SWR Super Redhead?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Lujon, Jun 17, 2020.

  1. Lujon


    May 29, 2020
    I currently have an Acoustic b100c combo amp and I’m looking for a little bit of an upgrade. The local buy/sell has an SWR Super Redhead available, I brought my bass in and played around with it a bit, sounds nice, everything works as it should. My concern is that it’s a bit older, so I’m not sure if it would be considered much of an upgrade by today’s standards? Should I continue looking for something newer or does this thing still hold its own? For reference, I play a fretless pj style bass and the amp is $500, though I am not asking if it it’s worth that much. Again, just for reference. Any thoughts appreciated.

    More info on it: http://support.swramps.com/manuals/pdfs/superredhead_om.PDF
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  2. BrentSimons and Lujon like this.
  3. Lujon


    May 29, 2020
    I read through most of the old threads here, but a lot of them were posted quite a few years ago. I really don’t know how much technology has changed in recent time regarding combo amps.
  4. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    The RedHead (and Super) was a cool amp in the late '80's or was it '90's?
    Technology has changed a lot, particularly in the power-and-sound to weight ratio.
    You can get a great sounding combo for a good price that weighs about 1/2 (or less) than the Super RedHead
    Lujon and SJan3 like this.
  5. SJan3

    SJan3 Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2010
    Unless you have a fettish for the Redhead, I'd invest my $500 elsewhere. As has been mentioned, much has changed since the Redhead. Heck, you can get an Ampeg BA210v2 NEW for the same money. For a bit more, you can step into higher end units. I wouldn't pay more than $400 for the Redhead if it's clean.
    My opinion.
    PS. The Redhead is heavy as snot.
    Fine, if you don't mind.
    BrentSimons and Lujon like this.
  6. Lujon


    May 29, 2020
    Thanks for the feedback fellas!
    BrentSimons and SJan3 like this.
  7. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    If you like the sound, well, there is no substitute for that is there?
  8. A great combo for its day, a good combo today.

    Also keep in mind (if this matters to you) that SWR has been out of business for over ten years, some parts are getting harder to find or not available at all if service is needed.
    This is an old amp that can go out in two weeks or last another 20+ years before service/repair is needed. You need to balance if that is worth it for you, or you want something newer with a warranty or at least a stronger service program behind it.
    Most of the RedHeads are still serviceable.

    I recommend loading and unloading it from the store to your vehicle and back into the store a few times and see if you still want it. (for some moving it gets old, fast.)
    BrentSimons and SJan3 like this.
  9. BogeyBass

    BogeyBass Inactive

    Sep 14, 2010
    I'll take a older combo over something new any day.
    But as mentioned newer amp heads are lighter, and smaller.

    Most of them need to sit on a cabinet which weigh the same or can be slightly lighter. Lighter high power neo cabinets can carry a higher price for the convience.

    The real issue is sound pressure or sound pressure level. Or basically how loud you need to be. A 2x10 is a 2x10 and within reason can only move so much air and handle certain amount of power.

    So in a nutshell, the Super Redhead is highly regarded with many players. And has plenty of power to take it's 2x10 combo too full power. Regardless of being more or less compared to something new. It literally does the same thing and will reach the same levels or SPL of something " new"

    If a 2x10 reaches the level you need. The redhead is great. And I personally prefer the sound and tone of class AB amplifiers and don't care for new class D amplifiers and don't care at all for switch mode power supplies. Which is basically what allows these newer heads to be light.

    Really what you should be asking is a 2x10 combo loud enough for me. Or do I need a 4x10 to reach band levels.

    It's basically the standard for a long long time now. With a moderate to loud drummer usually you'd lean towards a 4x10 to reach higher volumes with minimal distortion.

    If it's for practice, lower level gigs, or you just need a stage monitor . Assuming your bass is mainly carried in the clubs main pa. A 2x10 is probably fine.

    And as mentioned a 210 is a 210 and doesn't really need 600 or 800 watts that everyone will tell you can't live without.
    BrentSimons and Lujon like this.
  10. Lujon


    May 29, 2020
    Some great points, thank you!

    I’m still on the fence. Seems like a major point against it is the weight. I should have mentioned this will be parked in my practice space, and won’t be moved around much after that. Along the same lines, it won’t be used for gigs so I believe it will be adequate in terms of power.

