SWR Amps - Tone Similarities / Differences?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by agreatheight, Jan 3, 2008.

  1. OK, so I am going to buy myself a second head - primarily for backup purposes. I currently run a redface SWR Bass 350 (pre-fender, if that matters) and I REALLY like the tone. I was thinking about getting a second Bass 350 so I have a consistent tone with both heads, but at a couple of recent shows I wished that I had a little more power. There are lots of other SWR options that would give me a bit more power, but since I'll likely be looking used I likely won't have a way to compare tone. How different do the heads in the SWR line sound? My front runners are the SM-400 500 or 900, the 550x or 750x, the 750 (not X) or another Bass 350.

    What are everyone's thoughts?

  2. Giving this a bump...
  3. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    The SM-400 has a wonderful sound. Truly the SWR sound.
    I needed more volume and went with the Bass 750. It has the pre of the Redhead with mono 450 or 750 watts. I loved it.
    It made the SM-400 sound small to me and even a little compressed.

    I played a 350x and it sounded a gritty to me. The 750x sounded worse. The addition of the effects may have messed with the circuit. The tubes could have been lesser quality than used in previous incarnations.

    The secret to me for using SWR amps is this. Turn the tweeter down on the cab so it's just adding a touch to the woofers.
    Run you eq flat. Aural enhancer off or just to about 10:00. YMMV. Turn treble down from 12:00 (flat) to about 11-11:30.
    This will allow these amps to breathe and do anything your bass sends through without being restricted by the eq. Oh yes no limiter.

    Be modest on the amount of bass eq.coming from an active bass. SWRs amplify freq. you can't hear and that eats up power and headroom.

    Gain structure: If you don't have a manual here's the story.
    Pre: up until light flashes then back off a hair. Master: crank for your volume needs.

    Absolutely match ohms or you will have low volume or an unhappy amp. Ex.: Bridge an SM-400 into 8ohms total or use two 4 ohm cabs stereo. The Bass 750 can power one or two GII or GIIIs easily.

    I love my BBII with LDS 8"s. My LA-8 is surprisingly robust with a Celestion 8" in it. Even though it's not their pro gear it works for me in gigging and studio sessions at low volume.
  4. God I love my SWR SM900. Bought it used, 1 year old back in '97 or '98.

    Lately I've been using a Boss LB-2B limiter pedal (the old brown one) with almost no limiting on,... I have the Threshold all the way to the right, along with my TU-2 tuner pedal infront of the amp and shutting down the SM900's limiter. I've learned that I prefer the sound of a limiter (or compressor) at the start of the signal - just sounds to even out the neck IMO.

    I used my OLP MM copy 5 string (with fresh strings) into the TU-2 into the LB-2B into the SM900 with everything at 12 o'clock, including gain, Aural Enhancer, EQs, limiter off and adjusting the master volume (around 10 to 11 o'clock). Bridged 800watts (I think) into 2 8ohm cabs, Yorkville 2x10 and 1x15. Post EQ DI out to the board and the sound man really commented on what a great sound. Fit right in the mix with lots of clear everything, lows, mids & highs. Fairly large club/theater with a big hard wood stage.

    I have also been bringing my bass, pedals AND amp to the rehearsal halls that we rent - the ones where the backline is provided. I just can't stand plugging into a used and abused Ampeg, Peavey or Eden head that's really in need of some work. The low end on the bridged SWR SM900 is just so intoxicating.

    Back to the thread,....... sorry, I find my SWR SM900 into the Yorkville cabs is very, very similar to the sound of my older SWR Workingman's 12 combo. Playing with an acoustic guitar,... I'm not sure if I could tell the difference. Playing with a drummer,... the low end of the SM900 just seems to come through and shine.

  5. Tim1


    Sep 9, 2005
    New Zealand
    Never had a problem with SWR cabinets, the silliest thing I ever did was to trade my two Bigfoot cabs(2x12 Bagends) which sounded absolutely amazing with my Ampeg SVT2non-pro. Also never had a problem with the Goliath cabinets and find I can EQ pretty much any sound I want out of them, although now I use my Mesa Diesel 215 cab more often. Had two SM400s and always found them a bit bland. I have a pre-Fender SM900 which I am just starting to enjoy after many years of trying to find a good sound in it, and having to sort out a faulty valve mount base for myself - and bear in mind that I am a tube man through and through. Bottom line, I would go for the 900 but if you can take it out and play a gig with the one you are buying first to make sure there are no problems.
  6. Crabby


    Dec 22, 2004
    I love my red face Bass 350. I recently bought it used in mint condition and am running it into a 4 ohm Eden 410XLT. This combination is loud, punchy and very articulate. I set up the eq pretty much exactly as chadds described.

    Enhance off
    everything else flat
    treble backed off to 11:00

    Gain cranked to about 2:00.
    master to taste!