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I'm a new guy who could use some advice on an amp head choice

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by tadnuge, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. tadnuge


    Apr 4, 2014
    First off, I'm much more a guitar guy, so i'm used to having tubes and overdrive pedals, and never being full on clean.
    I joined a band, and am pretty new to bass gear. We recorded an EP recently, and I really liked the studio's old ampeg b25, and would like something similar to the b25's warmth. I've been trying to figure out what amp head to buy next, and of course, i don't have too much cash but would like to be loud enough to go on tour this summer, and of course, sound good!

    I was really considering the portaflex 500, from what i've heard on youtube atleast, I think i've really become a sucker for the ampeg sound, although i'm open to other brands. But then I read on here about a fault mode, so it sounds like something I may not be able to work on myself, which would make it pretty much out of the question for me, as i generally buy used and work on my own stuff. I'm assuming that there probably isn't a way to take it out of fault mode myself if something were to happen, and if i buy one used, I won't have a warranty or anything, therefore if it were to break, i'd have to pay ampeg some dough to fix an amp head i bought for cheap.

    I wouldn't mind buying an ampeg b25, there's one on ebay right now for 400 bucks, but i don't think it's going to be enough watts. The band is a three piece, the guitarist uses my 30 watt tube amp, so it doesn't have to be insanely loud, but I would really rather not buy another amp for a while.

    I thought about building a tube preamp (maybe an alembic clone?) and continuing to use my rather sterile peavey kb300 keyboard amp i'm currently using, as a power amp and cab, until i could replace them with something a little better.

    I suppose what I'm asking is for recommendations on an amp head, or a preamp/power amp combo, just preferably nothing too clean and sterile; i like a bit of overdrive. It doesn't have to be 1000 watts or anything, but I would like to have some headroom in case our guitarist gets a louder amp.

    I would like something along the lines of Dinosaur Jr's bass tone if that help at all. I would like to spend 500 dollars or less (used) on a head if plausible. Maybe an svt350? svt3/4/7 pro? Should I stop being so paranoid about the PF-500? Check out some other brands maybe?
    thanks, and sorry for so many questions! I'm going to browse around here and try to get a little bit more educated in the next month or two before i buy anything.
  2. tadnuge


    Apr 4, 2014
    Maybe one of those peavey mark heads? It seems like those are always in the pawn shop for next to nothing. The guitar amp I have is a peavey delta blues, it seems near indestructible. My peavey keyboard amp i've been using is really too clean and i don't really like that it has the DDT compression that you can't turn off, but I do have plenty of pedals around for overdrive.
  3. 4to5to6

    4to5to6 Bassist Supporting Member

    Sounds like an Ampeg V4B would be a good fit. Remember that tube amps are high maintenance and best to have a back up if touring. There is an amazing old Trace Elliot at Bass North West in Seattle right now http://www.bassnw.com/images/Used Amps and Cabs/Trace Elliot AH350SMX_499.jpg Check out the older tube/solid state Hartke stuff. Lots on eBay. These tube pre/solid state power heads get a wide range of tone with tons of power.

    Cab? Get an efficient (high SPL) 4 ohm cab.
  4. andrklet

    andrklet Guest

    The PF500 problems should be resolved if you get a new unit. If you still worry there is always the PF350 and PF800. I´ve got the 350 and a svt210av. I will definitely need a second cab to be able to compete with my guitarist with his 30 w Orange tube head and 2x12 cab. If you want headroom to spare, id expect the PF350 to be on the small side.

    As your liking the various Ampeg sounds. Pair any of the above with a Sansamp VT Bass. Just got one, loving it!
  5. It sounds like you're strapped for cash. You're better off with a solid state bargain with a bit of power. Is it $500 for the rig or just the amp?

    When a micro amp burns a circuit they usually replace the whole board. Ampeg shows no mercy to out of warranty failures, charging full retail for replacements.
  6. tadnuge


    Apr 4, 2014
    The PF500 and svt pro7 seem to be both out for me, as they just seem to have a lot of problems, and as i'd probably be buying off of craigslist or a pawn shop, it's doubtful that i will know for sure that i didn't get an early one. I am still pretty interested in the other SVT pros though and maybe the pf800. A V4B would be ideal, if i could find one cheap enough.
    I will check out the hartke stuff though. I never really liked their guitar stuff, but I've never heard any of their bass amps. Maybe one of these and a sansamp to hold me over until I can get an old all tube SVT or something.

    Are all these class d micro amps pretty bad for burning up? Coming from playing guitar, that just seems like a ton of heat for those little boxes.

    But to downunderwonder, I would like to get a head for about 500 or under, then i'll probably get a 4x10" or 15" cab. I will use my keyboard amp's speaker as a cab until I can get a real cab. It has either a 4 or 8 ohm 15" speaker, i can't remember the ohm's, but i'm sure it can't handle too many watts as the amp itself is only 150 watts i believe. If we were to play a show tomorrow or something, i know of a few people who would gladly loan me a head and cab, although the idea of that makes me a bit uncomfortable.

