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Fender Bassman 400

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Ryan L., Sep 14, 2000.

  1. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Just wondering if anyone has had any experience with a Fender Bassman 400 head, and could give me a little input on what you think of them.
    I had played through one last night. It was going through a Fender Bassman 4x10 cab and a Bassman 1x15 cab. I was quite impressed with the sound I got out of it without having much time to experiment with it.
    Just kind of curious to see what other people have to say about them.

  2. I'll be blunt.. I think Fender bass amps have gone downhill. Working in a music store, I get to try out a TON of gear. I was excited when Fender announced it was re-issuing the bassman. All the lit was hyping it to be the best of the best. When it finally hit my shop, I was sadly dissapointed. I thought the sound was ok at best. I ran it next to simalar amps in the same price range (Peavey Firebass, Ampeg SVT-350, Used GK Rb800) and the bassman just didn't do it for me. I thought the Ampeg had more balls and the GK (which was in mint shape) cut through better. I think Fender is skating by on just the name with this one... I hope I didn't offend anyone. It's just my opinions..

  3. One man's poison is another man's passion. That's why there are so many different amps out there :)

    I love my Bassman 400 combo. For ME, it has remarkable tone, lots of volume, and is everything I require. I don't happen to agree at all that the new Bassmans "skate by". They use quality speakers (Eminence), are very solidly constructed, have lots of power, good features sets, and have very clean and robust amplifier construction internally, with a five year warranty. Now if the tone doesn't blow up your skirt or you think they're ugly, nothing wrong with that, but these are well designed, and well-made amps. To give one the impression that they are substandard or lacking in construction and quality is just plain wrong.

    And, nope I'm not offended ;)
  4. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    I had more time on one this weekend. Not as impressed as I initially thought that I was the first time I played through it. I guess that I will stick with my Peavey Firebass/810tx setup.
    And yes, I agree with you, Slaphappy, that one man's poison is another man's passion. What sounds good to me might sound like #@!% to you, and vice-versa.
  5. toms


    Aug 22, 2000
    I guess I've said enough about the Fender Combo 400, but how about one more time...

    This amp have remarkable bottom end for a 210 setup. I took one home from the music shop to try it, thinking "there is no way I'm buying another Fender bass amp" but, the salesman told me I would be impressed... Well, I was very impressed with the sound pressure level of this little box. The tone can be changed to fit all kinds of music, the compressor is not bad either. I've been using a Furman Sound compressor for years, this compressor you can't screw up. It has several features that are quite useful like, bal. line out pre/post EQ, loop for outboard gear,tuner out, foot switchable EQ, single space rack mount for out board gear. Oh yeh, it won't break your back lugging it to and from gigs.

    The amp cannot hang with a 810 setup, but it wasn't designed to. You can get tons of stage volume(feel bass) with this amp and let the house system take care of the rest. It will give the SWR Red Top a good run for the money, BTW it list for about $1000.00 less than the SWR. You could take it home for around $1100.00.
  6. Since I just auditioned one of these combos this weekend, I thought a resurrection of this thread was in order. So here's a (hopefully ;) ) short review:

    Construction: Very solidly built, seems like it could withstand pretty much any usual gigging-type abuse. The side dish-type handles are very comfortable, and placed PERFECTLY for lifting. Even weighing 80lbs, it's a breeze to lift into the back of my Civic Hatchback. The pop-out casters make moving it to and from the car a breeze, no more grunting or looking for a dolly! :) Changed my 3 trip load in to a one trip one. It has an integral one rack space slot for effects or a tuner which is quite functional and nice, but would be nicer if there were a bit more clearance between the bottom of the amp and top of the cabinet section. Plugging in the power supply to my tuner was an exercise in "how small can you make your hand", a bit tight to reach the back of the tuner with the power plug. Output is 350 watts @ 4 ohms, there is only one output on the back, so you can't use the internal speakers with an external cabinet (sensible as it's only rated to work with a 4 ohm load, which is what the internal speakers are). The metal front grill looks like it will hold up to mondo abuse, and overall I find its looks quite appealing, sharp dressed combo.

