Chasing Ampeg: A tale of young lust and hesitation

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by rar plar, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. rar plar

    rar plar

    Sep 8, 2010

    I understand that nobody can decide for me what I do want and should buy. This thread comes after 3+ months of extensive lurking (both the internet and the TalkBass google search), so if something about the gear listed here has been said repeatedly before there is a good chance that I've already come across it. That being said, I still feel that sharing my very own situation may lead to a new handful of wise advice, useful for me and for any other confused passerby as well.

    My writing is dense even in my mother tongue, I apologize in advance for any brain damage caused by the reading of this post. Also, carrots.

    Background (skip to Facts if you are easily bored)

    I've been playing bass with an important lack of discipline for some years, being my main background some keyboard and music theory shamefully forgotten long ago. But this last year I've been able to man up and steadily rock my cheap Yamaha and Peavey combo (later through a DI and headphones/loudspeakers), and I've taken advantage of the chance to play in a rehearsal place with some friends. Now my main bass is a Squier VM Precision, which I play through the (also bassist) drummer's amp. At first I thought of buying an Ashdown ABM EVO III head and a matching cab, but from the moment I stop to look at what was being used by the players I enjoy I became more and more keen about saving up for an Ampeg.

    Right now I'm rehearsing with the drummer's Ampeg B200R combo and I really enjoy it most of the time. I've been bitten by the big-heavy-amp snake and want more than what I currently have access to. I'm about to move to a new home in the same town, so I think my amp buying window of opportunity is open 'till early January, because the moving will be sponsored by my beloved family but as soon as I'm on my own I will sure as hell spend all that amp money in small "indispensable" commodities.


    • My maximum budget is EUR 2000, it may exchange moderately well into USD, but it's not that much for buying Ampeg here in Europe. Vintage/used US gear is affordable only when shipping to CONUS; and there is no second-hand market for such things in the glorious south of Spain.
    • I'm happy with my correctly set-up Squier and its finger-plucked flatwound strings. I'm such a simpleton and no more money is going to be spent that way in the near future.
    • It may be my only chance to build a decent bass rig for years to come. Awesomeness comes first, size and weight aren't a constraint if worth the effort.
    • It should cut in a punk rock live mix, it's what my current and only band play (although by the lack of roundwounds and picks you may see I'm not very anal about it). I see no problem there. But as soon as I can I'd love to start a reggae/dub band, so it must be able to stand this different approach.
    • Boominess is mainly welcome, I don't mind having to EQ it away if it's the price to pay for being able to achieve some of it at demand.

    I'm also interested in a wide array of styles from early Motown or classic rock (CCR/Skynyrd/anything cover bands must be cliché in the USA, but unheard of right here), to 80's hardcore, but there's nobody in sight eager to play those styles, not to mention stoner/doom, therefore it's not a priority.


    :) First love affair: the hybrid one

    SVT-3 PRO + SVT410 HLF = EUR 1776
    SVT-3 PRO + SVT410 HLF Heritage = EUR 1938

    The first pack I found to be both slightly tubey and affordable. It's been used by some bassists I've heard, it seems to be a noticeable improvement over the borrowed combo I play and I'm not experienced enough to find it underpowered as half of the posters say everywhere. On the other hand, the HLF cab seems to be the choice for a deep bass sound and the many controls of the SVT-3 Pro might be enough to keep the boomy HLF beast tamed.

    I haven't heard with my ears IRL the cheaper/more powerful alternatives like the SVT-7 Pro, so my rack-mounted amp of preference is still the SVT-3. Of course, a challenger always appears...

    :oops: Second love affair: the all-tube tank

    SVT-CL + SVT410 HLF = EUR 1999
    Display unit/Repackaged SVT-CL + SVT410 HLF = 1811 EUR
    Display unit/Repackaged SVT-CL + SVT410 HLF Heritage = 2005 EUR

    OK, I was already in love with the 3 Pro (in its glory and it's quirks, already knew about MOSFET bias and all!) and thinking about how much would a good looking rack box cost when I accidentally discovered two affordable SVT-CLs. So now I could aspire to be the owner of the backline beast every big player rents for gigging around here, the same one I've most heard being played by the pros!

    Tube warmth and goodness is not a newfound secret for me, it's just that I previously thought that my money wouldn't allow me to play in that Ampeg league. I'm sure that a SVT-CL would make me a happy camper, I've tasted it live as a gig goer and tubes are cheap to replace, at least where I live (there are some horror tales of expensive tube replacements in the internet).

