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GK Backline 600 vs SWR Studio 220 vs SWR Basic 350 [Epic fight]

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Captain Jeff, May 6, 2018.


  1. Captain Jeff

    Captain Jeff

    May 6, 2018
    Okay, so I've been using a GK Backline 112 combo with GK 410BLX-II cab for quite a while now, but there was one concert when my amp just... I don't even have an idea, it turned quieter and started developing some fart noises. I took it out of the combo, looked at it, put it back in as nothing seemed to be out of a natural state of things and surprisingly - it worked.

    Anyway, I dunno how long will it work, so I need to get a head for my little big cab.

    I am really pleased with the Backline sound, it gives me a nice little distortion based on how dynamically I play it and that's something I look for.

    But my favorite bassist of all time was using SWRs. And I mean Tim Bogert, the legend of rock.

    So here it is, I can take GK Backline 600 for about 220US$ or SWR Studio 220 for 280US$, or SWR Basic 350 for also 280US$. (I live in Poland so the prices are kind of different)

    Anyway, straight to the point now, which one is better, which one is louder and which one will rock my socks off?

    Edit: Forgot to mention that I play 70s hard/blues rock.
     
  2. As SWR has closed it’s doors I would not recommend any of their products. Not that SWR was a poor manufacturer, but if you ever need to have the amp serviced you could find that the needed parts are no longer available.
     
  3. Captain Jeff

    Captain Jeff

    May 6, 2018
    You're probably right. But the lamp is easy to get one, and anything else would need help anyway. And my drummer is an electronics technician, so I suppose he could work something out. But yeah, that's lame that SWR is out of business. Can't you contact Fender support, though, in order to get the parts?
     
  4. Our @agedhorse mentioned just recently that a certain SWR amp used output devices that I have not seen in decades. If you find these on the internet they would undoubtedly be fakes. Not knowing your drummers skill set it might well be beyond him to repair such an amp.
     
  5. Captain Jeff

    Captain Jeff

    May 6, 2018
    The ST-220 was created before 97, so it could be using something really old. But, damn, that sound is tempting!
     
    mbelue likes this.
  6. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Support and many parts are becoming unobtanium, though there are a few older, experienced techs that still have parts available. The output devices used on many of the amps are no longer available (and haven't been for quite some time). Most e-bay and Alibaba parts with the same number are fakes, though again there are a few techs that still have stock. (I may have a pair or two, but not enough to bother with doing anything with them).
     
  7. Captain Jeff

    Captain Jeff

    May 6, 2018
    Sure thing, I guess that's helpful. I have to say, though, that today I'm nearly convinced that I will take SWR Studio 220 because I read a lot of reviews and stuff like this. I also got a bit more information, so that one I want to buy is from 1991 and has never been repaired. It's been working perfectly for 27 years now. But it really is worrying that there are no parts for that amp because many people have been recommending SWR amplifiers. So both of you think that I shouldn't bother with SWR? :bawl:
     
  8. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    You just need to be prepared with a back-up plan if your amp does suffer this kind of failure.
     
  9. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    This is horrible advice. You're talking about the difference between crappy low end offshore 15 year old Gk vs beautiful high end american made 15+ year old SWR. Not only will the SWR sound vastly better than the backline, it will be FAR more reliable as well. People are still using old ACCs from the 60s because they were built well and were pre everything being designed to break and be fully replaced. Same with all the SWR stuff There might be a handful of components that are hard to find, but the rest are just basic electronics pretty much. And those eastern bloc countries tend to get pretty crafty with repairs anyway because they had to for so many decades.

    I would absolutely buy a working condition SWR without a second thought, whereas you couldn't pay me to take a backline.
     
  10. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    I don't think it's horrible advice, but yes there are some folks who might be able to kluge together a repair under adverse conditions. It's only fair for the OP to be aware of the possible issues should there be a problem.

    While the amps are reasonably reliable, I wouldn't say that they are trouble-free (nothing from that era really was) and I have worked on a fair number of them. When Fender acquired SWR, they underwent a major redesign in order to meet the new safety standards, and at the same time they attempted to re-design out the most historically problematic aspects of the amps. I don't know if they ever re-issued the Studio 220, though 1997 is before Fender's acquisition in 2003.

    From my understanding, Fender no longer supports any of the SWR products and no longer stocks the parts either. There are some mechanical parts that are difficult to source, but a big issue is with output transistors. They are unique (multi-planar, gull-wing MT-200 package and fast), they haven't been made in quite some time, and the world is awash with fakes. While there are modern replacements, they are different. The MJL line is what I would use, but the mounting is different. I have special hardware that allows me to do this, but it's not something that you can buy off the shelf (or couldn't) I had to CNC them. Is it worth doing? I doubt the value of the amp would justify it, but anything is possible with enough money.

    Looks like there may be some small quantities of legit. stock still floating around through authorized distributors, but there's a ton of fakes out there on Amazon and eBay.
     
  11. Captain Jeff

    Captain Jeff

    May 6, 2018
    Since I've been using one and I really like it I wouldn't be so harsh on BL, but I also admire SWR. If anything I could just use the preamp for another device output if that would be such a big deal.

    And kind of right, we have many skilled engineers here, because all you can do is put parts together using only scrap.

    I'm pretty convinced that I will buy SWR studio 220. Looks as great as it sounds.
     
  12. Then may I wish you good fortune with what ever you purchase. :D
     
    Captain Jeff and agedhorse like this.
  13. Captain Jeff

    Captain Jeff

    May 6, 2018
    Thanks! I hope it will be well, if anything happens I can let you know if you want! :smug::bassist:
     

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