    Controls: Yeesh!! Knobs galore, a real twiddler's delight. The 3-band semi-parametric EQ should give any bassist tons of useful tones, and is switchable via either a front panel button or an included foot switch. There's also an EQ output control, so you could use the EQ section as a boost for solos if so desired. I experimented with it for a while at home and had a blast, but never used it at the gigs, because I was able to get good tone using just the high and low shelving controls in conjunction with the room balance control, which seems to move the over-all EQ either towards the treble or bass, depending on how you move the knob. There's an "enhance" button, which seems to boost the highs and lows while cutting the mids, but I didn't care for the tone it imparted, mainly a loss of definition to my ears, so it didn't get much use. The compressor is a simple one knob jobbie, but seems to work very well without "squashing" your tone, even at extreme settings. At moderate settings (I gigged with it on 2-3), it was very musical, evening things out a bit while remaining very un-obtrusive. There is a mute button on the front panel right next to the master volume control which shuts off signal to the power section and the DI out, while still sending signal to the tuner out on the back. Very useful, but as it's not footswitchable it's not "perfect".
    On the back panel there are outputs/inputs for effects send/recieve, footswitch jack, tuner out, DI out with output control, ground lift switch, cooling fan (with vents in the front panel), and the main out jack.

    Sound: Well, when I was noodling about with it in my practice room at home, A/B'ing it with my trusty and reliable Peavey rig (T-Max head, two 210txf cabinets),the Peavey sounded a bit more smooth and polite, and I was a bit concerned about gigging with it. It has plenty of low end (and I love lows, I live on my B string :) ), nice focused mids, and mondo top with the tweeter cranked (I like the tweeter attenuator at about 25%). But, on the gig, it actually preformed excellently, cut through (which in an 8 piece band is something to be happy about) very well, and sounded great. Everyone was happy with the tone, and there wasn't an noticeable loss of stage volume with the 210 vs. the two 210 setup I normally use. It was just the right combination of "warm" and "cutting" onstage, and was actually more audible than the Peavey rig I generally use. As was pointed out elsewhere, it can't compete with a big rig, but for small to medium gigs it's perfect, plenty of volume and great overall tone.

    Overall, I dig it bigtime. The list price on it is $1299, which as someone noted is considerably less than similar combos from SWR and Eden, I've seen "street" prices of ~$919 at Sam Ash and Mars. At that price, this is a steal, IMO. Of course since my bandleader is also a Fender dealer, so......:D.

    Now all I have to do is work out a deal with my wife, she says I get a new amp, she gets a puppy! :rolleyes: Do y'all think the argument that the amp won't wet the carpets and since it's got a 5 year warranty we won't need to spend any money at the "vet" on the amp will convince her to drop the puppy clause? :D
  7. ".. I think Fender bass amps have gone downhill. "

    Not much downhill to go... the old tube amps were underpowered and the BXR were not quality stuff, excepting the BXR25. The Bassman 400 is the best amp for the weight I have seen.
  8. toms


    Aug 22, 2000
    I agree with your response regarding the Fender Combo 400.
    Question: What level did you run the master? I run the master around 12:00 to 1:00, and that gets pretty loud. Our band tends to have alot of stage volume, and the 400 will hang in there. I guess everyone will have a different reference to "loud", I was interested in your comments because you said it was good for a small to medium size gig.

    This weekend we did an outdoor show and the sound company provided a SWR 750 with SWR's 410w/bullet cab. I used it because of all the buz about SWR, and I thought the Fender would not produce enough SPL for an outdoor gig. Well... it might have been a little louder, as for tone, I'll take the Fender. Standing within four feet of the SWR it sounded great, Six to eight feet, the bottom went to mush. I had the monitor mixer to load up my monitor with bass and kick to get back some of the punch I lost when I walked up to my mic.

    Anyway, I can't help but think the Fender would have done as good of a job in that situation, at less than half the cost.(I'm gonna hear it from all you die-hard SWR guys...sorry)

  9. toms -

    I was running the gain at ~3 and the master at 2 Saturday night. This band doesn't play particularly loud onstage as a rule, and Sat was a wedding gig so we were fairly quiet. Friday nite was a casino gig (a bit louder), and I had the volume at just about the same levels. I found myself backing off the volume control on the bass a bit at times even so, this thing has beaucoup headroom :).

    Something I did to help with hearing myself onstage was to raise the amp off the stage a bit. This weekend I just used a milk crate, but if I do buy the amp (which seems likely at this point), I'll also get a good amp stand for it. That way I can kinda point it at my head, making it easier to hear myself without having my volume blasting everyone else off the stage. I honestly think that this amp would be a good choice for almost any sized gig, if the FOH sound is taking a feed from a DI, either seperate or the nice one built into the amp. The level control for the DI is a nice touch, sure made the soundman/drummer/bandleader/Fender dealer happy on the gigs over the weekend :D. The small to medium sized gig comment was meant to be in reference to using the amp by itself to fill the room, sans sound reinforcement. It will easily keep up with a loud drummer, I'm betting.

