Midnight Train to B-15?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Bruiser Stone, Feb 21, 2019.

  1. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Dayton, TN
    This past weekend, I became obsessed with mastering Midnight Train to Georgia. In the process, I swapped a set of TI jazzers for a set of Jamerson flats (with truss rod adjustment), tweaked eq’s, cut some foam for the bridge cover, etc., all for the goal of achieving that wonderful, bouncy, rich thump out of my P Bass.

    In the process of my unabashed OCD, I discovered as a watershed moment that my passion is pretty much devoted to Jamerson/Babbitt/Dunn-esque basslines, but my current equipment is cab heavy with a couple of pedals that could go by the wayside. I had a quasi-appointment to meet up with a seller for a Peavey Classic 400 next week, but I cancelled because it occurred to me my doom/stoner aspirations are wishful at best, as is the prospect of lifting a nearly 100 lb tube head (he’s in Nashville if anyone is interested btw...I would so love to hear the thing).

    Currently, I have my Aguilar GS212 and Peavey Alpha Bass stationed at my weekly Sunday morning church gig. This setup is overkill: they are a folksy small <100 congregation and not a loud, 500+ member non-denominational concert hall. That being said, this rig sounds really good, but I’m not emotionally attached to either item (I have sunk some serious change into the tube head to get it working flawlessly, more than I will ever recoup from selling it).

    All the foregoing lays the foundation for what I THINK I want: an Ampeg B-15...either the real thing, or a very close facsimile in another total
    package or preamp. Loud is no longer a goal for me. Tone is king, rich Motown/Stax stank, and I don’t care if it is 50 years old or brand new. My passion is soul and blues, and I want to situate myself gear-wise (within reason) to embrace what works best. I’ve got the bass, and now I need to resolve what comes after it.

    My Alpha Bass requires a sufficiently strong line-level preamp signal in case that’s relevant in choosing a DI/preamp to achieve what I want (+10 dBV 3 volts), and since I already have a tube power section at my disposal, why not consider a versatile and delicious-sounding pre if something suitable exists?

    Assuming I kept the Alpha Bass, my budget is <$1000. Selling it, my budget is <$1500. I have a strong bias in favor of tubes.

    All the examples of the real thing currently for sale are in the northeast beyond my comfort zone for shipping or my ability to go retrieve.

    Tweak what I have, improve my chops, and end the search for the elusive Jade Monkey?

    Suggestions please good TB’er’s. I have already exercised a search, and it usually winds up with Jimmy M preaching the gospel of Ampeg. Perhaps I should just convert.
    Thx in advance.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
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  2. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2004
    Worcester, Mass
    You should be able to get that sound with any Ampeg tube head, most of the sound is how you play and set up the bass as long as you have a good sounding tube head and good rich sounding cab, that being said B-15's do sound great, I have a B-15S and a B-18N along with a couple of the big tube Ampegs and they all sound great. A Fender Precision will help a lot also if you don't have one.
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  3. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Dayton, TN
    Got that one covered
  4. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2004
    Worcester, Mass
    You're not going to get the Jamerson tone until you get a volume knob though:smug:.
  5. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Dayton, TN
    Yep, the allen screw is stripped on the original and it fell off a few days ago when adjusting it. It throws all the mojo into the wind ;)
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  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Bob is correct.
  7. Gonna be pretty hard to get the Jamerson tone from Midnight Train to Georgia. Babbitt did the bass line on that one.;)
  8. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2004
    Worcester, Mass
    I love Babbit's playing, years before I knew who he was the bass line in this tune blew me away.

  9. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Dayton, TN
    I’m hip to the Babbitt factor
    But the strings were given his predecessor’s moniker ;) ;)
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  10. rickdog

    rickdog Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2010
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  11. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Dayton, TN
  12. bassfran

    bassfran Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2012
    Endorsing artist: Lakland basses
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  13. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    I'm afraid it's going to be difficult to find a good condition B15 for under 2K that you'll be happy with.
    $2500 is a more realistic budget.
    But a REDDI will get you a lot of tone for your money and they can be found for around $500 on the used market. It's not an amp but it's a great DI.
  14. I didn't know Babbitt played on that Robert Palmer tune, thank you for that
  15. StringslamDan


    Nov 18, 2012
    I know it's not tube, but my old ampeg ba-115 could get a strikingly warm, creamy, round sound out of it! I always loved the sound, but it's not exceptionally loud. You might give one a try and see what you think? Good luck!
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  16. Davbassdude


    Mar 16, 2012
    B18N.jpg My early 60's B-18N is the closest I could ever come to fulfilling such a dream. I've had Peavey Mark III with full SVT cabinet, TNT 130 and other amps. Even though it's not powerful, it is the best sounding amp I've ever had!! Bought it in 1975 from a friend who lived up the street for $35 with a hole in the speaker. Shortly thereafter, had the speaker rebuilt for $90 at Dennis Electronics in Union City, N.J. and will never sell it! Now, all I need is to find that P-Bass that was ripped off back in 1990... or I could just be happy with the Jazz!
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
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  17. Before I begin, understand that what I am about to say is my observation and only mine based on me and only me.
    Now I have a B15n with two cabinets to work with. A single and a double baffle and a P bass set up with Jamerson flats and a foam mute under the bridge cover.

    I love the B15 and gig with it but, here it comes, I have found for me that I can get an acceptable fantasy Jamerson sound from my GK 1001 RB head and Aguilar GS112 and sometimes I'll use my zoom pedal with its B15 model but it's not needed.

    I have found also if we dig into the Jamerson sound. It was not depended on the Ampeg sound but the P bass itself and the Motown mixing board. I don't think there are any recordings of him actually playing through a B15, although it is said he used them live. All recording of him are recorded direct.

    That's not to say there is no recordings of cats playing through them especially the Manhattan Bass Club cats that had them under lock and key at various studios in NYC.

    That is the sound I am really getting through my stuff, the Jamerson direct sound that we really hear when we listen to him.

    Are you using some sort of foam mute?

    Then there's this...
    Acme Audio Manufacturing Company
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
  18. beans-on-toast


    Aug 7, 2008
    They got the bass tones right so long ago. It does have that sound.

    1964 B-15N from the TB Portaflex Wiki,
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  19. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Dayton, TN
    Yes, I tuck a small piece under the bridge cover on top of the strings. It seems to work better there than under them: the G gets a little too much foam otherwise. I’ve used the foam on the TI Jazz set I had on it previously and an old lighter set of La Bellas, but a mute on the big ones really makes a difference. They slow down and discipline my fretting hand, and my plucking hand feels more confident on the meatier Jamersons.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
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  20. Here's a live recording of James but he may be playing through that Fender amp at his right...
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