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SWR Bass 350 Underpowered? Opinions wanted..

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by funky_bass_guy, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. funky_bass_guy

    funky_bass_guy Guest

    Jul 30, 2004
    Hey guys,

    I have owned an SWR Bass 350 (Red Face, 1998) for just over a year now. In the last few months I have been gigging and practicing with it but I am having issues with the volume.

    My band play a mix of rock and funk with the odd rage against the machine cover, so nothing tooo loud. Our guitarist uses a 50 watt solid state marshall to gig and a 15 watt one for practices.

    I have my swr hooked up to an 8 ohm 4x10 (so the head is putting out 225 watts) but at a band practice I have to turn up to around half way to be heard. This is in a small room. When we occasionally practice at school I use their Behringer ultrabass 6000 (60 watts through a 12 inch speaker) with this on half way I am plently loud enough.

    Surely my setup should be louder with well over double the wattage and a much bigger speaker surface area?

    I was playing in a small pub the other night and had to turn up to 3/4 on the amp to be heard properly, and this is commonly how loud I have to turn it to even though we are only playing small halls and clubs.

    Now before I got my rig I would use a friends rig which is an Ashdown Mag 300 into a 2x10 and 1x15, at halfway this was too loud for a gig to be honest, although they were a metal band and needed the volume.

    My bass teacher also uses his Hartke 4x10XL with a HA3500 head in a similar band and gigs reguarly with the volume on only 3 or 4..

    I am at a loss to see why I have to turn my amp up so loud to get adequate volume onstage, especially seeing as my cabinet has a greater speaker surface area than a 1x15 and 2x10 rig..

    If anyone could offer any advice or their opinions on the matter, previous experiences would be great, I would be very greatful. I am getting worried about this thinking it may be a problem with the amp. With the summer coming and bigger gigs on the horizon I need to get this sorted.

    Many thanks
    Chris Tomlinson
  2. flash99


    Jun 8, 2005
    New York City
    Most bass amps have a low cut filter that kicks in somewhere around 20-30hz. 30 hz (I think) is a low B on a 5 string. Humans can't hear below 20 hz. SWR amps do not have that low cut filter so what happens is, an SWR amp will be using a lot of it's power to push low end that we don't hear (though we may feel it) and the frequencies that we do hear won't be as loud because all the power is going into the lower ones. The SM900 seems to me to be about as loud as a typical 300 watt bass amp and the lower powered models are just not loud enough. And on a side note, SWR amps will blow aluminun Hartke speakers because they can't handle those ultra low frequencies. Harke (at least used to) print a warning about this in their manuals but if you evercalled and asked SWR about this, they would tell you that Hartke cabinets were made wrong.
  3. Chelsea, my daughter's bassist (www.aroarah.com) uses an SWR 2004 head into an Eden D410-XLT. Hers is a lower powered head than your 350 and she does OK with it.

    Chelsea uses this rig on every indoor gig, and only gets buried at outdoor gigs without PA support. The guitar amps are a vintage Marshall JCM 800 (50w) and a new Mesa Triple Rectifier. Both of these amps can easily bury her Eden rig. To correct this, she will be playing outdoor gigs on a Tuba 36 rig.

    The SWR 350 will do the job if you have sufficient speakers. You can add multiple cabs or use horn loaded cabs. Either solution is going to cause transport issues, because neither is small.

    Adding a bigger power amp is not going to cure your problem. You have to move the air to keep up with those guitars. The 350 is rated to 2 ohms, so it will support up to (3) 8-ohm cabs with a total of 2.67 ohms impedance. I don't like running impedance that low, but YMMV.

    Add another cab or two to your rig. If you can't get heard with (3) 4x10, then something is seriously too loud.
  4. funky_bass_guy

    funky_bass_guy Guest

    Jul 30, 2004
    Thanks for the quick replies guys thats interesting to hear.. I dont believe that the other instruments are too loud as we try and keep the levels fairly low. We only have a 200 watt PA and they all turn down to make sure the vocals come out clear. But I seem to have to turn up.

