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Recommend me an amp head...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by illidian, Jul 29, 2004.

  1. illidian


    Jul 2, 2004
    I'm wondering why you all think I'm posting this. I mean, only my ears will tell me whats right. Well, that's because 1) This is my first "decent to good" quality amp, so to me, they all sound good, 2) Because the bang-for-buck factor is important, and 3) Because you all are more knowledgable than me in this area.

    I'm in the market for an amp head for the first time. Currently I've got a Crate 15-watt, which I don't even plug into (I play unplugged), and my band is actually working on some stuff now. So I'm going to need an amp head.

    Some background information: Currently I'm in an "Alternative" Rock band. I listen to mostly Metal, but listen to some "Alternative" Rock as well. And I'm starting to get into some funk (because funk bass owns everything), but I won't ever play in a funk band. Anyway, my band is currently just a three-piece, with a guitarist (and vocals), a loud drummer, and myself (and back-up vocals).

    So in a situation like that, I figure that I'll end up coming out in the front more than occasionally. And we're contemplating adding another guitarist (we're going to see how the three-piece thing works out for now).

    The guitarist/vocalist has a 150-watt PA system that we use for vocals, and he also uses it for guitar (he's getting money for a real guitar amp currently). I've been plugging into that, and my tone isn't that great. Actually, it's horrid. But for now, it's the only way that I can be heard, so I go along with it.

    Okay, enough of that band.

    What do I plan on doing in the future? Masses as well as Rock/Metal. Sometime in the next six months we're going to start our "group" (for lack of a better term) to do Masses once a month, to give the pianist a break. And, being the person that I am, I'm going to end up pulling everyone together for that. I'll probably have a frontman role for that as well (funk-influenced type things, get people into it).

    Okay. So I suppose that's enough background information. I'm wanting one head to do it all, mainly because quality amp heads don't come cheap!

    So, as far as what kind of tone I want...

    I like good lows (four-string lows, not five or six), and highs that don't come across as brittle, as well as strong mids to cut through. I am mainly a thumb kind of guy, but for faster songs I use fingerstyle. I also do the slap thing.

    Basically, I want a do-it-all amp. It has to be versatile enough to go from Rock to Church music to Metal.

    Here's the bottleneck (the budget): +/- $500, would prefer to buy used. Could stretch maybe all the way to $600, but would prefer to spend $500 tops.

    By the way, suggestiong a "rare" amp wouldn't help me. I plan on (or at least hope to) try out all the amps that you guys suggest and more. There's a few (yes, three) shops that carry decent bass gear; Guitar Center, Sam Ash, and a smaller, private-owned store (who has some, but not much).

    Thanks in advance for your input!
  2. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    sounds like you need a "head" (amp/preamp) AND a cab??

    I'd recommend at least 350w into 4ohms head. and a cab that can handle 300w min. maybe a 12" or 410.

    used check out eden or swr heads. you could get a swr bass 350 (silver) for about $400. if you can find an older RED face you could pay as little as $275-$300.

    ANY cabs you find used BE SURE to play them at the store and make sure they aren't distorted.

    try swr workingman cabs, avatar, anything in your pricerange

    hope this helps a little
  3. Yossarian


    Jun 24, 2004
    Do you have speakers already? If you're talking about the head alone, you could get a Peavey Max 700 for about $550 new. Used... I dont know, you'd be more likely to find the Peavey Firebass (same thing, old cosmetics) maybe around $300. Maybe less I dont really know. I've only had mine for about 2 weeks, but I pretty much cant get a tone I dont like out of it. Sounds great with the EQ set flat. I cannot say the same for the GK 800rb or the Ampeg B-2r I've owned.
  4. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    If you plan on getting a head and cab with that money, then your gonna want a used head, and probably an Avatar cab. (www.avatarspeakers.com) They arent great... but you said "bang for your buck"... and that's pretty much what Avatar is.

