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Contemplating the tube head route....

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Smit_Dogg, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. Smit_Dogg


    May 17, 2009
    Cumbria, UK
    Hello fellow TB'ers,

    I've been an avid solid state user for a good decade now. Currently using the Mark Bass LM3 with a 2x10 and 1x15 Mark Bass Traveller cabs. But lately I've had the GAS urge to use an all tube head. I was wondering if it would be worth while considering my current playing habits. I'm mostly playing in a original/covers unit that plays around 10 times a year and been offered a position in 2014 with a very busy covers unit. I do really love my lm3 but think I could achieve a much better sound going the valve head route. I'm thinking of getting the Ashdown ctm100 (with being a brit) and maybe an ampeg as secondary measures. Was wondering what the rest of you fellow bass enthusiast think?
  2. David Hayes

    David Hayes Guest

  3. Clammy


    Nov 3, 2008
    Ottawa, Canada
    Endorsing Artist: Neal Moser Guitars, DR Strings
    Marshall VBA 400 + 2x VBC 412 or VBC 810. :D :D :D

  4. First, every bass player should own and use an all tube head at least once. Second, don't let go of what you have now until you played one at least several months to know if you really like it better.
  5. 300w in preference to 100w. The guys swearing by 100w tube amps all run 8x10 with a handy sensitivity advantage.
  6. What B-String said, then what David Hayes said.

    People love Sunn, Traynor, Ampeg, Fender (the Bassman 100T has a lot of very, very satisfied customers), Mesa, Ashdown, Orange, Marshall, etc., even Matchless. I personally dig the SVT sound.

    I can also lift two of myself without getting hurt.. ymmv.
  7. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Don't go into this blind. You owe to yourself to do your homework, then go to shops and try as many different amps and cabs as you can.

    Sometimes the band has a preference. In some cases, since they are hiring you, they might want to dictate what sort of sound you should have. Also, find out if you will need a DI.
  8. David Hayes

    David Hayes Guest

  9. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Totally spoilt for nice valve amps in the UK, if you are anywhere near Bristol, welcome to come have a go with a bunch of my collection. Idea of the sort of sound you are after would be a good start.
  10. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Your current rig will do the job just fine, but tube amps are a whole new dimension. I spent 20 years using tube amps exclusively, then I went hybrid for a few years because I didn't think I could handle moving an SVT and 810 for all the one nighters I suddenly had booked when I joined my current band, but I missed tube amps so much I went back to them in 2008 and never looked back. Sure, I have small amps for when the situation dictates, so I'd hang onto your current rig in case you need to be small, but I'll do the lifting for the tube amps because they're that much better IMHO.
  11. Was invited to play w/ long term musician friends, at a festival downtown, about 4 yrs ago. The backline was equipped with an Ampeg all tube head and an 810.

    It was the voice of God.

    I'm sure there are other makes and models that do nicely, but that was a sound I'll never forget...
  12. What speakers will you be using? The following info from the barefacedbass.com site explains why this is worth some thought if using an amp with a tube power section.

    "Valve amps are nothing like solidstate amps. Getting maximum power out of them relies on matching the output transformer tap's impedance with the cab's impedance as closely as possible. However, a 4 ohm or 8 ohm cab is actually only nominally 4 or 8 ohm. The actual impedance varies hugely across the frequency range. The more this varies from the nominal impedance, the harder a time your valve amp has producing its full power. It may even shorten the life of the power valves."

    No question a great all-tube amp sounds best, but if I were playing in a very busy band, I'd probably buy lighter, ultra-efficient modern cabs and power them with a lightweight high powered solid state power amp racked with a good-sounding tube preamp and a power conditioner, and I'd keep an identical rack on the truck.
  13. webmonster


    May 19, 2013
    New Zealand
    How big are the venues?
    Do you like new stuff or vintage amps?
    Efficient (probably new) cabs will do wonders.
  14. Smit_Dogg


    May 17, 2009
    Cumbria, UK
    Thanks for the feedback guys I've read through all replies thoroughly. I was never intending on selling or trading in my current rig just "adding" a tube head to my arsenal.

    I'm well aware that Ampeg are classed as the holy grails, but I've also got to think about repairs/servicing/parts etc would they be costly with Ampeg being an American brand and me being based in the UK?

    The reason why I would prefer to get a 100w over the 300w Ashdown rig is so I can get the driving sound and use more of the amp's room. I don't want to be buying an amp I can't turn above notch one on the volume and sounding too clean a tone. Am I right with that belief/theory?

    Also I'm a little concerned as to how a tube head would mate with my current cabs, would it be worth investing in a 2x12 cab also to stack between my current two and run at 2ohms... so effectively I'd have 2x10s at the top, 2x12s in the middle and a 1x15 at the bottom... Or would this be overkill?!
  15. You are correct. I have Fender 300 pro head(300 watts) that I'll never have loud enough to get that true overdriven tube sound. Love the huge, clean headroom though.
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The parts they use are pretty common and should be easily found in any country at a comparable price. And if you get a new one, they would certainly have authorized tech shops that can handle your warranty issues.
  17. I use a peavey vb-2 right now, veeeery versatile tube amp.
  18. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    Based in the UK, you say?
    Orange. Orange. Orange. Orange.
  19. Smit_Dogg


    May 17, 2009
    Cumbria, UK
    Not a fan of Orange sorry. Tried a few , most notably the tiny terror head , i felt it was nice and warm sounding but lacked note clarity/definition. No matter how much top end I applied..
  20. If you're in the UK might as well get the real thing and go for a Matamp ;)