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Natural overdrive from an SVT

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by zartalexander, Apr 19, 2015.

  1. zartalexander


    Mar 17, 2012
    Continuing my tone quest, so I thought I should ask my peers and superiors.

    I have an SVT-CL paired with a Berg NV610. Which sounds pretty great the way it is, but recently I have been more curious about the obtaining the revered "cranked" SVT tone. Right now, I use a Fuzzrocous RT as an overdrive (no diodes, low clipping, pretty low on the distortion) and it sounds pretty cool, but I feel like it colors my tone a lot and what I'm hearing is more "rat" sound than SVT sound. Which is a cool sound, but I might not be getting the most out of my amp, you know?

    I'm trying to get an overdriven sound from the SVT without sounding farty or buzzy, which is what I get when I try to turn up the gain and use the master for volume control. From what I have gathered, the ideal/desired "cranked" tone comes from pushing the power tubes, not the preamp. I play in a loud-ish band, but I don't want to drown out my guitarist and drummer by turning up to insane levels to get the desired tone.

    Basically, I want to find I way to rely less on pedals and more on the amp for a dirty driven sound. Is there a good way to do this? Or, is there a pedal (boost, gain, low gain OD) that does not color tone but pushes the amp? I heard that the Earthquaker Devices Speaker Cranker might be a good candidate. Something simple would be best.

    I just want some clanky, punchy, dirty tone from my SVT. If pedals are the only route, I might consider getting an amp with lower wattage or something. I tried a rehoused VT-22 (which is basically V4, right?) through a 8x10 recently and I felt that it starting getting muddy and less articulate when it started to overdrive. I was also looking at some 200w tube amps that can get a dirty sound easier, but the best ones all seem like they cost more than the SVT! (Orange AD200b, Hiwatt, Science Mother/boutiques, etc).

    Sorry for the essay, but does anyone have any thoughts? Worse case scenario, I will just have to keep experimenting... :bassist:
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I was going to suggest the V4 or V4B to you. But yeah, whatever you get, you'll want something lower wattage. An SVT into a 610 cranked really loud can make you puke.
    JFOC, Mik75, 70spbase and 5 others like this.
  3. zartalexander


    Mar 17, 2012
    Is the V4b different from the VT-22 tonewise? Maybe the one I tried wasn't working properly or the eq was different or something, but it just sounded way off to me.

    I see a V4B on craigslist for like $600, so maybe I should check that out before I write of the V4 all together.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Definitely could have had a problem.
  5. You could try a cab with less speaker cone area. I use a Fender Bassman neo 115 that handles a good load of Power and i can get my Super Bassman to power tube overdrive at reasonable volume. Still loud tho
    A good powerful 4 ohm 210 or 115 maybe suit your needs?
  6. zartalexander


    Mar 17, 2012
    I thought about the speaker situation, but I really like the NV610 and frankly I went through a lot of trouble to get it...haha.
  7. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    Try swapping the 12AX7s with 12AX7Bs, as they break up sooner. Also, you'll get the overdrive sound most easily if you turn master all the way up and use gain as volume control. There are other power tubes that break up sooner, too, which will help even more.
    Slough Feg Bass likes this.
  8. waltdogg


    May 24, 2014
    Try this first. Then try changing your preamp tubes out for tubes that have better sounding distortion characteristics and get a set of power tubes rated for early distortion (is that even really a thing or GT and MESA marketing BS?). The best OD pedal I have ever used for bass is my Fulltone Bass-Drive, it's an original non-Mostfet pull Comp-cut model. Super natural and transparent. Light boost to loads of great overdrive, distortion and fuzz. When I ran it in front of my SVT-VR I would use it up until band volume got high enough for the amp to OD on its own (which was rare) and I would turn the pedal off. That's how transparent the pedal is and how useful its lower levels of gain are, but like I said it goes into fuzz territory no sweat.

