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Pre amp questions

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by scottfeldstein, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    I'm daydream planning my next amp rig. Gonna order up some flat pack fearful kits in a week or two. Meanwhile it got me thinking I'll need more than the 500w my GK micro head is providing. I'm thinking 1000 or so. This put me in mind if just getting a rack mountable power amp...and a preamp to drive it.

    I know nothing about separate component preamps. I'm aware that you can get them rack mountable or pedal style. Pedal appeals to me. And I'd be looking for basic tone shaping and if it had some kind of usable drive that's cool too. What puzzles me is ... how much umph do they need to have to sufficiently "drive" a power amp? Do they have watt output ratings? How do I know if, say, the MXR M81 is going to do the job? Is it designed to bring my level up to where a power amp is going to be efficient in driving my cabs? Do rack mount pres have DI outs? Or any of the niceities you find in traditional bass heads?
  2. Noylin

    Noylin Supporting Member

    May 28, 2014
    Preamps Explained

    There are other articles in Bongo's FAQ that are relevant to your questions as well. FWIW I'm using a GK MB800 with my 12/6 and run a B7K through the amp's effects loop to bypass the GK preamp - effectively an 800w Darkglass amp, with the GK front end still available as a back up preamp.
    mbelue, singlemalt and fclefgeoff like this.
  3. cfsporn


    Aug 20, 2011
    New York City
    You do know that the MB800 exists and can burst at over 1000w, right?

    You seem to like the GK MB "sound" so why not try the next biggerer one.
    fclefgeoff likes this.
  4. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Micro heads GK MB800, GK Fusion 800, Ampeg PF-800, Mesa M9, Carvin BX1500, etc. are cheaper used and less fuss, i.e., no rack, pre, extra connectors/power cables, etc. I am assuming an 8 or 4 ohm load from your proposed speakers.
    Generally no. Some can. Determining which is nontrivial. You need specs on the amp (check the manuals), and the corresponding pedal spec in the same units, which the pedal builders don't, won't, or can't usually give.
    No, but most bass pre-amps do. However, if you are routinely using a DI, I recommend carrying a separate unit, as Sound Engineers may refuse to use your pre-amp's DI for a wide variety of reasons.
  5. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    I should have known Bongo would have an explanation! Good read, very helpful. Thanks for linking.

    Carvin's bass heads definitely appeal. High watts, many features, low prices. The B2000 looks especially tasty. 2000w @ 2 Ohms, 1300w @ 4 Ohms and 700w @ 8 Ohms. Seems perfect and all I would ever need. (Probably still need to do some research as to how reliable they are...the low price almost scares me.)

    If I go power amp route I'll probably go rack pre as well. Sounds like most pedal units won't have enough output or the right kind. Although, I haven't had a sound guy yet in this band who's insisted on using his own DI. In the studio we use a separate one, but every FOH guy--including the one from Friday night--just walked up to me and asked if my amp had a DI out. I asked if he wanted pre- or post-EQ and, to my surprise, they all want post. Weird. Not the way things used to be as I recall.
  6. fclefgeoff

    fclefgeoff Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2002
    I use a MB800 and a GK Neo 212 or Schroeder 410 depending on the gig but otherwise I'm doing the exact same thing except substitute the B7K for this:
    slade and Dan Bass like this.
  7. fclefgeoff

    fclefgeoff Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2002
    I originally planned to use a power amp and pre but am much happier with the MB800. Considering they're around $500 used, put out tons of power and weigh 5lbs. It was an easy decision for me to make. Also, the GK preamp section sounds pretty good too but you probably know that since you own the MB500.
  8. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    I like GKs MB micro heads just fine. If mine had double the watts that it does now I'd not even think of replacing it. But by the time I paid for an MB800 I could get a Carvin head that had even more features and more watts--although it is heavier, at 13 or so pounds.

    Things to think about, I guess. I better get my cabs built first!
    mbelue and singlemalt like this.
  9. wave rider

    wave rider

    Jan 5, 2005
    Lightweight power amps are not too pricey; get one and use your GK as a preamp?

