simple, reliable, powerful, good sounding amplification

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by tightbidness, Nov 6, 2005.

  1. In the recent pearls of wisdom thread several people mentioned wanting amplification that is simple, reliable, powerful, and good sounding. In your opinion(s) what amplifiers fit that bill, preferably in the $1000 and under price range?

    A bit of personal preference info. . . I'm looking to replace a GK 800RB that sounded decent and was simple to EQ but didn't proove to be very reliable. A bit more than 300W at 4ohms might be nice. I'm running Aguilar GS112 cabs. My current gig is a b-side classic rock, soul, r&b group, and I occasionally sub in a Beatles tribute band. My ideal tone is a cross between Jamerson, Michael Henderson, Pino Palladino, and Raphael Saadiq. Can't think of anything else to add, but I'm anxious to read your opinions.

  2. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
  3. Aj*


    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    Either of the above :D. For that money tube is definatley the answer.
  4. It's interesting because those are two of the amps I've been considering. I'm wondering how they will perform through Aguilar cabs. Also in order to find an SVTII or a 400+ for under a grand I'd have to buy used, and that makes me worry about reliability. Any thoughts?
  5. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Traynor YBA200.

    Or a vintage Sunn, maybe an old Model T.
  6. Hey BurningSkies how heavy is the 400+? I'm not able to find a weight on the web. Did you buy your Mesa used? How do you feel about the passive mid control?
  7. getz76


    Apr 3, 2005
    Hoboken, NJ
    Smart pick; about $600 new.
  8. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    All good questions. The 400/+ weighs in right around 50lbs, maybe a little less. I have mine racked in a 5 space rack and it rounds out to be about 80 lbs or so.

    I did buy mine used from another TBer (Hurley000, who hasn't been around much lately)...I paid $800 for the amp, a 4 space shock mount rack, an extra set of power tubes and 2 sets of pre-amp tubes. They tend to sell regularly in the 600-800 range, and I know a TBer bought one recently for 600. They're plentiful on the used market as they've been in production for quite a few years.

    I like the tone section of the amp. As you probably have already sussed out, its basically the tone section of the old Fender Bassman, with a very beefed up power section. I think one of the reasons that you see them on the used market is that people don't figure out the tone section effectively and get frustrated. Flat, as you know is roughly 0-10-0 on the 'main' controls. As a player who tries my best to obliterate high end, I run my set up more like... Bass:7/8 Mid:5 Treble:0. I also use the graphic more or less to tweak to the room. Both the Bass and Treble knobs have pull shifts that move the range that the knob effects. So you have a LOT of tonal room for adjustment. I find the treble range to be nice and musical and useable...It just doesn't fit in with the setting I play in (reggae). When I play in a rock setting It has great high end.

    You also have lots of pre-amp options, as you can run channel 1, channel 2 or both together. They're each 'voiced' differently, so more tone choices!

    Other things to consider:

    -The amp puts out the same wattage in 8, 4, and 2 ohm settings.

    -Its got 16 tubes...retubing (which you don't have to do regularly as Mesa suggests) IS pricey...over $200 bucks! I would expect a set of power tubes to last longer than 5 years...maybe much longer.

    -You don't need to use Mesa tubes...and I would suggest there are other 'better' tubes out there.

    -The amp is NOT particularly fragile or tempermental. I've been keeping mine in the trunk of my car for months...with bad rear shocks! no problems, no difficulty. I don't even use the shock-rack, just a normal rack. Granted, I don't slam it around when moving it, but I wouldn't do that with a solid state amp either. I've played probably 30+ shows with this head now and feel like its solid and dependable.
  9. Kael

    Kael Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Not to peeve anyone here, but...

    If your issue with the GK was reliability, you might want to consider avoiding tube. I'm not saying that tubes are terribly fragile, but they are definitely more so than SS amps.
  10. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Doesn't peeve me...but I do think that's a myth. Some of the other serious amp guys here would agree too.
  11. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Utter bull****.
  12. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    How about an Eden WT550? Has a powerful EQ section, but you wont need it since it sounds great flat, and gets pretty loud (a solid 500 watts into 4 ohms). Nice meaty warm tone, that has good definition and clarity.

    If I were going to ditch the pre/pwr setup that i have with the aggie DB659, to get a head, I'd go Eden.
  13. Great information man. Thank you. Does the graphic EQ allow you to boost mid frequencies? Looks like I'm going to have to track down a 400+ in my neck of the woods.
  14. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY

    Yes it does...I don't tend to boost mids, so I'm sure others can comment more effectively. I know that Hurley000 sold the amp because he felt he couldn't get enough mid out of it. But then, he was looking for an SVT sound with a pronounced mid bump. I also know he regretted selling the amp to me after the fact. :(
  15. For some reason Eden isn't my cup of tea. The heads and combos I've played through didn't do it for me tone-wise. I gigged with a WT-3?? in the spring and found the EQ difficult to work with. Not to knock the brand. I've heard many players sound great with Eden stuff.

  16. Thanks. I'm definitely not looking for a pronounced midrange, but I do find having control over the mids is a must for cutting through in certain situations. Also my current cab of choice has a slight mid scoop to begin with.
  17. Kael

    Kael Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Tubes = glass

    Glass = fragile

    I know plenty of people that use tubes regularly. I also know plenty of people who have greater frequency of problems with tube amps. If that's the sound you like, great. I suggested a SS amp as the poster's issue was with the reliability of his GK, not the tone. GK never sounded terribly "tubey" to my ear. Once again, just offering another opinion, not trying to get knee jerk reactions.
  18. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    Eden WT550 - great vintagey old school tone w/ a really versatile EQ. easy peasy answer.

    Aguilar AG500 - a perfect companion for the GS series of cabs, and i highly doubt you wouldnt be happy w/ it. not quite as warm or furry sounding as the Eden, but clearer. also, the overdrive is one of the best i've used.
  19. I appreciate your opinion. The fragility of tubes is one of the reasons I've been hesitant to buy a tube bass amp in the past. (Weight and the expense of re-tubing are two more reasons.) Ironically I chose an 800RB partly due to its reputation for reliability. A friend of mine has been gigging with his 800RB since the 1980s and it still works great. It's an early model with a horizontal power switch and the divided front panel. I suppose ultimately all amp brands/models have issues.