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Looking for a tube amp solution...warm, fat and funky?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by hopturn, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. hopturn


    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    I've had differentl Genz-Benz shuttle hybrid combos for years...before that I had two different Eden amps (pre-buyout). I've just grown tired of trying to milk the funk out of hybrid amps, but I'm also planning on keeping my Shuttle 6.0 combo for light gigs. I want to step into the tubey universe. Been listening to a lot of funky/jazzy/afrobeat types of music and am playing in a nice funk ensemble with horns and minimal guitar. I need the warmth and foundation characteristics of tubes.

    I'm not interested in lugging around an Ampeg 8X10 cabinet with me, as I have a herniated disc (car injury) but I'm not incapable of hauling around a little bit of bulk. I was doing some research into Mesa Boogie's Prodigy bass amps...seem too harsh from what reviewers have said.

    About me...I play American Fender Jazz basses and Musicman Stingrays. I gig 3-5 nights a week. I like PHAT bottom jiggling skunky funk. A little dirty...not modern sounding at all. More James Brown, Monophonics, The Whitefield Brothers, Dap Kings...kinda' retro. Any suggestions will be thoroughly researched too. I have a great PA and run my own sound, so I will never need to worry about PA support either.

  2. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    From what you are describing, I think the first amp I'd steer you towards is a Fender Super Bassman 300. Great vintage clean tube tone, great modern tube clean tone, great tube overdriven tone... It just seems to do it all well.
  3. bigsnaketex


    Dec 29, 2011
    Down South
    Fender Super Bassman 300 or 100T depending on your output needs.

    That's the best you'll get to that "old" funky sound!
  4. Ender_rpm


    Apr 18, 2004
    St. Louis MO
    I'll (yet again) Plug the EBS TC90. Its basically a 90 watt B15 head. Had it for almost 2 years and love it. Plenty loud, the sound you get back is very much influenced by your cabinet. With an Eminence CB15, was very old school and fat, with the paired 410, still very fat, but a bit more high end, through an Ampeg 210AV its punchy and full. Great amp, and has been very reliable. And I liek that when I hit it hard with a pick, the front end over drives JUST right :)
  5. BbbyBld


    Oct 13, 2005
    Meridian, MS
    What you are describing is precisely what the VB-2 was designed to do. I am way into JB, Meters, Isely's, etc...
  6. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    North East Texas
    I love the fender sound, so +1.

    I think the mesa would be perfect for you. There are so many tones in that amp that I'm sure you could dial in what you want. Seems to do everything from bright modern to old school vintage. Plenty of power, and a small package that perfect for your back.

    The V-4B reissue might be worth a look. Also maybe a mesa buster - you will have to find one used, but they are very cool amps.

  7. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    +1 I'm saving up for the 100T
  8. hopturn


    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    I'm a little shocked to hear so much support for the Fender Bassman stuff. Usually, Fender bass amps seem to get bashed around here. Although, I'm definitely not opposed to anything, and the auto-biasing feature sounds good.

    Regarding the Fender 100T and the Ampeg V-4B, will 100 watts be enough to push the band onstage with some real thump? What cabinets would you guys care to recommend for a 100watt tube amp? What are your recommendations for the 300watt versions? I've been looking for a reason to buy a LDS cab, but I want something that makes ME want to dance onstage.
  9. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    100 watts, 2 15's in a very efficient design or you will have no clean bottom. Even then, clean are going to be hard to come by. I have 2 old Music Man heads (1970's edtions) 100 and 150 watts. If i need loud I carry an MB Fusion. The tubes are reserved for relatively low volume - even for me! settings. Note that
    Both these amps have been through the typical old tube amp health checks, re-tube and re-cap the power supply where necessary. Both are strong, healthy examples of their breed. The cab I run through is a 2x15 design. My take on the JohnK10 Starliner cab, loader with 3015's. i might look for a more efficient 15 with lower power handling at some point to see if I can eek a few more db's out...

    If I were to do my whole thing with tubes, it would probably be with an SVT. I would try the Traynor 300 watter mayb ethe Peavey as well. I doubt I would find the romance in either though. Given I'm not carrying 100+ pounds of tube amp and road case, it seem unlikely I'll be doing that anythime soon.

    In your situation I would consider that tubes are not always the best answer. I like having them in the stable but they are only a part of the stable. From your description I would think an old WT 800 A or an MB Fusion would be great choices. Both can get the sightly (or more) wooly low end while still retaining punch (without going into compression) at fairly high volume levels.

    The Shuttle left me flat. Very little character - not a bad thing if you are looking for the amplified sound of your bass in a studio monitor fashion. Just not a lot of inspriation coming from that head for my ears. The Streamliner has scads of charater, can do old school. Might be worth a look. I found it difficult to live with in a live performance setting - my relative unfamiliarity with the baxandall type of interactivity. Fender style I grok... I sold off my SL for that reason... if I had the time to really sus the tone stack, that might have made the difference.

