"Sweet 'n' Sour" amp/cab combinations?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Fender32, Sep 23, 2005.

  1. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    Hey folks!

    I wonder if any of you would be kind enough to give me the benefit of your experiences with different "flavors" of amps and cabs please?

    Here's the thing, I don't have a lot of experience with non-practise (i.e. "real") amps and would like to avoid too many costly mistakes, as I'm not in a position to demo a lot of bass gear before I buy it (my local guitar shop doesn't have many brands of bass amp).

    I play a Fender Precision and a Stingray and like a clear, hard, biting tone with the option to round it out and produce a good punchy mid-range "oomph" (without too much "honk").

    The starting point for my rig, is a Hartke XL115 cab. Why (you may be asking)? Well, I bought it as an extension for my Hartke Kickback combo (120W @ 8 ohms) and it does a very good job too, but that setup just isn't loud enough and the amp is a bit limited on the "warmer" tone options (and power).

    :help: Here's what I would like to know ...

    If I take a very crisp, "hi-fi" sounding cab (as I believe the XL115 to be) and add an equally "hi-fi" sounding amp (Hughes & Kettner Bass Base, Hartke HA3500, etc.), is it likely to increase the "brittleness" of the sound or will it simply produce a logical balance? Or, should I perhaps be looking for a warmer sounding amp (Nemesis 320, or anything with a valve preamp) to produce a better range of tones? Then again, would a "Sweet 'n' Sour" combination like this, just blend into blandness? I don't know, I've never tried it, but YOU might have done.

    I really hope that this question isn't too vague for you all. I've read pages of threads here on which amps are "better" than others and which cabs are better than other cabs, but I can't get my head around the possible effects of different combinations. In the world of hi-fi (where I have slightly more experience), it's very common to put "analytical" source components with warm valve amps and "clinincal" sounding speakers, but hey, we're dealing with the real "front end" now I guess! ;)

    All points of view welcomed ... :D

    (By the way, musical style is primarily rock/indie, played with a pick, or pop/rock played with fingers. :bassist: Price/power range for an amp would be less than $1,000 (used gear is ok) with at least 250W @ 8 ohms).
  2. Plain Old Me

    Plain Old Me

    Dec 14, 2004
    I don't get it. Do you want something that is warm, or something hi-fi? Or something that can do both?
  3. I think hes looking to see if you can mix a hi-fi sounding cab with a not so hi-fi sounding head.
  4. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I'm will be using a Fender Bassman 135 (100watt all tube) head from the 70's with two EA CXL110's, and the sound should be YUUMMY! you can't get any more SWEET N SOUR than that!!
  5. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    "Sweet and sour" can be great. In particular, SWR heads with Ampeg cabs, and Ampeg heads with SWR cabs both yield tones that I think are better than all-ampeg or all-swr rigs.

    You just have to try it out though.
  6. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    Guess so! At least there seems to be some popular support for the "mix and match" approach though.

    Cheers guys.
  7. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    Right the second time, something that can do both.

    I just couldn't figure out if putting a "sharp" sounding cab with a "mellow" sounding amp would make the amp sound thinner/worse than it would with a more mellow/appropriate cab, or whether it would really bring out and amplify the warmth of it? (confused yet? :meh: )

    Anyway, it seems that there's no substitute for experience here, so I'll just have to try whatever i can find locally.


  8. I don't think I can make a general statement that would explain amp-cab matching but I can tell you from my experience that amp-cab matching is important.

    When I had my ss Bmax pre it sounded great with my Avatar b212, b115 speaker combo. Now that I'm running an Ampeg SVP-CL (tube pre) I am finding that my speaker combo doesn't cut through well anymore. My solution is to replace the B212 with a sealed 4x8 cab I am putting the finishing touches on right now.

    So I guess for me a thinner amp goes well with beefy cabs and beefy amps go better with punchy sealed cabs.
  9. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Gk. With avatar. Then if you really want some mellow tubey type sounds, get a sansamp.
  10. peterpalmieri

    peterpalmieri Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Babylon, NY
    I used an SVT Classic head with an Eden 4x10 XLT for a few years. I thought it blew away the original 8x10 I had.

    It's long gone but was a nice hard rock combo. Always look for used stuff!
  11. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I think we all essentially work toward "balance" in a rig, and there are many ways to get there.
  12. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I just started using an SWR Goliath III 4x10 (high-fi, thin sounding) with a Mesa/Boogie Powerhouse 4x10 (more vintage, low/low mids friendly)... this combination is way nice.
  13. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    Good call Trevorus. Actually, I've just sent one back to the store! It was the 3 channel, programmable version and one of the channels wouldn't respond to any adjustments of the knobs. I don't have much patience with things that don't work properly straight out of the box :eyebrow: , so I think I'll be giving Tech 21 gear a miss in future (my loss, possibly)! :rolleyes:

    I'm quite encouraged by the mixing and matching philosophy that most people are putting forward here though, so I'm thinking about a "growly" head to frighten my rather frigid Hartke XL115 cab (and subsequent XL410).

    Hughes & Kettner do a beast known as the Quantum QT600. :bassist: There's only one review of it that I could find online, but does anyone have any experience with one? I'd be interested to know what range of tones are possible and just how clean and precise it can sound if you back of the "growl" knob (yep, it really has one of those)! :smug: