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Need advice upgrading amp... Thanks!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by DanielleMuscato, May 15, 2005.

  1. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Hi everybody!

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions. Let me tell you a little about my rig, ideal sound, my style, and my budget.

    I've spent about 20 hours reading up on the subject on TalkBass forums, Harmony Central reviews, and also reading the FAQs here and the common-questions threads. If it's not too much trouble, I'd appreciate a little personalized advice. I just donated $100 US to TB and can't wait for my CD of tunes from TB players! I hope this will help offset the cost of my surfing here for advice, lol.

    I play fretted and fretless fivers. I just got a Modulus Quantum 5-string with a quilted maple top and Bartolini pickups. Pictures at www.davemuscato.com/new_bass.html

    I also have a Washburn XB925 fretless with a zebrawood top and Bartolini pickups.

    Right now I'm playing a Carvin RL1000 head (1000 watt (bridged) solid-state with 9-band graphic, 3 band semi-parametric, and 3-band push-button boosts) through a Carvin 4x10. I also have a Carvin 1x18 but I rarely use it because for what I gain in volume, I lose in punch and clarity.

    My ideal sound is extremely tight and punchy. Think Roscoe Beck on Eric Johnson's G3 recording of "Manhattan," or Stefan Lessard's tone on Dave Matthews Band's "Don't Drink the Water." I also like Flea from Red Hot Chili Pepper's tone.

    I love bass tone that "burps" - thumpy mid, extremely clean low-end, very articulate highs that cut through a mix. I understand that I'll need a lot of power in order to keep my tone that clean, so I've been looking at combining a rack-mount power amp with a bass preamp to get the power I need.

    My style is blues and funk based, but my band plays alternative rock. Our main influences are Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, Incubus, Delirious?, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My personal influences are Dave Matthews Band, Load-era Metallica, RHCP, Fiona Apple, and a lot of R&B. I slap and play finger-style about evenly. I like to use volume as an instrument, and I never use compression (although I do use a limiter to protect my woofers).

    I am mainly interested in a very tight response. I want a lot of power so that I can play softly and still come across loud and clear, but also be able to slap it hard and punch through. I *hate* overdriven bass tones and prefer solid-state pre- and poweramps to tubes consistently (or maybe I juse haven't played a good tube amp :) )

    I'm willing to spend a reasonable amount to get the tone I want. I would rather save up and get the right sound than get something that I'll want to upgrade later. I am looking to spend somewhere between $1500 and $3000 on a preamp, poweramp, and cabinet(s).

    My brother owns a music store and can get me Crown and Ampeg stuff at very good prices, so that's a good place to start, but don't be afraid to recommend Phil Jones or whatever if you think that it will work better for me.

    I have been looking at Schroeder cabinets. I've never played through them but everything you guys say on here sounds perfect for me. I have also tried a lot of Phil Jones stuff from Fazzio's in St Louis and like it too, although for a 5-string it doesn't have the low-end thump that I want. I also like the sound of Ampeg's upper-end cabs, but from what I've read, you are paying a few hundred extra for the name if you go that route.

    I like being able to fiddle with my sound, so a graphic EQ is a plus, although I love parametric EQs and push-button boosts as well. If you guys have a suggestion but that particular amp doesn't have an EQ, don't worry; I am not opposed to getting an outboard rackmount EQ instead.

    I have looking at the Ampeg SVP-Pro preamp, and also the Phil Jones Bass P1 preamp. I would probably pair that with a Crown CTS2000. The CTS2000 has a higher dampening factor than most power amps, so it has more clarity in the low end than a lot of other models. Plus, with 2000 watts (bridged @ 4 ohms), I wouldn't have to worry much about headroom, another important point to me. I would probably pair those with a Schroeder 410, although I like the sound of Phil Jones arrays, too. I like the idea of a smaller, lighter cab with more mid-range punch, so I probably wouldn't be interested in anything with 12s or bigger.

    If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask me. My AIM name is davemuscato, or you can email me at davemuscato@aol.com

    I really appreciate your advice, and I'm open to suggestions. Thanks!

    Dave Muscato
    Bassist, SanSerif
  2. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    With the Quantum, I think you need a warm sounding preamp, otherwise you can come across a bit harsh. The Carvin stuff is OK when I've played it, but you'll be blown away by how much truer some other gear out there is ...

    Your infuence list is very diverse, and there are some contradictory tones in there. Steffan's sound with DMB these days is super Hi-Fi ... ... Pumpkins and Tool both have rough lo-fi sounds ...so I'm not sure exactly which one you are going for. I can see the common thread (I think) and the rig that comes to mind given your requirements is an SVP or especially an Alembic F1-X, with a nice power amp, and Acme speakers. But there are tons of other options. Eden stuff might also work out well for you on the "burpy" front ...

    Its really amazing to me what the F1-X does for the quantum, I highly reccomend giving one a spin. Good luck out there!
  3. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Thanks, man. I'll check them out.
  4. Matt Call

    Matt Call Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Does it matter to you if the preamp is tubed or not?

    If not, may I suggest an Epifani Quest Preamp? They're insane. Or else, if you're not completely set on the pre/power idea, check out the UL502 head. Pure sweetness.

    I say Epifani cabs are the way to go too. They just have some of the best amps on the market. Can't go wrong with any of em, IMO. They may be a bit pricey, but they're worth it.
  5. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Tubeless is actually preferred - I really dislike grit in my bass tone; I prefer the spank of ultra-clean SS with waaaay more headroom than I could possibly need.

