Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Different series of vintage SVTs

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Eric Cioe, Feb 23, 2006.


  1. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    Just some old SVT questions:

    1969-1972 was the blueline amp.
    1972-1975 was the blackline amp.
    1975-1979 was the blackline amp with white rockers.
    After 1979, it was redone in the black case?

    Where did the "vintage SVT" tone fall off? I guess I've always been under the impression that the best ones were made from 1969-1975, but what were the differences between all of these series? Is a white rocker SVT inferior to the series prior to it?

    Thanks for the help, SVT dudes.
     
  2. I could be very wrong, but i think they key times when the SVT tone changed was when the company changed hands, but, im not sure when that is, sorry!
     
  3. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    I think that was 1986 or 1987, when SLM bought them out. That's when they did the Skunkworks SVTs, the limited run of 500.
     
  4. metron

    metron Fluffy does not agree

    Sep 12, 2003
    Lakewood Colorado
    The first year or two had odd output tubes. Lots of those have been modded for 6550s. After something like 1971 with the change to 6550s I think the amp was pretty much the same until Magnavox was sold to MTI in 1980. SVT production was moved to Japan for the MTI era. Some parts were changed, mainly the transformers.
     
  5. metron

    metron Fluffy does not agree

    Sep 12, 2003
    Lakewood Colorado
    There were two major changes in the company, when Magnavox was bought by MTI in 79-80 and in the mid 80s when SLM bought MTI. Of course Magnavox bought the Ampeg company but I think that was right around the time the SVT was first released.

    The skunkworks run of SVTs are supposed to me more like the 70s Magnavox then the MTI amps.
     
  6. svtb15

    svtb15 Commercial User

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig
    I think many believe that the primo ones were the ones from 1969-1971 ish.. Those were the ones with the 6146 power tubes. They were before the 6550s.
    I had a 1970 with the 6146, it was the best sounding one I ever played but for me i had a few failures.. I sold it and years later saw it in a music store with the 6550 conversion... I now have a 1972 and redoing a 1974 ish top to bottom.
    I understand that there was a time in the mid 1980s that the japanese were making the SVT and they had a high failure rate from everyone I knew. Always in the shop and blowing up. Then SLM came in and created the skunkworks and made them the best they have ever had but tried to get from under the bad name that they got from the MIJ era ones.. Also GK was coming out about then with their light GK 800 and people were moving over to them. I think that is where people forgot what tone was all about.. Mark that date in history...
    I was doing a major tour in 1989 and Ampeg approached me to use the NEW SVT2 tube head. I was very skeptical since the bad rep that the SVT got from that Mid 80s era... But I went with it. Those original non-pro SVT2 heads were on from 3pm at setup to end of show 11pm in large arena settings. Went around the world 3 times on planes, cargo ships, trucks, cold to hot, forklifts, etc. I NEVER had a failure. Thats the SVT2 is the rack version and I still have my main one today and use it all the time.. It sounds closest to my 1972, but the new SVT2 Pro is not even close in my opinion....
    Milage may differ...
     
  7. Did you observe this firsthand or is this just another repeated story? Having worked on ALL of the SVT's incarnations, the MTI's are hands-down the best built with the best components, and build quality: Elena caps, ceramic stand-offs for the resistors, a much heavier bus wiring than their US counterparts. Think about it; Japan was an electronics powerhouse in the 1980's. Why should anything they made be inherently inferior? I have kept quiet about it for the most part because having the MTI's be undesirable means you can pick them up cheaper, but with Loud putting out the VR, pretty much all old SVT's are going to be about the same.
     
  8. timv

    timv Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Chandler, AZ
    The MTI ones also had more can type capacitors mounted to the chassis so internally they were a bit less cluttered. I've worked on 2 different ones of them that both had the midrange switch wired incorrectly though...
     
  9. metron

    metron Fluffy does not agree

    Sep 12, 2003
    Lakewood Colorado
    I have also heard from one experienced tech that the MTIs are superior.
     
  10. Rickenbackerman

    Rickenbackerman

    Apr 17, 2001
    Laurel MD
    Wow, ya learn something new every day. I've never worked on an MTI-era head, so I had no idea.

    Psycho, any comments on the trannies used in the MTI heads versus the Electrical Windings trannies from the 70's?
     
  11. Hell yeah, the SVT-II's are ace!
     
  12. svtb15

    svtb15 Commercial User

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig
    My friend owned a shop on Long Island, New York called Soundtronics.The SVT that you decribed I think the MTI version were always being repaired there. Caps blew quite often from what I remember.. and they smelled like fish after that happened, Could have been transformers too.. Two rehersal studios in NYC often had their black SVTs in repair.. as well as SIR Studio Instrument Rentals, but the 70s ones were always up and making them money..So i would bring my own Alembic F2B and Crown poweramp to that studio for rehersals through their 8x10 cab.. Instead of using the GK 800 that was becoming popular around 1985 or so and a staple amp at rehearsal rooms...So I have first hand experience with the dilema as well as the amp tech...As well as one MTI at Ninos rehearsal in Long Island that always blew fuses.. I think it belonged to joan jetts bassplayer at the time.
    I remember it well, it was a bad era for them.. But the maybe that was only SVTs that were sent to the NY market.. haha.
     
  13. But PBG, we had a pact man! A pact I tell ya! You swore me to secrecy. Oh well, I guess now I can let the cat out of the bag too :ninja: since I built up the stock-pile already.

    See ya all on Ebay!!!

    :smug: