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SVT 3 Pro settings tutorial thread - please contribute your knowledge!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bassman_al, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    Hi there to all the SVT 3 Pro enthusiasts on TB,

    I own an SVT 3 Pro and I really like it. But even after years of playing, the specifics of correctly and optimally operating this and other head units often escapes me. I am no engineer, and I love playing far more than I love tweeking knobs. So I thought it might be useful for myself and others if I started an "SVT 3 Pro settings tutorial" thread. I recently went to a local music store that has been in business for 40 years, and has an excellent rep for their knowledgeable staff. Having had good experiences there in the past, I went again and got some help with my amp. I find the owners manuals lacking. So here I will start with my understanding of the use of all the knobs on this unit. Please feel free to add or subtract from anything I say here. Thanks for your input! Below is a link to the front panel of the unit, from the owners manual.


    1. "Input" - plug your instrument in here. In my case the tuner has an "out" to this input. I have never been able to get the "tuner out" jack in the back of the amp to work properly. Maybe I should try again...

    2. "Bright" - boosts the high end of the range, +6dB @2kHz. Very similar to the "Ultra Hi" knob (#6)

    3. ""-15dB" - I learned recently that this is a "pad" button, meant only to be used to "tame" an incoming signal that is too "hot." For instance if your bass has very "gainy", loud or otherwise "hot" pups, or if you use a Sansamp like me and that level is turned up too loud (see "Gain" section below). This button is an "attenuator," which is a word I was misunderstanding. I thought "attenuation" referred to turning volume up or down, but really it refers to reducing the level of an input signal when that signal is too powerful for the application in question. Whereas I formerly left this button pushed in all the time, I now understand that it is meant to be in the "out" position unless you need to cut the level of your input signal. 15dB is a lot, and made a huge difference in helping me maximize what this amp is capable of.

    4. "Peak LED" - again, I was misunderstanding this one. I originally thought this light should only be coming on very infrequently, when you hit the strings really hard. But what I have learned recently is that this light should be on 75% of the time at regular playing levels. Its not a "warning light" as I originally thought it was.

    5. "Gain" - 2 ways this knob is used, from what I can gather so far. One is to use it as your master volume control, with the volume knob maxed. 2nd option is to set the Gain knob at a certain level (to taste, most suggest anywhere from 9:00 to 11:00, so that the red signal indicator light comes on 75% of the time) and then use the volume knob used as the master volume control. The Gain knob controls the level of your input signal. People say this amp does not put out enough juice and is not loud enough. From what I can gather, and from my own experience, this Gain knob never needs to go past "12 noon." I can't imagine being in a band that was so loud, or a stage that was so large that this amp could not provide enough volume. But then again, I have never played at Wembley stadium... Something I recently learned with the Sansamp: This Gain button should be used in conjunction with the "level" knob so as to set the amp and BDDI to achieve "unity gain," which means that if you toggle back and forth between the BDDI being on and off, your volume level should not change. This is easy to do, and made a huge difference in helping me to better utilize the BDDI without overloading the amp with too much gain (which created unwanted distortion) from the BDDI. Now the BDDI basically adds an "active" setting/channel when I turn the BDDI on.

    6. "Ultra High" - boosts the high end spectrum. +6dB @ 5kHz

    7. "Ultra Low" - boosts the low end. Pressing this and the Ultra High buttons creates a "mid-scoop" effect, handy for funk and disco. I like the Ultra Low boost better than the Ultra High, but according to the manual's suggested settings, neither gets used much. The guy at the music store said to disregard the manual suggested settings because those settings can't possibly cover all the variables determined in what sound is best, such as the type of bass you play, the cabinet(s) you play through, the venue, stage size, PA support or not, and type of music you are playing. So now I use this button more, and I like the results, but I haven't tried this one live yet, so I don't know if it will muddy up the sound on a stage, as I have been warned that it will. It has been suggested that you can dial in the EQ to emulate this knob, then you can custom tailor using EQ sliders so that the mix on stage does not sound as muddy as with the Ultra Low button. Here are the specs for this button, from the manual:
    +2.5dB @ 50Hz
    -12dB @ 560Hz
    +1.5dB @ 5kHz

