Fender tube bass heads

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by register, May 2, 2003.

  1. register


    Mar 31, 2002
    Just wondering if anybody can tell me about old Fender tube heads for bass, like the Bassman (50w), Bassman 100, or Studio Bass. I know the old Bassmans (Bassmen?) are now popular for guitar players, but what about with a bass? I'm using a 70s Ampeg B-25B that's great, but volume is my best friend....

  2. Back 68 when I started playing Fender made the Bassman which was around 50 watts (2x6L6's) and I believe their big amp was called the Dual Showman which was around 100 watts (4x6L6's). My first Fender amp after my Silvertone was a Fender Bassman with a small 2x12 cab. I used it with the college stage band and it was perfect. The thing got stollen right out of the equipment room. I always felt like the Fender tube bass amps were kinda like weak sisters compared to the Standel, Acoustics and the Sunns of the day though. They really weren't designed for bass but were more of a guitar amp. I've got a book at home that lists and describes every amp Fender ever made up to the publishing date. I'll PM the title info to you when I get home.
  3. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    I do not like vintage Fenders for bass. They sound mushy to me. There are many other vintage choices that will get you more definition.
  4. the only thing i know about fender tube amps is that i recorded with one and absolutely loved the sound i got from it.

    it wasn't a head, though. it was from a combo, with the amplifier section sawed off. we ran it through a 215 about which i know nothing. the sound was really juicy and "sproingy". it didn't lack definition at all. it was really cool.

  5. red40


    Mar 25, 2003
    Wilmington, DE
    Apparently this is the holy grail of Fender bass amps:


    I haven't managed to track one down but it probably sounds a bit different than a typical Bassman. More like an SVT, except even bigger and meaner if that is at all possible.

    There is also a new 300W all tube Bassman amp that looks like a rebranded Sunn amp, I haven't found one of those to play yet either.

  6. SnaveDogg


    Mar 21, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    The really old ones were basically a guitar amp, modified slightly to make bass sound good. But the later models like mid 70's and newer are unltralinear in design and sound HORRIBLE for guitar. They are big, punchy and clean almost to max volume for bass though.
    I have been playing through a Bassman 135 for many years and it sounds awesome, IMHO. It is one of the ultralinear design amps. Basically, it is like a Hi-Fi tube amp design. I think the difference is the Output transformer. If you were to buy a tube amp for your home stereo you'd want an ultralinear amp, since what you are after is clean power, unlike what you get from say a Marshall head for guitar. They color the sound a lot. Ultralinears try to reproduce sound accurately. They still have that tube warmth and compression that you desire, but the headroom is mostly clean power.
    Hope this clears it up a bit.
  7. I'm a tube amp freak, so I like the sound of all the old tube bass amps, but most people today wouldn't like the Bassman 50 for bass. Of course the sound most people go for today is absolutely appalling, but that's beside the point. Like RCZ said, for recording, the Bassman 50 would work great, and it'd work even for jamming, but may not cut it for insanely loud gigs. The Bassman 100 will cut it for loud gigs, though, and it has the same phat sound.

    The old sound is not very impressive when heard by itself (when compared to the 1000 Watt Boom-Chinkety rigs most people use today), but in a full band setting it is perfect!

    I love my B25B, and the Bassman 50 is comparable in volume to that. When using lower power amps, it's critical that you use efficient cabinets. The old 2x15's fit that bill.

  8. The sound from my Bassman 10 with my J Bass is just about perfect for me, but like you say it just will not cut through the mess of guitars and drums I face each night so had to go with a bigger rig. Still for recording I think it has the warmest sound around. Love those tubes.
  9. I've seen Fender Bassman Heads that are 100W and sound very good. The amp I would like to find though is the Fender Rumblebass 300W all tube head. Those are about as rare as the 400PS.
  10. Rickenbackerman


    Apr 17, 2001
    Laurel MD
    Check ebay! There's one on there with the matching 4x10 for $1200.
  11. watspan

    watspan Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2002
    madison, wi
    There is also a new 300W all tube Bassman amp that looks like a rebranded Sunn amp, I haven't found one of those to play yet either.

