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Having trouble with Bass Amps?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by GeddyVanHalen, Jun 16, 2019.


  1. GeddyVanHalen

    GeddyVanHalen

    Jun 14, 2019
    Any opinions will help, please. I’m having some serious trouble finding a workhorse bass amp- I play with a lot of distortion but also like a very clean bass tone and everything in between! I love playing with both fingers or picks(aggressive or softly)
    Here is what I’ve had that did not work out-
    GK- worked well but I used it for a very long jam session (4-6 hours) a good time but never played good again.
    Aguilar- Worked great but the fuse kept blowing out, very annoying especially at gigs- had to open the whole unit to change this little fuse, endless frustration with this.
    Acoustic- GC used to make or Distro these. I was very excited about this( a Jaco replica)- it was terrible, lasted a couple of days
    A big Fender Combo bought at GC. Worked one night - returned it that night.
    A big Ampeg Combo worked OK but had too much headspace and was tough to lug around.
    Yorkvile- this was the cheapest one and it worked well for a good amount of time- died.
    Hartke Combo - has worked well as a practice amp at a very low volume
    SWR- Is working well but the knobs are getting loud and crackly when turned.
    Don’t want to just focus on the negative,have had some great times playing most of these Amps and I love my Cabs - Eden 2x10, Ampeg 2x15 and Carvin 1x18(retired this but had an awesome and endlessly huge tone). Basses I use mainly a G&L 4 string, Fender Jazz and just bought a Stingray HH.
    Any opinions of great/terrible amps are helpful- thanks!
     
  2. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Carolinas
    So 8 amps bought, and 8 amps broken or fried...many of them within a day.

    I would start considering factors outside of the amplifier as the source of the problem.
     
  3. GeddyVanHalen

    GeddyVanHalen

    Jun 14, 2019
    Yes! I have high expectations for Amps, some last a long time- some don’t.
    Essentially I’m looking for the most mileage for the $$. From experience am leaning towards GK, Ampeg or SWR- not sure.
     
  4. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Carolinas
    SWR has been out of business for years, so I’d avoid them.

    Ampeg, I just question the quality of their Chinese made amps.

    GK, I’d look at their new Legacy amps but they are not even out yet so they are unproven. Existing models are discontinued. But hard to argue with their build quality and they are made in the USA.

    So my choice would be....Mesa Subway. They are probably the most rock solid amps out there and have the best warranty and support.
     
    mmbass21, shadven, Maynjo and 7 others like this.
  5. TubeDood

    TubeDood Banned

    May 31, 2019
    GK 700RB- II
    USED they go for about 350$
    I've had 3 , and none of them gave me a single issue.
    And the 3rd one I had for 10 yrs.
    When I think of good tone and a solid workhorse , that's my go to.
    ( currently lugging around SVT 2pro cuz I love its signature tone)
     
  6. Lance Bunyon

    Lance Bunyon

    Jul 17, 2018
    Mesa Mpulse 600. More bells and whistles than a carnival.
     
    JC Nelson and GeddyVanHalen like this.
  7. Beat me to it! @Lance Bunyon is correct. Mine was in a Venture 2x12 combo form, &
    It.
    Flat.
    Rocked!

    600W, 2 seperate EQ's, any tone you want, very nice onboard compressor, I nicknamed mine the mini-fridge if you catch the reference. My main amp for many moons...

    MPulse1.
     
    Lance Bunyon and GeddyVanHalen like this.
  8. GeddyVanHalen

    GeddyVanHalen

    Jun 14, 2019
    Thank you guys- I’m checking them out!
     
    TubeDood and Keger Jupit like this.
  9. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    OP,

    I've purchased a used amp or two that had issues when I got it and received a couple of new amps with issues out of the box -- I've also seen amps develop problems over time, so I'm not saying that the problem can't be with the amps you've had, but you seem to have a pretty rough track record so far.

    Questions that come to mind:
    • How hard are you pushing the amps? It's okay to push a good amp hard, but if it's all dimed, all the time, that's too much. You need more amp, more cab, or both.
    • Are you ever running the heads below their recommended minimum impedance? Like running a 4-Ohm minimum head at 2.67 Ohms?
    • Are your cabs all wired up correctly?
    • Possible problems with the power where you play? ( I know less about this.)
    You mention that the Aggie (which model?) "kept blowing fuses". If the fuse blows, there's a problem -- whatever the problem was, if it's still there, you'll blow another fuse (or maybe fry the amp if it doesn't blow).

    The GK head (which model?) that played hard for six hours but never sounded right after that - probably worth taking to a tech to see what the problem is and if it can be fixed.

    Crackly knobs on SWR - sounds like basic maintenance/cleaning.

    Are your cabs 4 Ohm? 8 Ohm? Ever run them together?

