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Do I need an Ampeg SVT all tube head???

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Turlu, Jan 19, 2021.

  1. For well over two years now, I have been more than happy with my MarkBass Jeff Berlin combo sitting on top of a New York Cab 115. Still, to this day, I think that having an Ampeg SVT all tube ( like a CL, or a VR, an AV model ) or a V4BH would satisfy my hunger for the warmth of the tubes in all their glory.....

    I use a Darkglass VMT at the front of my current rig and truly enjoy the nice overdriven tone thus far.

    Would I be more satisfied with an Ampeg SVT for instance??? Is it worth to haul such a beast around for that Tone??

    I know this is the standard of all bass amps out there, I just don't want to invest in something that I may find too subtle of a difference to truly appreciate it.

    Let me know your thoughts!!
    tony caskey and EatS1stBassist like this.
  2. The difference is surely there, but is it worth carrying etc... to you, that's the question.
    Remember also, the cab is a big part of the 'SVT tone', it may not sound the way you're thinking it will thru Mark Bass cabs.
    If I were going that route, I'd be factoring in either a Berg NV cab, or an Ampeg SVT212AV or two, or an SVT810 to go with it.

    Or, like I did, get a Fender Super Bassman, (which, in my opinion, sounds just as good, and is 20lbs lighter) and a Berg NV or HG cab
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
  3. Tubes are good. Personally I am a fan.

    That being said they are costly to replace and modern day tubes just don't live for anywhere near as long as they used to.

    Are you satisfied with your current tone? In my opinion tubes aren't always inherently warmer. Sure there are sonic/tonal differences between tubes and solid state but generally in a band mix it is often negligible unless you are pushing the power amp.

    Whether you would be MORE satisfied..? No idea. I am satisfied with my Orange AD200 and I am satisfied with my GK 700RB-II. Tubes definitely aren't some sort of magic shortcut to perfect tone.

    YMMV :D
    Michael Bauer, SirMjac28 and Meaculpa like this.
  4. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    The first thing to figure out is what makes you hunger for tubes? If it's reading a bunch of hyperbole and hyped up nonsense about tubey goodness, then you may be heading down the wrong rabbit hole.

    There are a range of different qualities that tube amps posses. In order to decide which amp will best suit your needs, you need to identify the range of tubey qualities and figure out what they do for the sound and feel of an amp. After that you can consider the balance of tubey qualities that you are looking for. The idea is different tube amps have their own unique tubey personality, and without discussing the specific balance of characteristics you are looking for, it's impossible to determine if you an Ampeg tube amp is the best choice for you or not. For example, An SVT and a Hiwatt tend to have very different personalities, but they are both tubey delicious in their own way.

    Now if you have tried a couple of Ampeg tube amps and just loved the sound, it's a different matter. Then you need to balance cost, weight, power, and specific features.

    An Ampeg SVT and 810E has a certain sound that people either tend to love or not. Millions of bassist consider this combination the gold standard of bass amplification. This rig is sort of a living legend as it has been around since 1969.

    IMHO the 810E is more responsible for the sound than the SVT because it is one of the most heavily voiced, least transparent cabs you can buy. By "least transparent" I mean pretty much any head you play through an 810E is going to sound fairly similar.

    If you use a more transparent cab, you will hear more of the subtle differences between each head and bass. I own two vintage SVTs and think they are great...I personally hate playing through the 810E, and I am not alone. But I don't really think it's my place to say the 810E sucks. How could it suck if millions of players love it so much. Try the rig out and make up your own mind.

    The best way for you figure out the answer is to hunt down and play through the amps you are interested in. All of us have a different idea of how bass should sound. If I think a rig sounds awesome and rave about it, there is no guarantee that you will agree, so please don't take my word for it. Try the amp and form your own opinion.

    If you can't try before you buy, try to read through the hyperbole. Many people who love SVTs are very tribal about it and think it's the perfect amp for every person in every occasion. Anyone who disagrees is considered an idiot. The true believers will use every positive subjective modifier in the book to describe how great the SVT and 810E is, but many of them cannot tell you very much about the rig that is objective. Even worse, many grossly exaggerate the rig's capabilities--and actually believe what they are saying is true.

    IMHO it's about a 300W amp and it plays about as loud as any other 300W amp. If your guitar player has 100W half stack you can give him/her a good run for the money with an SVT and 810, but anyone who says they can crush a 100W Marshall with an SVT is trash talking or ignorant of what is really going on. For the record I own a couple of vintage 100W Marshalls and a 1960AX/BX full stack, so I know exactly how loud these amps can play. They can easily bury my SVTs.

    If you want to understand why a 100W Marshall sounds louder than a 300W SVT you need to consider two factors. 1. Guitar speakers are more efficient than bass speakers, so they make more volume with less power. 2. Our ears are most sensitive to mid range frequencies. Because of this, if the guitar and bass are at the same volume, the guitar will actually be perceived as louder. Google and read about the Fletcher Munson curve.

