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Preamp Advice/Suggestions/Opinions Needed

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by xthischrysalisx, Jun 7, 2005.


  1. Ok, I have been on a quest of sorts to find the tone I hear inside my head. And before I drop some money down for my next purchase I wanted to run a few of my ideas by you all and get some feedback. In case it matters any, I mainly use a Stingray 5. Which one of my main problems is getting a nice clear bass tone from my B string, which is tuned down to A#. So anyway, maybe part of the problem is with the bass. I don’t know. That is why I am seeking your opinions.

    I am really looking for a powerful tone that is deep and growly with a nice gainy crunch/grit. I want to really distinguish the bass, even at high volumes. I don’t want mud or woof at all. So far I have owned and tried an Ampeg SVT III Pro – not bad but not what I am looking for; a GK 1001 RB – I was able to get the deep growl I wanted but it sounded a little sterile. I didn’t have the tube harmonics I wanted. Then I turned to a Sunn 1200s – good grit and drive but I couldn’t get a clear, defined low end. Sometimes I could get something that would set ok in the mix but I didn’t like the sound of the bass alone. Now I am using a Mesa D-180 – I don’t like it. I don’t know why, just not what I want I guess. I did play through an old SVT with a Sansamp before it and that wasn’t bad. Didn’t have quite the distinct low end that I wanted. A little too wooly but not bad. As far as preamps go I have used a Peavey and a BBE. Both were ok but didn’t provide what I needed.

    So, here are the ideas I have come up with. I have just recently finished up building a 4x12 cabinet with some hefty Celestions I purchased from Avatar. The cab is rated at 2400 watts @ 8 ohms. So I need a lot of power to push it. After looking around I was thinking about a PLX 1602. If I ran that bridged it would give me 1200 watts into the cab, which I would guess to be enough to keep the speakers happy. Thought and opinions on this are more than welcome.

    Now as far a preamp goes, I was thinking about the following:
    - Fender TBP-1
    - Demeter VTBP201s
    - I really would like the Aguilar 659 or 680 but both are a little more than what I want to spend.
    - What I was thinking about as of late was an Avalon U5 with a Sansamp before it. I liked the idea of the Avalon’s nice powerful – clear tone and then using the Sansamp for a little coloration and grit.

    Please give my any and all feedback. I would love to hear your opinions, suggestions and advice. Sorry about the long post.
     
  2. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I've been using a BBE Bmax in conjunction with a Sansamp. The BBE is clean, very quick and ultra-responsive with a decent bottom end. The Sansamp is warm and definitely ads that tube-like grit and coloration. I highly recommend this setup.
     
  3. ster

    ster

    Oct 18, 2003
    New Jersey
    +1

    I am now currently using an RBI with a Bmax-T and this setup kills.
    Contrary to popular beleif, the Bmax-T is also quick as hell and the RBI will give you all the grit you'll need.
    I am sure the Sansamp-Avalon setup would be the ticket. I was going to go that route but I liked the Bmax' Sonic Maximizer, mid controls and incredible tube warmth.
     
  4. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Banned

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    I can personally vouch that the Demeter pre is just gorgeous. Thick, full, responsive, everything good you can put into a box. If I ever join another rock band though, I'll probably get a Sansamp again or something just to have a different tone and sound. I used to have one and it was Ok, but for what I'm doing now, the Dem is just perfect. Easy interface and nice EQ options, it's at the top of my list. Took me forever to get it, but am glad that I did. Will stay in my rack permanently.

    I hope to add a compressor and maybe a Sonic Maximizer (again), too, but I donno. This pre just kills. I'm using it right now with a borrowed Mackie 1400i (400w/channel, as I can't bridge b/c the 2nd channel is broken), and it sounds pretty good. With a higher quality amp, it should just smoke.

    Also, you have 2400w @ 8 ohms? Wow. Why not make it just 4? I'd be scared to stand in front of that! :D
    Match those pre's with a QSC PLX 3402, bridged! :hyper: You will make those Triple Rec's cry for mercy!
     
  5. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Banned

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    Just FMI, how do you do the signal path on that? Do you use a switcher or just run them in-line with one another? Curious, as I will probably add another pre somewhere down the line, and just was interested to know.

    Also, if I get a compressor, would it be best to run that in my Dem's FX loop, or run my bass into the compressor, out of that, into the front of my pre? Always wondered about that... if you know, btw. :cool:
     
  6. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    Can you get grit/crunch from a Demeter VTBP201S? I haven't tried one but I thought it was supposed to have more of a warm, clean, referrence-type of tone.

    I use the Demeter HBP-1 preamp which for me has a clean tone with fidelity, yet it still has some tube warmth. I haven't pushed it to hear if it has any grit/crunch, but I'm going to try it out now.

    I know the poster has had some Ampeg amplification, but what about the Ampeg SVP-Pro preamp? Dude has also posted some really positive remarks about his new SVP-CL preamp. Ampeg's preamps would be my first choice for grit/crunch.

    - Art
     
  7. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    The SVP-Pro is still my favorite pre even with an Alembic F1-X now in the rack next to it :eek: I don't understand why everyone talks about "grit" and "distortion" when they talk about the SVP-Pro ... its just a great sounding basic preamp thats capable of getting a wider range of sounds than anything else I've tried! If you guys are using them for overdrive, you're not hearing the best they have to offer. The "drive" control doesn't distort the signal, it changes the EQ to have a more aggressive sound. Dial it back and you can get all the glossy jazz and slap sounds you could want, dial it forward and its time to rock!