    One thing that may make a difference for overall SPL is the electronics in your bass. If you're using a passive bass, the output of the bass will be considerably lower than an active bass. If you're using an active bass and pushing the "active" button on the front of the amp, you're dropping your input level by about 6 dB (I think...), which is pretty considerable. I am running an active bass (EMG DC's w/BQC preamp) and NOT pushing the active input button on the amp. I prefer to use the gain control itself to achieve the same result.

    Oh and I agree about SWR, I guess some people dig them, but for me they're over-hyped and under-toned. I tried one out when I bought my Peavey rig, and to my ears the Peavey wasted it, for less than half the cash. But hey, if someone's using SWR and happy, then more power to them, but they didn't do it for me (especially the Goliath series 410's...UGH!!!:p)

    Andy, you're dead right, the Bassman series almost couldn't miss being better than previous Fender attempts at bass amplification, the BXR series stuff was HORRID. I'd say the Bassman 400 Combo is easily in a class with the SWR Red Head and Eden Metro combos, for considerably less money.

    [Edited by Gard on 10-16-2000 at 04:35 PM]
  10. toms


    Aug 22, 2000
    DITTO's again, Goliath, yeh thats it, that was the cabnet I ran thru. Wasn't impressed.
    As for the input, I'm using a Stingray 5 with the active button in and the input level around 12:00, any more and I'll clip the front end. I've used passive basses for so long, I normally run the gain on the bass all the way up. Old habits died hard.

    It was good to hear positive input regarding the Fender Bassman, I think they got a great amp for the price. Lately when you say "Fender bass amp", people back away, kind of like the "Peavey syndrome",(hope your not offended).I've said I would never buy another Fender bass amp...while I'm eating my words, I'm enjoying my Bassman 400.

  11. Yup, loving my 400 too :D I set mine up almost exactly as Gard...no mucking with the EQ, just run bass and treble pretty flat and use the room balance control. I played it out very recently with a loud drummer and two guitarists and my volume was only at 2-2 1/2. LOTS of headroom, and the ability to flatten the rest of the band or cause a mass bowel evacuation of the audience is a wonderful thing ;)

    It sounds great and it's got BITE!
  12. toms -

    To get more out of the amp, try leaving the "active" input button out, and back off on the gain a bit. Just use the gain lights to adjust your input, remember if the red just flashes occassionally (say when you slap or dig in a bit) you're ok, but if it is on constantly when you're playing normally then you will need to back off on the input gain. As I said, my gain is on 3, and I did set that with my output on the bass up all the way. Plenty of volume, and knowing the Stingray, I'm sure that will be good for you as well. Give it a shot and see how it does for ya.

    I had the same initial reaction to the idea of a Fender amp, my most recent experiences with them had been with the BXR series stuff, which was just awful, IMO. But this amp has definitely won me over. As for the "Peavey syndrome", well, I still think very highly of my Peavey rig and wasn't unhappy with it at all, just looking for a good high powered 210 combo to make my load ins and outs a bit easier. (Getting older sucks :D). People that discount ANY equipment without actually trying for themselves first are idiots, IMO. I have really wanted to like some stuff that was highly touted - SWR for instance, and found it not to my liking. Conversely I've played through some stuff that I didn't expect to like at all - the Peavey stuff, and I have a wonderful little Crate practice amp, a B20XL, which really surprised the heck out of me tonally and only set me back $50!
  13. toms


    Aug 22, 2000

    Thanks for the tip, I'll try it. As for the footswitch on the EQ, my footswitch is still in the swrink wrap, never used it. I think the mute switch is a good idea, While playing throught the SWR 750 this weekend I could not tune my bass without pumping through the house system. The SWR speaker switch does not mute the line out...oops! Fender thought this one out.

    As for Peavey, I almost bought a Cirus 5 string, but when I played the Stingray, I didn't look back. And remember those old Mark 4 heads! I still have a Peavey Probass 1000 preamp, it was used in my main rig with Peaveys'1810 cabinet, with a CS400 or Yamaha P2250 amp. Just got tired of lugging it around( back surgery four years ago).

    You are right regarding the SWR Redhead, I believe the Fender will hang in there if not out perform their box.


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