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Resources for high end Bass Gear

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Mar 13, 2003.

  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    At the moment I'm on "The Great Preamp Quest" looking for something to act as the front end of my EA iamp 800 rig, and I've been reading all the preamp threads I can get my mitts on on this board and others. I almost started another "what preamp to buy" thread, but there were so many already out there that I decided against it. That said, Louisville is hardly a mecca for high end bass gear, so it's difficult to get my hands on a lot of the stuff a lot of people talk about.

    I'm looking for a nice preamp that will serve double duty for both BG and DB. For DB, the important criteria are that the pre must be CLEAN and have a fast response and an intuitive EQ....I'm working with the iamp's EQ, but I find it quite fussy and counter-intuitive (to be fair, I've never been good with parametrics at all). For BG (a Smith 6), I'm not all that concerned about the features, as I find it easier to dial in a BG sound through a primarily DB amp than vice-versa (Not that these are DB preamps, but I have tried and liked a sansamp and an Alembic F1X (FX1?) before, and had no trouble finding a good sound pretty quickly).

    So my question is, what are some stores/sites I can check out to look into what high end bass preamps are out there, and what their relative cost is? Also, are there any options for trying some of this stuff out before I have to decide to keep it? I know this last one is a long shot, but this stuff gets pretty expensive, so.......
  2. TNJ


    Mar 5, 2003
    Check out BassCentral.com
    They have alot of high end bass gear, that is what they do exclusively.
  3. NeedMoreBass

    NeedMoreBass unregistered

    Feb 14, 2003
    It doesn't make much sense to have a $1100 bass amp and then get a preamp because you don't like the EQ. All you're doing is using the iAmp for a power amp.It makes more sense to sell the iAmp and buy a preamp/power amp rig if that's what you want. The F1X is one of the best preamps I've heard. At one time I had the F1X and a Stewart World 1.2 and it sounded GREAT!!. You can put together those 2 items for the price of your iAmp and have a great sounding, more powerful, more user friendly, and lighter rig. A brand new Stewart 1.2 went recently on eBay for $540. The Alembic is about the same price. A good resource is Washington Music @(301)946-8808.
  4. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Bass Northwest (bassnw.com) is another good resource. I think they have the best website of all the stores.

  5. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001

    Ask for John (not me, the owner). Ask him about a Demeter VTBP-201S Bass Pre-amp.
    It's a tube pre, but very quiet, and still dynamic.
    All parametric.
    It's a bit odd at 1.5 rack spaces.

    I liked it.

    You may want to ask Ken Smith what he uses. I know he plays DB too.

    Good luck.
  6. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    I've never played an upright bass through a high-end preamp. Back in the days when I played the "big" bass, it was an old plywood Kay through an Ampeg B25B. Can you say "boom" boyz 'n girlz? :D

    However, I've sure played a ton of electric basses through high-end pre's! I currently own and use: Demeter 201S, Kern 777, Aguilar 659 and Ampeg SVP. They're all tube preamps and each has its own strengths. The Kern is very fat and would seem to me to be heaven with a DB. But I really couldn't say. For your application, you might also investigate the new Epifani pre. All solid state and pretty damn clean, from what I hear. Haven't gigged with one but its seems promising.
  7. Hey Chris,

    I understand your frustration with parametrics. Sound Engineers usually love 'em, bass players usually don't.:meh:

    Try www.bassalone.com

    They might be a good source of information and opinion, as well as having gear.

    Good luck:)
  8. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Let's look at the practical nature of things. It is rare that you actually turn and adjust your amp during a set. Usually you just change settings on the bass and more frequently just change your hand position and attack. Although you are admitedly bad with parametrics, they are the most accurate. Take the time to find one setting that you like on the amp and leave it. Work your adjustments on stage from the bass/hand position/attack and save youself money, time and aggravation. The only thing that you might want to consider is something like a Raven Labs PMB-1. This will allow you to have different basic settings for the DB and BG.

    I keep asking EA to build me an amp with NO tone controls - as I always leave things flat and get the sound from my hands and bass - They did say that I could turn off the EQ section.

  9. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    Is there something you don't like about the sound of the Iamp? Is the flat non-EQed sound of this amp not really happening? FWIW I like my DB and EB through my DB659->stewart 1.2->EA CXL112.
  10. Thumper


    Mar 22, 2000
    Syracuse Ut
    Another thought is the new Radial Bassbone. It has 3 different switchable inputs, each with a presettable (sp) EQ, a loop, and it is a true bypass. It also has a solo boost switch. Probably my next piece of gear.
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    That's what I'm going with as well at the moment....but again, my hands can't really compensate for the string noise thing on DB, so I'm going to have to figure out some kind of EQ solution. If I were only playing BG, I'd be in heaven with this thing. To be entirely fair to EA, when I was playing doubling gigs with the Clarus, my DB sound was great but underpowered in some situations, and my BG sound was pretty bland. I could live with it, but the EA BG sound is fuller by a factor of about 10. Doubling rigs are always a compromise.

