marshall super bass: can you get that mel schacher fart?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bon viesta, Nov 28, 2022.

  1. bon viesta

    bon viesta

    Dec 10, 2020
    i know all the classic tube amps have their own unique form of distortion, depending on the preamp and tubes used and whatever else. i may have found a good deal on a plexi clone 100 watter, but i’m wondering if it’s really enough to get loud enough and fart the way i want. a la mel schacher, or that jack bruce wail of death he got in live cream shows. tight, gritty but not so overboard that it just sounds like a low tuned guitar. NOT lemmy territory. excellent example is the live grand funk album from 1970.

    i know he used a west amp, which is probably more similar to the american breeds of tube amps from that period like sunn or fender or ampeg, but west amps aren’t really a common thing.
  2. bon viesta

    bon viesta

    Dec 10, 2020
    should also mention that an svt is also in consideration, a used one is around for the same price. it’s a silly question to ask but: is there a lick of hope in getting an (non master) svt to fart like mel without blowing my ears off? i was thinking about building a purposely inefficient but high wattage cab for such a tone.
  3. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Trying to copy Mel Schacher tone at low volume seems a bit of a non-sequitar.

    I think the Marshall will probably give you more of what you want, if the goal is keeping the volume at a reasonable level. The preamp in vintage SVTs is clean and has a lot of headroom. The output section in these amps will be pushed into OD long before the preamp. I think SVTs sound great pushed to the edge, but not over it.

    Plexis are fairly collectable and draw premium prices. A later JMP or even and early JCM800 should sound and perform very similiarly at a lower price. I am not a huge Mel Schacher fan, so I do don't really have my finger on his tone all that well, so I don't know which amp has the most appropriated baked in voicing. The voicing of the Marshall and SVT are very different, and they cannot be adjusted to sound similar without using outboard gear.

    The cab will definitely play a big roll. The vintage sound is sort of bloomy. Running bass through guitar cabs tends to produce this quality. I think part of it is the box is undersized for the specs of the drivers, which causes the response to have a bump in the between the low-mids, and high bass. Also I believe this make the speaker underdamped. Not an expert on speaker design though. I will say that I have a Greenboy Dually loaded with Faital 15PR400, and it is way more vintage sounding than I typically like.

    Selecting low efficiency speakers is probably not going to give you what you want as there are often tradeoffs that result in low efficiency. For example, drivers designed for extended LF response in small cabs tend to have lower efficiency. I believe this short of driver will typically have a stronger motor, and also the design choices will compromise the mids and treble response of the driver.

    If possible, I suggest trying both amps so you get first hand experience. Don't be in a hurry to buy, unless you really hear something you think is special and useful. A 100W Marshall will need efficient cabs to work well in a loudish rock band. Most people think and SVT and a single 810 is plenty loud. My point is take a holistic view of what the amps actually will do for you. The first bass rig I bought was a brand new MTI era SVT and 810, and I consider that purchase a mistake...awesome amp but it did not suit my needs very well. This is something I learned within a few seconds of playing the rig for the first time.

    Maybe some of these videos will help you compare:

    If you want the Ampeg sound with distortion at a relatively low volume, consider the PF50T.
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  4. daveman50

    daveman50 Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Albany NY
    You also need a humbucker/sidewinder pickup by the neck to get that sound. At least 20 k-ohms.
    Iristone, johnnynitro and bobyoung53 like this.
  5. johnnynitro


    Jan 14, 2012
    I'm a huge Mel fan. Although I don't copy his tone. My thinking has it that his bass with that pickup is a big part of his sound. Not to confuse you. But when I saw GF (new) at the Redwood run a while back. And even more recent pics. He's playing SVTs. His bass was a Sunburst Jazz. And if I remember it was NOT the one with the Gibson PU ? Not 100% sure about the bass. Try googling their current lineup/ pics ?
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  6. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    You could get that sound out of an SVT but it would REALLY be loud, I've done it with an SVT and a P bass but it was just too loud. Mel's Jazz bass had a Gibson EB-0 pickup in it which had a lot to do with his sound. Jack Bruce used 100 watt Marshalls with a Gibson EB-3 although I think he primarily used the bridge pickup. I actually think the V4-B head that Wasnex put in above would work well as they have very good tone controls, is the Plexi clone a lead or a bass amp? But think vintage EB-0, EB-3 etc or buy an old EB-0 pickup and have a luthier mod a Fender. I love Marshalls, I have an old 200 watt Major but it too is really too loud to get that sound out of at least in a normal club. Even an old Fender Dual Showman at 85 watts would probably do it for you with a Gibson pickup but the EB-0 pickup is just about mandatory for that sound.

