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Out with the Thunderfunk, in with the Aguilar.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Humabass, Dec 9, 2006.


  1. Humabass

    Humabass Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2002
    Northern Virginia
    Just sold my Thunderfunk because......i didn't like it:bag:
    I've noticed that I seem to be quite often disappointed with the "Flavor of the Day" amp I read about here on Talkbass. Not trying to be critical, it's me, not TB. Here's a rundown of my amp progression over the last 30 years:
    Ampeg SVT
    Fender Bassman 135
    Ampeg V4B
    Lab L4
    Peavey MKIII
    GK 400RB
    GK 800RB
    Eden WT300
    Eden WT500
    Eden WT800
    Aguilar DB (?) single space pre/QSC PLX
    Aguilar DB 680/QSC PLX
    Demeter HBP1/QSC PLX
    Eden WT550
    AI Focus III
    Thunderfunk TFB550

    The Iamp800 was very hyped here a few years ago so I got one. Absolutely hated everything about it. The TF is the current flavor so I got one. Very nice sounding amp, very well built, but just didn't live up to it's hype for me. So I sold it and was going to try the UL502 but just couldn't swing the price tag at this time. I was in my local GC and they had an Aguilar AG500 combo..hmm..let me plug in. At this stage in my GAS life I've resolved to never be immediately blown away by any gear and I wasn't. But, I was very pleased with the sound I was getting. I needed an amp asap since I'd already sold the TF and thought well I might as well get one of these and try it for a while. Went to Chuck Levin's and bought an AG500 SC head for $880.00. Took it over to my buddies house that afternoon plugged it in and we both were like " nice amp, not blowing us away, but sounds really good". First gig with it was the next night. Cabs are Epi UL110/UL112 stack. Bass is my four string Wardowsky (Warmoth with Sadowsky guts). I set everything flat and turned up. HOLY COW! JUMPIN' JEEHOSEFAT! MY GOD! I'M IMMEDIATELY BLOWN AWAY!!!!
    Ironically, to me the amp is everything that the TF is described to be that I didn't see in it. It has punch, definition, clarity, warmth, quickness. I've never had an amp that responded this well to fingerstyle dynamics. 32nd note patterns on the low E just pop out. The low end is warm and tight. I'm still evaluating the slap sound because the amp does have a midrange emphasis and the low mid and hi mid knobs are voiced a little narrowly but in a club setting sometimes the typical scooped slap sound can lose some punch and definition. I can actually hear myself better and slap better with this amp live but am concerned about the slap sound being a little too middy. So for the moment I'm very satisfied but as we all know GAS is only treatable, not curable:D
     
  2. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Glad you found something you liked! The Ag is about as different sounding from the Thunderfunk as you can get IMO (fat, super warm and a little 'gritty' vs. the quick clean precise tone of the TF to my ear), so it doesn't surprise me that if you like that amp a lot you would not particularly care for the Thunderfunk (and that you would have absolutely hated the iAmp!).

    That being said, I never could figure out what the 'flavor of the day' even means. Yes, I guess when a new piece of gear comes out that gets many excited, it is posted about a lot. However, buying based on just that, I agree, can be pretty silly!

    Good luck with the AG.... that's about as close to a tube amp type sound as you will get IMO with a small solid state head!

    Edit: Building on your post description of the two heads, I think the term 'warm' can really be confusing, since it's used so differently by everyone.... when I use the term 'warm', I mean that an amp has that complex midrange tone that is most associated with tube amps. I therefore don't really use the term 'warm' as a primary descriptor of the TF. I also associate 'warm' with a little bit of give and a 'lack of quickness'... which is how I hear the AG500 (and similarly the Eden WT line with the tube in the pre... although the AG500 is 'warmer' yet)... just a little bit of tube-like give in the attack. My guess is that's why you feel a little more comfortable slapping on the Ag... the TF, iAmp and other very quick, precise amps are VERY unforgiving regarding slap technique... that 'lack of give' can be quite intimidating, although once you 'master it', it really works well.

    However, the TF is surely 'warmer' than the iAmp to my ear. I think I put a continuum of 'warmness' up on a thread recently that many agreed with... and the TF fell right about in the middle of the range.

    Anyway, the differences among these amps are obviously of great interest to me, and I've been lucky enough to A/B most of these very nice heads, and use quite a few in gigging situations.