    Tim [/B][/QUOTE]

    The Sunn/Fender 300T is a Monster! I don't own one (yet) but was playing about 6 differnet basses through one in a music store several months back and thought all the basses sounded great--that's when i figured out (doh!) it's the amp! Through a 2x15 cab that thing growled, howled and barked at the Moon!
  12. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The Studio Bass was a combo amp. I have seen "heads" for sale, but they were all chopped down from the combo.

    I've owned a few Bassmans, as well as some old Sunns and used some old Ampegs. The Bassmans sounded the worst, too mushy and they break up too early. Older Sunns are sleepers in the market (Ampegs are "collectible", ya know) and a much better choice if you want a low powered tube head.

    Not surprisingly, few folks drool over vintage Sunn and Ampeg GUITAR amps so that says something about their bass amps right there, eh?
  13. I've got a 400PS. It actually sounds VERY Bassman like, just thicker and with all the headroom the little ones lack. It doesn't have the midrange grunt of an SVT, more of an R'n'B tone than the SVT's rock growl. You have to use three different four ohm cabs with the beastie. It actually runs three 145 watt outputs, has reverb and a guitar channel.

    I also had a Sunn 300T, the older name for the Bassman 300. IMO, it is one of THE most overrated amps I have ever encountered, and while it did not sound "bad" (except for the god-awful compressor), it most certainly did not sound good. The tone was very undefined and mushy with either way too much boomy bottom or thin brittle top. Prior to that, I tried out three different examples of the amp that blew up while I demoed them at low volume! I bought a used one I found to give it a try through my cabs, and it is the only tube amp I have EVER owned and gotten rid of.
  14. It's interesting that many of the tube amps (for either g**tar or bass) that we regard as great are based on the original Fender Bassman circuit. Wonderful bass preamps like Alembic improve on circuitry originated in the Showman that they are based on.

    I still have my 1964 Dual Showman (85 watts) which I use often when recording my '57 Precision in the studio. The great sound is largely due the bigger cabinet with two JBL D-140Fs. As the cabinet is fairly efficient it puts out a reasonable level, and is nicely voiced with a slight midrange emphasis that cuts nicely. Not loud by today's standards, but I have several LARGE rigs handy if I need quantity over quality.
  15. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I had a 300PS for awhile. I loved the sound, but it only ran at 8ohms, and had one output jack. Know, I'm playing throw a Trace Hexa tube head...............MMMMMMMMMMM tubes!!!!
  16. RichBriere

    RichBriere Guest

    Jan 1, 2003
    Upstate NY
    I owned 2 Rumble Bass Stacks and thought that they were THE coolest looking amp on the planet.

    When the SUNN 300T came out I picked up one of those and have yet to find anything that, IMHO, compares. These 300T's sound GREAT! I ended up selling both Rumble stacks and have no regrets. :D

    Another tone monster that you can pick up for a song (comparitively) is an old Sunn 2000S. Couple that puppy with a Sunn 2x15 to match, add a 4x10 that's efficient........and stand back. Tone to the Bone!

  17. AndyGL


    Nov 20, 2000
    Wellsville, NY
    I’ve played through a lot of amps but my old Dual Showman has always been and remains my #1 choice for pure tone. At 85 watts it has obvious limitations in volume. I use mine for recording, practice and small venues when volume is not an issue. Nice and light for an all tube head too. If you can get your hands on one of these gems I don’t think you’ll ever let it go.
  18. drd07


    Jan 19, 2003
    I've got to stick up for the bassman 300. I think it sounds great! I play mainly rock, and it suits that style perfectly for me. I also owned a fender studio bass, but needed more headroom, so I had to let it go. When I first started playing bass, I started on a fender bassman 50 (silverface). It's got to be all tubes for me. Everything else sounds so sterile.
  19. CaptHead


    Sep 21, 2010
    I know this is a real old thread but I found it searching for Fender bass amps. I currently use a Fender Bassman 100 powering a single Ampeg SVT 8 - 10 cabinet. I rewired the box for speakon connector and I use a short 12 gauge speaker wire. I get plenty of clean power with a nice growl. I play on a 2006 American J bass with Pro Steel heavy gauge round wound XL strings. I lay in a Robin Trower Tribute band and it's 70's rock all the way baby.
  20. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada