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Looking for the right head, I need recommendations on WHAT to

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by KingCrimson, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. KingCrimson


    Oct 6, 2008
    Alright so I'll try and keep this short. I've been using an Ashdown MAG 300 watt amp for about 6 years now, and while it has sounded nice and served me well I do need more head room. It is a LOUD amp but since it is only running 180 watts at 8 ohms the amount of clean head room is disappointing.

    I have 2 yorkville blue fur cabs that are good for 300 watts each and I would love to have an amp that can push one cab at its potential.

    So I'm looking for a versatile amp from 500-1000 watts rms. Versatility is a must. Reason being:

    I just got into an up and coming metal band and I need something with balls and a good mid range to cut through the distorted guitars. As well as a good amount of clean headroom so if I choose to distort I can do it nicely.

    I play jazz and funk as well so I want this amp to be able to produce a nice thick tone with that. A tight bass response would be cool.

    & I play upright bass so I need something to be able to support that half decent as well.

    I like my cabs..a lot, they sound nice and are very, very reliable. I am not willing by any means to get rid of them at all, so please no recommendations on buying a totally new rig. I am simply looking for a head that sounds good, versatile and can do at least 500 watts at 4 ohms.

    Money is not much of an issue for your recommendations but lets keep it at amps less than 1800$ new.

    I know the best thing to do is actually go out and try these amps out, but there are a lot out there so I'm looking for recommendations on what to try.

    Thanks a lot!
  2. pattyløve


    Apr 7, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Engineering, D'addario
    If you've been happy with the MAG300, i recommend trying out something from the ABM line. It will have that familiar Ashdown tone with added features (7 band eq, blendable tube overdrive etc). And most importantly, it will have the added head room. I play an ABM500 (575w RMS) and have played 5000 capacity venues with just that and a 410. Plus, if that still doesnt cut it for you, Ashdown now have the ABM900 and ABM1000 amps.

    There are many good amps out there, best idea is to try them all out! (cliche as it sounds). But if you've been happy with the versatility of your MAG then I highly recommend trying out an ABM at your local store :)

    NB: Ashdown endorsee
  3. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Just so you know, your cabs are probably going to have more influence over your ultimate tone than will your amp head, so be prepared for that fact. Not saying you should sell them - just that there's generally more to "cab color" than there is to "amp color".

    Within your selection criteria, you still have at least dozens & dozens of choices. Class D micro or Class A, Class A/B, Class G, etc.? Tube, solid-state, or hybrid? Voicing: clean & sharp? Soft & pillowy? Smooth & refined? Something with a bit of each?

    FWIW, I wasn't aware that jazz & funk required a "thick" tone - quite the contrary, I'd thought. But to each his own. Versatility is the bottom line.

    For jazz & funk, SWR, GK, Eden, DNA, Genz Benz, Thunderfunk & EBS are all superb. For rock, GK, Mesa, Ampeg, Genz Benz & TecAmp will rock your little heart out. :bassist:

  4. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    If I was going to be playing Jazz, Funk, Pop etc. I'd be looking for a older model Eden; maybe bridge a WT800. I've used their Nemesis range before (they were a hideously unpopular amp) and I loved the tone shaping for clean, precise, compressed and boppy sounds.
  5. Have you tried running both cabs with the Mag? You will have a lot more headroom running both cabs than trying to over-power one cab. If you really want to risk one cab with a lot of power I could suggest the G-K MB500, MB800 or MB Fusion.
  6. KingCrimson


    Oct 6, 2008
    I am aware of the "cab colour" I just wanted to make it clear that I like my cabs and am not willing to sell them. (I just got out of college, don't have much $$ to spend, I need an amp with more headroom more than I need new cabs, I like my cabs as they are tough and reliable and for the most part sound good. I LIKE my sound with that ashdown, I just need more headroom)

    And as for thick, I guess we are mixing our adjectives up. When I think jazz I think ray brown and paul chambers, that UB tone in my mind is "thick". Smooth might have been better? I know for funk I'll need more of a "pop" to the sound, but I play some old R&B and that Jamerson tone is "thick" to me.

    Is there and amp that can do "soft and pillowy", "clean & sharp" and "smooth & refined". I do like warmth but for more aggressive styles like metal I do want kind of warm cut through mids. I know I don't want a "Hi Fi" type of amp. I know that Hi fi tone can be good to cut and a lot of slap players use it but I always preferred warmth.
  7. KingCrimson


    Oct 6, 2008
    Yes I have, but I use each cab at a separate rehearsal space and most of the time I gig with one cab to save space. Its only on special occasions I use the full 4 ohm setup.

    Even so, I have always felt that my Mag never pushed my 410 enough. When I was recording the mag didn't seem to push enough air through my 410 cab, so I went with my 115. I mean at 8 ohms the mag is only running 180 watts. The cabs can take 300 I would love something around 500, 600 watts at 4 ohms.
  8. KingCrimson


    Oct 6, 2008
    Are those micro amps any good with overdrive? I have never particularly liked the markbass heads I have tried, the mids were never aggressive enough although that had a nice deep bass.

