Mesa 400+ or Ampeg SVT Classic?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by slap5string, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. I have the urge to try a tube amp and do a side-by-side comparison with my GK 700rbII and see which I like better. Any opinions on which sounds better, is more durable, more versatile, how each compares to my GK? The cabs would be my (2) GK SBX cabs (sealed - 8ohm) and Fender Precision and EB Sterling. Music styles range from Doobie Bros to Rush to Judas Priest to Lamb of God. Any thoughts would be helpful...
  2. jymyben

    jymyben Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2007
  3. mesa
  4. I'd go SVT without hesitation, but imo, the Mesa will sound closer to what you're used to.
  5. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Both are great amps, so it comes down to personal preference. Personally, I prefer the "sharper" high-end of the Mesa. The Ampeg is much more user friendly in the EQ section, however. With the Ampeg, you'd be limited to always using both of your G-K cabinets as SVTs generally have a maximum impedance of 4-ohms. The 400+ can take 2, 4, and 8 ohm loads. The Mesa has a lot more power tubes than the SVT, although both would probably cost about the same to retube (especially if you bought tubes other than Mesa's rebranded tubes), since 6L6s are, give or take a few bucks, about half the price of 6550s.

    As stated earlier, the 400+ would probably be closer, tonally, to your G-K.
  6. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    I loved my ealy 70's SVT, but it wasn't as good as my 400+, especially with my Stingrays.
  7. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    SVT CLs are 2ohm capable, and yes, they cost roughly the same to re-tube. The problem with the Mesa is you can't bias them and they generally need a re-tubing every 4 to 5 years. SVTs can go a lot longer without needing to re-tube.
  8. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    All SVT's are 2 ohm capable. But they aren't 8 ohm capable, which is the point LiquidMidnight was making.
  9. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Indeed, I should have said that. But in the OP's case, I was pointing out that he wouldn't be able to run one of his single 8-ohm cabinets (well he could, but it may not be a good idea).

    Edit: Danomite cleared up what I was saying.
  10. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    Keep in mind with the Mesa that the controls take a little while to understand (they are nothing like the GK's) but once you get a feel for their funkiness the head becomes extremely versatile. It actually took me a few years to really get to know mine and then a few more years before I really began using its OD to my advantage.

    Start the Mesa off at Bass 2 / Treble 2 / Mids 8-10 and that's more a less flat. The graphic EQ is very powerful and a small change can have a large effect on your sound.
  11. Gasman

    Gasman Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2007
    South Carolina
    +1. I've owned both the SVT-CL and a Mesa 400 (non-plus). I still have the Mesa. I also have a GK 800RB, which isn't a 700, but similar. GK's are their own animal, but the Mesa is just such a great amp that I can't recommend them enough. The controls are a bit quirky (see above), but just the flat setting is pure rock. Adjust the graphic eq SLIGHTLY to taste.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Both the Ampeg and the Mesa will be great. Can't say you'll like them better than your GK but I don't see how you couldn't. Stranger things have happened, though.

    Anyway, SVT-CL. Mesa makes good stuff, but it ain't Ampeg, and that's my sound. Plus the Mesa has 12 power tubes and the SVT only has 6, and they make as much or more power than the Mesa. And it's not designed to be put in a rack, which is a big plus for me. But most of all, only an SVT is an SVT, and that's what gets it for me.
  13. Tim1


    Sep 9, 2005
    New Zealand
    Ampeg without a doubt. I used to own an SVT2, swapped to a Mesa 400+ and just couldn't get it to work for me. Nice amp without a doubt, and I tried all the tube mods etc, but it just was never plug and play for me like an SVT is. Long story short, I bought an SVT VR and I have been happy ever since. I own a few tube heads but I would never be without an SVT in the stable, and if I had to keep just one the SVT would be the stayer - wouldn't even have to think about it.
  14. Between those two, the SVT. Personally neither, the Peavey Classic 400 is better IMHO.
  15. I had a similar experience with the Mesa M9 Carbine. WAY more power than I needed - I just couldn't get the gain to the "sweet spot" without it being overpowering. The master wasn't even at 2 before it was blowing the rest of the band away! Just became a constant tone struggle to find my sound and it was matched with Mesa Powerhouse cabs. As soon as I A/B'd it with the GK 700rbII I quickly realized the GK was better suited for me. Not sure how the 400+ would compare - I now alot of TBers really like the this amp though.
  16. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Not a recent thread... but I owned a GK-800RB and Mesa 400+ at the same time. I kept the Mesa and sold the GK. The 800RB was a bit louder, but at 300 Watts the Mesa is no slouch either, it just broke up sooner. But it's a nice breakup.

    But it's so damn heavy that I never gig with it anymore and use a Hartke LH-500 instead. Of course SVT CLs heavy as well.
  17. dukeorock

    dukeorock Owner BNA Audio Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    Authorized greenboy designs builder/Owner of BNA Audio
    I really gotta find one of those to try...

    But of the two choices listed...gotta say Mesa :)
  18. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    They are both rated 300Watts RMS.
  19. Not to many of them made, took me a while to find one. You are more than welcome to come try mine out. :D

    the problem is the mesa can not be biased. If you get a bit of drift going on as the tubes age you can loose a bit of power.
  20. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I had an SVT-CL and sold it when I bought my Mesa D-180, quickly followed by a 400+. For me, the Mesa had more useable headroom, a far more versatile EQ section, more inherent depth, and a clearer/ more articulate sounding driven tone for my uses (I found the SVT-CL to basically have one sound when cranked to a certain point, where the Mesa through the same cab retained its tweakability into much higher volume/driven settings). The 400+ was also easier to move around and still lighter when racked than the SVT. I personally didn't find the bias circuit of the SVT-CL to significantly increase useable tube life either, though I do agree that the lack of a built-in bias system on the Mesa was pretty ridiculous. I actually got longer use out of the power tubes in my Mesa (the tubes in my SVT got to the point where the the bias control wouldn't work correctly within a few years, where my 400+ sounded and tested great for 3 years before I decided to get a fresh set). I will add that the Mesa (perhaps becasue of the lack of bias ability) is more picky about tubes- I didn't like that amp with the original Mesa tubes nearly as much, whereas the SVT-CL sounded pretty good with the stock tubes.

    I will agree that the SVT-CL is much easier to dial in assuming the tone you want is in there. Once I had a little time with the 400+ though, its EQ put it on a whole other level for me and seemed capable of most of what the SVT was tonally, but with the option of much more clarity. I would be happy with either amp honestly, but when I owned them side by side my choice was obvious!