    8. "Bass" - controls bass boost/cut

    9. "Midrange" - boosts or cuts the midrange frequency setting determined by which number you choose with the "Frequency" button below

    10. "Frequency" - chooses which frequency is the "center frequency" that gets controlled by the "Midrange" button

    11. "Treble" - treble boost/cut knob

    12. "Master" - this again was tricky one for me until I learned more at the music store. Now I understand this to be the "output" level control. My understanding of what this means: whatever you have done to the signal with your EQ and other knob settings to this point, that signal now gets "shipped" to your speaker cab(s). This knob determines how loud that "shipment" will be. As I said earlier, most here on TB have said to set the Gain knob so that the light comes on 75% of the time at normal playing levels and use the Volume knob to control the overall volume. In my experience, this approach works quite well.

    13. "Tube Gain" - again, kind of tricky. The manual explains the technical part but I keep this knob maxed. This knob basically works as a compressor, from what I have gleaned here and from the manual. If you back off on this knob some (9:00 instead of maxed), you can get some nice tonal variations, subtle but still noticeable.

    14. "Mute" - self explanatory. Hit this button when you don't want any signal going to your speaker.

    15. "Graphic EQ" - button that turns your EQ on or off

    16. "Active LED" - tells if you EQ is on or off.

    17. "9-Band Graphic EQ" - custom tailor your sound using this. Boosts or cuts specific frequencies, handy for getting "your sound" in any room by boosting or cutting certain frequencies.

    18. "Level" - controls how much boost or cut you want to have on your EQ settings. Can be used as a volume boost. I have been told that you can or can't or should or shouldn't use this as an added volume boost when needed. I tend to keep it at 3/4.

    19. "On LED" - tells you if the amp is on

    20. "Power" - on/off switch

    A little about the rear panel:
    The XLR pre and post are handy for custom tailoring your signal for the FOH. The level knob on the back panel controls how much of your signal goes to the PA board.

    So there you have it. Let me know what you think!
  2. main_sale


    Apr 26, 2004
    Cape Cod
    I too am a happy SVT-3Pro owner. I think this amp almost suffers from too many tone controls. Definately read the manual then start with the tone controls off or set to neutral then work from there. If you turn everything on you can end up in trouble with too much mud. Two problem areas is people not know how the graphic equalizer works or how the tube gain works.
  3. Funny, I was just thinking about messing around with mine this morning...I finally got into a band after being off for a while. I know there has been some threads about this, but might not be a bad idea to start a fresh one...
  4. quickervicar

    quickervicar Supporting Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    Lancaster, PA
    13. "Tube Gain" also called "Plate Voltage" on earlier units. Turning the knob clockwise increases the plate voltage in the tube driver stage before the MOSFETS (IIRC). The higher voltage will give a brighter, tighter response. It is subtle, but it is there. I ran mine full-right for years and couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting a bit more 'Ampeg' tone out of it. Dialing it back to about 9:00 helped get a little more chunk & cushion in the response.

    Good amp that gets bad-mouthed too often. (by people only running 8-ohm cabs is the only reason I can think of)
  5. bstringrandy

    bstringrandy Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    Jacksonville, FL
    +1 that this amp can take some tweeking to get the right tones due to the number of variables possible! I'm running mine into a Classic 410HLF cabinet with full PA support. Low end is not weakness of this cabinet! Anyway, my best settings are:

    None of the boost switches or -15dB switch engaged.
    Using a clock dial as reference...
    Bass set to 4:00.
    Mid set to 4:00.
    Treble set to 12:00.
    Mid freq set to number 2.
    Tube Gain set to 11:00.
    Graphic Eq engaged.
    Sliders set to inverted grin centered to the left a little.
    Graphic EQ level set to max.

    I'm playing in a cover group that does everything from Jewel and Natalie Imbroglia to Alice in Chains and Evanescence....