    GK RB heads should be solid and grind-friendly, but are 4 Ohms minimum. If you're running below 4 Ohms (might or might not be a good idea with your cabs -- that's why I ask if they're 4 Ohms or 8), you'll need a head that can handle it. If you don't mind carrying a bigger head, sometimes a GBE 750 or 1200 will show up in the classifieds. They will drive loads down to 2 Ohms and are pretty beastly amps. My GBE 1200 has been very reliable. (Other GBE models might be good, but I don't know if they'll go below 4 Ohms - you'd have to check.)

    Subway amps that mmbongo mentioned will do 2 Ohms and have a transferable warranty.

    There are other options - lots, actually, depending on budget and other requirements - but it makes sense, first, to make sure that you're not inadvertently doing something that's going to result in more fried amps.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  10. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    It sounds like you may be pushing the output sections of the amps beyond their design limit. Some really old solid state amp can be pushed into heavy distortion and survive, but I am not sure any of the ones you mentioned can take it for long. I do know you can get some nice distortion from a GK RB series amp by cranking up the drive, but the distortion occurs before the power amp so you don't have to push the output section to meltdown (lower the woofer and tweeter master as necessary). Here's a related thread that might give you some insight into the the problem Unmasking the Duty Cycle 'Elephant in the Room'

    Are you pushing the output sections of the amps into massive distortion? If yes, is the goal volume or the sound? If the goal is volume you need more speakers and a more powerful amp. If the goal is the sound, either find a pedal that gives you the gnarly tone you desire, or get a good tube amp. But even a tube amp pushed routinely in deep distortion is going to need frequent maintenance.
     
  11. GeddyVanHalen

    GeddyVanHalen

    Jun 14, 2019
    Thank you MarkA, that was a great response- a lot to digest and will definitely check out those GBEs too’
     
  12. GeddyVanHalen

    GeddyVanHalen

    Jun 14, 2019
    Thank you Wasnex - very informative response and looks like the GK is at the top of my list! I’m looking for these kind of recommendations from players who seriously put their equipment through the ringer and have come out good.
     
  13. WardEarth

    WardEarth Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2010
    Anchormanville, CA
    Stick w the swr, crackly knobs - no big deal. Or keep trying stuff out.
    Sounds like you need something with some balls.
     
    GeddyVanHalen likes this.
  14. nilorius

    nilorius

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    Looks like there is no good thing for you, out there.
     
    Kiril Basso and GeddyVanHalen like this.
  15. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011

    I have a GB1200 and it is stupid loud and built like a tank; very heavy and solid. It's an incredibly versatile amp and it has a switching preamp with a tube and FET channel that can be mixed or used separately. You can find them with the foot switch for very low prices. The only down side is they are relatively heavy, rack mount heads, and I think you may find it a bit too clean sounding and transparent for your taste. You can dial in some dirt, but by nature it's a very HiFi amp. It's actually probably my favorite amp though.

    If bone crushing volume is not your priority, you might also consider a Mesa Big Block 750. These have 4 tubes in a foot switchable preamp. Clean uses two tubes and when you want OD it switches two more tubes into the circuit. This amp makes 750W at 2 ohms, but there were a fair amount of people that felt it was underpowered at 4ohms where it only makes 550W, and 8 ohms where it makes even less power. If the power is sufficient, I think you will find this amp is a punchy, brawling beast that loves to rock, and easily one of the most tubey hybrids ever made.

    For the record I own the BB750's big brother, the Titan which uses the same preamp design but makes a lot more power...given the problems you are having, I would stay away from the Titan as it has a reputation for melting down if pushed hard, even after the reliability updates are done.
     
  16. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    Hmmm, what is the common denominator in the failure of all these amps?
     
  17. jthisdell

    jthisdell Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    I don't understand the Aggie blowing fuses. Sounds like either pushing it too hard or some issue with the amp.

    You obviously should avoid combos, it sounds like you need significantly more amp and cab then you have been using.

    What exactly is "too much headspace (headroom?) ?" I don't think that is possibly a problem.

    How big are these amps that didn't work? Watts and cabs.

    Personally I run a Tonehammer 500 into one or two Berg cabs and have never had any problems.
     
    GeddyVanHalen and blindrabbit like this.
  18. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    The badassest head ever.
    The Titan V12.
    Tube pre check
    Distortion onboard check.
    2 channels check
    Switchable boost check
    1200 watts!
    1426373015515.

    Also try a Mesa 400+
     
  19. Grab a Traynor. They are indestructible, sound amazing, and are shockingly reasonably priced.
     
  20. GeddyVanHalen

    GeddyVanHalen

    Jun 14, 2019
    Thank you for the recommendations Wasnex, Lance Bunyon and Keger Jupit I’ve always known Mesa as a great guitar(6) amp- just from other guitarists I’ve played with so will check out there bass amps now!
     
    Keger Jupit likes this.

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