New Rig: But Dissatisfied with Ampeg (Review)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by riskyrain, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. riskyrain


    Jul 20, 2009
    So I just went on a relatively large buying spree and I bought the following:

    BBE Opto Stomp Compressor
    Xotic BB Bass Preamp
    Fender American Precision Deluxe (active)
    Ampeg SVT-4 PRO (USA Made)
    Ampeg 610HLF (USA Made)

    Last night I finally got the chance to A/B the head/cab/pedals with my old rig (Fender isn't coming until mid-week):

    Peavey Tour 700 Bass Head
    2 x Bag End S15-D cabs
    Schecter Stiletto Custom-4 (passive)

    I'm listing out this gear just for reference, because after A/B'ing the rigs, the Ampeg head/cab just failed to impress me. I mean, I was expecting a pretty large upgrade because many cite Ampeg to be -the- rock tone. Also, for further reference, our band is a 3-piece altrock/post-grunge sort of sound. Some elements of punk or jazz in there too. My bass style is inclined to articulation, tone and melody. Our band plays small-medium venues (up to 100-150 people, max capacity prob around 200-300).

    The SVT-4 PRO is better than the Peavey for sure, both in terms of power (headroom) and tone, but not enough to justify the cost difference. As to be expected, the Ampeg has a slightly warmer tone, and can get more grit from the gain knob, but a lot of features (EQ, Mute etc.) are also on the Peavey. With the right EQ settings, I can come decently close with the Peavey in terms of tone.

    As for the 610HLF compared to the Bag End S15-D's--well I didn't really buy the Ampeg rig for the cabinet. I love my Bag End cabs because they're really clear and articulate. They're very tight and very expressive. Not to mention portable at only ~45 lbs. ea. and only 15x18x15 in. or something. That said, the 610HLF has a pretty great tone, and definitely a lot of presence. Our guitarist commented on the differences (which I agree with): the 15s are clear, more melodic, more convenient, and have better mid-hi end and hi-end while the 610HLF has more presence (wall of sound) and just a tad better low end. The 610 can get much louder much quicker (which is both a pro and a con; I mean, we're only a 3-piece and balance is more important than volume, which is easily achievable with both rigs).

    I tried using the SVT-4 PRO with the Bag End cabs, and I couldn't really get too much volume out of them without the peak light coming on. Note that using both of the 15s in parallel results in a 400 watt RMS rating, with a ceiling of 800 watts. The Ampeg is 1200 watts (it's underpowered for the rating though) and I think that's a maximum rating. I might need to mess with the settings but I'm not sure how well mixing that head and the cabs would work out.

    So since I can't keep both, I'm considering which rig I should sell.

    I have a couple of options:
    1) Keep the old rig, sell the Ampeg rig
    2) Keep Ampeg head/Bag End cabs, sell the Peavey and 610HLF
    3) Keep the Ampeg rig, sell the old rig

    I'll be getting my Fender precision soon, so that might make a more noticeable difference between the rigs. As it stands though, with my financial situation, I'm hard pressed to keep the Ampeg if it's not that much better. I'll admit that it's a slight step up, but I mean, I was expecting a new world.

    So if you guys could help me with some of your advice or experiences, it'd be much appreciated. Also, not sure if this is allowed (but it's not the main or even secondary purpose of this thread), if you guys could help me with an idea of pricing (for both the Peavey/Bag End and Ampeg rigs), it'd help me get a better idea of my situation and the benefits of each option.

  2. Try running your bass direct into the new rig (minus pedals/fx) and see if that makes a difference. Also mess with the EQ'ing of the rig and the pickups in your instrument. I would bet you just aren't used to the tone and will find the ultimate after alittle configuring...
  3. mrjim123

    mrjim123 Supporting Member

    May 17, 2008
    This won't help you, but may help somebody in the future.

    I would never buy that much equipment all at once. I probably would have bought the bass first and played it for a few weeks to get used to it. I would then have taken the bass to music stores and play it through as many heads and cabs as possible. After buying the head and cab and playing I would have waited a few more weeks before buying effects.
  4. riskyrain


    Jul 20, 2009
    Sorry I should've explained better. I spent about an hour or two messing with all of the configurations of both rigs back and forth. I'll spend some more time for sure, though I've got a general idea of the differences.

    As for buying the equipment all at once; the pedals were already a "part" of my rig, as I had already researched and explored them. I had already chose them, so to speak. The new Fender I'm getting is also a long-planned upgrade because the Schecter doesn't cut it.

