Help Me Choose a Tube Head

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by backin82, Apr 3, 2018.

  1. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I live in a city with woefully poor selections of good gear. We have GC, some small mom and pops that only carry Peavey stuff, and a tiny shop that only carries boutique amps (read: out of my price range).

    I'm looking for an "all-tube" head for practice and smaller gigs. As such, it does NOT need to be crazy powerful. This will be my first all-tube head, and my budget is around $800.

    The options I've seen on the used market (within my budget) include:
    Fender 100T [6L6]
    Ampeg V4 [6L6]
    Traynor YBA200 [KT88]
    Eden WTB300 [KT88]
    Ampeg PF50T [6L6]
    Ashdown CTM100 [KT88]

    Of these, I've played the PF50T. I've also played all the Mesa tube heads, and of course a CL. That's it. That's my all-tube experience. My only takeaways are that the CL sounds too wooly or fluffy, the Mesa stuff all sounds too sterile and dry. The PF50T *almost* gets the tone I want - certainly a little better than the CL for my tastes. I've also been playing a GK MB212 combo that I LOVE, but it isn't warm. If there's something that can get in the ballpark of the GK sound and have tube warmth - that's what I want.

    I play mostly non-aggressive styles like funk, jazz, pop, gospel, blues, any overdriven sound is a very low priority for me. I'll get overdrive with effects if I ever need to go down that road for a cover song.

    So.......based on my limited experience, local availability, and budget.....which amp should I try to acquire?
  2. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2005
    Vintage Ampeg V4 or the Fender 100T. I slightly prefer the early 70’s version of the V4/V4B, put any 70’s one will sound great IMO. Cons are the weight and the width of 27”. Pro is the tone is so good. I haven’t tried the newer Re-Issue version.

    I had a Fender 100T and it was a great amp. It is light and has the DI out. It may be the better option for you.

    One thing that obviously affects the tone is the cab. Personally, I think the Ampeg SVT 210av’s are fantastic sounding with tube heads. I have 2 of them that I use with various tube heads including my V4. You can pick a couple of those up for pretty cheap.
  3. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Excellent point. I will be cab shopping after I get the head since I've saved enough to finally pick one up. Gotta buy while the funds are available!

    Also, I looked at the specified weights, and they are as follows:
    Fender 100T - 48.5 lb
    Ampeg V4 - 41 lb
    Traynor YBA200 - 44 lb
    Eden WTB300 - 40 lb
    Ampeg PF50T - 19.4 lb
    Ashdown CTM100 - 28.6 lb

    I was surprised to see the 100T as the heaviest one of the bunch.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  4. If you loved the GK rig, maybe a pedal will do? Tech 21 VT Bass DI (or any VT Bass pedal) and Ampeg just released two DIs which Ampeg aficionados claim get you most of the way there.
    TheBear, macmanlou and rodl2005 like this.
  5. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Meh. I've tried the Tech 21, and it in no way got close to what I'm looking for. I think the only cure for my ails is power tubes.
    eriky4003 and denton57 like this.
  6. But CL too woolly? I think you ought to check out the SS isle some more. Maybe a GenzBenz Shuttle.

    There's loads of pedals that can add just a hint of warmth. The hard part is finding the review that doesn't have everything way past halfway and long past any semblance of a clean CL.
  7. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    If going second hand, make sure you have a decent tech to hand. A lot of the time s/h valve heads have a dying valve which is making them sound less good than they did.

    Eden WTB300 is a rebrand Ashton BVV300, which may come up a lot cheaper.
    rodl2005, backin82 and 12BitSlab like this.
  8. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Indeed. there anything that'll do that?
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    If you like the PF50T, you will love the V4B. Very much like a PF50T tonally, but puts out more volume and I think the extra wattage and extra tubes gives it a bit more smackdown.

