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Mid-Powered/Mid-Priced Tube Heads?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Definitely, Jan 25, 2014.

  1. Definitely

    Definitely Banned

    Well, I'm finally making the switch not only from solid state to tube but from combo to head and cab. I'm 15 and I've been playing for about 6 years, but no gigging yet so I've kept just a 350 combo that serves me just fine for jamming by myself and with a guitarist. I've recently started playing with drummer(s), and I've found that a single 210 combo just doesn't push what I need it to, so I've decided to move up to something I can use now but also something I won't need to upsize for a long, long time. I've played through tubes around the city and have found that I really do love the sound (although I mean really who doesn't), and with a budget of around $1,300 I decided I'd go with a Carvin BX500 and an Avatar B410. Recently perusing TB, I've seen a lot of people saying that the BX500 only really has a tube for the sake of having a tube, and that it really doesn't do much for the tone. I was ready to pick it up because of good reviews and a sweet price, but that little fact has come to somewhat scare me. I'm not sure now whether I go for it or not, I mean I love tube sound but at the same time I have heard that it's a great head anyway, so I'm torn. I hereby call on the wisdom of the TB pros and researchers for help on the matter. Do I go with the Carvin or head in a different direction? I'd like a $500 max but if it's worth it it's worth it, so I could consider something more. As for the details you may need to know before helping me, I play a Carvin B40 (active jazz setup), and I'd like something with some tonal range, however I like to stick to boosted mids, slightly boosted treble and flat bass for the most part. Thanks all! This is an exciting decision.
  2. Korladis

    Korladis Supporting Member

    Used Peavey VB-2, maybe.

    Or perhaps an old Ampeg V4 or V4B, though they might betting expensive now.

    Sovtek stuff might be affordable, too.
  3. catgut


    Jan 15, 2014
    Seattle, WA
    You may need to go used market for your budget. What 'tubes' have you played on that you like?
  4. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    Living where you do, with any Carvin purchase you have to factor in shipping, brokerage fee and duties as Carvin no longer takes care of them. The brokerage fees that UPS charges are huge. $62 on an under $300 purchase!!!!
  5. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    You're sort of looking at or for 'hybrid' heads...tube preamp/SS power amp. Some sound more tube-like than others. But expand your search to include 'hybrid amps' and see what you come up with.
  6. Korladis

    Korladis Supporting Member

    Yeah, I would say that if you have a relatively low budget, you should be looking mainly at used gear.
  7. The question, all tube or you okay with a hybrid tube pre/SS output (like the Carvin only fully functional)?
  8. Definitely

    Definitely Banned

    I think I'd prefer hybrid to all-tube, I like having the option, but you're all right I think I need to check out the used stuff around here. I've played through a couple Ampegs at the local L&M and my teacher's Genz (loved it, was looking at the Shuttle 6.2 but favoured Carvin for price).

    @BassmanPaul: As it's made in USA I was under the impression there wasn't any duty. I know the shipping fee is ridiculous but I have a connection to get it shipped to the states then picked up by a relative at the border and sent to me for just the US shipping cost ($19 vs. $76).
  9. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    If you are ultimately looking for all tube, and $500 is your general budget, you will have to go used. In that range there are a few cool options IME/IMO.

    Peavey VB2 is close but maybe a bit over $500
    Traynor (Canadian brand) YBA200 will be close
    Traynor YBA300 can be found used in the 599-699 range
    Mesa Buster will also be a bit more, but close to $500 depeding on condition.
    Fender Bassman 135 is in that range but maybe a bit on the low power side
    Fender Studio Bass - harder to find, but can be had used in the $4-500 range - amazing 180-200w bass amp.
    Fender Super Twin - same basic amp as the Studio Bass
    Ampeg V4B - a bit higher than $500 and only 100w, but a classic all tube amp.

    lots of possibilities.
    enjoy the search
  10. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    ahh, never mind, I was too quick with the all tube list.
  11. Definitely

    Definitely Banned

    @pfschim: Hahaha, I appreciate the effort, and I may check some of those out anyway. Who knows, I may like all-tube.
  12. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    Used Mesa Walkabout. You will love the tone. It has one preamp tube and another tube to drive the output (MOSFET) section and a nice parametric EQ.
  13. Korladis

    Korladis Supporting Member

    I definitely like all tube, myself.

    Definitely check out Traynor gear, especially since you're in Canada.
  14. thirtyhz

    thirtyhz Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2001
    I paid $475 at GC for a mint Traynor yba200-2
  15. Definitely

    Definitely Banned

    Alright I'll hit up the local shops and see what I can play through as well as looking used stuff, thanks guys!
  16. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    The duty comprises of GST and your PST. Here in Ontario we have what is termed HST that is a meld of both, 13% currently.

    The beauty of what Carvin used to do is that all the charges were levied on their price not the customers. I'm betting that the folks at UPS are behind the change. They have more money passing through their hands in duties, you can bet they get a percentage. Also they can charge a larger brokerage fee. It's a win/win for UPS.

    Canada/USA free trade, NAFTA, does not seem to make any difference that I've noticed.

    If you can get the item shipped within the USA and then brought up to you, it's the way to get Carvin stuff.

    I would also like to point out that this post is not bashing Carvin per se. I've been dealing with the company for close to twenty years. Every bit of equipment that I use involves Carvin stuff. Three six string basses and a five. I still have six Carvin power amps.

    I was starting the process of changing out the lead sled power amps for the newer light weight units. The change to the shipping will make that too expensive for me to justify. :scowl:
  17. Definitely

    Definitely Banned

    Do you have experience with the BX series? If so could you share your thoughts on them please, because the only two negatives I've heard so far are the ribbon cable issue and the lack of real tube sound. All I really want to do at this point is be able to try one out, but it doesn't look like there are any even remotely within my vicinity.
  18. Definitely

    Definitely Banned

    To update this thread...I went with Carvin. The BX700 came in and sounds great, I love it! First actual head/cab rig I've ever had, BX700>Avatar B410, it's fantastic.
  19. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    A bit late so my apologies. I own a BX1500. It's a very nice amp that I use as my backup.
  20. fitz420

    fitz420 Knows Lows

    Oct 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I own an SVT but prefer a small head for weekly gigs. Closest I've got tone wise is the Genz Benz Streamliner 900. They go really cheap 500-600 range here. 3 preamp tubes and reacts and sounds very much like an all tube amp. Highly recommend trying one or reading up on it in its massive threads here at TB