  10. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Tempting! I could FX-send directly to the power amp, I think. But unfortunately that would prevent me from using the proceeds from its sale to fund the power amp... Even more to think about, though. I hadn't considered it.
  11. wave rider

    wave rider

    Jan 5, 2005
    Which flatpacks are you building? The MB500 might surprise you...

    I, in no way though, want to stand in the way of your well deserved GAS...

    singlemalt and tbirdsp like this.
  12. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    When are you back in Minneapolis? :)

  13. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    Build first, amp shop later. You haven't heard what your GK can do yet.

    Hooking up the fEarfuls will be a revelation.

    And you don't want to buy an amp without trying it with the cabs.

    Happy cab building!
  14. Azure Skies

    Azure Skies Commercial User

    Mar 21, 2012
    Businessman Importer/Exporter Broughton Audio

    You probably wouldn't notice a big difference going from 500 to 1000 watts. The fEarfuls will be quite efficient with your GK.
    friendlybass likes this.
  15. friendlybass


    Jul 19, 2012
    Yeah spending all that dough on a good pre and power amp setup doesn't make a whilew lot of sense. You've got a good amp and doubling the power will only give you 3 dB more volume. Especially cause your interest in pedal pres make an amp with effects loop a better option. Do what you want man but Id say stick with what you got.
    Or! Get a second mb500 and whatever fearful kit you're building and have some fun in stereo!
  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Never change all the variables to your tone equation at the same time. That's a really easy way to lose your grip on what sound you like v. what pieces of that you already have. Get the cabs and try them for a bit and get a sense of what they do and how they sound. THEN work from there should you feel like you need something different. You may not.

    Also, while I know a lot of guys use 'pedal' preamps...but many rack preamps are a different breed. Sometimes it takes more space than a pedal to effectively design a really nice preamp. ;)
    Jim Carr and mbelue like this.
  17. PullThePlug


    Jan 8, 2014
    Here's another direction that I thought about taking:

    I like to biamp using an A/B/Y box into two heads (one clean, one dirt). These new micro lightweight ampheads (like the GK you have) make these biamping options VERY viable in terms of weight.

    This method definitely isn't for everybody, and there are more efficient means to achieve the same goal these days. But it's just a thought that I figure I could shoot out there :cigar::thumbsup:
  18. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    What he said. :) Your Fearfuls will be a lot different than what you're used to, so having the familiarity with your existing setup is going to be beneficial to you in figuring out how you want to shape things as you chase the sound in your head.

    In answer to your question about pedal and rack preamps, yep - there's really no better time to be looking as there are more choices than ever. Some of the rack preamps I've heard are truly "holy grail" tones, and some of the pedal preamps come pretty close (and some are terrible!). Off the top of my head, I can't think of a rack preamp that doesn't have a DI. And you're exactly right, some pedal preamps do not have the output to drive a power amp while others do it just fine.

    My own approach combines both - my rack setup is centered around an Alembic F-1x and a parametric EQ (a generally warm, fat, clean preamp and the EQ gives me flexibility that the preamp doesn't have on its own). I augment this with an effects rig that includes a pair of pedal preamps (1 clean, 1 dirty) and a programmable EQ (set up with 4 customized curves). The beauty of all of this is that the pedal preamps on the effects board are capable of driving a power amp on its own, essentially taking the place of my rack setup OR allowing me to ditch the rig entirely and send a DI for house and monitor support. So lots of different configuration options letting me mix and match components based on wherever I'm going.

    Using the Fearfuls really became eye-opening in terms of flexibility and the ability to really fine-tune everything to work together a certain way. I'd suggest simply getting the hang of them as BurningSkies suggested, as you'll start to realize how your existing setup can be optimized and how you want to expand things to take full advantage of it all.

    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
  19. Scott,
    I believe a lot of good advice was dispensed when folks were saying "wait on the amp until your cabs are built". I've been on this site for a few years and have read nothing but good about the Carvin amps. I wouldn't be afraid of the 'low cost' as I believe their business model, particularly the distribution aspect, allows them to make good quality amps and sell them at a fair price and still make money. They have been in business a long time, so they're doing something right. I haven't tried one but, again, based on my readings on this site there is a lot of love for Carvin and their amps seem to hold up.
  20. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    tombowlus and scottfeldstein like this.

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