    The other thing ... Warm bottom and Stingray ? If you are thinking old school maybe a P or PJ would get you closer to the sound in your head from the git go... I love the Ray and the EBMM stuff seems superbly constructed. Tonally for me it doesn't do 'old school'. YmmV and all that
  10. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    How big do you need? Ampeg B100R (combo) might get you just the tone you are looking for, at a relatively low price too. It's not toob but has the mojo big time.
  11. KablesP


    Oct 29, 2013
    Ampeg SVT II. You may not think you need 300 tube watts but when you want to get just a little louder and you don't want to distort your low end, its necessary. It can do everything you are looking for sound wise as well.
  12. jasper383

    jasper383 Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    Yes, the new Fender tube heads are great.

    Must it be all tube?

    Fat tubey sound plus back trouble says Streamliner to me.
  13. Bassmec


    May 9, 2008
    Ipswich UK
    Proprietor Springvale Studios
    This would be a sound investment,
    I have built a Hiwatt Dr 201 4XKT88
    clone and used to own an original Dr201.
    It was very, very reliable even though it had been seriously "rode hard and put away wet".
    It was lighter than my old SVT blue line and goes very nearly as loud clean and when it does break up it sounds utterly awesome.
    The Reeves clone is very well built on turret boards just like the original,
    apart from the Reeves there is always the mighty Matamp 200 also a hand wired beauty that will last for life.
    By the way we are still all looking for the above amp and cab sadly stolen from Taystee a while back, if anybody sees it tell Taystee.
    Fender have had quite a few problems with the new auto bias function.:bassist:
  14. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Fender seems to have (finally?) figured out how to make a great sounding bass amp and cabinet rig ,the relatively new 100T and 300 Super Bassman are getting a lot of attention right now. Lots of excited and happy folks right now on Talkbass saying a lot of good things about Fender bass amps, time will tell I guess.

    The Ampeg V4B is a good, solid, and iconic benchmark for what lower (relatively speaking) wattage bass tube amps can and should do.

    With all this said, I will second the opinion to audition Peavey's VB-2 as it has a fantastic sound and great price point for a USA made (if that matters to you, it does to some) all tube amp.

    Good luck.
  15. smokin-bear


    Dec 12, 2008
    Ft. Collins
    Get yourself a Monique/Minnie combo or use some other power amp. No bad sounds possible from Monique. :p
  16. Tim1


    Sep 9, 2005
    New Zealand
    Of the Fender Bassman 100T and Super Bassman 300 I have owned both concurrently and ended up selling on the 100T. It is still a great amp but the 300 has the same basic tone and more - to my ears the extra grunt of the 300 adds more weight and tightness to the bottom even at lower volumes, and it just seems a tad more versatile tonally. Of course very much IME/IMHO.
    Don't discount the Orange AD200 - less versatile perhaps, but it has a creamy bottom end and very much plug and play. Quite a magic amp in the right circumstances although the cost in the States works against it. Plus it is not too heavy.
  17. hopturn


    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    Thanks for all the info so far...been obsessing with the Monique/Minnie combo all afternoon (I should actually be working!), but it's just so dang expensive. not saying it isn't worth it either. the fender bassmans are in the running. the ampeg v4b is also looking good. hell, maybe i should just buy an Ampeg SVT-CL and a 6X10 cab. so many choices...just not enough local retailers to make good comparisons.

    that monique sounds great BTW.
  18. d180fuzz

    d180fuzz C21H30O2

    Jul 10, 2008
    West Los, CA
    Here's what you need. Nearly every tone under the sun at your fingertips.

    Power? You won't need more.
    Weight? Not nearly as much as an SVT.
    Price? A steal for what you get.

    Attached Files:

    • d180.
      File size:
      45.8 KB
  19. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    All good stuff.

    Something different to consider: your cab choice.

    I believe cab choice and selection is too often overlooked in our tone quests.

    The suggestion of the Ampeg B100R is a perfect example, it has so much of everything so many love about tube driven portaflexes, except the little fact that it uses transistors instead of tubes. It has quality components, the amp has small enough wattage that it actually gets pushed a little at small venue volumes, and it's driver and cab performance seem to match the amplifier performance perfectly.

    Just saying, lots of variables affect tone and how well an amp sounds, not just tubes! :)
  20. hopturn


    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    Regarding the Mesa D-180...seems like a great deal if it can be found. And as far as SS or hybrid amps go, I really like my current Genz Benz rig for that...IMO, you can't find a better lightweight combo that the Shuttle series (if you like the sound of your bass and your technique is decent).

    DogBone: I'm really interested in finding a good matching head/cabinet. In fact, I know less about cabinets than most people. For the last few years I've been using mostly my Shuttle as a preamp and in-ear monitors. The last time I experienced G.A.S. they were still making Accugroove El Whappo's! I'm looking for a cab that I can (and would want to) mic live/in studio.

    And I'm not interested in those cheapo Ampeg combos and that kind of stuff. I really want to sound "authentic" as a soul/funk/afrobeat bassist. I've always held to the philosophy that your sound comes from your fingers mostly, but it's this other element that I just can't squeeze out of SS and hybrid amps. I mean, you can almost get there in a live situation with some EQing, but I need to record this sound live in the studio as well.