    Thanks! I'll check those out too.
  6. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Just googled "Epifani Quest Preamp;" $1150! I gotta see if I can try one out somewhere before I lay out that much for it, lol.
  7. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    What about cabinets? I've heard good things about Acme cabs but I've never seen them in person. How do they compare to Ampegs?
  8. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    When I think 'clean' and 'burp', I think of GK. You might want to look at the GK preamp, if their biggest heads wouldn't be enough power for you (??!). Remember that GK prides themselves on their over-sized power supplies and output devices; they have no current-limiting circuitry in their power amp section. GK is designed to have true headroom built-in, even AT rated output and minimum load impedance!

    That biamp feature is pretty cool too; you can run the drive up on the woofers for a tad of extra growl, and still have extra-clean treble.

    I know you hate over-drive, but that GK 'boost gain' can be very subtle AND enhance the burp-factor, while your high-end is still crystal-ly!

  9. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    4 heads come into mind.... although I'm sure there's more.

    -Ampeg SVT-4 Pro: 1200Watts. It has a tube preamp, but that really only enhances the flexability of the amp as a whole. Justin Chancellor is one of my favorite bass players, and I played "Forty Six and 2" with a chorus pedal through this head... and it was pure sweetness to me. :smug:

    -Ampeg B4R: 1000Watts. If you REALLY dont like the word "tube" being anywhere in your rig... then this is pretty much the tubeless version of the 4Pro.

    -Ampeg SVT-5 Pro: 1000Watts. Features a distortion channel. I'm pretty sure it has a tube for one of the channels, if I recall correctly, but again its not going to mud up your sound much at all.

    -Gallien-Krueger 2001RB: 1080Watts. Seems to put out a very hi-fi and clear tone without sounding lifeless. I'd definately give it a test run, because it might be your jackpot head.

    Those are the heads that come to mind for me... but there could definately be pre-power setups that work for you. A Samsamp RBI or Ampeg BSP seem like they'd be right up your ally for a preamp.

    A lot of people will have other input on different products... but one thing I'm sure all of us can agree on is TEST STUFF OUT. It's really less of a headgame if you go out listen to the top contenders for your money, and it can save you a lotta time. :cool:
  10. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Hey guys, thanks for the advice!

    I tried out an Ampeg BR4 today and really liked it, but it doesn't have the headroom I want. I love the preamp section of the SVT-4 Pro, and I went ahead and bought a SVP preamp (basically the preamp section of the SVT 4 Pro in a single rack-space). I'm gonna pair it with a Crown CTS2000 and a Schroeder 410.

    I really appreciate it, guys! When I have it all together, I'll tell you guys how it sounds.


  11. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    The SVP is actually a little different from the 4 (better in my opinion). The most important settings are ultra-lo and drive. Set those two correctly first, then work from there to make minor adjustments. I use ultra-lo ON, drive between noon and 1PM, then boost the mids on position 2. Instant happyness. If you're not cutting, turn on ultra bright.
  12. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    ..You'd BETTER!
  13. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Well, first off, I would spend some time over at Basstasters listening to preamps (and some cabs, etc.). While not as helpful as actually sitting in front of the preamps with all the associated gear, it is one heck of a useful site. Thanks again, Todd!

    For an amp, I would highly recommend a Crest CA9 if weight is not a factor, and a Stewart World 2.1 if weight is a factor. As you seem to prefer solid state, I will refrain from suggesting tube gear (though it is a struggle not to mention the DB ... <gahhh! must.... resist!!!!!....>).

    If you prefer the head route, then my favorite solid state (or hybrid) heads include the Walter Woods Ultra, iAMP 800, Thunderfunk and Mesa Boogie Walkabout.

    As for cabs, from what you are describing, my thoughts would be to get a cab that is great at the detailed, articulate, clear, accurate thing, and leave the "burp" to your preamp/EQ/technique. [But then again, you and I may associate different characteristics with the term "burp."]

    My favorite cabs in the "relatively uncolored", "tonally balanced", and "accurate" category would be EA, Accugroove, ACME and Hevos. EA cabs, in general, are the kings of clarity and articulation. Accugroove cabs are very full sounding across their tonal range. ACME is also very full souding, though not as efficient as Accugroove (though less expensive). Hevos is hard to get over hear, but I'm blown away by what my Midget can do.

    In the "very slightly colored (in a nice way) but otherwise clear and precise" category, I would put Bergantino and Epifani. The older Mesa Boogie Road Ready and Diesel cabs would probably also fit in here.

    Pick a preamp, amp and cab (or cabs) from the list above, and I think you would be very happy! I can give you more specific recommendations, if you like. You can check out my profile if you'd like any feedback on gear that I currently own.

    Later, Tom.
  14. MBIYF


    Oct 6, 2004
    The Netherlands
    Clean tubes tones come from the SVP-CL preamp.
    Very nice.

    Oh wait, you just bought an SVP-PRO, well, if you don't like it, check out the -CL, okay?
  15. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    I keep hearing the name Accugroove, but I've never tried one. I'll have to see if I can track one down. Thanks for the info!

    Yeah, I've been to BassTasters before. Great site and very helpful. They do have a Modulus Flea on there, but no Quantum. Oh well :) The Epiphani 110 sounds great on the clip.
  16. Whappo Grande

    Whappo Grande

    Feb 9, 2002
    Sunnyvale, CA.
    Engineer: AccuGroove Speakers & Amps
  17. timinator


    May 8, 2005
    Mike Gordon from Phish is a Modulus player and he's supposed to be gear-literate in a big way. I don't know much of their music, but you may want to investigate what he uses to amp his sound up. Keep on sampling!
  18. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    I got the SVP-Pro preamp today! It's wonderful. Right now I'm just using the power-amp of my Carvin RL1000 (just bypassing the internal preamp) into my Carvin Red Eye 4x10. It sounds twice as good as the Carvin preamp in the RL1000. I can't wait for my Crown CTS2000 and Schroeder 410!

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