    Again, enjoy that new head!
     
  3. ThumbyAche

    ThumbyAche Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2005
    Pacific NW
    You "hated" the Iamp? I guess to each their own but with so many variables, it's really just about finding the right combination of things (I think). My Iamp through by Bergantino with my F-bass (to me) is awesome but with your EPI cabs is probably a different tone for sure. Sounds like the Aggie works well with the EPI cabs and your bass. Although, I bet your Aggie head would kick butt through my Bergie HT-322 cab also..
    Did you compare the EPI heads to the Aggie? Just curious what you might have thought in comparison and with your EPI cabs.
    I do know what you are saying about the "Flavor of the Week" thing and...I have been guilty of this before and also (like you) left disappointed.
     
  4. Reefer

    Reefer Guest

    Mar 9, 2003
    Very cool! As a previous iAmp and TF owner myself, I'll definitely have to check out the Aggie.
     
  5. Humabass

    Humabass Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2002
    Northern Virginia
    QUOTE=KJung;3603858]Glad you found something you liked! The Ag is about as different sounding from the Thunderfunk as you can get IMO (fat, super warm and a little 'gritty' vs. the quick clean precise tone of the TF to my ear), so it doesn't surprise me that if you like that amp a lot you would not particularly care for the Thunderfunk (and that you would have absolutely hated the iAmp!).

    That being said, I never could figure out what the 'flavor of the day' even means. Yes, I guess when a new piece of gear comes out that gets many excited, it is posted about a lot. However, buying based on just that, I agree, can be pretty silly!

    Good luck with the AG.... that's about as close to a tube amp type sound as you will get IMO with a small solid state head!

    Edit: Building on your post description of the two heads, I think the term 'warm' can really be confusing, since it's used so differently by everyone.... when I use the term 'warm', I mean that an amp has that complex midrange tone that is most associated with tube amps. I therefore don't really use the term 'warm' as a primary descriptor of the TF. I also associate 'warm' with a little bit of give and a 'lack of quickness'... which is how I hear the AG500 (and similarly the Eden WT line with the tube in the pre... although the AG500 is 'warmer' yet)... just a little bit of tube-like give in the attack. My guess is that's why you feel a little more comfortable slapping on the Ag... the TF, iAmp and other very quick, precise amps are VERY unforgiving regarding slap technique... that 'lack of give' can be quite intimidating, although once you 'master it', it really works well.

    However, the TF is surely 'warmer' than the iAmp to my ear. I think I put a continuum of 'warmness' up on a thread recently that many agreed with... and the TF fell right about in the middle of the range.

    Anyway, the differences among these amps are obviously of great interest to me, and I've been lucky enough to A/B most of these very nice heads, and use quite a few in gigging situations.

    Again, enjoy that new head![/QUOTE]


    I'm really not that good in describing these things but I have to disagree about the difference between the TF and AG. I find them to be very similiar. I played Eden heads for years and also disagree that the AG is warmer and I also don't asscociate a lack of quickness with warmth and find the AG to be the quickest amp I've owned. As far as slapping, it's not a matter of being intimidated by a particular amp it's a matter of having an amp that responds quickly to dynamic changes, has clarity and definition in the low end, and doesn't have harsh ( I know, "harsh" is subjective as well) transient peaks when popping. If it means anything my second favorite amp from the list I've owned is the AI Focus. "Flavor of the Day" is just a silly term I used to note the varying trends in taste. Buying based on reviews and descriptions (especially yours, because they are so thorough) works for me because it takes me several weeks or months of real word use to really come to a conclusion and luckily I can afford to take the slight financial hit when I go to sell it.

    Could you please post the link to your "warmth thread"? I'd love to read it.

    Someone needs to write a book titled " How to Describe Sound". We should expand our descriptions to include:

    tepid
    lukewarm
    almost boiling
    getting ready to melt
    clean with a few small stains
    loose
    sludgey
    gooey

    Wait...I think BP mag already uses some of these in their reviews;)
     
  6. That's an interesting progression.
     
  7. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I'm with you Huma -- I didn't find the AG500 to be a warm/fat/gritty amp ... it is clean, clear, and quick. Yes, its warm, but not at all in a tubey way. I do think it is a great little amp with a very pure sound, and is very loud into a 4 ohm load.

    I also agree that following the hype machine (from either a BB or a mag) is not an effective way to find gear you like.
     
