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Low wattage tube guitar head good for bass

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Sethakamoe, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. I am wondering if there is a good cheap low wattage tube guitar head that I can use with my ampeg svt 210 av for my bass rig
  2. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    You have to do some mods but a Epi Valve Jr. works great.
    I have modded two of them and they make a great tube practice amp.
    You can find them used for under $100 and another $80-100 in mods.
    Be sure to get a series 3 or 4. A 2 is okay but don't bother with a 1
  3. My dad has a black heart little giant I could see how good it sounds but I have never have used a guitar amp for bass I was thinking about a orange mini terror or what ever the one is that is like under 200 dollars
  4. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    The micro terror is the under $200 one and it's a hybrid, not a tube amp. With a low volume tube guitar amp (and especially a cheap one) the issue you're going to run into is that the output transformer isn't going to be spec'd well enough to get you good bass output at volume without a lot of distortion. For bedroom practice, sure, it'll be fine.
  5. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Mostly cheap means tiny transformer and thus worst case scenario for bass. Oldschool 70s amps tended to be more generous, Sound City 50w PA amps and old Carlsbros are great for bass, dunno what US equivalents are like though.
  6. NightCat


    Apr 4, 2013
    I think dhracer is right. Guitar amps, tube or whatever, are tuned differently. It may just mean changing input/output capacitors but the head will probably need to be modded. Modded to get good consistent full bass tone.

    I say this because I have a very nice Ampeg Jet II guitar amp, 15W all tube. After reading all the threads on low-watt tube heads I wanted one for recording. I plugged the speaker out of the guitar amp into a 12" SWR bass cab. Plugged the bass into the amp, and was crushed..... Any notes lower than the open A string was severely attenuated and the "tuby" distortion was inconsistent across the range of the bass frequencies.
    I didn't want to modify my Ampeg so I put it back together and us it as intended, guitar.
    Anyway, that's my experience with one guitar tube amp.
  7. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    My experience with a 20w Krank Rev Jr. Pro was not great. I plugged my Sansamp right into the FX loop to drive my 1x12 cab. Only so much volume. In this case I was getting transformer breakup instead of power tube breakup. Could have been design of the amp though (20w via 2 6L6).
  8. gastric

    gastric Professional product tester for hire

    Jun 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Source Audio BETA tester
    Cheap is your problem requirement. :)

    Best bet would be to look for an old vintage tube head of any type (like old Univox of Fender tube PA head) - PA, guitar, bass, etc. and give it a try.

    I have a not-cheap Ashdown Little Bastard 30W all tube head. It's current production, sounds awesome, and while it's a bass head it also makes a good (and very loud) guitar head.
  9. Ok well that all sucks so like how much would it be to have some one mod a cheap hybrid or tube. Amp from guitar to bass
  10. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    More than it would be worth. Just find a vintage low watt amp as suggested, they can be found in the $300-500 range if you're diligent enough.
  11. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    Tube power amp (link) + Preamp of some sort. This type of system would rock way more than some small guitar head, which will cost ya like ~$300 probably anyway.
  12. gastric

    gastric Professional product tester for hire

    Jun 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Source Audio BETA tester
    I picked up a cheap Jet City Picovalve. It sounded *horrible* on bass. It was a simple amp to work on and I modded it to sound better for guitar. But I never saw any users attempting to mod them for bass. Most of the current small wattage (1-7 watt) guitar amps are designed for gain at low volumes. Which isn't likely what you're shooting for with bass.

    Again, "cheap" is the hurdle to overcome. Low wattage or not. :)
  13. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    When it comes to frequency response, old-school guitar amps won't be a problem, but modern high-gain amps could really be a problem. Classic amps, back in the era of amps like SF fenders and earlier, used high pass filters that wouldn't effect bass guitar frequencies. Fenders were typically tuned around 20 Hz, with some going down as far as 2 Hz. All that changed when people started modding amps for higher gain and it became necessary to tailor LF response to prevent farting.

    I have lots of tube mps and I rotate them through my living room for noodling while I watch TV. I've often practiced bass through a 5W single-ended Vibrochamp. It works, but I can't get very loud. Last week I was playing bass through a 15W push-pull Orange Tiny Terror. No mods required.

    It can be done -- the big limitation is going to be volume. As you know, what can be a really loud amp for guitar just isn't very loud for bass.
  14. Ok well thanks for the info guys and links this is my first thread just joined to day impressed by how many post are already on here this is so far a awesome forum
  15. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    The mod to the VJ are very easy. I am not a amp tech by any means and I had no problem with it.
    I just checked and the price of the 125ESE Hammond Output Transformer has gone down sense I bought my last one. They are only about $60 shipped.
    To get them to work for bass a bass amp needs some iron in the OT. Before putting the Hammond in and just using good tubes anything lower than a A would distort and sound bad.
    Put some top notch tubes in it and the OT and they rock. Mine will play a low B no problem.
    I run a Agular Tone Hammer in front of mine and I have as much tone shaping as any amp.
    Running a VJ with your cab will get loud enough without distortion to upset anyone in your house or apartment building.
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Ya, it's all about the output tranny.
  17. gastric

    gastric Professional product tester for hire

    Jun 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Source Audio BETA tester
    Just my personal opinion, but if you're going to sink $200 into an Valve Jr and spend your effort dinking with mods you might be better served looking into a better overall amp that'll likely sound better and have more features.

    Don't forget to look at tube combo amps. You can simply run the amp portion into your existing cabinet, or yank the amp out of the combo entirely. They're often cheaper than head-only solutions.
  18. JellinWellen


    Oct 18, 2012
    Yeah Don't get a jet city picovalve, I borrowed my friends while my good amp was getting serviced and that things power tube distortion sounds like cab farts. (it wasnt my cab)

    Look for a used fender bassman head, the silverface ones go for about 300-400 for the 50 watt heads. About 400-550 for the 100 watt heads.
  19. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    I have the picovalve its actually not bad if you swap the tubes. Change the power tube to a 6550 or a kt88, swap in a 12at7 in the v1 and a nicer 12ax7 in the v2 and it sounds pretty decent. It breaks up at like 7 on the gain instead of 3-4. Those cheap chinese tubes it came with suck and belong in the trash.
  20. the valve junior is one that I like, plug it into a 410, max the volume and dig in, it's a pretty raunchy distorted bass tone, I like it at least.

    That said, other people have said it well in that you're going to need to mod it to get a good clean bass sound out of it, at least with any real volume, but my vote goes to the valve jr.

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