    Here's another helpful little tidbit...the decibel change produced by increasing the power from 100W to 300W is about 4.77dB. The general rule is you need a 3dB change to hear the difference. So increasing the power from 100W to 300W produces a noticeable change, but it's not a huge jump in volume.

    It might seem like I am bashing on tube amps, but I am not, I just want you to make an informed choice instead of making a bad decision based on hype like I did. Back in the early 80s, I special ordered an MTI SVT and 810 after doing a bunch of research. I had never seen or heard an SVT, but all the articles I read gave it such glowing reviews. When the amp came in I actually though something was wrong with it, but since it was special ordered I was pretty much stuck with it. Every SVT and 810 I have played since then has sounded pretty much the same. The rig was perfect, it's just not my sound.

    For the record, I own 28 amps and approximately 2/3rds of them would be considered all tube. I believe all but three have tubes in the preamps. So I have plenty of love for tubes.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
  5. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Hey, friend up North! You'll never know till you have your mitts on one to spend time with, getting to know what it's like, right? ;)

    The way I tried was a gig Rare Blend did in the mid '00s. We opened for the Average White Band at a wonderful venue called Lock3Live, in Akron, Ohio. The sound company provided a couple different backline amps for me to use, so I checked out the Blue Line SVT.

  6. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Seanto and baxter_x like this.
  7. If you can use the power it is worth it.
    Evanforbass likes this.
  8. Thanks!!! I would consider an Ampeg SVT 212 actually to go with the Tone monster!! That would be a great setup in my opinion!!!!
  9. Oh wow!! What a great great description of the tube world my friend!! Very appreciated!!!
    Wasnex and Green Hornet like this.
  10. That is one aspect to consider. Do they really shine when pushed hard or not??? I would not need crashing volume per say.
  11. lbbc


    Sep 25, 2007
    Seaford , DE
    Need and want are 2 different things. I had an SVT w/810 cab. I thought I needed it and It sounded AMAZING. After more than a few gigs I determined that it wasn't worth schlepping it around. I sold it and bought a Genz Benz 212 neo cabinet and a GB 6.0 12T head and was very satisfied with the sound and portability.
    Wasnex, red_rhino and GroovyBaby like this.
  12. sedan_dad

    sedan_dad Suspended

    Feb 5, 2006
    Are you gigging? Can it pay for it's self? There's your answer.
    BadJazz and shoot-r like this.
  13. Roxbororob

    Roxbororob Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2015
    Personally I love SVT & fridge (V4B better for me...I miss mine so much) but am very quite happy with my little YBA100 (really enough for me these days).

    I suggest you invest in a rental from Long & McQuade, send the family out for a skate day on the canal (dont know if this applies to you) and find out for yourself. You will get to try out the load in/out as well as the tone.
  14. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    For anyone who has time to read it, this is a great post that, aside from the original topic, also accurately sheds light on a lot of the advice put forth on TalkBass.
  15. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Ab SVT sounds wonderful. I'll happily play one if it is backlined, but I would never haul one around.

    One other thing. They only sound great when they are LOUD. For many weekend warrior gigs, you don't need (or necessarily want) LOUD.
    pbassnut, stretch80 and WillieB like this.
  16. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL

  17. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Owned one of those (head only) in HS ca. 1981. I was so not worthy, in either playing ability or physique. I'm still not.
  18. Nighttrain1127

    Nighttrain1127 Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2004
    Near Worcester MA
    Well Said Wasnex. Just to add a bit from personal experience if you are looking for some power tube breakup you will be extremely loud by the time you get it from am SVT. Yes you can get some great sounding grind from the pre but it is just not the same. I have and have played through many amps and cabs and none of the heads have the Authority and impact of the SVT. I have a 70's Blueline and a 74 and just got a 50th Anniversary Heritage. Also have a Super Bassman 300 (not to be confused with the 300 PRO) A PF-50T and a Peavey Alpha Bass so I like tubes . As Wasnex said there are many flavors of tube heads so if you can try before you buy that is the best. I have played my SVT's through many cabs and IMHO they sound the best through Bergantino NV series cabs the 610 was the best followed closely by the 412 and the 215.
  19. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    If you are “pushing” an SVT, you’re playing to loud, unless you’re in a stadium. I’ve played some really big clubs and outdoor festivals and when I was playing an SVT, never got it over 3. If you’re playing in a place big enough to push an SVT, you’re probably being mic’d by a sound man, who is looking for a low stage volume.

    If you have the money and a strong back, go for it.
  20. baxter_x


    Nov 27, 2013
    @Wasnex awesome input once again. And I totally share your view on the Ampeg 810 ;)

    @Turlu To me all tube amps carry a lot of voodoo and myths. Yes it's great amps, but you can also find a great tone with solid state amps for a fraction of the weight. The best example that comes to my mind is the Ampeg SVT 7 Pro
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
    Wasnex likes this.
  21. 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.

    Mar 3, 2021

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