    As for the wooly comments about the CL, if you leave the knobs at noon it can be a little dark for some folks, but twist them around a little and you can make them sound any way you want.
  10. The Orange AD200 isn't heavier than those either iirc. I've got the Super Bassman and a V4B Reissue . Both are great . Love the SB's tubey depth and sheer punch factor.

    The Ampeg V4B is tighter but still warm. Perhaps try that V4B.
    The Traynor is a good amp too and its bigger bro the YBA300 is a beauty too and only a free lbs heavier
    Depending on the amount of volume you need I'd favour the SUPER BASSMAN if you need clean and gorgeous tube warmth. . With its 'drive' channel... which is really simply an active EQ channel -which you may or may not blend overdrive into- it's very versatile.
    The 100T is same pre amp but hasn't the monstrous oooomph that the SB has.
    I find the V4B to be great. Not heavy and enough power for most gigs IF you have enough speaker area to allow it to move the air. It'll quickly run outta clean tones if run into a single 15 for example ... but I often run it into a single Fender Bassman Pro Neo 115 just FOR that overdriven power tube tone at lower volume.
  11. Bassics101


    Feb 3, 2011
    I love the 70’s V4b but $800 might be a little low for one. Seems like asking prices are a little higher lately, and I’d always recommend having another $200+ to have a good tech go through it. That said, if you get one, I doubt you ever regret it. That is until you have to carry one any distance. They weigh at least 65 lbs.
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Old ones do. New ones have it down to 40 lbs and for my money sound just as good.
  13. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    Asking and getting are different things. Had two of mine listed for around $650 each last summer and it took a while to move one of them. Internet prices might be high (read: reverb/ebay) but local sales haven't been there IMO. There are 8 amps under $1000 on reverb (searched for V4 in amps) at the moment, some of the cheaper ones with some tech time would probably stay on OP's budget. I'd still go for a used reissue first, though. Might be worth checking the TB classifieds, they come up there from time to time.

    The 100T are nice amps too. The solid state channel can get you to ampeg territory, the vintage channel has the classic fender tone. Plus the 25 watt and silent recording modes.
    GregC and backin82 like this.
  14. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2005
    I think I paid right at 800 for my 72/73 V4 and it looks almost new. Came with cover and the silver knobs too. I took it to a tech and it was like $50, only because I wanted to rebias for a quad of GE 7027’s.
  15. somebrains


    Feb 7, 2017
    LiquidMidnight likes this.
  16. Milw_Chad


    Mar 28, 2018
    Another vote for the V4B. I had one and miss it. However, as mentioned above it weighs a lot. Also, mine had to be serviced every six months more or less. It would develop a quiet hum that would just get louder an louder. When you got it out of the shop it was awesome. Great natural compression. I really liked the attack on that amp
    armyadarkness likes this.
  17. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science!

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    Curious why you want a tube amp? (This coming from a guy who uses tube amps almost exclusively!)
    Sounds like what you really want tonally is what transistor amps accomplish better. Maybe? I dunno...
    armyadarkness, MattZilla and Joshbazz like this.
  18. Kevin Colt

    Kevin Colt

    Feb 9, 2015
    Bokeelia, Fl.
    I'd get the traynor. They are made to take the punishment and still sound nice and clean with lots of headroom, they're still made in Canada too. Although, the ampeg (if it's a vintage tube flip top) is a better amp by means of the tone circuit. But it's a bit pricey.
    arbitrary, 4-fingers and GrapeBass like this.
  19. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Vintage V4B or the newer Traynor are both excellent.
    Incidentally, an old Mesa MkIIB 100W makes an AWESOME small-room bass amp, since you are not looking for a lot of juice.
    (I dunno what the transformers were in those, but they seemed to have endless clean headroom in the rhythm channel... plus could get painfully loud thru a 4-12 cabinet) :)
  20. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I've probably looked at all of them. I think all or most are listed as local sales only.

    So if I go V4, is there a year or range I should avoid?
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