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I think my taste is changing (vintage tone?)...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Yamarc, Dec 15, 2005.

  1. Yamarc


    Jun 25, 2002
    Okemos, MI
    (I will begin this thread by saying that I am only expressing my uneducated opinions in order to find some further direction, my intention is not to offend anyone...)

    Well, I just bought a hi-fi amp (500 watts) and I like it, I really do, but it seems like it is missing something in the "balls" dept. For years I have been picking through lots of hi-fi equipment, never really liking anything (except for the venerable U5) long enough to make it my exclusive rig...

    When I sat down today and made a list of my favorite bass players and albums, I began to think through what amplification equipment was/is being used...I was surprised by my findings...

    For most of my list it was vintagey equipment (or tone), predominately Ampeg gear. As I looked over a brochure for Ampeg I was struck by the vast amount of popular artists who use them, it seems like almost everyone uses an Ampeg! (think Me'Shell, Stefan Lessard, Hubert Eaves Jr, Motown/Jamerson, Oteil, etc)

    I have also recently purchased an Ashdown ABM 500 head and it sounds great through my Bergantino HT-115, I really dig the full, warm, round tone that I get with it. However, at times, it almost seems too warm for me and not able to cut through like I would like. I play primarily in a worship setting so cutting through is not a huge deal, but I would like the option of doing so.

    The iamp certainly cuts through better than the Ashdown, but it is thinner sounding to my ears and I miss the fulness of the tubey Ashdown. I would like to try some Ampeg stuff but they don't "seem" to be as popular on these boards as some of the hi-fi stuff. Maybe I have just not noticed all of the threads dealing with Ampegs and the like or maybe their users have just always liked this sound and therefore feel no need to post about the newest hottest thing- you know, the ol' reliable factor.

    I would like to try some of the Ampeg stuff (heads and cabs)and maybe even Aguilar gear for that "vintagey-modernish" sound (forgive my made up words!). Has anyone else here experienced the same thing I am speaking of or is it the other way around for most of you (discovering hi-fi)?

    Lastly, what gear would you suggest that I try? I play a passive 4 string Celinder jazz bass with nickle roundwounds at low to medium volume levels. I don't need uber-versatility but I would like something musical and full sounding while still cutting through. I don't know a whoe lot about tone shaping and maybe this is part of the problem...things used to be so much simpler when I started playing...everything was just plug-n-play then!

    Sorry for the really long info dump thus far...if you have made it this far in this post and want to respond, I would greatly appreciate any thoughts, insight, correction, etc. Thanks a lot!

  2. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    It's true there's a wide variety of opinions here regarding ampeg. I can't tell you anything about most of the 'hi-fi' gear talked about here but if you are after a 'ballsy' sound I think ampeg has something to offer. I really dig the sound of my svt-cl though an epifani 410ul. At the low to medium volume levels you mention it's absolutely clean but at the same time fat and punchy. The cl has fat low mids which I suspect can be overpowering when mated to the wrong cab, including some of ampeg's own imo. I think this may account for some of the frequent 'muddy' comments about this amp. My 5594 and deluxe jazz 5 sound great with this setup, ballsy, clear, sweet cutting highs and great punch. I've also got a tl audio 5051 preamp and a crest ca9 which sounds great (smooth, clean, warm and hi-fi), but the ampeg sounds and feels better to me, just won't go as loud before it starts to distort. The ampeg wipes the floor with my gk700rb and that's not a bad amp. All imo of course. And if there's one bass I wish I had to use with this rig, it's a Celinder!
  3. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Bronx, NY
    Marc, first off make sure that the push button on your Ashdown is where you get the "flat" sound of the amp. Don't use the preset sound, it's very scooped and won't help. Second, the Ashdown with even a Berg 115 won't do for what you want. I'd suggest either a Bergantino 210 cab (the newer one) or the Berg 610. The 610 will give you that vintage sound but it'll cut. It blows away the Ampeg 810 in every way. I have a feeling that the problem isn't the Ashdown, it's the Ashdown with a 115 cab. As much as I love the Berg 115 it won't compliment the Ashdown as far as for what you're trying to get for a sound.
  4. Yamarc


    Jun 25, 2002
    Okemos, MI
    I was hoping not to lug around anything bigger than a 210...I will try the ashdown again with the tone button in the flat position, but I remeber kinda liking the sound with it on (I also like the option of getting some grind with the tube OD). Thanks
  5. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Bronx, NY
    You can get the tube overdrive still with the without the factory preset on.
  6. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Bronx, NY
    Also, the HT210s would easily give you the volume that you're getting now and more. Amazing little cab.
  7. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    I think I know what you mean marc. I've been stumbling around with bass amps for six years and find myself usually buying solid state because its cheaper and easier to carry, but lately, by accident, I've been reintroduced to the effects of "tubes" on bass sound. which I think might be part if not a large part of what your looking for in sound. I had one amp head that had a tube in it and liked the sound except with the band it seemed to get lost. in hind sight it might have been my guitar or eq or both!!

