On the fence about getting a tube amp... Opinions/Exeriences would be great

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by J2Kbass, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. J2Kbass


    Nov 14, 2011
    Gainesville, FL
    Thanks in advance for your feedback.

    I've been playing through a markbass tube 800 head for the last 2 to 3 years and I have no complaints.

    However, on multiple occasions I have run tube amps( ALL TUBE ) with my bass and cab and the sound was SUPERIOR( IMO ) to my Markbass head. I've tried out multiple ampeg tube heads and orange tube head (ad200b mkIII). Loved them all.

    I have been tempted to pull the trigger but here are my concerns -

    1.) Weight - I have had back issues for a while and I CAN'T own an 80+ pound amp. 50 or less is more doable. The lighter the better. The Orange AD200b is right on my limit.

    2.) Reliability - Being that I haven't owned any tube amps I have no personal experience but I seem to consistently read about tube amps having more issues - needing replacement tubes, etc...

    It seems to me that the only "upside" to tube amps is the sound. Which is worth a lot in my opinion. Is there something else I'm missing?

    Can anyone share there opinions/experiences on tube amps that would alleviate my concerns? Is there a boutique(or brand name) amp that I'm unaware of that could make me less hesitant?

    Thanks again for your input.
  2. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    The Fender Super Bassman is a killer amp and weighs 65 pounds.
  3. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Problem is you end up with cheaply made tube amps at a comparable point to similar priced high end SS stuff. The Orange and the Ampeg are pretty good examples of that, once you have a look inside them. The circuit makes the sound but the construction quality makes the reliability. And good construction costs. Firstly if not being massively heavy is your goal, you shouldn't think in watts and get cabs appropriate to giving the volume you need, and a head that gives the tone you want at the weight you want. In the UK, Barefaced, and the States the Dually are my recommendation there, can get jam with drums loud with 50w head with one of the 2x15s.

    As for actual quality heads new, Matamp in the UK, http://dunwichamps.com/Home_Page.php in the US. Bit of googling will give you some gut shots where you can see the wiring standard in either.
  4. If weight is a concern I suggest the Genz Benz Streamliner 900. Under 7 lbs and gets you close to all-tub tone:

  5. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    If you like the MB stuff, try the TTE500 "Anthony Jackson" head. A great compromise.
  6. Peavey VB-3, 300 Watts, 37 lbs.
  7. Alex1984


    Jan 16, 2010
    Traynor YBA-300. Tones that compare very favourably against my SVT, light as a feather in comparison. Traynor also has a great reputation for being solid work horses.
  8. My rack pushes 600 s/s watts, my tube head pushes 50. I think the 50 tube watts are louder and a similar weight. Unless you're in a super loud band, I would think you can probably sacrifice on wattage and go for something with less power and less weight than an 80lb SVT.

    Yes tubes need to be replaced from time to time so they probably need more attention than a solid state rig, but as you say if it's all about the sound then it's worth it. In general I haven't had an issue as far as day to day reliability goes. In fact my tube head survived a house fire and still worked.
  9. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Grand Rapids Michigan
    If weight is your concern, then I strongly suggest you check out the Genz Benz Streamliner 900. Crazy tube tone, a fraction of the weight. I think where you should really concentrate your weight savings is in your cab. Recently Mike Arnopol built a 39 pound greenboy Dually 215. With a Streamliner 900 it would spank a lot of 810's in volume, have some crazy good tone, and weigh less than the majority of tube heads.
  10. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Yikes. It sounds to me like maybe you want a hybrid with a SS power section and a tube preamp. Tube heads are just heavy, no way around it. They are also only as reliable as the people that handle them. If you buy good tubes, keep it clean, and don't throw it around too much it will serve you well. If you want something that you don't have to take care of, tubes aren't for you.
    I had a Mesa 400 Bass (not the "+") for years and it did a great job. The thing was ancient and the only trouble I had was with the power switch crapping out once and the DI being totally messed up (which I never used anyway.) In about 15 years of light/moderate use I only had to replace the tubes once. The biggest problem was the head wasn't designed with a good way to keep the power tubes in place, which would pop out of place if you banged it around too hard.
  11. bigchiefbc

    bigchiefbc Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Rhode Island, USA
    Honestly IME, if you're going all tube, you don't need a 300 watt 80 pound monster. I know that "watts are watts" etc, but my 100 watt all-tube head is WAY louder than any 300 and 400 watt SS amps that I've played.

    I play a Bugera 1960, its 100 watts and with volume around 4, it's slightly dirty and more than loud enough to keep up with the guitarist in my covers band playing the Dime amp and a half stack. And our drummer is quite the basher, and he has a double bass setup.

    I know Bugera doesn't have the greatest reputation for reliability around here, but I've yet to have a problem with it through 10 months of weekly practices and gigging every other weekend.

    Oh and it weights (just) under 50 pounds.
  12. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009

  13. redhed


    Oct 25, 2009
    Are you saying the new Ampeg's are crap?
  14. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    los angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    A real tube preamp into whatever power amp you want :D

  15. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Stewartsville, NJ
    Different Basses sound different with different Amps(Obviously). So My advice is to play your main/Favorite bass through some Tube Amps and see how it sounds to You. I love the Way My Ric 4003 sounds through Marshall VBA400. You can go from Clean & clear to Slightly "crunchy" to All-out Pit-Bull Grooooowl. My Fender Jaguar does all that through just about any S/S Amp.
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I don't think tube amps are any more or less reliable than any other amps. Once in a while you'll have to replace tubes but it's hardly where you have to spend $500 every 6 months on a retube unless you turn them up to 10 on every gig.
  17. michael_atw


    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    Vintage Ampeg B25's are probably about 50 lbs. Powerful enough but not absurd. I owned one and miss it - nowadays people try to overprice them absurdly. I had mine for about $250, now they are up to $400-$500 and I see many for $600-$700.

    I also own a '68 Bassman I've used for years for basses. Not the best sounding bass amp but I love it as it serves dual purposes also being a superior guitar amp. Definitely a vintage-sound. Probably 30-40 lbs.
  18. As I have said before: Every bassist should own a tube amp at least once. :)
  19. SactoBass

    SactoBass There are some who call me.......Sactobass Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Sacramento CA
    Nostatic nails it! I have a Jule Amps Monique all tube preamp (the rackmount version) and I run it into a 47 pound Crest CA9 power amp into a stacked pair of Genz Benz Uber 212 cabs (63 pounds each).

    I used to schlep an 85 pound Ampeg SVT-VR, but my 56 year old body finally said, "um, excuse me, but..."

    Pic of the rig:
  20. bobcruz


    Mar 10, 2004
    Alameda, CA
    My Carvin T-100 100-watt stereo tube power amp weighs 25 pounds and cost me $100 used. I replaced all the tubes for about $65 although the existing tubes weren't that bad (they just made occasional crackling or popping noises). It will handle 4, 8 or 16 ohms per side so I can run a total of four 8-ohm cabinets. It sounds glorious with my Avatar neo 112s and custom (20 pound) sealed Basslite cabs and with that many cabs, it's loud. Input sensitivity is such that I can plug my active Peavey Cirrus bass directly into the input and achieve full power without a separate preamp. Carvin still sells them although the input sensitivity has changed so a separate preamp may be needed with the newer version. Currently $549 plus $29 shipping: http://www.carvinguitars.com/products/TS100