    Check out the EB-0 pickup in his Jazz bass, that was actually a fairly common mod during the 60's, Billy Sheehan's "Wife" P bass also had one against the neck.

    Also these EBS Valvedrive pedals do a pretty good Mel Schachter sound, they'll go anywhere from clear, to slight bite, to Mel and won't lose the bottom, plus they have tone controls
    . I have an SVT and use those if I want a lot of distortion, they're not cheap either though, three to four hundred bucks but they do sound authentic to me. They overdrive a 12AX7 tube.

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  7. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Was he getting that same sound as he used to? I too think a lot of it was the EB-0 pickup plus cranking tube amps.
    bon viesta likes this.
  8. SlowpokeJoe

    SlowpokeJoe Supporting Member

    There is this:

    LowActionHero likes this.
  9. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    You’d be closer to it using a Sunn 200s(60w from two KT88) or 2000s(120w from four KT88, or in a pinch, 6550). A Model T(4xKT88)may not quite fit the bill, it’s a slightly different beast. It’s my understanding that the West amps were based on Sunn design. A well maintained Sunn tube amp will give you plenty of low umph and high end clarity, and will stay clean until it doesn’t…
    When it hits its brick wall, it’s buzzsaw time. You can hear that on Mountain records.
    Otherwise, there’s a number of boutikki Sunn style overdrive pedals, but the real grind is in the power tubes, not the preamp,
    Patrice B and bobyoung53 like this.
  10. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    This is on my bass board full time.
    Sushi JC Emerald. It’s just what I wanted to come close to that sound but also make a clean chime when I want that. 2 12AX7 tubes. It’s a baller.
    I’d love to commission a Bray Plexi amp but can’t really justify it. This is it. Demos online.
    kesslari and HolmeBass like this.
  11. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    One more thing, not sure about Mel but I know Jack Bruce used flatwounds, most likely Mel did too.

    Check this out, Keith Ferguson used an early 50's P bass and a cranked white Fender Showman head with two fifteens.

    Last edited: Nov 28, 2022
  12. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Hey, you own a Superbass don't you?
  13. ahc


    Jul 31, 2009
    No. Virginia
    A lot depends on where you want to use this... gigging in a loud venue or at home. If at home you might want to investigate some of the low watt tube heads such as the Ampeg PF-20 or PF-50, Ashdown Little Stubby, CTM-30, Little Bastard, or the 100 watters like the Ampeg V4-B, Ashdown CTM-100, Traynor YBA-100. Or the 50 or 100 watt Marshalls. There's also a club here on TB for low wattage tube heads. You might get some ideas from that.
    Wasnex likes this.
  14. johnnynitro


    Jan 14, 2012
    Yup. He sounded like the live album. BUT Like I said, "I'm not 100% sure about his bass. It was a bike run that I rode for over 18 hrs to see them. I was falling asleep on my feet. But in my mental pic. of him I didn't see a Gibson PU.? Looked like a reg. Jazz. I'm sure I would have noticed a big chrome PU ? I have seen vids of him using a PBass. But ?? I just looked on their website. He's using ZON bass's now. And Their still on tour. Their Coming to your Town to Lay the Party Down ??
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2022
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  15. Marshall Major?
  16. SMG

    SMG Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    metro Detroit
    In the early days of Grand Funk Mel had a Fender J with an Gibson pickup added, I believe next to the middle J...actually a bit like Berry Oakley's J, except he didn't move the middle J to sit next to the bridge J as Oakley did. Mel, like Mark Farner, used West amps, that I think were made in Michigan. I saw the current version of Grank Funk about 5 years ago and Mel was playing a Warwick Corvette. While I love the old Grand Funk (the first album, "On Time", the red "Grank Funk" album and the first live album) with Mark, Mel and Don, it was really neat hearing how Mel and Don still play off each other so well.

    Thinking of Michigan bands that used amps that few others did, the Detroit band Frijid Pink used "Bruce" amps. I am not sure, but I think the heads may have been preamps with the power amp built into the speaker cabinets. If you are familiar with Frijid Pink's version of House of the Rising Sun, they were using Bruce amps around that time.
    bobyoung53 and johnnynitro like this.
  17. johnnynitro


    Jan 14, 2012
    Hmm Makes me wonder, What kind of Amp. Did Denis Dunaway use ?? (Alice Cooper/ Michigan band ) Also Ebay has Gibson EBO pickups dirt cheap. Maybe that beat up Squire Jazz and one of those pickups might be fun ??
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2022
  18. Pocket Dave

    Pocket Dave

    Aug 5, 2022
    A lot of guys used Super Basses back then, usually paired with 215 cabs.