    Pretty set on everything but the rig at this point; and since I got a good deal on it, it's not like I could really wait--though I'm in a position where I could buy it, test it out, and the sell off the rest.
  5. Baird6869

    Baird6869 Supporting Member

    Remember, more expensive doesn't always equate to better. I have a $3000 Omega watch that doesn't keep time any better than my $30 Casio.:smug:

    I am really impressed with how Peavey (and even Traynor/Yorkville) tube heads sound vs. Ampeg and other manufacturers percieved as "higher end". Nothing wrong with playing with the Peavey if you love the sound.

    I am an Ampeg guy, but would likely sell the Ampeg and play the Peavey if I was in your position. BUT, wait until you try it with your Fender.
  6. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    But but but... when you play live people will look at the Ampeg logos and go "WOW, THIS GUYS TONE IS FANTASTIC!" :: sarcasm ::

    One solution, sell the Ampeg, play the Peavey and buy a VT-bass pedal for when you want the Ampeg vibe.
  7. You should give it some time just to be sure if you have that option......personally I don't like the sound of a compressor with the 610 btw.
  8. The whole "Ampeg rules" thing is really aimed at the SVT. If you get to try one maybe it'll make it for you.
  9. Jerrold Tiers

    Jerrold Tiers

    Nov 14, 2003
    St Louis
    Don't take this wrong.......

    It sounds sort of like you don't really WANT the "Ampeg tone", you want mostly the effect of the extra boxes........ maybe almost any amp would be OK.

    If you send an already processed signal into any amp, you are going to get out what that amp does to that signal, which probably will not be what it does with an instrument plugged right in.

    If you really like the compressor/preamp box combo, get rid of the 4PRO, maybe all you need is a power amp, or possibly any reasonably cheap bass amp with the power you want....
  10. basspro


    Mar 10, 2009
    Las Vegas,NV
    Like stated before try going direct into the ampeg first,adjust the settings to taste,
    add effects one at a time to see where the sound go's.
    Maybe the Ampeg tone isn't for you.

    But Isn't it funny how all these effects manufactures are trying to capture the "Ampeg tone".
  11. The sad thing is, your sarcasm has probably happened on more than one occasion :rolleyes::help::meh:

    To the OP, you can't go wrong with what you're used to. I love my stingray to death (the only bass I actually play now), but my squire p bass is still the most comfortable in my hands, being that it was the first instrument I played on. If you can get great tones out of the peavey rig, why not?
  12. Foz


    Jul 26, 2008
    Jax FL USA
    Ignore the peak light and try again... you'll find more "Ampeg tone" if you do.
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    That's good advice. I used to like to crank the gain almost to the point of audible distortion in my old 3 Pro. Not quite, but pretty close. Brought a little more out of it.

    Ever thought of trying the 4 Pro through the Bag Ends? If you keep a lid on volume it should work fine. Might be a cool thing to try before you give up on it.
  14. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Mount Prospect, IL
    Make sure you hooked up the 4 PRO in mono-bridge mode with the properly wired Speakon cable - otherwise 1200 watts will not come out of that head. Also, set the 4 PRO completely flat and don't push any of the switches in. THEN try it with your gear.

    As for these bad boys:
    BBE Opto Stomp Compressor
    Xotic BB Bass Preamp

    Leave them out of your signal chain for now. Adding another pre-amp to the 4 PRO's already good pre-amp is redundant and will mess with the Ampeg vibe in terms of tone. The compessor on the other hand is something to add in later after messing around with the 4 PRO. Honestly though, the 4 PRO's on-board compressor works fairly well as it is. Keep experimenting and good luck.
  15. rpsands


    Jul 6, 2007
    The SVT-4 pro is just junk. Period. I've never heard anything out of that amp to justify its cost.

    I'd say return it, stick with your 700 and try it with the 610HLF. That is a darned nice cabinet. :)
  16. basspro


    Mar 10, 2009
    Las Vegas,NV
    To each his own. I love my SVT heads, but will not use ampeg cabs!
  17. melodicly


    Oct 22, 2008
    New Orleans, LA
    I've never been a fan of Ampeg tone, but I do admit it has it's time and place. Never liked 4pro as I thought it was underpowered and overpriced as well. I am using the Sansamp RBI into the effects return on my peavey 700 right now. I get all the crunch and grunge I want, easy access to sparkly clean tones and '700'W into two 210 cabs. I am hoping to ditch the peavey and just get a power amp soon to replace it. If you like your comp/preamp try that with your peavey on both cabs (bypassing the pre on your peavey). If you like it ditch the ampeg and get some nice clean power amp.
    I am in a similar band, we lean a little more towrds the post-punk side I guess but still three piece, and I love my Eden cabs. Give a 210XST a shot and you will crap yourself over how a 210 cab can sound. The nice thing about them though is the way they naturally fit in the mix. Most of the Ampeg stuff I have tried gets pretty muddy and it seems to get lost meaning the bass keeps turning up until they are out of headroom. A good effecient cab can be a HUGE differance. Edens not cheap, but if you sell the 4pro that's almost enough for a new cab. 210XST would sound great with your Bag-ends. my 2cents
  18. Hookus


    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    Funny how many peeps hate 'pegs. I for one, thought a SVT-4 with a 610HLF was the ticket. I have owned two 4-Pro's over the years. I keep thinking I will find something better, but end up coming back to the 4 time and time again.

