Played a vintage Ampeg SVT rig today for the first time

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by PolkaHero, Dec 7, 2002.

  1. PolkaHero


    Jan 5, 2002
    My first question to current users of this setup is: How do you put up with lugging this behemoth around?! I couldn't believe how heavy just the head was!:eek:

    Anyway, it sounded all right. Nice low end: the lower notes on the E and A strings really rang out. However, the upper notes on the G and D strings didn't speak very well.

    I still like the faster response of my GK rig. The Ampeg's transient response just seems a little too slow for my tastes. It doesn't seem to lend itself well to more complicated/technical bass lines.

    I still like my '77 B-15, though!
  2. Not much can be done about the weight. As far as the G and D strings, I think that depends on the speaker cab and the EQ settings. SVT's into 8x10's had gobs of midrange so the upper strings should have cooked.
  3. Rock City

    Rock City

    Apr 8, 2001
    What were you playing complicated/technical lines through an SVT.......that's a ROCK amp!:eek:
  4. Muscles. Other people's muscles. ;)
    I agree with the above mentioned 810. Gotta have the 810! But even with the 810 it's still always gonna be different than the GK. And thankfully so (no offense).
    Just look at it as a challenge like when Charlie Parker had to play a plastic sax for the challenge. :p
  5. I wonder what kind of shape it was in. Most vintage SVT's I've seen are in pretty ratty shape electronically and that will kill the transient response and muddy up the sound. The SVT preamp is designed to be clear even with a passive tone control rolled completely off.

    What bass were you playing through what cab?
  6. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    getting warmer
    I'm also not a huge fan of the SVT's. I recently got to play through a vintage rig (yes, it was well maintained) and due to the amount of hype on the boards lately forgot why I didn't prefer them in the first place so didn't bring my own gear.

    I would agree with the first poster that the transient response of the system simply isn't as fast as some SS designs (my SWR head for example). I remember reading an interview with one of Jaco's sound guys who said that the SVT simply couldn't articulate the notes whe the playing got fast, even with the 10s. There is a lot of compression going on in the system, and since this one had a master volume only, by the time it was up to a good loud stage volume, it was already breaking up more than I prefer.

    What it does it does well.

    Before people get their knickers in a twist, or panties in a knot, please remember that there is a reason why other amps are built and sold. Different strokes for different folks and so on and so on and doobie doobie doobie.
  7. I was just curious; that's all, but I do wonder why you regard liking a vintage SVT as "hype." I'm well aware there are other amps out there. It has simply been my experience that most SVT's, even when people claim they have been properly cared for, haven't been.

    You can coax Jaco-type harmonic madness out of the head, but not through the 8x10, it's simply too lo-fi a cab. Try an SVT through an Acme sometime; it's cool.
  8. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    getting warmer
    I'm not regarding liking an SVT as hype. In fact I've heard some players, in certain contexts, get God-like tones out of them. What is hype is the tendency of some to claim that the SVT rig is the end-all of bass rigs. There is a mythology around the rig.

    I don't think the harmonics were the issue. According to the interview (which was in yet another one of those Jaco is God BP issues) on faster runs the head simply blurred the notes too much for his taste. I'm not that fast but I did notice that the amp breathes more than what I'm used to.


    Oct 16, 2002
    New Orleans
    By the time it was up loud enough? Holy cow man, that SVT, at a conservative 600 watts gets up loud enough for anything! You must be playin at ear bleeding levels. I have never had my SVT in almost 30 years loud enough to break up more than I prefer. But, your correct, they weren't made for the transient response slappers or shreders require, they were made for bass players that play with accompanying parts in mind. ;)
  10. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    getting warmer
    It's 300 watts, not 600. See what I mean about hype?

    I like to hear myself on stage, at a decent volume. The stage in question was rather large (auditorium style) necessitating the volume be set high. The SVT can get loud for sure but it doesn't retain its tonal chracteristics well the louder you go. Some call it tube warmth, others call it mush. YMMV.