    I guess what I'm looking for is an amp that can be real aggressive, but can mellow out as well. Nice mid range but a nice tone too when I roll off some of those mids and go for a deep, mellow tone.
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I haven't tried one, but if you've got $1,800 burning a hole in your pocket, I'm sure Ken Jung would urge you to buy the new Glockenklang Blue Soul. It apparently is the best thing since oxygen. Otherwise, I'd look into the GK MB800 or the TC Electronics RH750.
  10. Try a Hartke Kilo. It has pretty flex tone controls, overdrive, and a compressor built in. plus lots of power.
  11. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Louder cab is the way to go if you dig the head you have.
  12. KingCrimson


    Oct 6, 2008
    I don't have 1800 burning in my wallet, I just want to try out a lot of amps, that way I can find the right sound and try to save up for it if it is that expensive, buy one used at a cheaper price or find a "dream tone" and try to get as close to it as I can with a fixed budget.
  13. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    Genz Benz Streamliner is ballsy and thick.
    Increasing the gain gives a nice warm overdrive or distortion.

    I can't speak about upright bass but for versatility Eden is a good bet. WT550 or WT800 have great tone shaping abilities and have good articulation without being brittle-sounding.
  14. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    What are you cabs (ie how many drivers in them and what size?). You say the MAG didn't have enough headroom with your 4x10, but a lot of 4x10s are not very efficient, while a lot of 15s are pretty efficient. Also, when you use a 4x10 and 1x15 together, you are limited to twice the power the weaker cab can take. I find it hard to believe your cabs are both rated 300w, unless one of them is over or under rated. At any rate that is not an optimum combination.

    If it's the case that your 4x10 is not very efficient, you could stand to gain 6-9 db by going with one with a higher sensitivity. Something like an SWR Goliath III is rated at about 103db per watt, and something like 700w power handling. Which means they get crazy loud with not much amp behind them (and louder with more amp behind them). 9db would be like taking your 180w of Ashdown thunder and turning it into 1440w of Ashdown hurricane.

    Getting a more powerful amp is pointless because you don't have the cab right now to handle it. If you had a 60,000w amp and the same cabs, you still won't get much louder than you are now, especially with one cab at a time. And you would probably just blow your drivers. Watts are honestly not the most important thing for getting volume. If you had enough cab (2x15 or more), you could practice with a metal band with a 30-50 watt tube amp.

    So I would suggest selling your current 4x10, getting a more efficient one like the SWR, and either keeping your Yorkville 15 to use for practices at a different location, or if you want to at some point use 2 cabs for gigs, get another SWR 4x10. Hopefully you could get 300-500 for the Yorkville cabs and 2 SWR 4x10s might run you $700-800. If you rolled up to a gig with 2 SWR G3s (assuming your Yorkville 4x10 is say 94db), you could use a 12w amp and have the same apparent headroom as your 180w Ashdown.
  15. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    Alternately, you could go for 2 high powered, compact single 15 cabs with good efficiency and power handling (minimum 300w each), at 8 ohms each. This should give you enough volume for practice with 1 cab, and keep the size small enough to gig with both.
  16. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    It may also amount to the difference between the acoustic upright bass paradigm, and the electric bass paradigm. In the electric bass world, where I come from, jazz is pretty much synonymous with "clean with clarity". :meh:

    FYI, hi-fi precision and warmth are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Just in the common vernacular - and in the minds - of far too many bassists... :eyebrow:

    That said, I would go along with the choice of one of the higher-powered Eden heads - preferably something like 10-15 years old, but very well preserved.

    The higher-powered Eden Nemesis amp heads are also a great choice. Unfortunately they're also out of production, so they're increasingly hard to find.

    I own a Nemesis RS700, which I love. Its predecessor, the NA650 is also no slouch, while its successor, the EN700, is virtually identical. They're clean yet warm, with a smooth yet articulate voicing that works for a lot of genres - especially pop, jazz, R&B, gospel, etc. Rough it up a little with some overdrive, and it works great for rock too. :bassist:

  17. KingCrimson


    Oct 6, 2008
    Thanks for the replies, I looked into Eden but I have yet to try one, from what you say that looks like a very viable option.
  18. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    You're not listening. You're not really going to be able to use much more power with your current cabs, so thinking that amp headroom is your issue is a mistake. More efficient cabs that can take an equivalent amount of power to each other (and more than your current cabs) is what will make the biggest, cheapest difference in your sound/volume.

    But if you're dead set on getting a new head anyway, I recommend the modern Trace stuff (like an AH 600-12). Sounds awesome.
  19. KingCrimson


    Oct 6, 2008
    I have listened but I've always heard that 300 SS watts won't allow for the most headroom, as well I've tried to look into the actual efficiency of my cabs (without any luck mind you) to compare them to current cabs on the market. If my cab can take 300 watts at 8 ohms then why not get a head that can push it to do so without distorting so early on? As well I am very, very, very careful with my purchases and as I will need a new head at one point anyways I am thinking of doing just that. Even if I can get a more efficient cab, I would like to test it out myself to see how much headroom I can achieve, something I don't think I can do at a music store considering the volume.

    Is there anyway I can test the efficiency of my 410 cab to see if it is actually worth it to buy a new cab, because I will not just assume that it is extremely inefficient only to be left with the same problem I have now and a unnecessary hole in my wallet.

    Thanks for the info btw!

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