    At set-up, I turn the master off and set the gain until the light flashes briefly. Last thing I do is set the master to get my stage volume right without ticking off the sound guy. :p

  6. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    Thanks guys! I hope others chime in also!
  7. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Hey Al, you asked me to add something, but the only thing I can add is the gain is best set by ear and not by the peak light. People think they're underpowered, but the gain has plenty of clean headroom with most basses, so crank it. I used to run mine with the gain nearly all the way up and couldn't hear distortion, so as long as you can't hear it, it's best to crank it as far as possible.
  8. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    Hey Randy, I checked out your Myspace page. Nice bass work! Those settings sound really nice!
  9. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    Thanks Jimmy!
  10. bstringrandy

    bstringrandy Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    Jacksonville, FL
    Thanks Alan!

    The sound came out good considering it was a hand-held video camera mic.

  11. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    With a Berg 322 and J bass
    Bass 1:00
    Mid at 12:00 to 3:00 @#3 depending on the groove
    Treble 10:00
    no graphic
    Tube Gain - WFO

    EDIT: Old school rock and R&B (60's-80's) is the music type
  12. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
  13. Wide F*****g Open
  14. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Wide F'n Open
    Hi-perf motorcycle / car terminology
  15. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    every day is an opportunity to learn something new...
  16. Don't forget snowmobiles...lol
  17. Red Planet

    Red Planet SUSPENDED

    May 29, 2005
    Will post on this when I get more time. Subscribed for now.:bassist:
  18. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Bright and ultra hi have completely different uses.
    Bright can sound harsh and obnoxious with fresh strings but will bring back life to older ones. Perfect to get more bite from a mellow bass.
    Ultra hi brings definition to chord playing. It doesn't sound agressive but rather opens the sound.
    Tube gain is essential to the amp especially at high volume. Understanding the way it works will help bringing the best out of the amp.
    The lowest slider on the graphic EQ will bring out frequencies you can't touch with the regular EQ. Boost it a lot to get massive dubby tones.
    I love the preamp controls on the 3-Pro. Very well thought.
  19. meatwad

    meatwad Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2008
    Smallville, USA
    Using an SVT-III PRO isn't much different from any other SVT control-wise, IMO. The main trick to any SVT is to avoid using the Ultra-Low button. Sounds great in the bedroom, can't hear ya in the mix. If you love what it does and must have "that sound", do a little research on just what exactly happens when you engage it. You will find something like a 10db cut around 500hz and a boost at a lower frequency that I can't recall atm... Emulate that with the graphic eq, without the massive cut at 500hz, and you will still get the same effect somewhat, and not be pure mud off the stage. Same approach can also be used for the Ultra-Hi button. You can achieve this with just the graphic eq, leaving the rotary tone controls to compensate for room changes, ect...

    One of the best things you can do is put a decent compressor in the FX loop. I put an Alesis NanoCompressor in mine with very mild settings, and it really fattened things up.

    To reflect what JimmyM has already said, turn the Gain knob up until the "Peak" light stays on about 75% of the time during normal playing, and leave the -15db cut pad off if at all possible. I do, even with my active StingRay! My gain is set at about 11 o'clock, and with my two Ampeg 4x10 cabs, I can't bear to turn the Master volume up half way.

    I've seen too many people knock this absolutely wonderful little amp for no real reason. As long as the tubes are in good shape, the gain is set correctly, and it's plugged into a 4ohm load, you can't beat the SVT-III PRO.

    All of my suggestions are just that; suggestions. They may not be for everybody.
  20. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    Very helpful stuff! I'll add some of this to the OP. Seems a lot of people set the Gain, and use the Volume as an overall output knob. Interesting... Also, here are the specs on the Ultra Low knob:
    +2.5dB @ 50Hz
    -12dB @ 560Hz
    +1.5dB @ 5kHz

    One thing that would help is for people to say a little about the type of music they are playing with the settings they are describing, so we get more of an idea of specific applications to your suggestions. Thanks again!

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