    My biggest fear is buying it to later discover that what I want is a SVT-VR or a Heritage (I have no means of trying one of those). It would be hard to find a second-hand buyer for the CL afterwards and it would eventually mean losing money. But they are out of the "save to buy one before you leave home" range, so it must be the SVT-CL or no all-tube SVT at all (for the record: I like its separated gain and master knobs).

    I've also heard nasty things about coupling one of these valve heads with the ported HLF, but the reasons aren't in the reach of my understanding. It should be noted that a sealed SVT-810AV could be obtained here for about the same amount of money as the 410 HLF Heritage (the other 810s are more expensive), making everything a little more confusing.

    :confused: Last-minute contender: the lightweight beauty

    PF-500 + SVT410 HLF = EUR 1186
    PF-500 + SVT410 HLF Heritage = EUR 1380

    And then there's the least expensive, yet most versatile and easy to carry around choice! And with what seems enough power to gig around our relatively small bars without PA. What I've heard through that head doesn't disappoint but I don't know how would it do through the HLF (better than the tube ones?). It might be the more apt head for chaining effects, but I don't want to end up compensating with pedals if the head tone doesn't fulfill my expectations by itself.

    I came to this amp when I thought that having some of those heavy heads I would eventually look for a lighter one to mess around. Could as well start by owning the light one, and gather some real-life experience before I jump into a pricier wagon. Right now the PF seems to have the most satisfied customer base of the three heads I like, but that's probably because it is the most recent of them and haters need their time to hate.

    In conclusion...

    This inane newcomer to the Ampeg world is eager to hear anything you might want to say.
  2. Well, if you've got the choice- SVT-CL & 810 cab will do you forever imo. Can't beat it !(except, maybe a VR- but a CL is no slouch & I'd be very happy with one for as long as I could lift one)
    2nd choice - 7 pro & 810
    3rd - 7 pro & 2 x pf115 cabs
    4th - pf500 & 2 x pf115
    5th - " " 410hlf
    6th - 3 PRO PF115 x2
    7th - 3 Pro 410hlf
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I've used different SVT's into a 410HLF many times, and while I prefer cabs that don't go as low, the tube SVT's sound great with the 410HLF if you're into those big low frequencies. I'm a fan of all those heads, and I own vintage Ampeg tube heads and a PF350 and love them all, and I used to have a 3 Pro and liked it quite well. But for me, the sweet spot of the non-tube Ampeg line is the SVT 7 Pro. Has more wattage than a 410HLF can handle, but that's OK...just don't crank it up past what the cab can take.

    But if you want the all-tuber, the SVT-CL is quite awesome. The VR is slightly better IMHO, but the CL is no slouch by any means.
  4. nateynate

    nateynate Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2011
    Oxford, MS
    I've played an earlier (pre-2000) SVT3-Pro with a 410HLF for years and I love the tone and volume I get from it. I also own the B100R (just a smaller version of the B200R you have been using) and love the tone from it as well. The other guys here have much more experience with the other models you mention, but if you like Ampeg tone, you will most likely be happy with any of these choices. Just factor in weight, portability, and how loud and / or deep you want to get.
  5. All in all, you've got some pretty solid rigs put together there!

    I'm an SVT CL guy, and have a 410HLF, 610HLF, 810E, and a '71 810. The CL sounds great through all of them, and I love that the 410HLF is something I can use for smaller to medium sized venues. If you carry the 410 just right, with the towel bar away from you and leverage the weight against your waist, you (or at least I) can carry it by yourself. That with an SVT is a big enough sounding rig that I can actually carry without help in two trips.

    My only input would be to stay away from the Heritage series. Not because they're bad by any means, that sound great, they're just over-hyped and over-priced. I actually had the opportunity recently to play three 410HLFs side by side - an SLM, a LOUD, and a Heritage. Although all sounded good, there was one standout. As embarrassed as I am to admit it, the LOUD actually sounded best. Peeling back the tolex revealed that the LOUD cab was actually made from plywood, whereas the SLM was OSB. Strange. The T-Nuts and some other little things make the Heritage series seem appealing, but it doesn't manifest itself in tone. Not worth the extra money, at least for the 410HLF cab.

    My vote is for the Display unit/Repackaged SVT-CL + SVT410 HLF = 1811 EUR. Good luck!
  6. Alex1984


    Jan 16, 2010
    I've played the SVT 3 Pros on several occasions but I found them to still be lacking in character even with cranking up the gain and stuff. If going for one of the Pro heads, my choice would be the 7 Pro and possibly an 810 if it's in your budget. The PF500 would be a perfectly good option, too and as mentioned above, it should be great with a pair of 15s.