    Thing to keep in mind is that a straight up 100w plexi or metal panel JMP/1959 model is much brighter than the bass version, and that clone you're looking at might need to be modded.

    And if you want to get the tone you're after at home volumes, well, I've got a bass/1986 model JMP I use for guitar, and even at 50w plugged into my 210 bass cab, it's brain-pulvarizingly loud when you get it to the right mix volume where you're pushing the power tubes and phase inverter hard enough to where you're not just getting preamp section, excessive gain.

    You might want to check out one of the newer mini-SVT's instead.
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  19. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    I've used a 70s 100w Marshall Super Bass a lot with a loud prog/psych band (two guitarists, drums + keyboardist). I've usually paired it with a Bergantino 2x12 (an older model, not neo).

    In this scenario it's loud enough for rehearsals and gigs in small to medium size venues with PA support. It's not loud enough to stay CLEAN in these situations though. When pushed into moderate levels of distortion it delivers the kind of dirt that doesn't really make the bass sound noticably distorted in the mix or in the context of a band. With the full band playing the bass will sound fat and tight but with a little grit to cut through. When the rest of the band stops playing it's always a surprise to hear how distorted the bass actually is, maybe even a little bit flabby. It still sounds great though.

    Jack Bruce? Sure, with an EB and a suitable 2x15 it can get into that territory. But then again, I find that almost ANY vintage tube amp that can be pushed into dirtyness at reasonable volumes will get into that territory when paired with a "vintage" voiced 2x15 and an EB. You may be more picky than me when it comes to "the Jack Bruce tone" though.

    Mel Schacher? I can't really say. I've not listened much to GFR. I probably should...

    Lemmy is the last thing I think of when I fire up my Super Bass. You would have to use pretty extreme tone control settings to get THAT tone from a Super Bass (basically set the bass knob to 0 and crank everything else). If I had to describe the tone of my Super Bass it would be warm, fat, maybe a bit "loose" (at least compared to modern Class D amps), great mid presence and quite dirty/gritty when set for levels that work with a loud band but not not in an aggressive way unless you absolutely CRANK it. Just the kind of grit that makes the bass sit nicely in a mix. The attack may feel a bit "soft" when driving the amp into distortion but that's the way I like it. Probably not a great amp for slapping though. At least not unless you stay clean and this amp won't stay clean at the volumes most players need today. The tone controls can feel a bit limited compared to modern bass amps (basically like ANY old Marshall) but they do the job as long as you like the basic signature tone of the amp.

    It's a VERY different tone compared to an SVT. Very different mid character, very different dirt characteristics. You probably won't know which one you prefer unless you try both. The SVT will be a lot more useful for larger gigs though. The 100w Super Bass won't deliver the power you (probably) need on a larger stage. At least not unless you have good monitoring and find good monitoring an acceptable substitute for a LOUD amp on stage.

    Is the "plexi clone" you're looking at a Super Bass clone or a Super Lead clone? They're a bit different. But it's only a matter or changing a few componentes I think... Which is also the reason why many vintage "Super Bass" amps have been modded to Super Lead specs. Plexis have a much higher status in the guitar community and the Super Bass amps used to be found a lot cheaper than Super Lead. Buying a Super Bass and modding it used to be a cheap way to get a Super Lead. My point is: If you want a Super Bass, make sure you're not actually getting a Super Lead.

    (I should probably mention that I've got vintage Mullard long plate ECC83s and vintage Mullard EL34s in my Super Bass. NOS tubes really make a difference in older tube amps and the tone I get with these old Mullards is probably part of the reason why the Super Bass is one of my favourite amps).
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2022
  20. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Yeah, I've seen him with Zon for a while now, disappointing. He sounded good with P basses too but not as good as that Jazz with the big ol' Humbucker. I saw Farner out here with his own band a few years ago, the bassist also used a Jazz and had a real modern sound which I thought sucked for that music, I wanted to grab the bass and show him how it's done. :laugh: No encore either and the audience was really yeling for one, not sure what was going on, but he didn't seem real happy up there.