    Thank you guys, it's nice having some other options to consider!
  7. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Look for a used Ampeg V4B head.

    Don't know if you'll find one under your budget, and with about any used tube head, you have to factor in a bit of $$$ for new tubes/caps etc. if you are wanting to make it road ready, but it will be a good fit with good power for the tone you are after.

    A completely different direction, a used B100R combo would give you most of the B25 tone goodness with 100 watts of solid state power, plus they are drop dead gorgeous and darn loud for 100 watts. I say used because Ampeg doesn't make 'em anymore, but they still come up for sale now and then.

    And finally, if you can head to Guitar Center or another location that should have a few different Ampegs to try out then try as many as you can. Try out the PF500, the new ones supposedly addressed the failure mode the early generations, but don't be afraid to give the Ampeg BA combo line a whirl. My main gigging rig is an older BA210, but for tone it's no contest, my little BA112 has the Ampeg soul of the Rocket line and I use it as often as I can just because it sounds so frickin' good. :)
  8. billgoodwin


    Mar 28, 2011
    vintage Acoustic --- look no further.
  9. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Grand Rapids Michigan
    No, every class of amp has its growing pains. I have had a PF-500 for almost 2 years and it has been rock solid. I push it hard, and it has yet to have issue.

    In the case of class D amps, they are actually way more efficient than most other amps. I run a 3,000 watt class D amp and it doesnt even get warm.

    For the sound you want, I would look at a used V4B and possibly a used 215.
  10. andrklet

    andrklet Guest

    My little PF350 does not get anywhere near warm, even after 2-3 hrs of, being pushed, trying to keep up with our, probably way to loud, rehearsal levels. Fan hums away nice and quiet.

    There was some burning/plastic smell the first couple of hours of use, but I understand this is normal, and its gone now.
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I've had a PF350 for over two years, and it was great and problem free until a soundman toppled my rig onto a hard stage and broke the preamp board. I've also had a PF800 for over a month, and not only have I had zero problems with it, but I've only seen one reported problem on here since it came out a year ago.

    That said, the V4B is right up your alley, except for the price. But you can do a nice mild overdrive out of the PF350 and PF800 by cranking the gain past where the gain light comes on.
  12. Zoa


    Dec 28, 2009
    I agree that you are a good candidate for a used V4B, PF800, or a B100r.
  13. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    I've got 16 months on my PF500 with no problems. Never a cutout or shutdown.
  14. Another good choice for a warm, slightly dirty sound would be the Aguilar Tone Hammer 500.

  15. +1 for aguilar. i have a TH350 and have run it flat out for three hours through an 8ohm 112, and usually have it at noon through either 4ohm 410 or 810. i've had it for two years and i wish i had bought the 500 instead, but really, it has never let me down. except that one time i thought i'd be ok with the single 112, but that was my fault, not the amp's.
  16. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    lou barlow played marshall ibs series ss amps, which are available at garage sales and pawn shops for about 100 bucks
  17. for that kind of dough i'd look a t used gk,as there is a ton of it out there used and the prices good.......ampeg would be my choice,but with tubes and that's a lot more money....a good used 700rb would get you by until you save up enough for a new v4b or svt
  18. tadnuge


    Apr 4, 2014
    so now my options have expanded to:
    pf-800- definitely like the sound and size, doesn't seem to have the problems that the 500 had.
    aguilar tone hammer 500-sounds fairly similar to the pf-800 to me, i definitely like it
    hartke LH stuff- seems like it would do the job fine, not particularly the most exciting but i use overdrive pedals a lot anyway, fairly inexpensive
    vintage acoustic- i'll keep an eye out, never heard one
    v4b/svt pro/SVT- more money than i'd like to spend, but i definitely like them.
    GK 700rb stuff- i don't know too much about these but from the small amount that i do, they seem similar to the hartke stuff. would do the job just fine i think.

    so what about GK/Hartke with a VT pedal vs a tonehammer 500/pf800? Looking right now to see which would be cheapest and so on.
  19. PBassBear


    Apr 3, 2014
    I am a huge fan of both Peavey and Kustom solid state bass amps. I'm currently using a Peavey MAX 115 II 300 watt combo with a 15" speaker and a piezo tweeter. The TransTube button does provide a very realistic tube tone. Also, Peavey's customer service is legendary in how good it is. You can actually talk to Hartley Peavey if you want to.
  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The VT is a nice pedal for sure, and I've used it to Ampeg up some non-Ampeg rigs in the past. But I'd rather have a head that I didn't have to re-orient to suit my purposes so I can have a clean sound I like plus get an overdrive that I liked from the VT.