SWR Workingman 12

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by vlado, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. vlado


    Mar 14, 2006
    Buje, Croatia
    Hi! I just bought an SWR Workingman 12 via e-bay and am expecting it to come these days. Would any of you who´s experienced with this amp be so kind to give me some hints about it?
    I know SWR only by bigger and stronger amps, but I wanted something small enough to carry around ´cause I play each day on a different place and we are carrying a lot of stuff, so I didn´t want to burden up myself with something like a Redhead, and I also intend to use the amp mostly as a monitor, just to feel it kicking a bit from the back. The band that I play with plays mostly oldschool R´n B, the Blues Brothers and stuff, and there´s seven of us onstage, including brass, guitar, keyboards and drums. Until this point I was plugging myself directly to the PA, getting monitoring frontal for both bass and vocals, so, as I said, I wanted a small but functional bass amp for monitoring. The kind of sound I´d like to get is a bit vintage, mostly like John Paul Jones. I use EMG J pickups. Is SWR Workingman good enough for this task?

    Thanks a lot!

  2. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    I'd sell it back onto Ebay and get an Ampeg B-100R. That's a hell of a lot better combo for what you describe.
  3. snowdan


    Feb 27, 2006
    for the music you play a WM 15 would be perfect. loud, good bass response, not much heavier than the Wm12.
  4. I bought my WM12 in 1996. IMO, they are fairly loud for their size. I've played mine in a small bar with a blues trio that wasn't too loud. I've also used it at rehearsal with my BagEnd S15d cab with a different, slightly loud rock/r&b trio
    and kept up. It also worked well when I played it at the church that I used to attend that had a full horn section (I used the amp mainly as my monitor, DI to the house).

    Having said all of that: it is what it is, a good small amp.
    I don't know that I would it want to keep up with a full bore rock band on a regular basis, even with an extension cab and the DI out, especially if you were playing big rooms.

    If you're looking for a vintage-type tone, don't get carried away with the Aural Enhancer.
  5. Steve S

    Steve S

    Jul 26, 2000
    I love mine but only use it for practice.
  6. Zapp


    Sep 4, 2005
    Gruene Texas
    I wonder if we're talking about different amps here. I have a WM12 that was made in about 1992 or so... I can't speak for the later years. I have played it back/back with a more recent WM 15 with the added gadgets and I'll take the 12 any day for small-hall use. I just didn't connect with the 15. I do not use the SWR much now only because my small hall rig with a bassmaster 400 and a single 210 cab is so very much nice.

    That said, I differ with almost everyone here: I played the SWR exclusively for a long, long time every week in small gigs with up to about 200 listeners and it was more than enough. I DID run it hot... that is with the pre and post set at about 9 apiece, then control the rest with my bass.... I ALSO use EMG J Active pickups in my trusty old Hamer Cruise B. In the same timeframe that I've played the SWR WM12, I had, and sold, both Hartke and Eden [believe it or not] rigs and went right back to using the WM12, partly because of its portability, but also because I could get the tone I wanted everytime, no fuss, knew exactly where to set everything.

    If you elevate the cabinet and maybe angle it to suit, and keep it within a couple feet of a wall, it will do the job in a small club. I can't imagine it NOT cutting through with any drum kit [I play with some first-class drummers] and other clutter, indoors in a room with a footprint of, say, 10,000 sq ft or under. It certainly couldn't be used outdoors effectively without PA support. But, it DOES have a support Cab jack and sounds very sweet with a ported, larger-cab 15" [eminence, whatever]. I have used it that way a few times and also drove a huge Sunn cab with 2 x 15"s and it sounded great. I think the early WM12's had that 'enhance' EQ gadget just right, and i always used it to some extent.

