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Combo or PreAmp ?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by PaulF, Dec 27, 2004.

  1. PaulF


    Nov 17, 2004

    I've got some cash together (and some more coming from gigs in Jan) and I've decided I need to upgrade my amp setup.

    I'm currently using a Carlsbro 90w (I think) Combo with a 12" speaker. The thing is the Preamp (the whole front panel) was dead, so I just plug straight into the power amp on the back. (I can't complain, I got the amp for free :smug: !!). I use a Behringer MIC100 tube preamp thing to boost the gain enough to drive the power amp, and rely on the tone controls on my bass (it's active) to give me tone controls.

    It all works OK, and is pretty quiet (noise / hum wise) but I would like a 'decent' amp with 'proper' tone controls and/or a Graphic EQ.

    I'm thinking of trying out an Ashdown Electric Blue Combo (12" or 15") or the Roland Cube100, or maybe one of the Hartke Kickback combo's (but they seem to be a little more expensive).

    Alternatively I could get a decent preamp (Sansamp RBI / BDDI or something similar) and then run that into either the Carlsbro amp as I do now, or alternatively I have a Studiomaster 2x350W Rack Power Amp I could use if I wanted more power (but obvioulsy that will probably lead onto me needing new / more Speaker cabinets).

    So, do I go for a Combo or Pre/Power amp setup ? I'm only looking to spend £250-£300 ish at the moment, but I'd rather not spend it on something that I'll be dissatisifed with in 6-12 months and then have to sell it on.

    Has anyone had the opportunity to compare the Roland Cube or Ashdown Electric Blue against a Sansamp RBI ??
    Is the speaker and cabinet in the Roland / Ashdown likely to be better quality than my Carlsbro cabinet ??
    Do either the Ashdown or Roland have bi-amping options / outputs ??

    Any suggestions, opinions or ideas would be great.


  2. If you go modular you can build up over time....

    get the RBI now... when you can afford a cab get that and use your power amp.

    you'll most likely wanna upgrade that power amp after a while and the maybe you could look at getting something with a bit more power and something with a bit more quality!

    the RBI is a proven bit of kit that loads of people use here and it is alot more flexible than a smal ashdown or roland combo.

    ofcourse that's just my view...

  3. +1
  4. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i second the vote for going modular.
    here's an interesting question. What's your ultimate reason for wanting to change amps or "upgrade"? I'm assuming as you're gigging that your combo with the external preamp is doing the job volume wise. If you're just looking for a little more tonal flexibility for right now then i would say go get the preamp. If you feel you need more power now, i would get a good bass cabinet and use it with the poweramp you have now and the little tube mic pre you have been using. Then later you can upgrade to a powerful head, or a bass preamp to use with the poweramp you have. If you're thinking that you just want a good more powerful combo in the future then maybe you should stick to what you have and save your $$.
    I would really eveluate what your long term plans/goals for an amp are before i made any purchases.
  5. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Ring up another vote for modular. I used the Eden Metro combo for the past couple years, and I loved it. But, my upgrade options were limited.

    I'll tell you what though....if you know what you want, and don't need to upgrade, get a combo. There is something to be said for carrying in one piece of equipment, and just turning it on and playing. No cables to plug in and carry around. No compatibility issues, the amp is already perfectly paired with the speakers.....that can mean alot.

    The Ashdown combo you are considering is excellent. I have no experience with the Roland, but people that own them seem to like them.

  6. PaulF


    Nov 17, 2004
    Thanks for all the advice.

    I'd begun to think that 'modular' was the way to go a while back, and loads of people on here seem to rate the Sansamp fairly highly.
    My concern is the limited tone controls on it (the BDDI only has Treb and bass, and the RBI only adds a Mid control). Is this thing really that flexible ? or is it a preamp with one 'really good' sound that a lot of people like ??
    What other alternatives are there for a PreAmp (in a similar sort of price range) ?
    How do the Roland FX pedals rate in the preamp dept (ME-50B or GT6B - I know they're predominately FX pedals, but they both have amp and/or OD sections with Bass Mid Treb controls, so are they comparable to a Sansamp ??)
    Also, what's anyones opinion on the Ashdown MAG300 Head (which I presume is a Pre and Power amp combined) - would this be something to consider ?

    IvanMike - you pose an interesting question 'what do I want' - the answer being I don't really know.
    Your suggestion for buying a decent bass cabinet is an alternative I hadn't consdered - although I'm concerned by matt_dutyfree's comment about probably needing to upgrade my StudioMaster amp to something with more quality - I've found it to be a superb amp, and very good for my Electric Dum Kit (when driving my Peavy cabinets at 4ohms) - is this amp not considered 'high quality' ???

    Thanks again for all your help and suggestions - please keep them coming !


  7. I don't really have much experience with the studiomaster power amp... I sorta jumped the gun... It's like IvanMike was saying you really have to consider the future. It may be that a 350watt power amp will be fine in the long run for you but most people on TB would consider a 350watt power amp to be bare minimum! But on the other hand "most people" on TB have crasy rigs cos' thats what they need!

    my point was by going the pre/power route you can upgrade your power amp at a later date if you ever need it! if you went with the MAG300 you would be stuck with that! however I use a Trace AH300 and for me that kills... the trace though did seems to sound like it has many many more watts than the ashdown head though when i tested them side by side!
  8. PaulF


    Nov 17, 2004
    OK Matt - thanks for the clarification

    I can't see me needing more than 2x350W in the near future (the pubs round here aren't that big !!!) :)

    Cheers for the advice - much appreciated.

  9. Doesn't hurt to have a small, decent plug-and-play combo.

    I'll vouch for the Ashdown EB 112 180. Cheap, warm-sounding, light weight and loud enough to keep up on backline. Effects loop for your Sansamp. The older british ones sell new for about $330 USD.

    Racks are impractical and overkill for many people, much of the time.

    Everybody needs a small decent combo, even super duper famous bass players.