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So, you build a custom tube amp. What features/options would you give it?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Drop-D, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. Drop-D


    Mar 23, 2009
    Kansas City
    Hey all,

    I am in need of some inspiration. I am looking into having a custom tube amp built in the coming year. I played a SVT, on loan, when I first started playing bass in a regularly gigging band and have been missing the sound I had in that first year of gigging ever since.

    Now, the obvious option available to me would be to purchase my own SVT. But, after spending a number of years playing a handful of amps I have experienced a number of things I both liked and disliked about amps in general. I've been playing GK heads for a couple years now and have no true complaints other than missing the warmth and breakup goodness of an honest tube amp. So, I've shopped around and gotten a few quotes but find myself stupefied by the idea of choosing options and features to my liking. The idea isn't so strange, however, as I am very familiar with the idea of a custom bass.

    So, what about you? If you were looking into having your own custom amp built what kinds of features/options would you request? Was there ever anything you found yourself wanting with your favorite amp? Or have you possibly found an amp you could of almost loved..but felt it was lacking something?
  2. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Non-master volume only...let it be what it is. 2, 4, & 8 ohm taps. Volume knob. The rest....whatever.....maybe 300-400 watt power section with a 1/2 power/shut off half the tubes switch.....that'll change your outout taps.
  3. mbelue


    Dec 11, 2010
    Sounds good but I'd like an all tube compressor on board. No preamp drive at all, clean until power tube grind. Baked in gentle roll off of treble at 6kHz kinda like the GK 2001rbp's switch. But the treble roll off only needs to apply to the instrument input, not the effects loop in the back.
  4. Hi.

    Gigging with or without PA support, or for recording?

    For me, all three purposes would have differen't output sections.

    While I would like the possibility of varying the B+ and the ability of choosing different output tubes, it would always be a compromise.

    I would probably want SVT and B15 pre's, perhaps 1959 as well.

    I have grown to just love the individual bias adjustments on my Fame, THAT is one thing I absolutely would want on every amp.

  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    If I were to build a tube amp from scratch, I'd clone an SVT with one exception...I'd make the DI come out of the output transformer rather than the preamp.
  6. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    cincy ky
    Owner, ChopShopAmps
    When I was looking at the thread for the 1000 watt tube amp a few months ago, i liked the power supply being a separate unit. You can't eliminate the weight, but you can split it in two. That's one way a wimp like me could have a high powered tube amp ;)

    Two tone knobs, gain, half power switch, OT DI, individual bias, taps for 16,8,4,2;

    Id want it to have an HPF.
  7. capcom


    Mar 23, 2005
    Here is a feature bloat from me:

    - Input gain + Master Volume knobs
    - Tube Drive feature
    - Tube Compressor feature
    - At least 2 Sweepable EQ controls especially for mid frequencies (preferably low mid and high mid) + General Bass, Mid, Treble knobs. (All can cut and also boost)
    - Ultra High, Ultra Low, Bright, -15db pad, mute/tuner etc... switches (Yes I love my Ampeg SVP-PRO preamp too much :) )
    - Switchable solid state (at least 9-Bands) Equalizer that has lots of headroom.
    - Tube compressor, tube preamp and Solid State EQ sections can be chained in any possible order option. (see note)
    - 300 Watts Total. Switchable among 300-150-75-25 watts
    - Power tubes used amount counter (This most probably requires solid state/digital components)
    - Auto bias (This I guess also probably needs ss components)
    - Switchable between diode or tube rectification especially for power and preamp tubes parts.
    - Power amp Variable Damping Factor Adjustment. ("ultra-ultra loose", "Standart SVT", "As Hi-Fi as possible" options)
    - tuner out, preamp out, effects send return jacks and transformer balanced DI-Out
    - And finally as also for a little bit more bling factor a couple of VU-meters for input gain and compressor.

    I guess this head will have gazillion amounts of preamp tubes in it not counting power tubes and rectifier tubes if you really want to implement it. As probably most of you have guessed this feature bloat is kind of my implementation of "What I would add or change to Ampeg SVT2-Pro head if I had an opportunity".

    All possible combinations for tube preamp, compressor and ss EQ are:
    Comp -> Tube EQ -> SS EQ
    Comp -> SS EQ -> Tube EQ
    Tube EQ -> Comp -> SS EQ
    Tube EQ -> SS EQ -> Comp
    SS EQ -> Comp -> Tube EQ
    SS EQ -> Tube EQ -> Comp
  8. Self powered anti-gravity generator. :D
  9. A silent transformer DI off the speaker output. My Mesa is noisy.

