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Guitar amplifier tube head for bass?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by jsa0100, Jun 30, 2012.


  1. jsa0100

    jsa0100

    Apr 6, 2005
    Norway
    I have played guitar for a couple of years and I am now back to playing bass with a couple of friends. :p How to you feel about using guitar heads for bass? I have a Mesa F-100 100 watt tube head and are planing to use it as the main amp to gether with a decent speaker. I like tube amps so that part is fine.
     
  2. N.F.A.

    N.F.A.

    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    I have done it off and on for years with no problems. Used a Marshall 100 watt plexi. Still use it sometimes.
     
  3. hdracer

    hdracer

    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Just use a good cab with no horn or turn the horn off and you will be fine.
     
  4. Freight Train

    Freight Train Earth-based Alternative Scientist, Sex Researcher Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2012
    Dallas, Texas
    Haven't been involved in tube amp design, and other than using a SVT and Bassman 100 back in the early 70's, I've only recently owned a tube bass head, so I'm no expert at all. There's a possibly that there's a big difference in the transformers used in guitar vs. bass tube heads. The power supply should be beefier i would think as frequencies below mid-bass have a LOT more energy than mid frequencies and above, and that means different requirements from the power supply to reproduce that. Also, on the output transformer side, it requires a whole different class of transformer there to be able to accurately reproduce those frequencies at hi power. In the majority of cases the manufacturer isn't going to use any more expensive components in a product than is absolutely required for its intended purpose to keep it within a certain price point. So a lot of times you may get the results you want by using a certain piece outside of its intended purpose, but you may also be causing incredible wear on that piece by pushing it beyond what it's designed to do. So it may possibly sound great, but it also might fall into a pile of dust in 2 years.
    All that's theoretical on my part - I don't know that first hand. There may be no difference in the components used between guitar and bass tube heads for all I know. N.F.A. and hdracer have apparently done it with success. Did you guys use guitar heads that way that lasted for years, or were they more occasional use?
     
  5. N.F.A.

    N.F.A.

    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    I have had my Plexi for 20+ years. Used it for practices and gigging, both as a guitar head and a bass head. Never needed anything more than routine maintenance.
     
  6. jsa0100

    jsa0100

    Apr 6, 2005
    Norway
    But haven't the amps stood the test after 3-4 years playing a in full overdrive and max gain for hours? And want the main load be on the tubes?
     
  7. CnB77

    CnB77

    Jan 7, 2011
    NJ
    I don't think it's so much that the amp will be damaged, it just won't do as good a job as it could
     
  8. N.F.A.

    N.F.A.

    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    That's true. It will only get so loud without breaking up. Turn it up all the way and it is purely distorted. It's fine for practice and moderate volume gigs.
     
  9. All I can tell you is I once ran an AIMS 120 watt tube guitar amp thru an Ampeg B25-B Cab. That was my first mistake, as the Ampeg only had a 50 watt capability, IIRC. (didn't know any better at the time).
    Whatever the rating was it was woefully under-rated for the head, and as the AIMS was made as a Marshall clone, the distortion came on hot and heavy, and it wasn't the good kind of distortion. Basically, it sounded horrible and was totally useless in a band situation.
    I don't know if that helps you any, Just thought I would share my experience.
     
  10. jumbodbassman

    jumbodbassman Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    Stuck in traffic -NY & CT
    Born Again Tubey
    one of my best sounding amps is my fender super twin - 180 watts of wonderful clean bass , thanks to JohnK advice.... its all about the speakers...
     
  11. I wanted to try a tube guitar head as well. I like the thread.
     
  12. jumbodbassman

    jumbodbassman Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    Stuck in traffic -NY & CT
    Born Again Tubey
  13. The difference between guitar and bass tube amps is usually only the way the tone controls work. If it sounds good......use it (with a good bass speaker cab).
     
  14. René_Julien

    René_Julien

    Jun 26, 2008
    Belgium
    I like using tube heads.
    I am currently playing a Blackstar HT20 Studio through an Hartke 410XL for home use... and it is loud. And sounds very nice, crisp and clean, rarely hits overdrive but delivers sweet tube breakup.

    I gigged a few times with a Marshall JCM800 (through a Trace Elliot 4x10 cab) out of necessity, and it did the job just fine.

    I currently am searching for something like a Marshall JTM or clone.

    Guitar heads are widely found on the used market and some good deals. And 100W of tubes will get you very far.

    A guitar head will do the job... it's just a matter of taste.

    And I must echo the advice not to use tweeters.
    ... not to use tweeters.
     
  15. Collider

    Collider

    Jul 10, 2011
    Portsmouth, UK
    Seems like a 100w head couldn't be anything like powerful enough to give you an un-distorted sound at gigging volumes but you're going to have to get a bass cab anyway so why not try it and see.
     
  16. stoic dan

    stoic dan

    Apr 20, 2004
    Omaha, NE
    I've practiced and performed with a 70's Fender Bassman 100 (100 watts) and a 70's Marshall Master Model (50 watts). It almost goes without saying that old, relatively low-wattage tube heads are not the way to go if you're looking for piano-clean tones. If you want a warm, grindy, aggressive tone, it can't be beat except by Ampeg amps IMO.

    A lot of good info in other posts here, but I'll add that you have to keep an eye on the total load of whatever you're plugging in. Tube amps can sound louder than solid state, but there is a definite limit on what you can push out, so you'll likely have to increase the number of speakers you plug in. A single 4x10 with either of these heads was not enough to keep up with two guitarists and a heavy-handed drummer.

    Ultimately I moved to a tube preamp and solid state power amp rack system that gave me the tone and volume I wanted without requiring multiple trips to and from the tour van to load out.

    Dan
     
  17. René_Julien

    René_Julien

    Jun 26, 2008
    Belgium
    You should play a Hiwatt DR-103 or the many clones of this one sometime. ;)

    Depends on what you consider clean versus distorderd... or see a very large grey area in between.
     
  18. As long as you don't need ridiculous clean volume, Mesa guitar amps sound great for bass, IMO. An outboard multiband parametric or graphic eq in the effects loop will probably help you out a lot with getting a decent sound, as the eq points in the heads aren't really optimal for bass as people mentioned above.
     
  19. jsa0100

    jsa0100

    Apr 6, 2005
    Norway
    It seems like there is no difference between the marshall Super Lead and Bass in the power section. So the main difference is probably the tone control.
     
  20. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    toms_river.nj.us
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I'm digging my Egnater Tweaker-40... plays well with a drummer that knows control and a guitarist with a 1x12" combo
     

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