Streamliner 900 VS GK Fusion 550

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by slade, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. slade


    Apr 5, 2001
    I've posted on a few other threads that I've got a love/not so love thing going on with the GB Streamliner 900. I bought it like many others hoping to find a compromise between lugging a sled around for that classic tube tone and grabbing a lightweight head that sounds like it. I do feel like the SL is quite incredible for the size and is "close" to what I'm looking for. I've been gigging it solid for a few months, rehearsing it multiple times a week playing all kinds of different music, and generally putting it through it's paces. It leaves me flat. Played much worse amps for sure. In general, in my humble opinion, it's an amp that has too much flubby low end, not enough tight upper mids, but tons of power and chunk. Others will argue with this but that's my take and in a band setting, especially playing multiple rooms and multiple styles of music, it's a tough little amp to really cut through and sound present.
    I bought a Mesa Carbine M9 on impulse and at first thought it blew the SL away (probably did looking back). It was a little too brittle for me (not very warm with that single tube)- all together it was a fantastic amp though and much more versatile than the SL. I decided to stick with the SL, gig it a bunch, and really work it. I've now done that and am still looking over the fence.
    I ordered the GK Fusion 550 today- 45 day return policy and since there are no stores anywhere near me that caries ANY good gear I'm going to play the game, a/b it like crazy and see where I end up. I took my rig into a GC and Ab'd it against an Ampeg SVT CL, Ampeg SVT4 pro, and Ampeg 7 pro. Just like always the SVT sounds great when pushed hard, but realistically I don't get enough chances to REALLY push one through my 8-10 (that sits in my garage), and I don't want to drag the monster around. Same goes for the 4. The 7 did nothing for me, especially compared to the SL.....

    I only post all of this because I've been using this forum to try and find some real feedback from real players to get some insight into all of this new gear and I thought I "might" be able to help some others looking at these amps. I'm hoping to do some video clips comparing the Streamliner and the Gk Fusion 550 when it gets here- I've got a ton of gigs coming up over the next 5 weeks so I may not make it happen but will try.

    Anyone else who has played/gigged both of these amps out there?? I would love some additional thoughts and reviews/reactions. At the end of the day I love searching for the sound in my head and dig hearing how you all interpret what you hear and feel....
  2. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Washington, Utah
    John K Custom Basses
    i haven't tried a fusion yet, but my streamliner definitely doesn't leave me wanting more. my vintage SVT and SVT VR's are actaully my current favorite heads (i'm not very fond of SVT CL's), but the STM900 is so much easier to schlep that it's quickly becoming my number one amp for gigging.

    IMO, the trick to getting that 'tone in your head' with a STM900 is using the right cab with it, and i've found that two 3015's or two 15PR400's match extremely well with it, and with my cabs, it's not 'flubby' at all.
  3. I have the Fusion 550 and not tried the GB. No flubby from any cab I have tried with the Fusion, how it will work with your cab only time will tell?
  4. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I haven't played either the Streamliner or the Fusion, so all I know is anecdotal. That said, based on your expressed preferences and your lack of complete love for the Streamliner, it wouldn't be surprising if you took a tumble for the Fusion. Word has it that the Fusion is warm, without getting mushy... :meh:

  5. slade


    Apr 5, 2001
    @ johnk- played it through a number of cabs- most gigs have been through a Bergantino HD 410. Again- most would probably consider my live tone pretty damn good. For my gut it's not where it needs to be if that means anything. Just my ear. It's funny really- I've played in a bunch of old school country/americana/southern rock bands as well as old school reggae/dub bands and have always had to dial back mids- more of a thick, warm, defined tone kinda guy. The Streamliner (for me) always makes me break a sweat finding my sound. Pillowy, clowdy, soft are words that jump at me. Not tight, articulate, full. Could be the cab but I don't think so.....
    the cabs I have currently- the berg, a GB 410 XB, a GB 2-15, and an Ampeg 8-10. Basses range from Ps, Js, MM Stingrays, and custom basses.....
  6. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Washington, Utah
    John K Custom Basses
    have you tried a 5751 in V1 in it? that opens them up quite a bit.
  7. goldsmithr

    goldsmithr Guest

    Jun 12, 2008
    Planet Earth
    Slade, your description mirrors precisely my own views and experience. I found joy in a Carbine M6, and offloaded the SL. I found my flyweight solution in an Aguilar TH500 for times when I want portability.
  8. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I've gigged a Fusion 550 and only played the GB in a store - I find them very, very different. The 550 will definitely cut through any mix - it is loud as heck with a tight, hard hitting low end. It has an inherent growl which I think you will love or hate - I didn't like it personally and couldn't dial it out. If you push the gain, you can get a nice creamy OD out of those tubes. But if you're thinking it'll be a tube amp sound in a smaller, lighter package, you may be disappointed. Doesn't sound warm or organic at all like a tube amp would. Very modern vs vintage - sounds very SS with some tubes thrown on top, if that makes sense (all of this IMO and IME).

    There have only been two hybrids I've tried that sound like tube amps - the DB750 and the Mesa Walkabout. I currently gig the WA and love it to death. And I've been searching for the right amp for a long time...
  9. drea2304


    Feb 13, 2012
    Central IL
    Love my streamliner. I havn't giged with my svt-vr since getting it. Go with what your ear tells you.
  10. FunkDragon

    FunkDragon Guest

    Jan 3, 2011
    Haven't gigged the Streamliner, only had a couple of in-store Demo's.
    Did like it a lot though. Played it through a GB XB3 4x10.
    Found it to be reasonably punchy, but used a Spector, Sterling Ray35, & Pro-Series Warwick to test it out which are all very punchy Basses!

    I A/B'd it against the GB Shuttle (in-store) & preferred the Shuttle.