    My d180 has a trick master volume which allows the power tubes to overdrive with less output.

    Free roady service would be great.

    EQ and more EQ. Sod the Fender stack. Gimme EQ.
  10. adi77

    adi77 Banned

    Mar 15, 2007
    equally usable clean and dirty channels with lots of headroom and it should be super reliable :)
  11. orangejulius3

    orangejulius3 Supporting Member

    May 6, 2013
    La Habra CA
    Solid State Emulator Knob.......:bag:
  12. Korladis

    Korladis Banned Supporting Member

    A Sunn 2000S but with a more powerful output section... like the Mesa Strategy's. Also I'd want more mids, rather than the cut-only contour knob (flat at 10). Perhaps this would be accomplished with an additional channel that was just a mid-boosting control, that I could switch on and off (for my folk/rock stuff I usually just like the mids flat, but for metal I really like them boosted).

    Also, I'd want switchable output power, and some sort of arrangement like the Mesa D-180's to get nice overdrive at low volumes.

    Also, the DI would have to be after the output section.

    That's about it, I think.
  13. I'd clone a laney supergroup 100
  14. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007

    That's a lot of circuitry and that means reliability is usually an issue. Some amps are very simple and they still aren't reliable. Also, you could probably EQ better with a 4-band parametric with variable Q than a 9-band graphic. One thing that would be very helpful is a built-in mic and three LEDs to show SPL at carious frequencies. I don't remember which company had this in the '70s, but it worked well (might have been Rane. It had a yellow LED for below the threshold, green at the threshold and red when the level was over the threshold.

    OTOH, if it's a dream amp, Rawk On!
  15. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    -30/50Hz HPF
    -Para-Graphic EQ
    -RTA with flip-up LCD display- hinged, with the display facing down when closed and a metal plate for protection
    -GK style tone controls and boost control, with footswitch
    -Variable damping factor, to go from hard-hitting and punchy to softer, like some tube amps.
    -High/Low sensitivity inputs
    -Balanced output DI with ground lift switch and variable output level
    -Balanced/un-balanced preamp out
    -Effects loop
    -Footswitchable tuner mute
    -Stable into 2 Ohms, soft clipping, bulletproof protection for amp and speakers
  16. Drop-D


    Mar 23, 2009
    Kansas City
    For me, at least 75% of the time we have some sort of PA support, which is very fortunate.

    Cool, guys, and thanks. I am really digging the long-listed dream amps. I'm not planning on having anything insane built, but this is very helpful to see what kind of stuff you can dream up. I really like the idea of being able to switch your power output level, and the EQ/tone-shaping options are something I want to be happy with.

    Keep 'em coming!
  17. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Drop the plate voltage though, unless you like buying new power valves. And add adjustable bias, unless you like buying new old stock valves.

    Lots of people seem to actually want solid state amps from the features they are asking for.

    Mine: 2 KT88 powers section, run to 100w clean, individual bias. front end, Baxandall tone stack on the way in, gain stage for dirt, active mid boost post gain stage, volume control. Slave out before the dirt stage so I can run a clean bottom end from it if I want. Proper sized output transformer, 2,4,8,16ohm taps. Properly wired turret layout.
  18. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Since we are dreaming, if you want something unique with pure tone, I would keep the signal chain simple, a Baxandall tone stage that can optionally be bypassed, and a power section with 300B power tubes and a massive output transformer. Everything that you put in the signal chain affects the tone.With 300B's, it won't put out a lot of power so build it so it can feed into a power amp. You'll also need a very efficient speaker cabinet. Then get yourself some stand alone outboard gear such as a Fairchild 660 compressor and a nice Pultec EQ. Everything doesn't have to fit in one chassis.

    The negative part of a custom built amp is that it doesn't come with any govt. regulatory certifications. If your amp catches fire and burns your house and your neighbors, your insurance will not pay.
  19. Here are a few practical suggestions from my experience using an SVT-CL at bars, small festivals, etc. I'd approach it in terms of an SVT but add:

    1/2 power capability

    wide ranging sweepable midrange selector

    built-in Countryman-style, speaker out DI

    whatever output transformer technology Peavey used in the VB3 to get down to 30 hZ
  20. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Light weight, low component count, low complexity controls, easy access to the tubes. Tone over toys.

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