Peavey Alphabass and Mesa D-180: thoughts?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Mar 20, 2006.

  1. My whole playing concept and ideal tone have become much more rock-oriented than when I was last gigging regularly a few years back. I'm not slapping at all, I'm using a pick about half of the time, and I'm dialing up my FBB for maximum grind--a role which it is quite happy to fulfilll. :D

    As I approach getting a head to match the well-used but fully-functional Eden D-210XLT that will be coming my way this week, I have thought about what type I should get. I have a budget of about $500 for a used amp, and while I've been leaning toward something on the order of a Peavey Firebass, a 250-300-watt Trace Elliot, or perhaps a GK 700 or 800, I have seen a few Peavey Alphabass and Mesa/Boogie D-180 tube heads in this price range. I am young, strong of spine and shoulders, and live in a one-story dwelling, so the weight of an all-tube amp does not cause me to flinch. Nor would I worry about cutting through: in a medium-volume rock situation, I am quite sure that 150-200 watts of power into a quartet of 10s (I plan to obtain another D-210XLT when I have the chance, or sell the one in order to finance a 4x10 of some sort) will be plenty loud as long as the signal is sufficiently distorted.

    My question is, aside from the problems common to all-tube amps of every variety, what are the drawbacks with the Alphabass and the D-180? In particular, would I have to run these amps so hard to be heard that I would need to replace their power tubes more than once a decade? (That's expensive, yo, and my cash flow is much more constricted--for a variety of reasons--than it was when I was a undergrad.)

    Those of you who have owned or at least spent extensive periods with either or both of these amps are welcome to contribute your thoughts.
  2. Mika

    Mika Guest

    Nov 29, 2002
    I have a Peavey AlphaBass and a Mesa M-180 (power section of D-180), so I thought I'd bring up some points.

    The Peavey AlphaBass has output transformer taps for 4 ohm and 2 ohm loads, so driving one 8 ohm Eden D210XLT is out of the question if you don't want to risk damage. The preamp section is OK at clean settings but for some reason it overdrives very ungracefully. I currently have JJ ECC83S and ECC81 tubes in the preamp and PI/driver stages. Fortunately the input sensitivity and input impedance of the effects loop return are quite high, so you can basically plug your bass directly into it. The switchable graphic EQ is between the effects return and the power section. With the AlphaBass, plugging into the effects return means that you'll have no volume control other than the one(s) on your bass.

    The D-180 has output transformer taps for 8 ohm and 4 ohm loads, so it might be more usable in your case. I have the M-180 (power section of the D-180) and it's a very well built unit. No complaints whatsoever about the sound, and it gets pretty damn loud with a Warwick W410 Pro.

    Both amps have no bias adjustment, so you'll need to mod them.
  3. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    The roughly 150-180 watts of the D-180 could work fine in a medium volume situation. It might run a little short in a super loud band (I swapped the 6L6 tubes in my Mesa bass 400 for KT-88's for this reason). I wouldnt stress about the fixed bias of the D-180. If you retube with Eurotubes, Bob will pick out the right ones.

    You will probably have to retube eventually, maybe every few years. A decade would be exceptionally long tube life for an active player.