    If you already have a speaker cab, then you can probably afford a new head. Ampeg's out of your price range, except the B2R.... which would give you the power, but the mediocre tone isnt worth the money at all.

    I recommend Peavey, SWR, or a preamp/poweramp setup. Those are actually cheap and economic for bass players. Start checking out some websites of these companies and such.

    Since this is your first time dealing with a rig... you might have questions on impedances and stuff like that, unless you've been previously educated in such departments. Make sure to take your time and know what your buying. And if you have a question, the people to ask are right here on TalkBass.
  5. illidian


    Jul 2, 2004
    Mcrelly - no, I don't have the speaker cabs yet. However, that is funded for seperately. So it's not +/- $500 for a head and cab set-up. It's +/- $500 for just the head.

    Yoss - I'll check out the Peavey ___ 700.

    TheChariot - your question was answered when I answered Mcrelly's.

    Also, would a preamp/poweramp setup be worth it in this price range? I assumed that a head would be better in this price range, but I'm not one to know such things (yet).

    I've played through an SWR SM-500, and it was a good head, I suppose. That's really why I'm posting this, because to me, it all sounds good because it's much better than what I'm used to.

    And trust me, I've been searching for a rig for awhile now. So I know about ohms and such. It's just that everything just sounds "good" to me, is why I posted this. When you're playing out of a PA that's 150 watts, which also the vocals and guitar are coming out of, nearly anything is an improvement. And well, the PA isn't any better than my Crate 15 watt combo that I got back when I got my bass.
  6. illidian


    Jul 2, 2004
    Thanks for the suggestion, SMASH. I'll add it to my list of amps to try out.
  7. NeedMoreBass

    NeedMoreBass unregistered

    Feb 14, 2003
    Best bang for the buck is the GK 1001-RBII. 700 watts, weighs 18 lbs. $630 inc shipping from www.riksmusic.com.
  8. T. Alan Smith

    T. Alan Smith Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    :cool: :bassist:
  9. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Pre/Power suggestions....

    QSC RMX Series. They're heavier then the PLX Series, for sure.... about 40lbs or so.... but I cant imagine you getting any more power for the $$.

    As far as preamps go, I'm assuming you can land a Sansamp or a BBE for about $250 maybe???? Not too educated on the new/used price of those brands, if anyone has that information.

    But at that point, you could get a QSC used. RMX850 or RMX1450. The price between the two is actually not that different. New, the 1450 is $400 and the 850 is $300. Think if you went used...

    And if you picked up an Avatar 410, you could run it bridged into either poweramp, because I'm pretty sure the RMS for that cab is 1400W.

    Check out the QSC power ratings. If you land a 1450, you'll probably never need an upgrade in the power section again... as least thats how I feel about mine, and I'm running in Parallel.
  10. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    2nded on the poweramp/preamp notion.

    You can easily find a used QSC RMX 850 for under $200. Most people take care of their poweramps (most) and buying it from a cool person on TB would probably assure you that some DJ didn't use it for house parties on a daily basis (I used to be a DJ so I can talk smack about them :D ).

    Another option would be to buy either buy a NEW RMX 850 (some guy on eBay constantly selling them for $300 shipping included) or buy a used RMX 1450 (1400watts bridged @ 4 ohms).

    Either of these options gives you about $200-$300 for a preamp. More than enough for a first rig, I say. Plus switching in and out of preamps will be less of an investment than switching in and out of $500-$600 amp heads to find the one you like. SO, as for a preamp, with that amount of money, you can easily find yourself a used Ampeg tube preamp (SVP-PRO, etc), or you can get with a Sansamp BDDI or even RBI (as mentioned before). If you were interested in an ultra-fast, ultra-light, ultra-portable setup that would be WAY under your budget, I say get the Sansamp BDDI. Hearing one of those plugged straight into a QSC poweramp really made me think about why I lug my 50+ lb rack with me to all my gigs!