    This does bring up an interesting point though - the whole "If you're not using the EQ section, wouldn't you better off with a power amp?" question....since I've never had the chance to play with a power amp-based rig, I can't say that I know the answer.
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    P.S. - if anyone in the general vicinity of Louisville has one of these Stewart Poweramp/Standalone pre combinations, I'd love to get a quick look at/listen to it. My suspicion is that any good power amp is going to be extremely full range and hi-fi, and I'll need to use whatever pre at my disposal to add any color or tonal characteristics I'm looking for to the sound. I bet that my RL PMB would produce too much string noise with a power amp as well....but I'd love to find out first hand instead of guessing.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada

    I just picked up an Aguilar DB680, and it sounds pretty darn nice with my Double Bass. With two fully parametric bands of EQ, I can infinitely tweak my sound. It is great! Tons of features, with a Jensen DI.
  14. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    Is Dixie Land Music still around? or did they fold? i bought my first bass setup (WT400 & CXM110) from Bass World inside.

    btw, my vote would be to get a Raven Labs True Blue EQ. seems pretty versatile, small box, and i've heard many a DB user love it. i think David Gage actually uses one, no?
  15. bassmanjones


    Feb 23, 2002
    Boston, MA
    If you bypass the preamp and a different one in its place that's exactly what you're doing. If you're worried about losing some of the natural sound of the amp, you could try getting a tube power amp or if that's too unwieldy, a fully class A power amp which are known for having some warmth to them. I'm pretty sure Glockenklang power amps are class A and I believe they sell in the US for around $1200 and are 400 watts. I'm sure others here will know other brands.

  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I would, but I already have the PMB1 - another non rack-mountable unit - to deal with, and I'd like to get something that will actually fit in my rack for a change. :D

    Actually, I may have found a large part of the iamp problem tonight....quite by accident, I discovered that if I turn the initial "Level" control down about halfway, the sound is much more warm and acoustic sounding. Up to now, I've always tried to keep it on the hot side, because the manual specifically states, "Adjust the LEVEL CONTROL until all 5 LED's on the INPUT LEVEL METER light". Tonight I was working with the EQ and my wife got a phone call, so I reached to turn the amp down and grabbed the "LEVEL" knob instead of the "MAIN". And waddaya know? There was the natural sound, with only one or two LED's lighting.

    At that setting, the natural EQ of the amp is nowhere near as bright, and I can easily get rid of the string noise. Funny how this stuff happens....oddly enough, the same is not true for slab tone, which definitely prefers to have a hot input level.
  17. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    nice, chris. good to hear you've rectified your prob.

    btw, Raven Labs does make a two channel 2 unit rack mount, and its got more options up the yingyang than anything i've seen.
  18. arizonabass


    Feb 6, 2002
    Tucson, AZ
    Chris, I'm really pleased you found it! As I had told you, with the iAMP350 they say to set the Level to 5, which is half-way, then adjust the Main to the desired volume. I tried what you suggested: increase the Level to make it 'hotter', but all it did for me was distort. Seems like you ran into a similar 'problem.' Looks like you've saved yourself a bundle of money!

  19. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Are you going to blame me now :D

    The reason to set the "level" as high as possible without distorting the preamp section is to achieve maximum headroom. It is good to know that you have found a way to get the sound that you want.

    I just got off the phone with the designer of the iamp. We are going to put together a bit of a primer on the EQ section of the iamp for the EA web site.

    The one thing that he mentioned to me today was that with the range of adjustment availble in the iAMP tone shaping section it is just as easy to make your amp sound horrible as it is to make it sound great. I'll let you know when we finish the primer

  20. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Great. The whole "it is just as easy to make your amp sound horrible as it is to make it sound great" thing is why I've always hated parametrics. I do a lot of recordings, and my LEAST favorite part of the mixing stage is going over each track with a parametric plug-in, for the same reason you mentioned.

    Joker and Arizona - WHEW indeed! The thought of having to try and sell the iamp only a couple of weeks after waiting for it for a full year was NOT making me happy! Plus, like I mentioned in the beginning of the thread, it's hard to do any hands on shopping here in town, even if we are now the 16th largest city in the country....

    I think I'll still get a rack preamp, since I have an extra rack space available and the ones I've tried have made Mr. Smith sound pretty juicy. At this juncture, I'm leaning toward the Sansamp RBI since it's pretty straightforward, affordable, and simple enough that even a tech dope like myself can figure it out. Unless anyone wants to give me GAS for something better...:rolleyes: :D

    Oh, and BTW, thanks everyone for helping out. It's times like these when I really appreciate having this board around to save me a ****load of potential headaches. You guys are great.

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