    Whatever, dude. :rolleyes:
  11. Actually, if you can push the booger into complete clip, it WILL put out 600 watts, but they won't be pretty. The output tranny will protect the speakers from the "DC" of the peaks and heat up working as an electromechanical compressor. That's not hype, but it doesn't sound very good at that point either.

    That sounds like a power supply or possible preamp problem because the SVT's power section is EXTREMELY clean. It doesn't mush out; it roars in the midrange. The highs do get compressed, but also the lows. An SVT's midrange bark is its trademark.

    I do agree that it certainly would NOT be my first choice for jazz or fusion and I'm not advocating that it's the be all and end all of all bass amps for everyone, but what you describe is not what I'd associate with a properly functioning SVT.

    I think you took his comment the wrong way. When the SVT was designed, lead bass did not exist, transient response was worse in solid state amps, and bass players were "accompanists."
  12. 600 watts!?! Are you sure? Man, I heard they were 2000 watts easy! :D


    Oct 16, 2002
    New Orleans
    Yea you Right! A big 'ol fat 2000 watt hole is the funky-ist thing you can play! Less is more Whatever Dude!:rolleyes:
  14. Rockbobmel

    Rockbobmel Supporting Member

    Hummm... 2600 watts, you say?
  15. Give or take a hundred or two.


    Oct 16, 2002
    New Orleans
    That's 2600 Behringer watts= 300 Ampeg SVT watts
  17. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    getting warmer
    Yeah 2600 watts is more what I remember hearing people claim. 6 SVT eggs are equal to 8 dozen SS eggs.

    Then what's the point in stating it? It's like saying a car will go 100 mph, then warning in the fine print that it is will fall apart at that speed and kill the passengers. If it is useless at 600 watts then it is hype to claim it unless you're at an electronics engineer convention.
  18. The point is that the amp is current capable of peaks above its rated output. ALL amps clip, even when they're supposedly being run "clean." It's how they handle the demand for transients that determines how good the amplifer is. The SVT compresses and starts putting out higher current, more "dense" watts if you will.

    I never said it was useless, just that if that was the only way you ran the amp, it wouldn't sound so hot. Even in "normal" operation, the amp will be putting out that amount of power on peaks. That's the "breathing" you referred to eariler. You really don't like the SVT do you?


    Oct 16, 2002
    New Orleans
    OK,OK,OK. Now for non-hype statement. The SVT is the most respected , used, and recorded (with the exception of the B15) amp of all time. Period. The sound made rock and roll, R & B, Blues. 300 SVT watts is exceptionally loud. If it's breaking up on you, I would agree it has a problem. They weren't made for hyped up lead bass playing, they were made for deep, warm, bass playing that can be "felt" as well as heard through the guitars and drums...any hype is well deserved, earned, and completely appropriate. Start a thread on what SVT players don't like about new amps with fast transiant responses(read sterile) and I bet you'll see a whole lot more people commenting negatively. It's a matter of taste and opinion. If someone doesn't like its hype, just say no.
  20. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    getting warmer
    Well, I don't hate it ;)

    Like I said earlier, what it does it does well and nothing else, even the newfangled digital simulations (let's not even get started about the SABBDI), acheive its unique sound. However, I simply don't find it to be the 'Supreme ohmygod I crap my pants everytime I hear it' type of thing.

    NOLABASS, your well written and humorous yet defensive and jingoistic posts prove my point, no offense. SVT users have this tendency to keep going on about how it can't possibly the amp which delivered a less than stellar experience (that means every single SVT I've ever played was poorly maintained? Every single one?). Some people just don't get erections over it. Don't take it personally, just be glad you've found something you can settle on and chill. And I'd be the last person in the world to claim any SS amp is the holy grail for EVERYBODY. I know plenty of people who don't like my rig and guess what, it doesn't bother me becasue they never complain about the sound I get out of it when the band is playing. Like I said so many f'ing posts ago, d'ffrent strokes.....

    Finally, since more records have been made with the bass going DI I think from now on people should wake up to the fact that going DI and trusting the engineer is the only way to get a true GOD tone