also manufactured between 1978 and 1980 that increased the KT88 valve count to 8,effectively making the unit capable of producing over 400 Watts R.M.S. into a 2,4 or 8 ohm load!!
  13. From stuff that I've seen, he tended to mix and match amplification to suit the venue. But I agree with you that it's odd that the Ric copy isn't shown and the Shergold is. You're right in that the those two represent the early New Order sound rather than the JD sound.

    Maybe someone should submit a correction.
  14. Rockbobmel

    Rockbobmel Supporting Member

    In the "Amps!, the other half" book there is a repro of a 70's ad it's got the 501, 103,201,405 lineup with all the "specs". 400 watts RMS, 1000 watts peak.
    Kinda made me drool a little.