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Labor Day SWR Score #2: $80 Basic Black

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Bongolation, Sep 5, 2005.


  1. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    After coming back with the 550X from GC (factory sealed box, $499.99),I was looking online for local ads selling SWR cabs for it.

    Didn't find any, but saw an ad for a Basic Black that "needed some work" for $80.

    Went to see it and was pretty amazed. It was dirty, but in very, very nice shape. I asked about the work, and the guy said that sometimes it made "screechy sounds." He took out his Jazz Bass and slapped, snapped, popped and jived and couldn't make it malfunction. The closest we could come was getting crunchy sounds when kicking the cab a bit. The original speaker and horn were fine. He said he thought it was an input jack or a bad preamp tube. He said he bought it for about the same price from a guy thinking it was 100% but after having it screech a couple of times, he just put it in the garage where it's collected dust and doghair ever since. He was cleaning the place out and wanted to get rid of some of his marginal gear.

    Whatever's wrong with this is probably pretty trivial.

    Any thoughts on where to start the diagnostics?

    Whatever it is, it doesn't sound that serious, does it?.
     
  2. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Popping the chassis, I see that the input jack, one of those really wretched first-generation plastic jobs, is almost totally trashed. This can't possibly help.

    The tube is one of those equally-awful Chinese 12AX7s that came OEM in everything in around 1990-98. It looks like it's seen better days, a little "smokey" looking.

    Everything else looks good, no heat damage, no hamfisted repairs, nothin'.

    Anyone know where I can get a schematic of this thing online?

    As always, thanks for any help!
     
  3. justBrian

    justBrian

    Apr 19, 2002
    Kansas City, MO
    Nice score dude!
     
  4. Very nice!
     
  5. Lync

    Lync Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2004
    NY
    I had a Basic Black and will say that once the preamp tube starts to go, weird things will happen. Of course this is like this with most tube amps, but the BB would be okay, then weird (lower volume than normal, some distortion, etc), then okay, etc. Once you notice it the first time, just change the tube.

    Cool amp!
     
  6. Lync

    Lync Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2004
    NY
    Also, I forgot to add that I had to replace the input jack also.
     
  7. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    I replaced the tube and messed with the jack (which needs replacement) and haven't been able to find any problems.

    I think there may be some component oscillation at high volume, particularly one cement resistor that was bumped off its foam damping pad. That's easily fixed.

    It could be that this thing need to be cranked up more to get any weirdness, or else I've fixed it. :confused:

    So far, the hardest thing is getting the carpet cleaned on it.

    Aside from that, it looks very nice (well, for a gruesomely ugly SWR anyway) and sounds good.

    Eighty bucks!
     
  8. bmc

    bmc

    Nov 15, 2003
    Switzerland
    I picked up a new Basic 2-way cab this year. That's right, a new one. Made in 1996 and sitting on a showroom floor in a himudity controlled room with a bunch of acoustic guitars.

    That extension cab is a sleeper. I think may guys over looked them as the Basic Black was only 120 watts. The cab is rated at 250 watts and it's a rear ported 8 ohm cab. It is a punchy cab good bottom end response. I guess SWR saw little value marketing two 1-15 cabs at the same time (Son of Bertha and Basic 2-Way). Both are close enough in specs although the Son of Bertha is rated to 350 watts.

    The Basis Black and the Basic 2-Way fell under SWR's professional line and not their budget Workingman's series. It's good quality stuff. Hell of a score there. Good for you.
     
  9. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Yeah, I thought so. Funny, the previous owner held it in contempt. "That's a bass amp," he said as he pointed to a '70s SVT sitting in the garage floor. :p Well, he's right, of course, but the SWR stuff is real, too.

    Funny guy; he was absolutely determined to prove to me that this thing had a problem, but he couldn't to get it to happen, aside from a crunchy rattle or two. After changing the burnt tube and working on the jack, I couldn't get any malfunction at all after letting it run for a couple of hours, so maybe I fixed it. If not, it can't be anything much. I need to crank it up, but I can't do that here.

    I think that cab you got was specifically intended to be the extension cab for the Basic (or as originally named before a European trademark dispute, "Bassic") Black. It's geared for running an 8 Ohm extension cab for 160W@4 Ohms and is configured for stacking, with the original cab footprint.

    I'm going to strip the cab of the speaker and chassis and give the carpeting a real cleaning today. I spotted it a bit last night and clipped the pills off of it and it looks like it's going to clean up to about new condition, but it's going to take some judicious damp cleaning and wet-flushing with my giant shopvac. Thing stinks.

    Shame it's such an ugly, crude looking amp though. I could never understand why Rabe's original stuff always looked like middle-school shop projects. :confused: Worst presentation-to-MSRP ratio in a gear line I think I've ever seen in my life.

    Really, who would believe a '90s MSRP of US$999 for this? [not mine, but a Googled picture of the identical unit -- mine's in a little better shape than this]:

    [​IMG]

    Still, I'm not beefing! :D
     
  10. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    Chicago
    First....nice score... I live for situations like this!!!

