REVIEW: Thunderfunk TFB 550 and Accugroove El Whappo

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by tommixx, May 18, 2005.

  1. I have finally gotten in enough real world testing to give an honest to god assesment of this rig......A Thunderunk TFB 550 and an Accugroove El Whappo!!

    I have used this combo in quite a few situations at this point from a couple of small (150 people or so) functions (1 of which was a wedding reception for a friend) to a few fairly large (300 people plus) club type gigs to several outdoor festivals with crowds of 1,000 to over 20,000.....All I can say is that in EVERY instance this combination kicks some major bootay!!

    One of the first things that I was concerned about was whether the El Whappo would be overkill on the smaller jobs that I do. The answer is a definite NO! I was also concerned whether the T-Funk would be enough amp to drive the El Whappo effectively and efficiently.....I can say this a definite YES!! I can easily see why Dave Funk so enthusiastically recommends the Accugroove cabs for his amps and why Mark so enthusiastically recommended the T-Funk for his cabs!! I have used the Accugroove cab with a few other amps including:

    1. Avalon U5/Crest CA9
    2. Avalon VT 737/Crest CA9
    3. Neve 1081/Crest CA9
    4. SSL X Channel/Crest CA9
    5. GK 400RB
    6. GK 800RB
    7. GK 1001
    8. SWR SM-900
    9. Ampeg SVT (original 1972)
    10. Kustom (ORIGINAL 1960's Vintage Series don't know the model numbers - RED Bass Amp and BLUE Gui**r Amp as well Large WHITE multi Channel PA Amp)
    11. Euphonic Audio iAMP 800 (borrowed from a friend)
    12. Fender Bassman 400 (Original Vintage 1960's)

    In almost every case (Fender Bassman was a little loose and the Kustom PA head were not really that great sounding to me...I was surprised that the Bassman did not sound better but hey it is 40 years old!!) The amps all sounded good, some better than others, BUT they all had a distinct sound to them......

    Most impressive were the Avalon U5/Avalon VT 737/CA9 (I almost knew this before I tried them) the Neve 1081/CA9 and the Thunderfunk.....Since the Neve is quite Expensive it is really an unfair comparison but MAN what a warm and tight sound with the CA/9 Amp....of all the combinations I tried I liked the Neve best followed by the T-Funk...surprisingly, the T-Funk had a lot of the warmth of the Neve but not quite as much....(the Neve is just a preamp though and costs over 3 times as much as the T-Funk for one of the newer Neve Reissues....this is an ORIGINAL 1081 with the 4 band EQ, Mic/Line Preamp which I use primarily for Vocals and Drums but on occasion have used it for bass, guitar, and strings)

    Both the Avalon U5 and the VT 737 were unbelievable with the 737 getting the nod here due to the addition of the tube circuits no doubt....the opto-compressor REALLY made the cabinet smooth sounding with everything from a Low B up to a high G sounding very big and deep (yes, even the G has depth with this cab) the EQ of the VT 737 is VERY flexible and VERY accurate...the El Whappo made the most of that accuracy by delivering VERY precise tones dialed up with the EQ....The cool thing about the El Whappo is that it has no "Sound" is so neutral that it just reproduces what you send to it. If you are looking at doing a Preamp/Poweramp rig I SERIOUSLY suggest that you check out the Avalon VT 737 as your preamp!! I am going the other way which is why I love the Thunderfunk so much!!!!!

    At first this may seem a bit unnerving because initially you think that the cab is a bit "dull" sounding in the sense that the mids and especially the highs are very flat...I can see why people who have never experienced a neutral sounding cab may initially be unimpressed with the Accugroove gear....fortunately, I have been using Meyer (famously flat) Nearfields for over 10 years now and I am used to it...but even for me I noticed that settings that typically produce almost 'distorted" and shrill sounding highs sounded fantastic through the El Whappo.....I urge anyone who trys these cabs to make sure that they take the time to play with an EQ through them BEFORE deciding whether you like it or not....You will find that EQ is NOT a bad thing with this cab!! The more you throw at it the more it will take.....

    Of all the amps I used the Thunderfunk was the sweetest had almost all of the warmth of the Neve, the clarity and punch of the Avalon, the depth and body of the SSL and the "Vintage Sound" of the SVT all in one definitely has its own voice but it was very familiar to me straight away....I used very little EQ initially because the Amp just has "the Sound" that I hear in my mind....typically now I use the enhance and timber controls set near 12 o'clock on each and use the parametric for room correction when necessary...this yields a very rich, punchy, but smooth sound into the El Whappo which it reproduces in spades....these 2 were made for each other....