    So that's my .000000002 cents.


  11. illidian


    Jul 2, 2004
    Thanks for the suggestions guys. I appreciate it.

    And to Allen and NeedMoreBass, would the Gallien suit my [all of] my needs? I tried one of GK's lower-end combos (Backline series), and I didn't like the tone I was getting much at all. Are their higher powered heads any better in the tone department, or is it still the "GK tone" all the way through?

    Transverz and Chariot - thanks for the power amp suggestions. But wouldn't it be best to not go overkill like that? Because well, in my current situation, I don't think I'll be cranking a 1450 watt poweramp beyond the one setting! Would I still get a good tone? That's one reason I'd be weary of going the pre/power route; headroom is great and all, but it's got to sound good at the lower volumes as well.

    So this would be one pre/power setup that's in my budget:

    QSC RMX 850 (used) - under $200, so let's say... $175?
    With some kind of Ampeg preamp (SVP PRO or SVTII-P) - $300-400?

    I suppose that could work, but with all that power, I'd also be spending a lot mroe for my speaker cabs than I expected.

    I'll look into those two power amps you mentioned, as well as prices for them. Then I've just got to find myself a preamp I like. :cool:

    More suggestions are welcomed, as well as input.
  12. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA

    A poweramp, at least in my opinion, shouldn't limit you to playing at high volumes. Plus, as far as I know, there isn't really a concern at playing low volumes with a solid-state amp that can put out a lot of watts. Not saying that is a fact, but I've just never heard anyone voice that concern before.

    With that said, and in an effort to keep you on budget, I'd say stay with the RMX 850 then. You might have a slight bit of trouble staying in the $175 range (with shipping of course) but around $200+/- is what I would budget.

    As for your cabs, I wouldn't be overly concerned about buying ones that "can handle" all those watts. Yes, you shouldn't put 5000 watts into 200watt cabs. But, just because you buy a 300 watt RMS cab, that is no reason that wouldn't pair up nicely with your RMX 850, of course as long as you don't go stupid-loud on the volume with it. I'm sure others will tell you that as well.

    As for which cab, especially for your budget and power handling worries, I suggest Avatar. Actually, regardless of budget and power handling, I still suggest them hehe (I like mine a lot!). The Eminence 10"s they put in their cabs handle (supposedly) 350watts each. My 4x10 is rated at 1400watts. Do I blindly believe this? Maybe not. But all I know is that I've been playing my SVT 4 Pro (1200watts continuos at 4 ohms, 1600watts peak) through my 4x10s and they are taking it like a champ. Actually, I've never heard them sound so good! I had been putting 350watts in them before and almost accepted the fact that they didn't get that low. But now with more watts in it, they are really showing their potential! Maybe this is seen as inefficiency? I don't know, but relevant to you, I had the same experience when I put the QSC RMX 850 through them also.


  13. illidian


    Jul 2, 2004
    So I shouldn't have problems if I'm not cranking my amp? Good.

    As far as speaker cabs go, I was thinking Avatar or Dr. Bass.

    And I wasn't planning on buying an 800 watt speaker cab, as it wouldn't have gotten 800 watts of power (the 850 runs at what, 600 watts I think at 8 ohms). Then once you split the 800 at 4 ohms into two speaker cabs, it's down to 400/cab. So I was going to get about a 500 watt cab, more or less.

    There's an Ampeg SVT-IIP for $245 (Buy It Now) on Ebay. As well as the SVP Pro for $250, $325 Buy It Now (one day left). Are those decent prices, and is there much of a tonal difference between them (the SVT-IIP was the forerunner to the SVP)?
  14. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    I think the PRO is the newer model...

    But on the power issue, I wouldnt worry so much about it. And all that power isnt always as loud as you think, when you give yourself a good amount of headroom. I've got 450W going into an Ampeg BXT115, which has an RMS of 300W. I'm really not even close to giving that speaker a problem, as long as I dont clip it, due to cranking it. but I dont have to crank it for the 15" to give me the low end support I need.