    You might be better off just skinning the critter and recovering it with new carpet (rather than trying to clean it).

    I bought a budget priced Hartke 4.5XL that was quite nasty...dried "stuff" on it, burns, pet hair, candle wax, etc.

    It took me about 15 minutes to skin it (longer to take the grille, handles and corners off, than to peel off the carpet). I recovered it in less than an hour (IIRC) and it looked and smelled like new.

    Carpet is cheap at www.partsexpress.com, the spray adhesive will cost you more than the carpet...but it works well and goes really, really quickly. Make sure you use a very sharp knife to trim it with (I use a No. 1 Xacto with a brand new blade).

    Have fun!!!!
     
  11. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    The original carpet on these is different from the current Ozite. It's more like real carpeting, better quality.

    I'm good at upholstery, but I'd just as soon clean this up and keep it original. By the time I order the Ozite and go through the hassle of getting it, my enthusiasm for the project would have blown over and I'd have a roll of Ozite and a stinking old amp in the studio forever after. There's middle-aged self-knowledge at work, son! :p

    The guy also had an old LA series that was totally DOA and someone's cat had scratched the carpet down to bare wood. That certainly would have been a candidate for recovering, but I passed on it even at $20 because I know I never would have gotten around to ressurecting it and it would have just been more junk.

    My method for dealing with this is the same for cleaning car carpet: Clean up the loose crud with masking tape, vacuum with a POWERFUL shopvac, hit small areas at a time with carpet cleaner, brushing in straight lines in one direction so as not to make new pilling, and working fast, throw water on it, quickly brush again and immediately hit it hard with the wet/dry vac, which will seem to pull out pure mud. A powerful shopvac will pull the moisture out so well that it's just slightly damp when you're done.

    Working wet like that scares some folks, thinking the carpet will lift, but my take is that if all that beer-soaking didn't pull it loose, nothing will. :D
     
  12. bmc

    bmc

    Nov 15, 2003
    Switzerland
    I bought my cab just after Christmas for USD300 new. They had it on the floor for 9 years asking USD1,100 and wondered why it never sold. There's a music store here in Geneva that has the same speaker cab for USD1100. They insist that despite SWR making them between 1993 and 1998, it is still a new cab. When I suggets to them that I can by a real "new" cab for less and send it Fedex for cheaper, they get a blank stare on their face and can't respond. They have difficulty understanding concepts like cash flow, moving product and being competitive in a competitive world.

    They make good cheese though.

    idiots.
     
  13. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Whoa!

    I just checked CraigsList and found the guy's picture of my amp. I forgot he'd posted one...OK, here's mine:

    [​IMG]

    ...and here's the DOA cat-scratched LA I passed on for $20:

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Hey, I spent the past couple of days cleaning this thing up.

    From today's e-mail to a friend:

    I replace the tube, secure the resistor and do as good a repair of the jack as I can, absent a replacement. I turn it on for a couple of hours and it's fine, no problems. Still looks about as bad as can be imagined and smells worse.

    I strip the cab, pull the chassis, grille, speaker and corners and start trying to clean up the cab.

    I used about a quarter roll of masking tape to pull all the dog hair out I could. This took _hours_. I took it out back and hit it with my 6.5 horsepower shopvac to pull out as much awfulness as mere suction could. Then I got some carpet cleaner and hit the carpeting with it and quickly brushed it in real hard. I waited a few minutes and doing one side at a time, hit it with scalding water out the garden hose spray nozzle, brushed quick and got it with the shopvac and pulled all this muddy wet filth right out of it. Repeated in the worst places and revacuumed to get it almost completely dry. A few minutes in the sun did the rest.

    I carefully cleaned the speaker, the grill and all the odds & ends, touching up a few little scratches with a touch-up pen.

    I get the cab up where I can work on it again and start doing Round II with the masking tape (which leaves no glue residue) getting the last of the remaining doghair brought up by the scrubbing and shopvac. Then I get out an electric hair clipper and carefully give all the carpet a going over, getting the pills and stringy pulls all cut off so the carpeting is perfectly smooth as original. I put everything back clean in the cab and tighten it down.

    How does the amp look?

    LIKE...BRAND...NEW! Clean, shiny carpet that smells fresh, looks new, everything spiffy! I've bought "new" gear at GC that was in worse shape. All my theories about how to rejuvenate amp carpeting were justified.

    Amazing! I thought it might clean up OK, but man, it's immaculate!

    All I have left to do is get some proper mounting screws and washers for the chassis and do a replacement of the input jack for cosmetic purposes and it's totally done.


    So...not bad for $80, huh?
     
  15. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    Chicago
    Way cool!!! :hyper:

    Now, you know that it's a requirement that we HAVE to see pictures of the finished project!
     
  16. bmc

    bmc

    Nov 15, 2003
    Switzerland

    Great. Now you can put it up for sale in Amps for sale, jack up the price, and make a killing off of us, now that we all know how much you have sunk into it.

    Seriously though, Bass Player magazine rated that amp as the best combo when it came out.