    I recently heard a eden cxc-110 combo (with the WT330 head in it) and I got to thinking "I really like that heavy eden sound!" I borrowed a WT-300 Eden head (with the tube front end) and loved it even more than the WT-330 (Solid State in the combo) Recently I watched a couple of Eric Clapton videos, "one car (something something)" concert with Nathan East on bass. and "the crossroads concert" various artists, but when Nathan was playing I'm like "man!, what is he playing through!?" the closer I looked I realiized it was Eden, sometimes it was a "world Tour" eden head aand another time I think it was the WP-100 multiple tube preamp! I know there is some other factors involved in recording him, but I think I might be onto something...

    I think some of the "ballsiness" is from the amps, the cabs (darker rather than bright mids) I really like my Aguilar GS-112's.

    good luck on your search...
  8. Bump
  9. TaySte_2000


    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Have you thought about adding a pedal such as the sansamp or even the aphex bass exciter that will make your amp sound alot bigger.

    Just a thought
  10. Yamarc


    Jun 25, 2002
    Okemos, MI
    I don't like a bunch of effects (most seem to just add to the muddiness), I am looking for just an amp at this point...thanks though
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I agree with emjazz. From what you've said, it sounds like you want 10's. You could get a 2x10" cab and ditch the 15" and I personally think that it would be just what the doctor ordered.

    And FWIW, I have never cared for those hi-fi bass amps either. I use an SWR SM-500 and that's as hi-fi as I'll ever want to go. You can still get good warm tone with it, and since I'm too old and lazy to carry around a full-tube head, it's a good compromise. Haven't tried an Ashdown yet but it sounds like I would really like it.
  12. Yamarc


    Jun 25, 2002
    Okemos, MI
    I was actually considering an EA Wizzy...seems like a good balance between modern and vintage...
  13. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I also love the HT115, but for the sound you are after (and in the size you are looking for), the HT210S or an EA NL-210 might be the ticket (with either head).

  14. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    Hi Mark
    I know exactly what you mean. Once via my Mesa 400+, Mesa Diesel 1x15EV, and Lakland Joe Osborn with Lindy Fralin... Thee tone/vibe I had that night is forever stuck in my head as I do love 15"s. It was not the most cutting I ever had, but this room accomodated it perfectly. Really quite memorable. Since, I've got the really clean hifi stuff too. You might want to try a ThunderFunk TBF550 which has no tubes, but sure has that vibe. I'm on my second one and after revisiting this amp I'm very impressed. Great EQ and the Timbre is the magic knob on this amp. It's not the "do-all" but a great one to have in the arsenal. I've still got my WWU (which I might let go....gasp..to finace other stuff) The WWU is a great amp and has a suprisingly tubey sound with lot O head room too, but is an expensive unit. The NV Bergs are great vintage choices but twice as big as you are preferring.

    This the way I see the whole Vintage vs. Modern rig thing.
    #1. Have two complete rigs, one hifi one vintage. I'm actually heading this direction plus you can mix and match if you want. Besides most of us are destine to change our mind or taste at some point. :help: I've even had one manufacturer exclaim he would not let me get near anymore of his gear.... :D

    I finally stopped looking for basses as I have the ones I love (thanks to you on one of them). From that point I started to build my signal chain/tone/vibe. Once there, I really don't thing there is one amp or cab that will make ME happy all the time in every situation. Then .. enter the small portable rig solution :rolleyes:
  15. MrBonex


    Jan 2, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Jeez guys, I think this man is crying out for a good ol' tube head.

    It sounds like you'd like a more modern tone with some valves to round out the vibe. Maybe something like the Eden or Sadowsky. Of course, many of us on TB would also recommend a Trace Elliot V-series if you could find one.

    Another thought might be to find a nice tube preamp -- the Fender TBP1, Trace v-type, Alembic, etc. -- and pick a power amp of your choice.
  16. Luckydog

    Luckydog Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 1999
    yamark, I think you should consider the bass side of the equation too...Have you tried a good Precision with decent rounds and a piece of foam at the bridge?
  17. For the tone you're looking for and the volume levels you're looking to play at you should look into the Mesa Walkabout 12'' combo. It has a nice vintage sounding tube preamp and a tube driven solid state power section with 300 watts of power. Nice and portable as well. I've found that the 12s have a lot of the bottom and warmth of 15s, but also cut through better, more like 10s. If you could find a store in which to try it out, I'm pretty sure you'd become a convert.
  18. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I had this same crossroads in my recent past....

    I went all tube head after ~25 years of swearing on hifi solid state stuff :bassist:


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    ...Kern/Crown, maybe Crest...

  20. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    Well, for me it was more like five years on solid state, but I'm loving my new (mid 70s) Bassman 100 head.