    I dont want to add another cab as it would make transport very difficult and as I mentioned I have quite a lot of surface area with a 4x10 (more than the 2x10 1x15 ashdown rig im comparing with) so I shouldnt see that I need to add more.

    RE the low filter, do most bass heads have some low pass filter built into them then?

  5. Nice rig! As you've already noted, I think it has to do with the 8 ohm cab only giving you 225 watts. An extension cab would certainly help.
  6. mettec


    Aug 22, 2005
    I have been using my SWR 350 (Silver Face) in mono with my 8x10 Megoliath (4 ohms connecting top cab to bottom cab) cab since my SM-900 was out for repair. I can tell you that I set my pre-gain about 10 o'clock position and the master at 1 o'clock position. and it is not clipping or working the speakers real hard. I play hard rock and metal on stage with a guitar full stack and a drummer that has an old full cage 8pc double kick drumset. My sound still cuts through the mix and still have volume to spare. In my words, yes! your amp should be load enough. If not, then I would look into buying a new amp cause that one might have an issue.
  7. Daytona955i


    Feb 17, 2005
    Albany, NY
    Are you actually getting the volume that you need without clipping your amp?

    Just because the volume knob is at say, the 12 o'clock position, doesn't mean the amp is actually at half volume.

    You might just need to turn the knob more to get it to pump out enough volume to be heard, as long as its not stressing, you should have plenty of amp.
  8. LeonD

    LeonD Supporting Member

    How do you set the pre volume and EQ?

  9. Buzz


    Feb 3, 2004
    Metro Detroit
    I have a "97" Bass 350. At practice I use it with a Goliath Jr. III and have no problem with being heard. But playing out, you really need to drive two cabinets. For those who remember Kelly from SWR, he told me "That head sounds best at 4 ohms". I used it with my 2x10 and a SOB 1x15 for gigs. Still it's 350 @ 4 ohms and it can only be expected to do so much.

  10. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    I'm interested in your eq set up.

    To be honest, though, that particular head never seemed as loud as my GK400RB-III through the same cabinets. The store that I taught for had one of those things for a long time, and yeah, it did seem a bit quieter than it was rated for. However, I think you should be keeping up just fine. I suspect eq is your problem.
  11. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    I did three gigs this weekend with my chrome face Bass 350, all with a blues band that's moderately loud. The first gig was in a very small lounge...I used just a 210 cab and had my master around 11 o'clock.

    The second was a large room with two adjoining rooms. I used the 210 plus a 15 cab (both Eden) and the level on the amp was about the same...just 4 ohms with two cabs. Last night, I played a small wide bar and used just the 15 cab. Again, the same basic volume setting.

    In each case, I bumped the mids a bit around 500 hz. In one setting, I also bumped the treble a bit. The aural enhancer was around 1 o'clock. Depending on the bass I was using (EUB and L-1000), I also bumped the lows a bit...but maybe just to 1 o'clock on each knob.

    These cabs did fine in each setting, without pushing the amp hard or flashing the limiter very often. OTOH, I have a Goliath II 410 cab and it seems to take more power for the same volume. I think partially, it's mid shy and needs the right EQ to be heard well.

    Depending on your bass and how hard you play, you may need to set the input gain around noon to get adequate volume from the amp. As long as you're not seeing the clip light flash, you're okay. It's alright to see the limiter light on low notes or louder passages. Be sure you have enough mids dialed in for your cab, too.

    I should add that I sold a GK 700RB for the Bass 350 and I think that the SWR has a more natural sound that's a better fit for what I do.
  12. LoveThatBass


    Jun 28, 2004
    Consider checking the 12AX7 Preamp tube. If you need to replace it I have found the NOS RCA Blackplate 12AX7 is a kickbutt tube. Added punch to my 350X
  13. funky_bass_guy

    funky_bass_guy Guest

    Jul 30, 2004
    Ok thanks everyone who has contributed so far..