    The compressor on the 4-pro is just fine, you don't really need another one in your signal chain, and I think the 4-pro has one of the more versatile preamps out there, so I would like was stated, plug directly into the amp, and fiddle from there.
  19. Greevus


    Apr 15, 2009
    I'm the opposite-just converted to Ampeg. Got an SVT classic, 810 fridge, and 410HLF. Love all three. I thought the SVT lacked a bit when I got it also. However, after playing around with it, it is very loud comparably. I think the two cabs are the best cabs I've heard and ever had. Unfortunately, I agree that the $$$ amount of Ampegs is too high. I would keep tweaking a bit before giving up completely.
  20. riskyrain


    Jul 20, 2009
    Cliffnotes at bottom


    Alright, I've finally spent a lot of time going through all of my equipment and I decided I would post here for some sort of completion or 'my' conclusion for the thread. Maybe a better word would be 'final result' or 'report.' These are just my opinions based on a lot of hours of tweaking and comparing.

    Just to clarify some things--when I first tested some configurations, I used my Schecter Stiletto Custom-4 directly through to the heads. No pedals. These configurations were:

    1. Peavey Tour 700 into two Bag End S15-Ds
    2. Ampeg SVT-4 PRO into the Bag Ends
    3. Ampeg SVT-4 PRO into the Ampeg 610HLF

    My initial impression was that the Ampeg head was better than the Tour 700, but not markedly better (and not justifiably better due to cost). I had only heard a slightly improved tonal warmth. As for the cabs, the Bag Ends seemed to retain a higher amount of clarity, crispness, and "truth" to their sound. That is, they didn't add much, but fully replicated the sound of my bass. The Ampeg 610HLF added a lot of presence and a dark, rock coloration. That said, I initially prefered my Bag Ends because of their portability and better tonal palette.

    ***Just for future information, the Xotic BB Bass Preamp should not really be considered as a preamp. It is an Overdrive/Distortion pedal based on the Tubescreamer circuit. It is an amazing pedal.


    After receiving my Fender American Precision Deluxe, things have changed drastically.

    Now Ampeg is the clear winner, both in terms of amp and cabinet. The difference between the amps is now very distinguishable, as the Ampeg seems to bring out the character and depth of the higher quality input signal (i.e. the Fender). Though both amps sound very good with the Fender, the Ampeg has much more warmth, variation, range, and expression. That is, the Peavey wouldn't be able to mimic it with EQ alone.

    Along those lines, the Ampeg 610HLF now has much better mids and highs and can match the Bag Ends in terms of expression and clarity. The Fender compensates for the 610s initial lack of character or tonal depth, and now I can get the best of both worlds. I do not have to sacrifice clarity or emotion to retain presence and dark growls. Now the Ampeg matches the Bag Ends in the upper register, all the while killing it in the lower register. And as a bassist... well you know.

    Unfortunately for my precious Bag End cabs (and for my back), I will be using Ampeg 610HLF.

    All in all, comparing the rigs was a great experience because I took a long time comparing sounds and listening to nuance. For reference, I also tried out a Bag End Q10BX-D (4x10 w/ tweeter). I played it with the S15-D and compared it to the 610HLF. Though the 410+115 Bag End combo was very clear and extremely well nuanced, it lacked the deeper, dark coloration of the Ampeg. Considering my band's needs and genre, the Ampeg fit better. If I was playing experimental, indie, or post-rock, I'd probably have preferred the Bag Ends.

    Another lesson to take home is that it is not the individual pieces of your rig that matter, but rather how the entire set up works together as a whole. I could have gone either way for my rigs using my Schecter (where Peavey/BadEnd ~= Ampeg)... but once I used my Fender, the sound just exploded with the Ampeg. It seems that the Fender + Ampeg combo that many people cite truly does work wonders together. At the same time, I'm sure there's a different bass out there that would have made me choose Peavey/Bag End over the Ampeg.

    Thanks for everyone's advice, and I hope anything I've written will help others.

    - Initial Impression w/ Schecter Stiletto = Ampeg not much better than Peavey/Bag Ends
    - After using Fender American P-Bass Deluxe = Ampeg is markedly better
    - Rigs work as a sum of all parts; some pieces work better together than others
    - I still love Bag End, but the Fender choose Ampeg. A different bass might have chosen Bag End :smug:
    - I now have to sell my Bag End S15-Ds and Peavey Tour 700 because Ampeg+Fender=:bassist: