Mesa Boogie 400+ vs. EBS Fafner

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by ratzpaul, Sep 3, 2004.

  1. ratzpaul


    Aug 19, 2004
    Hi guys,

    hello everybody! I'm paul from austria and this is my first thread in this forum. Having watched several forums on the net I'm sure that this is the right one for my concerns. Great community, guys! So, that's my problem:

    I'm in the market for a new top to fit my two Mesa/Boogie Diesel cabinets. One is a 2x10, the other a 1x15.

    Now I'm considering two Bass Tops; either a used Mesa/Boogie 400+ or a brand new EBS Fafner head. I'm quite stuck in this question. I played a new Mesa/Boogie 400+ and I really liked it, altough it was only at very low volume. Unfortunately, I never played a Fafner Top but heard great things about them.

    The 400+ I'm looking at is about 10 years old but it still belongs to the first owner. The guy lives too far away to visit him and test-drive the amp, but he said that the tubes have been renewed at the beginning of this year and that it hadn't got much playing over the years. The pictures he sent look very promising - nearly no scratch on the amp.

    So, what would you do? No music store next to where I live has the Fafner in stock :scowl: ! Some Pros and Cons for the two amps and why would you pick the one or the other? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.


    p.s.: A new M/B 400+ is way to expensive here in Austria. It sells for nearly twice the amount as the Fafner! That's why this guy is searching a used for me :bag:
  2. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    The 400+ is the only Mesa amp I'd consider. I played one, and really liked it (shut up, hosers). I've also played a Fafner, and really liked it. If it were me, I'd go with the Fafner. Now this is because I like the modern sound of Eden. If you're more into old school, you might like the 400+.
  3. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I've only played the 400+, not the Fafner. I dig the 400+, but I do work at Mesa, so I may be a bit biased. I've heard great things about the EBS stuff, and have bought their Octave pedal myself. I don't think you could go wrong with either amp. I always advocate buying with your ears - will any of the stores in your area order a Fafner for you for a trial? EBS is a small company, and might be willing to send one to your local dealer with the caveat that they would take it back if you don't dig it.
  4. I play a trace elliot V4, newer version. All valve bass amps are the way forward, im quite convinced of this...
  5. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
  6. alembic76407


    Apr 29, 2004
    I play a 400+ with 2-10s and 1-15 and it get real loud,
    (When I need it to)
    I would take a 10 year old used 400+ over just about anything, new or used

    David T
  7. ratzpaul


    Aug 19, 2004
    Hey, that's fast!

    Thanks a lot for your replies, I've a few questions concerning the Mesa 400+

    1. What are typical problems of older Mesa 400+ amps, or are there none? Things I should be aware of (I already know the costs of retubing this monster :meh: )?
    2. If I retube the amp, do the tubes or the amp have to be new biased(?). I'm not sure if I used the right word for it, but as far as I know new tubes have to be some kind of technically installed and set up for the amp.
    3. Most important question: How versatile is a Mesa 400+. The Fafner should be one of the most versatile amps available out there. Well, for my needs it hasn't to be the most versatile amp, but at least it should fit some styles. I mostly play rock from the "Flea" like sound to the "in Falmes" sound. Also I really dig the sound of Les Claypool. Are these sounds possible with the Mesa?

    O.k. guys, thanks a lot so far - you really help me with that decission. I know that both amps are really, really good amps, but at the time I'm trying to only look at the technical and theoretical facts of the amp. Also I'm going to ask some of the music stores if they would order a Fafner to test-drive it. Let's see.

    But nevertheless, keep'em coming :bassist:
  8. ratzpaul


    Aug 19, 2004
    Also thanks for the V4 Trace Elliot post concerning tube amps. One more maybe stupid question:
    How great is the danger of getting a muddy, covered, undefined sound from an all tube amp. Only when tubes are bad?

  9. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I don't think there's any such thing as a "typical" problem with an amp. There's alot of stuff in there, and things can either go wrong or the won't. I use a Boogie Strategy 500 as my main rig (it's a tube amp that's similar to the 400+), and it's getting close to 20 years old - no problems at all. Tubes can be a little expensive, but they tend to last a LONG time, so that worry is negligable.

    Boogies use a fixed bias (controversial, but I think it's a good idea), so you don't have to bias the amp provided you get tubes that fall within the bias tolerances. Boogie tubes will be fine, or any consciencous tube seller can get you the right ones.

    Well, it's versatile as far as tube amps go, but it's not going to get that hi-fi sound at all. There's no SWR, Eden, or similar sounds in this thing. That said, it can cover most sounds pretty well; it's really popular with rock guys, but funk and R&B dudes use them too. Flea used Mesa cabs for a long time, Cliff Burton used the D-180 head (a precursor to the 400+), and Les Claypool just has a poop-load of Boogie amps.

    Unfortunately, most of us TBers are in the US, and there's not much EBS stuff floating around. I'd love to see some more opinions on that, but I'd be willing to bet not many of us have seen a Fafner at our local guitar shop. :bawl:
  10. well i live in sweden and still don´t see them much in stores. often just the hd350.
  11. vacman


    Mar 8, 2004
    portland, or
    The 400 head is a killer amp IMO. It is warm like an SVT but has more of a edge to it. Perfect for metal and rock IMO. I have played through a Fafner Head and it was Hi Fi for me.
    But I am an old school mud slinger so go figure :D
  12. the 400+ is one of the best (if not the best) amps around, period. I never had a problem with mine, just re tubed it a few weeks ago and it performs perfectly. The only small down side is the weight, but what a tone !!!!!!!!
    Nightvision likes this.
  13. I have owned a 400 (not the "plus" model) and currently have a Fafner in the stable. Benjamin's description of the 400+ is very accurate for the 400 as well. The Fafner controls are not intuitive and take some getting used to, but it has a wide range of tones available and is not limited solely to "hifi". The punch, growl and grind are all there, although the 400 is a bit warmer IMHO.
  14. Jugghaid


    Jun 28, 2002
    Denver, CO, USA
    I would go with the Fafner. Then again I'm not a huge fan of the Mesa sound. The 400+ is by far their best sounding amp IMO, but I just prefer other brands, EBS being one of them.
  15. ratzpaul


    Aug 19, 2004
    Thanks a lot guys, I think I'll go with the Mesa!

    There are two of them in eBay at low price plus the one I was looking on as I mentioned above and they are all about half of the price of a new Fafner - that's the main reason. I never saw a used Fafner, so I don't think this is gonna happen in the next weeks.

    If I really should not like the sound of the Mesa I'll sell it and buy a Fafner - but I don't think it'll come this far, as I really love the Diesels and I'm quite convinced of Mesa stuff.

    Can you recommend me some good dealers in europe if it's coming down to a total change of all the tubes? Do you also have some recommendations on new tubes?

    Well, thanx a lot so far, you guys really helped me doing this decission. Rock on :bassist: !

    greetz from austria,
  16. I'm going to take the liberty of resurrecting this thread :p , because I have a Mesa Boogie 400+ (love it), and I am looking at getting another head (not as a replacement though), and the Fafner looks like it might be a good match for what I'm looking for.

    Wondering a few things though, first and formost, HOW MUCH DOES ONE OF THESE THINGS COST AND FROM WHERE MIGHT I GET ONE? I'm not looking for a 400+ clone, in fact, I'm looking for something that sounds significantly different from the 400+, because if I WERE looking for something that sounded like a 400+, it would be.... ....ANOTHER 400+, but I'm not, so if anyone whos tried one or both could help compare and contrast these amps, that'd be awesome.
  17. I picked up a used but like new Fafner, the blue stripe (2nd gen) last year for ~$600 USD from a TBer in the For Sale section. The current going rate seems to be a bit higher. I did a quick search of all the usual places and couldn't spot anything, but if you're patient one will crop up. That said, I believe there is a distributor somewhere in NYC if you want a new one.

    It's a great amp... much lighter than any of the tube amps I own, plenty of power and it will run happily all day long at 2ohms. It also has a very wide range of tones available, but it will take you a little time to get used to the controls.

    Good hunting!
  18. Lenko


    May 3, 2003
    I'd take the Fafner anytime. EBS are superior amplifiers, all of them. IMHO, the Fafner can reproduce both, the sound of the tube and SS amplifier very well, has a versatile EQ (and some other features) and sounds great.
  19. Jackbass


    Dec 19, 2003
    Paris (FRANCE)
    The EBS td650 can sound like the fafner in the tube preamp way, or like the hd 350.For me it s the best!
    More versatile, and very loud!!
  20. you wanted to say EBS not EDEN, don't you?