    My EQ is

    Aural Enhancer: 1-2 O clock
    Bass: 0dB boost
    Mid: +6dB at just over 500hz
    Treble: +2dB

    The green limiter light is almost always on when I play.

    I will hopefully get a chance to run it at 4 ohms sometime soon and I will see if it sounds better, seems funny that it should sound better at 4 ohms though.

    To clarify for the gigs we have been doing so far its been running at about 1/2 -3/4 volume. The problem is with bigger gigs coming I am worried about running out of volume. I dont want to have to push it to the max either as I dont want any clipping.

    I have just had a bass lesson and tried running the amp section of my bass teachers Behringer BX1200 into my cab, much louder than my amp in comparison with similarly set volume positions... Hmm.. I might try and do a comparison at a gig using two heads.

    The input gain is probably set at 10/11 O clock any more and I get it clipping thats using a passive bass in the active/passive input (top one).

  14. funky_bass_guy

    funky_bass_guy Guest

    Jul 30, 2004
    Thanks! :D
  15. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    Aural enhancer circuits are mid scoopers. Basically, they add bass and treble at the extreme ranges of your amp (on my GK, the bass boosts heavily at 30hz) and suck out a good portion of the mids. Turn that knob way down. "Flat" for that knob is full left. Most guys keep their enhance (as they're known elsewhere) knobs below 9 o'clock.

    Let's assume that that knob boosts significant amounts of bass at 30 hz. Combine that with the SWR's lack of a low cut filter, and it seems like all of your power is getting used to boost barely audible frequencies.
  16. ghindman


    Feb 10, 2006
    A couple of comments:
    1) Your gain seems low - I usually run my 350x w/ passive j-bass at ~1-2 o'clock for input gain. If you have a dedicated tone stack on your base, you might try rolling off the lows on your bass so you can up the input gain without clipping. This makes the single biggest difference in output on these amps, IMO. Also, the more you can overdrive that pre-amp tube, the warmer your tone will be.

    2) Try setting the aural enhance ~11 o'clock. If find much past 12 that is makes the tone a bit flat, and perceptually quieter.

    3) As noted, running at 8 ohms, you're not getting the full 350. I run my 350x w/ a 4ohm 2x10, and it's loud as hell.
  17. Blues Cat

    Blues Cat Payson Fanned Bass Strings Owner Commercial User

    May 28, 2005
    Katy, Tx
    Payson Fanned Bass Strings Owner
    I too have a '96 pre Fender SWR 350 redface & have had the same problem on large gigs @ 8ohms.
    I tried it once w/a 4ohm Berg cab & it made a nice difference in punch . I found I didn't have to dig in so much.
    That particular model is not designed for high powered gigs.
    I almost sold mine but after testing & listening to it I couldn't cause it sounded so good.
  18. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    My friend had the same issue with his 350. We stopped by the SWR booth at NAMM and mentioned it to one of the guys and he got pissed and said he's sick of everyone saying SWR is underpowered and they're not. I guess it's everyone that's wrong.

    Any way crank the bass frequency as low as it will go (around 30hz) and cut bass. This will give you more volume and clarity.
  19. funky_bass_guy

    funky_bass_guy Guest

    Jul 30, 2004
    Thanks for that point about the aural enhancer I have that turned off now. I will have to wait and see if that makes and improvement at gig level.

    My bass is passive and doesnt have any eq controls apart from the tone control that just lops of all the treble and makes it sound what I call sucked.

    Blues Cat which Berg cabinet was it you tried it with?

    I agree it does sound fantastic in my room but with the band I am not so sure. I think its possibly not the best suited to the quite aggresive growly clean snap slap sound I like. Although I have recently been getting a fantastic Rick Danko tone out of it :)
  20. funky_bass_guy

    funky_bass_guy Guest

    Jul 30, 2004
    Hmm I would tend to believe a mass concencus over SWRs word. I cant see them turning round and saying yes our amps are underpowered somehow.

    Thanks for the advice though :)

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