    The other side is a BXT410... 600RMS cab driving 450W. They balance out pretty well and give me good volume, but its not like I'm tearing the house down with it or anything.

    And I dont think its harmful to run a SS poweramp at a low volume at all. I think that factor exists more with tubes, but I'm not sure.

    I think you can safely run 830W into a 500W cab... so go with that setup, maybe. Just be sure that its giving you the volume you need. Because if it isnt, and you end up having to crank it..... clippage and distortion will be your undoing... now matter how high the RMS is on your speaker cabinet.

    Also keep in mind that you can run either power amp in Parallel mode with just one cabinet. So maybe you can run it parallel for practice and bridge it when you need the volume for a gig. Whatever you need to do.
  15. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Super excellent thoughts TC...

    Yeah, I totally forgot about that. Like TC said, not really too much to worry about in fulfilling wattage potential of a cab (in fact, it's worse to underpower it like was said already) but if your personal taste desires, you don't always have to go mono/bridged. If you go stereo, you lower the wattage output on the amp. Plus you can add another cab without messing with the impedance load of the other channel. Lots of ways to go in that department, which is why I recommend the poweramp route for max flexibility.

    The SVT-IIP is about average for $245 BIN. I've seen them go for less and more. As long as it's in excellent condition of course. The SVP-PRO ("blackface" and newer models) go for about $275-$350 on average, $350 being it better be in absolute great condition.

    Couple of other options is Peavey makes both solid state and tube preamps as well. People really dig them though I've been waiting for a good enough deal to try them. The tube version is called "Alpha", on eBay average about $150-$180. It can be had for under but that would be a great deal. The "Bassist" is the other model they have, SS I'm pretty sure, but it can be had for far less than the Alpha (average about $100-$135. Around the same price is the TB RAXX Bass preamp (identical to the TG RAXX Guitar Preamp!) but with a bit less options and only parametric EQing. Just thought I'd mention that there ARE options for not-so-Donald Trump like budgets (my kind of budgets :D )


  16. illidian


    Jul 2, 2004
    Thanks again you two for the replies.

    On the Ampeg pre-amp, I knew that the SVP was the newer model, because the SVT-IIP was what got Ampeg to create the SVP, and made the SVT-IIP obsolete. However, the guy who is selling the SVT-IIP stated that many claim that the SVT-IIP is of better construction and also has better tonal qualities as well. That's why I asked. But hey, the SVT-IIP is cheaper, and if it's not much different than the SVP, why spend the extra hundred bucks?

    Here is my planned rig (so far, and I know I'll end up changing it!):

    Bass > Ampeg preamp (either SVT-IIP or SVP PRO) > QSC RMX 850 > 2x12 Speaker Cab

    Ampeg Preamp - $250 max
    QSC RMX 850 Poweramp - $175-$200
    Monster Speaker Cable - Not sure... $40 max
    212 Speaker Cab - price currently unkown...

    I like the sound of twelves, nice warm mids, and they can give out both lows and highs. May end up adding another speaker cab later/when I need the extra volume, but for now I think I'm going to just stick with a 2x12.

    Would you think that Guitar Center/Sam Ash and/or other music shops would let me bring in my bass and my amp, and try out speaker cabs? I would assume they would, but I've never seen anyone walk into Guitar Center with a rig. :p May have to end up calling them.

    Thanks again for your input, and more is always welcomed.
  17. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Q: What impedance are you going to get the 2x12?

    A: I've seen people bring gear into Guitar Center before. But I mean... your not gonna find Avatars there anyways.
  18. illidian


    Jul 2, 2004
    I know that Guitar Center won't carry Avatar. He's not a "big" enough name for them.

    And I'm planning on getting the cab in an 8 Ohm configuration. That way I can always add another speaker if/when needed.