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First proper gigging amp advice

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by slipperypick, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. slipperypick


    Jan 8, 2014
    Howdy all,
    Recently picked up bass guitar and have been making good use of the band PA, running my Geddy Lee Jazz Bass direct in through a Tech21 SansAmp Programmable BassDriver DI. I am running into situations, however, that dictate that I will need an actual AMP.
    I have always loved the vintage Ampeg tone, but have not been able to capture that, ironically, through an actual Ampeg… At least not one of the higher watt models. I've been enjoying the MarkBass heads and cabs even though the sound is nothing like the gritty punch I love in vintage stuff.
    I've also been looking at Orange Terror amps, and they look and sound intriguing; perhaps the vintage vibe could be found there… If I could only find a local dealer.
    Anyhow, to the point:
    My current bass playing gig is in a Who tribute band. I enjoy that, but I want to try some more groove-oriented stuff; Motown, old R&B, Beatles and such… Can I find an amp that can give me the tonal versatility to take that stuff on? The MarkBass seems like it could, and I'd love to try the Orange if I could find a local dealer. Not sure the Ampeg is what I want at this point. Perhaps my Tech21 could be paired with a power amp and a cabinet…?
    What'dya all think…? I'd love some help with this!
    Cheers, all!
  2. lwknives


    May 6, 2012
    I have an EV 115P powered monitor that I run a Tech21 3 channel DI. It sounds amazing! And if I ever want a different sound I can just get a different pre-amp.
  3. Cue everyone's favourite all purpose amp.


    You could add poweramp and parametric eq to a fearful type monitor cab.
  4. Before you drop 900$ on a terror bass, check out the peavey vb-2. It's 225 watts, all tube, 55 lbs., and EXTREMELY versatile: 2 channel overdrive and clean, active passive inputs, 2-4-8 ohm taps, 3 band EQ with mid frequency selector, bright switch, resonance and presence controls. It's the same price as a terror bass at 900$.

    I may be a little biased since I own one, but it seemed like a pretty good value to me.
  5. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    The word to remember here is "used". If it's for real work, it's much better to buy something with more power/quality and a few scratches or decals on it than to have something shiny and new (not for long) but less useful. Craigslist and used.guitarcenter.com are your friends. As, of course, is the TalkBass classified ad section.

    If you're getting good results with the Sansamp in a PA setting, I'd recommend that you stay with it, and either pick up a second-hand amp with an input for a pre-amp (in which case you can pretty much shop on the basis of power/weight/price, because you'll be bypassing most of the features that differentiate the different brands and models), or just get a second hand power amp and a speaker (210, 112, 115, 212, depending on what you like and can find cheap).

    And remember, this is TalkBass, so NO COMBOS ALLOWED! ;)
  6. I love my MB800 by GK. The first ever head I own, its super portable 4-5lb i think and has tons of power.

    Can be super soft and clean or little growly. (Around 600-700$)
  7. slipperypick


    Jan 8, 2014
    Wow. The MB800 paired with the 410MBE-II 4x10" 800-Watt Neo Cabinet w/Horn 4-Ohm comes in at $1300. That sounds too good to be true.
    Anybody else have any thoughts on that combination…?
  8. slipperypick


    Jan 8, 2014
    As much as I can appreciate the "used" gear approach, I have terrible luck with used stuff. Its always been my experience that for me, new (and under warranty) is always better.
  9. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    It depends on the product, I suppose. I'd been playing for over 10 years before I bought my first brand new bass and for over 20 before I bought my first brand new bass amp. It's true that my second-hand blueline SVT had problems that forced me to learn more about tube amp repair than I'd anticipated, though. ;o)

    But, new or used, I stand by my other point: If you're getting good sound out of your SansAmp, why move away from it? Just get a power amp and a cabinet! A small class D Crown (XLS1000) can be bridged to drive 700W at 8Ohms and goes for $300. An 800W-capable 8-Ohm GK 410MBE II goes for $600. The total comes out to the cost of the 500W Orange head by itself.
  10. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    You can't go wrong with that. I have that head. The only head I like better is a Mesa M9, but skip that as it is "fraught." :ninja:
    If you want "ampeg," throw a VTBass tech21 character pedal in front of it. :smug:
  11. "If you want "ampeg," throw a VTBass tech21 character pedal in front of it."

    This is exactly what i do! And it gives it nice, warm round tone ... yet it sounds super mean. Btw any cheaper OD (ODB3 for instance) right before VT bass takes onto different meaning as well if you want even more dirt.
  12. slipperypick


    Jan 8, 2014
    Well, that's one approach I was thinking of as well. I kinda get lost as far as amperage and watts go (not the sharpest note on the staff), and pairing up cabs to amps sounds like a tenuous proposition… I also worry about an amp thats not made strictly for a bass might "color" the sound. Is that rational, or am I over thinking it…?

  13. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    You can get away with a lot more if you educate yourself (and TalkBass, for all the harm it does in spreading the contagion of GAS, is good for that), but if you follow a basic rule that your speaker cab should have a power handling capacity (Watts) that's the same or bigger than the power output rating of your amp, and the impedence of the cabinent (Ohms) should be the same as impedence rating of your amp's output, you'll be just fine.

    The one wrinkle in the use-a-power-amp scenario is that most audio power amps are 2-channel (stereo), while most basses and bass pre-amps are mono. That can mean that you only get to use one channel of the power amp, and are thus only putting out half the total rated power, or you may find a power amp that can be "bridged" to make a single, mono channel with the combined power of both halves, but also with the impedence rating doubled - that little Crown I mentioned can do stereo with 350W into 4 Ohms, or mono with 700W at 8 Ohms. The GK speaker that's been under discussion is available in both 4 Ohm and 8 Ohm versions, so you need to pay attention to that.
    Audio power amps are designed and built with the specific goal of NOT coloring the sound. When you run your SansAmp into a PA, you're running through exactly this sort of amp - very likely a big Crown. That's why I thought that, if you're getting sound you like through the SansAmp + PA, going to SansAmp+Crown+HiFi Bass Cab would be your easiest and cheapest path to working without PA support, when you must.

    Full disclosure: I don't personally run through a pre-amp/power-amp/cabinet rig. Good bass pre-amps were exotic and expensive when I was starting out.
  14. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    300 watts and a quality15" speaker cab will get you started for gigs.
    Lots of good used gear for a fraction of new cost here on TB and CL.