    Of course, the SVT-CL probably still gets the cake if you don't mind the heavy moving.
  7. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Washington, Utah
    John K Custom Basses
    based on tone alone, i'd get an SVT-VR with an 810 if you can find one within your budget. IMO, after that, you'll never need or want another rig.
  8. Coughdrops

    Coughdrops Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2008
    South Florida
    I'm with JohnK, but given limited availability, the VR seems out of reach at the moment. I say take the SVT-CL with 810 route. It will last a long time and sound great.
  9. For the record, I definitely prefer the tone of the 810 over the 410HLF for sure. If you've people to help you move it, I would suggest saving a little longer and get an 810.
  10. rar plar

    rar plar

    Sep 8, 2010
    I really appreciate all the input.

    The HLF Heritage series is listed in my post but I've never seen one of those around here and the only perk of them I know is their very slightly reduced weight. I've discovered a similarly priced SVT-810E (EUR 995 vs the EUR 969 of the HLF Heritage); that in addition to the SVT-810AV (EUR 1079) I already knew begins to look like a serious contender. It will look like total overkill since the moment it arrives home, but there's enough room for that in the rehearsal place...

    I'll try to see if I'm able to carry around its 26x48x16 inches (maybe having a very wide car will finally begin to pay for itself), and as soon as I know it fits I'll update the original listings with the 810 option. I must say that having the loud fundamentals of the HLF has always looked like the rational choice, but I've enjoyed each and every gig I've gone where a mic'ed 810 beast was behind the bassist (BTW not the most usual approach I've seen, but good sounding nonetheless).

    All in all, I'm gearing towards getting the big CL one. I'll let all this input settle in my head for a copule of months before pulling the trigger, and will keep an eye for any online auction of an SVT-VR that could appear.

    In the meantime, every comment from a fellow TBer is welcome. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.
  11. Alex1984


    Jan 16, 2010
    True, I'm with John too, a VR'd be the best head if you can find one. Also, I didn't like the 410HLF nearly as much as an 810. If you go for the cheaper SVT 7 Pro or VR and get an 810, that'd be a sweet rig right there.
  12. jackcheez


    Sep 13, 2010
    Long Beach, CA
    If it's any help, I've used and SVT-CL with a 610 HLF for years with pleasureable results. :)

    be well
  13. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    Man that was a complicated/well organized post to read through.


    You wont ever need another head until you want something light. Cabs... they can come and go or be replaced/added depending on volume needs.
  14. awakefie

    awakefie Supporting Member

    Jul 14, 2008
    Colorado Springs, CO
    FWIW, your English is better than mine, and English is my native language. :oops:
  15. rar plar

    rar plar

    Sep 8, 2010
    Steam came from my brain thinking about the options again and again. Messing with the new place and some heavy houseware coming in and out (1st floor after the mezzanine, stairs without elevator) came with an added enlightenment about lightweight gear. I read those optimistic remarks about weight not being an issue in the original post and think I've grown a bunch of decades older since then; maybe because my back has an octogenarian road-worn finish :D

    I'm also starting to like the SVT-7 Pro, and right now I'm seriously considering getting one and pairing it with a Barefaced Big Twin T cab. Seems pretty obtainable within budget and versatile enough for whatever I might need right now or in the future. I'm glad that some of you mentioned the 7 Pro because I'd missed it otherwise.
  16. lfbassguy


    Jul 4, 2010
    west texas
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland
    i was thinking the same thing.
  17. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Without having heard it, but trusting Alex's ears and design concept, this is exactly what I would put together now as a great and fairly lightweight version of an absolute classic sounding rig.

    I love my '73 SVT (I mean, really, really, love it), but if I didn't have a back-up for smaller stages and as a security blanket, I wouldn't want to rely on it as a my sole amplifier.

    If I didn't own a Bergantino NV610 I'd be eagerly anticipating the '69er, that's for sure.

    The was I see it, if you are willing to spring for a used VR you might as well get a vintage 70's SVT instead, as long as it has been cared for and is in stock condition, or returned to stock. They sound the same but the old ones were built more ruggedly.
  18. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    I played an SVT-CL into an older Ampeg 810 for a couple years and much preferred it tonally to the SVT-3 and SVT 4 I owned before it. I think these days out of your given options I'd probably go for an SVT-7 though (I guess that wasn't officially on your narrowed down list, but I would recommend trying to audition one if you can!), as I feel like I could get in the ballpark of most of the clean tones of the SVT-CL with more headroom available in a much smaller and lighter package. I definitely don't dig the overdrive of the SVT-7 as much as a pushed CL, but that doesn't necessarily seem to apply to your needs from what you have written.
  19. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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