    For what it is worth, I use the tube switch in the "up" position for my NYC Sadowsky Vintage 4 and my Warwicks (think DARK fingerboards don't ask me why it just sounds "right" for non maple fingerboards) and "down" on my Fender Marcus Miller 4 (using a Sadowsky outboard pre....This is the poor man's Sadowsky if you find the right bass with this preamp....mine kills!!) I still am not sure which direction does what because the effect is so subtle but you can definitely tell the difference...Try both and use the one you prefer....

    Overall, I am VERY satisfied with my rig and in fact, I am COMPLETELY GAS FREE as far as amps and cabs go for the first time in a LONG time.....if you get the chance check these puppies out before buying something may find what you are looking for in an unexpected place....


  2. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA

    if that's not GAS inducing, i dont know what is. thx for the write up, T-Mixx. :cool:

    btw, what did you think of the iAMP w/ the El-Dubya? been interested in trying out a Whappo Jr. with mine.
  3. jock


    Jun 7, 2000
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Superb review! Thanks. I love my Gibson GB440 but the Thunderfunk 550 is definately on my GAS list.
  4. the dude

    the dude Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    Great review!!

    Thanks for taking the time.

    ...I've got to hear the Whappos...hey Big String (I know you're reading this,) why don't you go ahead and take the plunge? ...then I can stop by and see for myself what all the fuss is about!
  5. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Great review, tommixx! Your thoughts definitely mirror mine on the tonality of Accugroove cabs!

  6. Ditto... nice review. The Accugroove stuff is still a little too 'polite' on the high end for my ears, but that's what makes the world go round! I love my Thunderfunk!
  7. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I'm really liking the idea of lightweight high power...but I worry whether the t-funk is going to work with my upright...? Anyone here successfully use the t-funk to double with?
    I'm happy with my eden nav/qsc-plx, but, a light weight one piece amp would be pretty sweet;) Tombowlus, yer a doubler aren't you?
  8. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Completely GAS free...come on now. ;)
  9. Me too. The best gear buying decision I EVER made! :bassist:
  10. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Yes, but less so of late, as the band that I double in is playing less, and my "electric-only" band is playing more. When I do double, it's either with my Navigator and power amp (used to be PLX 3002, now Crest CA9), or with my iAMP 800 or WWU. All of these functioned great, especially the WWU (the second channel was very useful). But, I would think that if you have had luck doubling with the Navigator, then you can probably also do quite well with the Thunderfunk, as it is somewhat similar (and in some ways superior) in its tonal flexibily and variety of controls.

  11. I 'sort of double' with a fretted bass and a Rob Allen MB2. The WWU is wonderful for that, since it's the only head I know of that has two full, identical channels, with full tone controls, effects loops, etc. It's 'modern' enough for a pretty good, modern fretted electric sound and warm enough for the fretless and acoustic vibe. As you all know... it's also very small. The Thunderfunk sounds great with both of these basses too, but I find I have to re-EQ enough that it really doesn't work for me.
  12. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Joshua: Me too! Why ain't there a store I could go to and try all this stuff. certainly not in lil ol Columbia MO...nor St Lo0uis or KC.
    I did email Dave at Thunderfunk to ask his opinion the tf550 as a doubler, and I'll post his answer when it comes...
  13. I have, and it sounds very big and sweet, plus has all the control to make sure you're not boomy. It's way overkill for me, though. I take a GB 50W 112 combo and that's way more than enough, turned up to "2." I usually play with a piano and drums, maybe a sax or vocalist. The amp is just there to convince myself to relax, that I am being heard, and not to kill my hands.

    For electric, I've never been happier.

    People use the Thunderfunk amp for clean guitar sounds, so it should be a good amp for upright.
  14. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA

    give us the straight poop!
  15. Thanks guys.....

    Joker...I realized that I did not mention the iAMP after I had done the review and it was primarily because I just preferred the T-Funk I guess....I really wanted to like the iAMP because I was GASsing for one so bad at one point...I was a little let down after I played it though.....Personally I think it is probably the fact that it is a digital amp....I just could not really find the character that I like in an amp.....I really like warm, sweet tone with good harmonic content and in my experience I haven't found a digital that really does that well. In fairness to the iAMP, it will get insanely loud with the El Whappo and the EQ is useful in a utilitarian kind of way, but to me the overall tone is a bit sterile sounding.....

    I should also admit even though I have the greatest respect for what Walter does and I am amazed at what he can do in such a compact amp I am not a huge Walter Woods (amp that is) fan either....I have tried an Ultra in the past on several occasions (a friend of mine LOVES his) but just never melded with it....It really is a shame because I could definitely dig the weight savings at this point!! Overall for me the T-Funk just has it....a single 15 pound package that delivers great tone without a LOT of tweaking....typically I just move the Timbre and Enhance knobs just slightly in a given room while playing a single note and that is IT....Couldn't be easier and sounds killer through the El Whappo (and all the other cabs I have run it through)....