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Hiwatt Bass Heads

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by snakesandarrows, Oct 12, 2009.


  1. snakesandarrows

    snakesandarrows

    Oct 12, 2009
    So I'm in the market for a new tube amp head, and i've narrowed my search between the Ampeg SVT-VR head and the new version of the 200 watt Hiwatt head. I know a lot about the VR already, but can anyone tell me about the new Hiwatts, or tell me their personal experiences with them? I mean can a $3,600 bass head really be worth it? By the way, I'm using a Fender Precision bass and a vintage Rickenbacker 4001.

    What really turned me onto these amps is that Guy Berryman (bassist for Coldplay) plays these and his tone veries from album to live recording etc., but all in all, he has one of my favorite P-Bass/Jazz Bass tones. It's so natural, raw, dry, and organic sounding. His sound is really the best (the sound i'm trying to get with my Precision Bass) at the "How We Saw the World" live recording. If you listen to "Square One" or "Speed of Sound" it's really amazing. And yes, I've checked into his rack gear and pedal setup. He runs a vintage "tone bender" distortion pedal which concludes all his pedals, and he runs his bass through the smaller Avalon DI Preamp unit. He only uses the distortion rarely i beleive, and i doubt the Avalon could account for that much of the great tone.

    Can anyone help me out?
     
  2. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    If you are considering Hiwatt (fine brand, great amps), then I would also suggest that you consider the Reeves Custom 225. David Reeves was the man behind the original Hiwatt, and Music Ground now owns the naming rights, but Fernandes owns the trademark rights in the USA. Bill Jansen approached Music Ground about producing David Reeves style amps for import to the USA, and they do this under the name Reeves Amplification.

    To be clear, current Hiwatt and Reeves amps are made by entirely different companies, though each are based upon David Reeves designs. Both are great heads, IMHO.

    If you are interested in learning more about the Reeves Custom 225 (one of my very top favorite all-tube heads), I did a review of it in BGM issue #2.

    Tom.
     
  3. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Chicago
    Not to stray too far from this, but how does the Sound City head sound comared to the Hiwatt? I've seen those for MUCH cheaper than Hiwatt and Reeves which are extremely overpriced IMO
     
  4. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Well, of course, Sound City amps were also designed by David Reeves, and some models do have some similarity to certain other Hiwatt models. The general tonal approach is fairly similar, though I wouldn't say that one is exactly like the other. Some of the Sound City heads (like the Bass 150, I believe) had more solid state components in the pre and/or EQ. I am not an expert on Sound City amps by any means, though.

    Edit: It appears that the typical Bass 150 did not have any SS components to the pre or EQ. I am trying to find out if the one I had was an alternate iteration or something.

    Tom.
     
  5. none of the more normal soundcity amps had SS components in the front end.

    soundcitys are VERY similar to hiwatts apart from they have an active eq section and the standard model is 150watts as apposed to 100 making them better for bass in my opinion!
     
  6. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    toms_river.nj.us
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
  7. nysbob

    nysbob

    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I have played through and love the Reeves 225. If my magnavox SVT tanks, that's where I'll be heading.
     
  8. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    FYI the custom Hiwatt 4x12's Guy is using are Matamp 4x12's made for Hiwatt since they do a lot of their custom shop work.

    This is making me want to try the Soundcity stuff if they are that close to Hiwatt.
     
  9. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    i have a '69 SVT, a 2007 SVT-VR and a Sound City Bass 150.
    they are ALL great amps. if you need alot of power, i'd get an SVT, but the Sound City Bass 150 is an awesome amp, and feels like alot more power than 150 watts.

    ps. my SC Bass 150 has NO solid state components in it other than a SS rectifier, which i prefer in tube bass amps (as in SVT's, later Sunn 2000S' and 350B's, HiWatts, Marshall Majors etc).
     
  10. KramerBassFan

    KramerBassFan

    Jan 3, 2009
    I've never heard of a Sound City with Any Solid SS components (minus the rectifier).
    Do tell?
     
  11. snakesandarrows

    snakesandarrows

    Oct 12, 2009
    so to go back on track to the new Hiwatts thing...
     
  12. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    toms_river.nj.us
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    If I was looking to buy the best production tube head today... I'd go right to Reeves.
     
  13. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    i would have to agree with that statement. IMO, their build quality and design is impeccable, with no compromises, and in a league of their own. i would love to get one.
     
  14. sound city stuff would be old too .......reeves would be a much safer bet in terms of reliability
     
  15. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    possibly, but once an old Sound City has been completely gone thru (not all that expensive to do), they'll run as long as any quality amp. They are built like a tank.
     
  16. Chriso21

    Chriso21

    Jan 15, 2006
    Fort Worth Texas
    hiwatts are awesome. i got one because i used to live in england. now i live in the states, i would happily play a custom made amp for the money, its not worth it. Mes/ ampeg/ sound city/ reeves/ vistalux will do a good job for less money. Plus hiwatt are not very big, so customer support is minimal( and a long way away)
     
  17. I would consider reevaluating that statement; from the sounds of it, the Avalon could have a lot to do with his tone.
    I saw Mogwai a few months ago and Dom used a mic'd vintage SVT and cab, plus an Avalon on top. The sound was obviously a mix of the two and it sounded amazing. Clear, raw, organic. This was with his P bass.

    I think a lot of that sound comes from the combo of tube amp and Avalon. The mixture is what really make's it shine.

    Certainly the $500 Avalon is cheaper than the $3500 amp, so you could try it first :p

    But I would say the blend of the two is key. For the price of the hiwatt you could get the Avalon and the VR and I'm pretty much positive it would sound amazing.
     
  18. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Or the U5 and a Reeves Custom 225... :ninja:
     
  19. if you had to pay someone,what do you figure it would run.....much as i like vintage hiwatts,the prospect of being into a 30 year old piece of electronics for close to what a new boutique unit would cost seems daunting....
     

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