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"SWR" sound?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Axtman, May 8, 2010.

  1. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    How would you describe the "SWR sound"? I hear these terms and I am not sure what people mean.
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Clean, no overdrive, unfiltered low end (massive string thump noises), sometimes mid-scooped. Not that SWR's all have to sound that way, but that's the stereotypical SWR thing.
  3. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    Modern and edgy. Not vintage and deep.

    Great, but not everybody's thing.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    what's thought of as the typical swr sound is like marcus miller...a little overboosted on the lows and treble. however, swr amps are given a bad rap over that scooped jazz sound. they have a very versatile eq section where you can dial mids back in no sweat. and you can turn the tweeters off in their cabs. used to have an sm-500, played many different ones over the years. originally got one because they had what i thought at the time was the closest sound to an svt in a hybrid. doesn't really sound like one but at the time that was as close as it got.
  5. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    I think the idea is 'What do they sound like before they are tweaked?' 'How are they voiced perfectly flat?'
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    well the flat sounds are like a not-so-extreme marcus miller. more like victor wooten...he used to use swr. definitely scooped, though.
  7. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    I s'pose the real question might be 'How far do you have to tweak it to get the vibe you're after?'

    No size fits all, but the less you have to tweak, the better.

    FWIW, the SM-500 is a great all-purpose amp, and can be had fairly cheap on the used market.

    Of course, YMMV.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    i used to feel like that, but after a few discussions on here about it, i finally decided why worry about it? if you're getting the sound you want, it really doesn't matter where the knobs are.
  9. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    Fair enough. I'm not that pedantic about things.
  10. JTUK


    May 25, 2009
    The 4 band para was a very powerful tool.
    The older SM400's should be run pretty flat with a Jazz and you are there, pretty much.

    That is bass max of 12, ditto treble, enhancer between 10 and 2..and whatever minor tweaks you need on the 4 band for the room. With decent cabs that should be a good start off point and you'll not normally need to do much more than that with a decent bass.

    If you want to start getting a bit wild, then the 4 band can do that as well..but never run that amp with the bass control really pushing it as that will really suck power from the amp.

    The SM series were great amps in my view even if you have one with the ridiculous unusable sub, I am not so sure about some of the newer amps, but the SM's are classics, IMO.
    I might add another amp with another voicing but I will not sell it.
  11. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I owned one for a couple of years - it was my first real head\cab setup and bought it primarily because of the amazing price. I ended up not liking the tone (except for the slap tone, which was by far better than anything I've ever tried). Lots of good low end, but I found the highs sharp and brittle. Some folks would consider them dry or sterile sounding and I would agree with that. Replaced the stock tube and liked the tone a bit better, but still not really my thing.

    I moved from that to Thunderfunk and was MUCH happier with my tone - was sweeter and more musical sounding overall. I've since gone to an SVT, which is uber rich sounding. Much more my cup of tea.
  12. The only SWR I listened as a reference to before becoming heavy into all things bass-related was P-Nut from 311's (who now uses the Hellborg amps).

    To me it always sounded like he EQ'd his amp to sound like a GK though... His tone didn't sound very scooped and trebly at all (like most other SWR users I later heard)...
  13. synaesthesia


    Apr 13, 2004
    Well to answer this question properly, there are first of all two components to the typical SWR sound.

    The amps have a pronounced low mid bass hump, a bit of a mid scoop when set flat and depending on usage of the enhancer, there will be a low and top end boost.

    The cabs have a drop in 2 - 3 K region, and depending on the cab model the mismatch of efficiency in the fostex horn vs 2 x 10s or 4 x 10s exaggerates the sizzle, assuming the L Pad is wide open.
  14. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    FWIW, I find the 'SWR sound' to sound much better and more satisfying in the mix than it does standing alone. It is very interesting in this regard.
  15. acubass


    Oct 10, 2007
    Albuquerque, NM
    I never can decide if I like the Aural Enhancer knob or not. When I had the 350 it was always hit or miss. My first "nice" amp was the old style basic black. I could get some old school tones from it when I pushed the lows.
  16. Jim C

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

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    I've had a SM400 for over 20 years
    With EQ flat, there is an inclredible extreme low freq boost as well as a lot of top
    Not so sure that the mids are scooped but rather top and bottom are over emphasized
    Output is very clean and no question that the wattage rating is anything but understated

    The only preamp tube that made any difference in mine was a Mullard and worth the $40 for a used one IMO

    Limiter helps to get closer to a tube amp, and I like Jimmy thought it to be a reasonable SVT simulation back in the day; when I compare my SVT / SM400 / and LMII there is no question that the LMII sounds MUCH more like the SVT

    Overall great amps for a clean funk thing & old ones were very well built
    Used units have a very low resale and offer a tremendous value

    Never did understand why JPJ went that route as the Zep tone he used to have is nothing like an SWR to me; guess he was looking for something completely different
  17. I found an SWR stack for sale used and scooped it right up. It is a workingmans 4004amp with a 4x10 WM cab.

    It does sit well in the mix when I play with my three piece band, but I would like a little more fullness. People are dead on when they describe the sound as very clean.

    However, I'm looking for a more "wooly" tone, to fit my punky-rocky-proggy tastes. I've been wanting a VT Bass for some time now, for that reason. It's a great amp but I'm not playing intricate jazzy lines, so consider the situation you're going to use it in.
  18. woody357

    woody357 Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2005
    So what could be expected if I were to use a workingman 410 with a GK 800rb head? What kind of tone might I get?
  19. yamaha


    Apr 7, 2006
    Typical tone : Clean, edgy, modern, scooped.

    In the cabs dept, I loved every single SWR cab I owned (4 of them) 1x18, 4x10, 6x10 and 8x10. I still have the 6x10 and will keep it forever. I use Bergantino cabs now almost all the time.

    In the heads, much more unsure about liking SWR. Huge difference in tones (x series, Sm's, workingmans, workingpros, baby blue, etc..) They all sound very different IMHO.
  20. yamaha


    Apr 7, 2006
    Very clean, decent kit. Workingman's are, IMO, decent mid line cabs. Not very rich, tweeter softer than the foster horn (on goliaths), and don't go very low also. Good cut through the mix. If you buy used, you could get a hell of a deal. If new, I'd suggest something else for that price. GK and SWR match very well in general.

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