    The tube driven EQ section on the Pro is "to die for". And the graphic is great for getting an alternate sound at the touch of a button. I'm not convinced there is a better all around preamp out there at any price point.

    :bag:
     
  8. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I didn't mean that all an Ampeg preamp was good for was grit/crunch; I meant that IMO it would be "easier" to get grit from an SVP-Pro than say from my Demeter HBP. -Sorry 'bout that.

    Let me try again:
    For grit/crunch I recommend that you try out an SWR Interstellar Overdrive Preamp. It's name says it all. :)
     
  9. Brendan

    Brendan

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    ...okay, look, I'll be honest, I have an SVP-Pro for sale, so this post is about a third whoring, two thirds actual opinion. Just fair warning.

    I think the SVP-Pros sound great for grit/crunch. Pickles is right, in that they have quite a bit more to offer, and they're a great preamp in their own right, but for grit in a rock type setting, they're the ticket. I actually used mine entirely clean, and was suitably impressed, and really, still am. It's such a rock/metal/hardcore sound; which is where you see a lot of that power grit thing going on.

    The two rigs I seem to see when doing the (metal/harcore) grit thing are either GK or Ampeg heads with Ampeg cabs. Hell, Troy from Mastodon uses both.

    I've used mine with a Stingray and Spector Rebop, and was happy both ways. I was using an Eden preamp, and to me, the SVP was way ahead of it, tone wise. I've also owned a GK head, but unfortunately, it was long prior to the SVP, so I couldn't compare the two.

    Long and the short of it is that to me, or to many people, if you're doing the grit/crunch thing, it's Ampeg or bust.

    Of course, I'm biased, I own one(well am trying to un-own one after a rig change made it redundant).
     
  10. ster

    ster

    Oct 18, 2003
    New Jersey
    I have it inline with each other - Sansamp out to the Bmax input. I have a footswitch to engage and disengage the Sansamp. I am not sure about the compressor though. I have only seen them run in front of everything in pedal format or as a part of an amp or preamp. I have never tried a switcher. I think I might have to do a search for that. But I am getting good results with my setup. The Sansamp running through the Bmax with the Sonic Maximizer and having more mid control is awesome!:)
     
  11. ster

    ster

    Oct 18, 2003
    New Jersey
    Man would I like to try one of those!
     
  12. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I tracked down a Bmax-T, and to be honest, I preferred my solid state Bmax. I'm not sure why, and that's not to say that the Bmax-T wasn't a great preamp in its own right.

    The other great thing about this setup that we're using (more or less the same thing) is that you've also got the sonic maximizer, which I use sparingly, and a compressor, which I use extensively. Very versatile setup if you ask me :bassist:
     
  13. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    You might not want to hear this, but to me, it sounds like you are describing the DB 659 (with the right tubes, of course). ;)

    Tom.
     
  14. oldfclefer

    oldfclefer low ended

    May 5, 2005
    Southern Ohio
    bass preamp = Alembic
     
  15. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Banned

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF

    Believe me, it's pretty hot! :cool:
     
  16. Thanks for all the help! I have been doing some more thinking about this and I think Tombowlus is right. I do love the sound of the DB 659. I don’t know how good of a test that listening to the clips on Bass Tasters is but every time I listen to the flat clip of that pre I fall in love. It is the sound I want. Ugh, why did I have to listen to it? Why? Unfortunately there is no place close that I can go to audition any of these. I still might try running a Sansamp in front because I don’t know if the Aguilar alone would get the grit I am looking for. Is that a pretty good assumption? Anyway, I do have a few more questions along these lines.

    I have heard to things about these preamps. First, like Tombowlus said, you need the right tubes. Why is this such a problem in these preamps? What tubes would sound good in it?

    Second, I heard they start to loose character at high volumes. Is there any substance to that?
     
  17. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Finally, someone believes me! :hyper:

    I'm not sure what tubes were in the unit that Todd recorded, but when I first got mine (with Sovteks installed), it had a more wooly midrange. After I switched to Telefunkens, though, it hit the basstasters clips pretty squarely on the head.

    Personally, I'd be very surprised if you found adding the Sansamp to be an improvement in this regard. The 659 can get some nice grit.

    It's not so much a "problem" but rather that since the 659 runs its tubes at full plate voltage, and (as I understand it) truly incorporates them into the signal path (not as an added "toob" element), you are really able to hear the sonic differences between the tubes used. As stated, I like NOS Telefunkens, but I am about to go through a slew of tube testing, so I may find more tubes that work well here fairly soon. But if you want a thick, wooly, sound, then you might prefer the Sovteks. I just like a more open and articulate midrange, which I found I got with the Tele's.

    I have not found this to be the case.

    Tom.
     
  18. Let me know the results of your testing. I think I am going to pick one of these up within the next few weeks and I would be curious as to what you found out. Also, where did you find your Tele's? Thanks Tom.
     
  19. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    They are pretty easy to find, but I have bought most of my tubes from Doug Preston:

    www.dougstubes.com

    Tom.