  8. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member


    +1... hard to talk about this stuff. We hear the Ag totally differently, but all that really matters is that you like it:bassist:
    Actually, the 'transient peaks' you are describing negatively are probably what I call 'quickness'... that immediate reaction and extreme dynamic response you get with some amps, versus the little bit of give you get with others.

    I'll try to hunt down that thread... it was a while ago:)
     
  9. Aram

    Aram

    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    Sorry to hear you hated all those amps...that definitely differs from my experience. I've either played through or owned most of those, and the only amp I've ever 'hated' was an Ampeg SVT III pro...mainly because it had some weird distortion I couldn't get rid of, and didn't seem to be that loud, no matter what cab I played through.

    I guess I have different standards because I'm used to playing through a backline, or going direct, as opposed to my own rig, so maybe I'm more tolerant. On the other hand, my Nordstrand sounds great through just about everything.
     
  10. chadds

    chadds

    Mar 18, 2000
    "clean with a few small stains" :))))))
     
  11. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member


    I'm with you on the above... except for a very, very few pieces of gear (interestingly, that SVTIII pro is one!), I can pretty much get my sound through just about anything. I just love to noodle this stuff, and every once in a while, you stumble across an amp/cab combination that seems to just effortlessly reproduce that 'sound in your head'. At the moment, that's the Thunderfunk/EpifaniUL combination!

    My preference seems be drawn to the 'middle' of the tone spectrum.... not tube gritty or super warm like the Mesa Mpulse thing or full tube amps, and not to the 'super clean transparant stuff like the iAmp amps or Berg cabs (to my ear). Just purely IMO and personal preference.
     
  12. Yamarc

    Yamarc Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2002
    Okemos, MI
    I have heard that the AG500 has very narrow midrange bands and that it doesn't produce a very useable midrange...does that sound accurate?
     
  13. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

  14. It's interesting to see the pursuit of the holygrail of personal taste. With guitar I found it in a '64 deluxe, but with bass I've found I tend to cater my playing to the combination of instruments and amplification (SWR 400s, Mesa 400, Roland 1x12). I think my three amps sound different with different strengths, particularly when shuffling around cabs (aggie 1x12s, bagend 2x10, and soon mesa 4x10), but then again, I'm always futzing with settings, finding something I like for a bit, then make little changes.

    I have to admit to leaning towards round blooming sounds (playing a lot of upright these days), but I don't slap much on the slabs. That said, perhaps my tastes will continue to evolve to where I can let go of gear. Most of my stuff is older, as that's what budget tends to allow these days, but every once in a while I yearn for the small and light gear that's out now, so ergonomics seem as big a draw, especially when my guitar player is toting a super champ into local clubs.

    For guitar, my evolution was through newer hybrid Ampeg combo, Carvin 1x12, to Deluxe and Vibrolux. I'd play the vibrolux out because of the higher clean headroom, but my sound was through the deluxe. Perhaps I'll find something similar with my bass amp evolution, but I haven't had that lightbulb go off yet. I love each of my amps, but each for different reasons.
     
  15. svtb15

    svtb15 SUSPENDED

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig. Q+
    I got rid of my SVT3pro too.. I did fix the distortion problem.. It was a Mosfet BIAS that needed to be done.. once done it became much better but still seemed underpowered.. it went on the chopping block (ebay)a few weeks ago....and is now gone.. bye bye... I am digging a WT800 now.. so far so good..
     
  16. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Thats what they said in the BP review, but I didn't find it to be true at all. The low mid knob adds push, the high mid knob adds presence. Its great.

    If anything I found I had to boost the lows quite a bit with that head. The mids on it are very strong.
     
  17. i love my Aguilar gear too. Nice warm, fat, thick, and tubey.
     
  18. Humabass

    Humabass Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2002
    Northern Virginia
    Wait! I didn't "hate" ALL those amps! Of my previous list I only "hated" the Peavey, Lab, and EA. Everything else sounded great especially the Edens which I played for years but just weren't the sound I was ultimately looking for.
     
  19. Humabass

    Humabass Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2002
    Northern Virginia
    I'd probably change the center point of the low-mid to a lower frequency. I find myself setting it as follows: Treble-12:00, Hi Mid 11:00, Lo Mid 1:00-2:00, Lows 2:00-3:00.
     

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