    The V-4/VT-22 and V-4B ARE and are NOT the same amp. While they share the same gain staging, EQ and power section. The V-4 and VT-22 (V-2, and non-MV, non-distortion models only) have a variable input gain on the inputs while the V4-B has treble bleed caps on the inputs to "voice" the amp for bass since the rest of the amp is the same as a V-4/VT-22. The means a V-4 will automatically be harsher with more high end coming through the front end than a V-4B. Also the mid range setting can sound EXTREMELY honky and very bad on certain settings if the 6K11 tube that governs the midrange is unstable. The worse a certain triode is the worse the corresponding middle frequency will be.

    A V-4B though an 8x10 is super close to an overdriving SVT but without the gut-wrenching power. And if you do go the 200 watt/boutique route, a Science Mother would be an excellent choice. Alex is a boss builder and provides great customer service. I have a Hellhawk and it's the best sounding Marshall type amp I've ever owned.
  9. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    To overdrive power valves, you need them trying to output more than their RMS output, so stuck with being really loud for the purpose, unless you have tiny cabs, that don't have a great chance of surviving whilst still sounding traditional. 100w amp and a fair sized cab or a Tech21 VT Bass pedal is the sensible way. I do both at once because I don't do sensible. SVTs are entirely designed for not breaking up, so you are fighting the amp pretty hard. EL34 power sections seem to retain a bit more definition driven, they have a middlier sound going on pushed into non-linear than KT88/6550.
  10. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    You might also want to try using a pair of SVT210AVs. This gives you a 4 ohm load and SVT810AV tone at significantly less volume, which would allow you to push the amp harder, putting you back into distortion territory.
  11. I like MY NV412 too but I really like my Bassman 115 neo with the Super Bassman pushing it as well. Horses for courses.

    I use a V4B RI for when I want dirty at less volume. Run that into the 115 and you really ain't very loud at all for power tube drive. ...well it's loud playing by yr self but in a band setting, not so much.
  12. anderbass


    Dec 20, 2005
    Phoenix. Az.
    I second Mr Foxen's adding a VT pedal suggestion.
    I've also got very good results biamping with a dirty guitar amp/small bass cab too:

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  13. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    That could be because of the old components in the VT-22 tone circuit. They drift out of spec with time. People find that replacing the tone module cleans up muddiness. There could be other reasons this. So don't discount the new V4B based on your experience with the VT-22. Worth checking one out.

    Note that cranking an amp into power tube distortion is going to be harder on the tubes and shorten their life. It comes with running an amp so hard.
  14. Mark Reccord

    Mark Reccord Supporting Member

    This is what I've been using for the past 12 years or so and with lighter OD in the non-boost mode, it sounds a lot like my SVT does when it starts to break up without the obnoxious volume of getting it naturally. Plus you have the full-on balls out distortion with the boost on. It drops out a small amount of low end but nothing you couldn't live with. That said, the SVT on 10 into my NV610 is freakin' awesome sounding (and loud enough to kill small animals). :D
  15. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Is that like adding instant coffee to your espresso? ;)
    Basshappi and smeet like this.
  16. Fair Warning

    Fair Warning Deliverin' the Goods! Supporting Member

    I have been around the block and maintain closed cab, 10 inch speakers are what get me to my place in the search for the best SVT sound. Not sure how your berg is set up. Also, once if found the VT-Bass pedal, I found that I can use different amp heads and combination and still achieve a great sound at all volumes.
  17. The_Janitor


    Jun 30, 2012
    Madison, Wi
    Look for a used SVT-2-PRO, sell your CL and get one of those. The gain/master setup plus Drive knob means it can get pretty dirty at low volumes. Crank Gain and Drive, adjust master to suit your needs. Sounds killer.

    People don't discuss this feature very much and I don't understand why - it's an amazing-sounding dirty overdrive, especially when you crank the master. I did a lot of research before I bought my 2-PRO and the onboard drive only gets passing mentions - it should be a major selling point, IMO.
    hintz and handofseven like this.
  19. DavidBassista


    May 21, 2014
    Could you have a volume attenuator wired into the amp? A lot of guitar amps have those so people can overdrive them at lower volumes. I have one my EC Vibro-Champ.
  20. maybe, I would plug a different bass and see what happens.

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