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characteristics of Ampeg SVT sound?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by xcental34x, Nov 9, 2004.

  1. xcental34x


    Feb 28, 2003
    Memphrica, TN
    I got into an arguement recently with a non-bassist who insist that a P-bass through an Ampeg SVT is widely known as one of the brightest, growliest sounds around. I conceded that it can get growl, but it is characteristicly muddy and warm. Am I right, people?
  2. lsimy

    lsimy Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2003
    Virginia, USA
    I'd say depends on the way you set it up. Sure a brand new set of nickel or stainless roundwounds, diming the treble and ultra-high switch and picking could be really bright. Then again playing flatwounds or well used roundwounds and backing off on the highs can be darker and warmer. I say the growl is there anyway you slice it. It's an SVT.

    I disregarded an SVT in that I thought it would be too dark for me being an older head and no tweeter in the cabinet. My buddy kept saying to me, "you don't need no stinking tweeter in there, plug that bass in !!" That was into a 10 year old SVT cab and a '70 or '72 all original SVT head. Baby had PLENTY of highs. He was right. Amazing rig. Amazing.
  3. xcental34x


    Feb 28, 2003
    Memphrica, TN
    OK. Lets say, you buy a stock MIM P-bass from a store. You plug it into an Ampeg SVT Classic and Ampeg 8x10. You set the EQ flat. It will be darker, warmer, and less clean than other amps, such as SWR, GK, Eden, Peavey, etc..., will it not.
  4. lsimy

    lsimy Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2003
    Virginia, USA
    I would say so. An SVT has it's own sound which I hear to be much different than the SWR's, GK's and Eden's. They all have their own sound. Then again, that's an all-tube rig which a GK is not, an SWR is only tube pre and some Peaveys are hybrids or all-tube as well.
  5. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    I don't know about less clean, that has more to do with the hygenic practices of the owner and the volume it's pushed to.

    I would say, yeah, the SVT is warmer than an SWR or GK head set flat. I think it has more to do with a low mid emphasis somewhere in the signal chain than a lack of highs though.

    I've heard more SVT's in person than I'd care for and I can say they range in tone from crap to beautiful with dark, bright, muddy and clear all thrown in depending on the user. Pretty much like any other amp.
  6. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Vintage Ampegs have "bright" inputs in addition to the ultra-hi switch. Yep, you can get some real zing out of them.

    Of course the SVT cabinet will roll off signal above 4-5K so cabs with tweeters will always seem a bit brighter BUT if the bass isn't putting out much in the way of high harmonics in the first place a tweeter won't make much of a difference.
  8. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I've heard the same exact statement from a guitarist. I used a Rick 4001 and a P-Bass through a vintage SVT stack when I was a wee lad. :D It had cut, bottom, and growl, yet it was smooth. Incredible! I really didn't have to make the Rick any brighter with the amp's EQ. The same EQ setting for my Rick worked very well when I switched to my P-Bass. Of course, the P-Bass sounded much rounder in the low end but it had plenty of highs. At that time I used Rotosound Swing Bass strings and played fingerstyle.
    I bet a P-Bass strung with stainless roundwounds and played with a pick could shatter glass.


    With the SVT's switches and EQ, they can have a bright tone, but it's not harsh-sounding. Possibly by today's standards the players who prefer a 'smiley EQ' and tweeters would want more high end.
    There's also a noticeable difference in tone between a vintage SVT and an SVT-CL. I found the CL and the 2-Pro that I owned would go into a crunch-like distortion at a relatively low volume. When I pushed the vintage SVT it had a warm, slightly fuzzy tone that was so musical.

    Just my 2 cents, Art
  9. +1

    All I feel compelled to add to Art's well stated comments is that what he said is correct. :D, IMO.
  10. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Another vote for Art's comments.

    A lot depends on the bass. Some P-basses are big and round sounding, others have more bite and snarl. My old '64 with an alder body was super warm, not much on top. I've had other P-basses (including passive ones) that were bright and zingy.