    I then A/B'd the Shuttle with my GK MB Fusion @ rehearsal & preferred the Shuttle (not a huge difference though) both sounded pretty good. Just like the response & tone of the Shuttle better.

    I has been playing the MB Fusion for almost a year & constantly found myself tweaking it to try & get 'my' tone.
    Was never bad, just not quiet what I wanted.

    So sold it & grabbed a Shuttle 9.0..... Love it!

    (using Hartke cab's)
  11. slade


    Apr 5, 2001
    great posts....
    @john- I don't have a 5751- went to my local tube shop and neither did he- he had JJ tube (with gold tips) that he uses in place of the 5751, gave it to me, and told me to try it out. I rolled it in and found maybe a TINY bit of difference (your thread about tubes was SUPER interesting and informative). I could hear the difference on your recordings and will explore a 5751 if the GK doesn't work out.

    @Alexander- man I hear a lot of people talking about the WA. I've never played one. May be next on order!!

    If the GK doesn't really knock me out I'll ship it back and keep looking. I gigged an 1001RB 2-10 combo for a few years and was pretty thrilled with that little rig. I'm thinking if the 550 has most of that vibe with maybe a little tube vibe on top it may be a winner for me....

    On the road I always had an SVT as a backline. My personal rig for a long time was an Aguilar DB680 powered by a QSC 3000 (actually this is the rig I replaced with the Streamliner- and no- I'm not trying to emulate that amp- I actually never absolutely loved that rig and got really sick of dragging that thing all over the state). Other amps I've owned and gigged- Trace Elliot, GK, SWR, Eden. The only amp other than the Streamliner that I was instantly thinking of trading in was the SWR which I did and never looked back.
    Keep the comments coming. Opinions are like, well, you know- but hearing them all can sometimes put things into perspective...
  12. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    As others have stated, these two heads sound pretty different. The Streamliner emphasizes the warm, round aspect of some tube tones, and the GK takes the harmonic emphasis of tubes and combines it with the classic "GK tone." If you liked your 1001RB, and would like it with more harmonic richness/excitement, I think you'll definitely dig the Fusion 550. No, it doesn't sound like an all-tube head (neither does the Streamliner, IME/IMHO), but at least in the case of the Fusion 550, that's not what they were after. Bob Gallien set out to design a tube preamp and he definitely made a "GK tube preamp." I dig it a lot, but like everything, it's not going to float everyone's boat. The main thing is, the Fusion 550 sounds unmistakably like a GK head.
  13. chris lykins

    chris lykins Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2004
    phoenix az
    I have both and agree with Toms take. Very different heads. The GK is very fast with a very detailed upper midrange. Agree that the tubes give it a bit of harmonic complexity that the other GK heads lack. Has that GK growl in its sound and I find the gain control can easily take a bass into distortion territory if ridden too hard. I find the M9 its closest cousin when it comes to sound.
  14. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I absolutely agree with Tom's assessment on this (he just said it a lot better than me!) - If you loved that 1001RB, I think you'll really love the 550.
  15. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Washington, Utah
    John K Custom Basses
    for me, the trick to getting the mid and mid bass emphasis out of a streamliner is to use the 600Hz boost (2:00) and cut the bass control to about 10:30 than you normally would. at least that's what worked perfect for me on my last gig.

    IMO, they're the most 'tube sounding' hybrid that i've tried to date and i'm a tube amp kinda guy.
  16. Tone is so subjective and personal and those amps are quite different, IMHO. My ears love the GB stuff including the Streamliner, and I've never liked the sound of GK. So, if you don't like GB, then maybe you'll love the GK!
  17. slade


    Apr 5, 2001
    johnk- that's exactly what I do regarding settings. Like I've said before- mids are typically my nemesis but with this amp it's a whole other ballgame. I suck the bass back even a bit further than you and boost the mids a bit more than you.... I've really noticed that if I REALLY boost the gain up I start to get more mid and articulation, but with it that high it also starts to break up too much for me....

    It's funny- most of the GK stuff you see on-line is R&B, slappy kinda stuff- or straight hard rock. I used the 1001RB for an old school country/southern rock gig for a few years and it felt fantastic. Everyone seems to consider GKs "growl" heavy- never really felt that way about mine, but that also isn't what I was trying to dial in. Always just felt it was super present, very articulate, and when a dub/reggae tone was needed it was one dial spin away.....
  18. slade


    Apr 5, 2001
    I think you and I feel about the same regarding the Streamliner. To me it feels like a nice little compromise to not dragging around an SVT but when both are pushed the Streamliner sounds like it's emulating something. But I also feel like for $200 you can buy a VT pedal and run it in front of damn near any amp and come pretty damn close to the tube tone you get from the Streamliner. That's again my take after playing SVTs for years and now running the Streamliner for a number of months. Cool thing is that we all hear things differently- JohnK (who has a monster collection of tube amps on his website) thinks the Streamliner is the cats meow for a hybrid tube amp (although it seems you changed out all of the tubes correct?)
    Interesting stuff....
  19. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Washington, Utah
    John K Custom Basses
    yep. i'm running an NOS GE 5751 triple mica in V1 and two NOS RCA 7025's in V2 & V3.

    funny thing is, while i like it okay, i've never been able to get my VT pedal to really sound/feel that like an SVT thru any of my amps, and believe me, i've tried. the 'feel' of a real SVT is a really difficult thing to capture.
  20. slade


    Apr 5, 2001
    agreed regarding the VT pedal sounding or feeling like an SVT. I think the VT pedal comes as close to an SVT as the Streamliner does though. I've taken to running the VT in front of the Streamliner to get more bite and mids which does help but seems to bother me that I find that necessary....