    At this point, my primary hang-ups are:

    Price, for me that’s lot of money to drop on a practice amp.

    Availability of parts for service if it does take a dump on me.

    Aesthetically unappealing, I really don’t like the 90’s rat fur look. But this is a small point, especially for a practice amp!
    BrentSimons and SJan3 like this.
  11. Lujon


    May 29, 2020
    UPDATE: so, I didn’t buy an SWR amp, I bought two!

    I went back and spent some additional time playing through the Super Redhead and really liked what I was hearing, so all 80lbs of it came home with me.

    Separately, an SWR Workingman 12 came up on Craigslist and it really sounds amazing, so I bought it to keep in my shop space.

    Playing these two SWR amps side by side with the 100w Acousic amp I have from Guitar Center is really eye opening, the former sounding crisp and real, while the latter sounds like a muffled speaker sitting in a cardboard box. It really is that different.

    Anyway, thanks again for the advice everyone!
  12. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    Not so much for you since you already made a decision, but for anyone who might see this thread later, there's not some "magic" just because something is "new". Is a Lamborghini Diablo not a hot car just because it's 30 years old? No. You just have to understand that there might be some differences to the things you would find now. Some of those differences might be bad, but others will be good.

    The Super Redhead is like a vintage Italian sports car compared to, I don't know, like a 370z or something. The 370z is pretty cool, but the Diablo is art and is ALWAYS going to be cool and desirable to people who know what it is, even if the fast and furious teens in the mall parking lot don't really get it.

    The SWR stuff was pretty meticulously designed and engineered, certainly for its time, and it will always be great. Honestly, my Goliath III I almost forget how good it is until I compare it to MOST other cabs. It's so good it just blends into the background and you don't have to think about it. "Oh, if it only had more lows, or if it was only a little louder, or a little cleaner..." You don't have to worry about any of that because it just sounds like it's supposed to. Same with the amps. They just sound fat and clean and punchy and big and musical.

    That quality is sorely lacking in MOST gear these days, certainly in a cheap modern (GC owned) Acoustic combo. Just because something is "old" does not mean it's bad. Usually the opposite is the case.

    We also have to get out of this consumerist trap that we're in of always thinking we need "new" stuff. Why? The only reason you need something NEW is if what you have is not meeting the criteria it is intended to meet. People buy phones every year or 2 for insane amounts of money. Why? Nothing has really changed in phone technology in that time that will make that big a difference, and if you don't abuse your phone it should last a good 3-4 years just fine.

    Meanwhile, people pay insane money for old stuff. Partly because a lot of it is actually really good, partly because the stuff that survives tends to be the better stuff and gets better with age, and partly because of a certain craziness about "vintage" anything. But sweeping that aside, there are a lot of elements that just are actually better. So the new stuff just has to keep cramming in bogus features and gimmicks (no, I don't need bluetooth in everything) because they usually can't compete on build quality, materials, and vision. Sometimes there can be a technological advantage, but literally every company is trying to capture something from 30-50 years ago more or less so that should tell you something. Fender probably sells more strats than all their other models combined, and that's a design from literally 65+ years ago that has barely deviated from what it originally was in that entire time.
    Lujon likes this.
  13. Raw N Low

    Raw N Low If I can't hear it, hopefully I'll feel it Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2009
    Denver, Colorado
    Omega Monkey pretty much summed up what I was going to say.

    Things will always be new. However, there are very few things that leave a mark. If there were a book on historic amps or amps that made an impact, SWR would certainly be mentioned. I never followed the logic of parts availability having an impact on the longevity of a loved item. People are breathing new life into things that have been out of production for decades.

    Edit: "Heavy" is subjective. I've heard and seen people complain about lifting a 20-30lb cab or amplifier. Compared to an SVT, that's peanuts in terms of weight. At this rate, players are going to be advocating software over hardware.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
    Lujon likes this.
  14. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    I have owned both a Super Redhead (grey crinkle square opening grill version) and a WM's 12 (S/N 36) Both were very fine amps and if it were not for the weight, I'd probably still have the SRH.

    Congrats on purchasing two classic amps! :)
    Lujon and wave rider like this.