    So, i beg to differ with my cronies but I have played this thing probably more than 200 gigs in small halls and always got thumbs-up from fellow musicians :bassist:

  7. DerekG


    Mar 9, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    I had one for a few years as a practice amp and for small gigs. The sound was typical SWR with a lot of snap but perhaps not as much transparency as an SM-400 (my larger rig) or even a Baby Blue. It does have a DI out and a jack for a second 8 ohm extension. But at 100 watts (120 for newer ones, i think) it's not enough power by itself for bigger venues. I sold it after buying two Aggie GS112s. Now i take one of those plus the SM-400, even for small gigs - much deeper and better tone.
  8. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    I use mine with my Double Bass, and have also put my p/j active 4 string 81 Ibanez through it around the house. If i fill in for a bar band here and there, I'm more likely to bring the wm12 than my eden metro (like a redhead, only gold)

    I think you'll be happiest with the aural enhancer set low or off if you're playing straight rock or blues. The aural ebnhancer sounds cool when noodling solo in the house, or maybe slapping, but with a band, your best bet is off. It's just a special midrange scoop--low/high boost, afaik. Leave it off to avoid stepping on the horns' and guitar's tonal toes.

    The wattage jumps from 100 to 120 when you add another 8 Ohm cab to it. 8 Ohm + 8 Ohm = 4 Ohm.

    If you're a novice/ intermediate, maybe a compression pedal in front of the input might enable you to raise the overall volume-- you won't be pumping through the big low-frequency transients that wil make the amp clip. Experienced players on here seem to shun compression from what I read, but it migth help you maximize the WM12. Try one out if you have one lying around.

    An old school R+B bassline does not need to be 'in your face,' just staying funky with the drummer's feel. If you're locked in, the bass players right foot will be all you need to help your amp punch through.

  9. momo


    Oct 22, 2005
    Huntington Beach, CA
    If you have already been fine with the PA only, it should work well. I use one on a church gig with a soft handed drummer, and it is enough, but for much more the ext cab will help.
  10. vlado


    Mar 14, 2006
    Buje, Croatia
    Some time has passed now and I've been playing on this amp a lot and I must say I'm very satisfied with it, although I did have the same kind of trouble with the horn like some of You. I liked the sound much more without it from the beginning anyway. It's also loud enough to be used as the monitor on stage with my R'N'B band. Thank You all for your posts!
  11. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    +1 on the horn-- I think that's one of the places SWR kept the price point down on the amp.
  12. I havn't read all the posts so I might be repeating what someone already said. I have a Workingman's 4004-4x10-1x15 stack which I recently replaced with an Eden half stack. When I firest got the SWR, I liked the sound and power but later found that it wasn't loud enough, lacked any definition when playing with the band (not much mids), the tweeters sucked, and it went out on me during a show (overheating, I believe.) Anyway, if you like how your bass sounds into the PA, it shouldn't matter too much. If your going for an old school sound, the tweeter will probably remain off. My only suggestion, other than trying other stuff out, would be to watch that "aural enhancer" knob. It sounds great in the bedroom when you turn it up, but it'll kill all your definition in the mix.
  13. vlado


    Mar 14, 2006
    Buje, Croatia
    Problems again! Now I've been using it for more then three months every day for at least four hours. There's a buzz when I turn the volume up. It's not too strong, it doesn't distract me when I'm playing with the band, but when the others are silent I hear it buzzing and I'd like it to stop. Are the transistors gone or what? Other then that I'm very satisfied with the sound and the worries I had about the loudness have turned up to be needless.
  14. You should take it to a repair shop. My early 90's WM12 recently started making low background noise and odd pops when I shut it down so I took it in for a checkup. The tech found 3 IC's (integrated circuit chips) that needed replacing. It appears the chips died of old age and produced a slow steady decline in the sound.
    It sounds much better now (grin). Have it checked!
    BTW, I think that in your situation the WM12 should work fine. it will run an ext spkr if you need more volume, and placing it up off the floor will definitely help. Good luck :D
  15. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    I've owned three of these amps... Loved each one...shouldn't have sold the last one. Great low volume amp. Very clean. For what you want to use it for, I don't think it will work. Definitely not a vintage type old school sounding amp.

    I used mine primarily for small to medium size practices and low volume gigs. Can be used with a drummer. If you push it too hard it will shut off.
  16. HotRatz

    HotRatz Guest

    Mar 13, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Hey, I'm wondering if anybody knows, is there much difference in the generations of the Workingman's line? I'm looking at two different WM12's, one is blackface w/white logo, one is blackface w/red logo.

    I see that the white logo one does not have a detachable internal speaker jack, just a hardwired connection. The red logo has a odd-looking nonstandard plug, but is detachable. The white logo also doesn't seem to have the limiter bypass pullout knob. The white logo has a Celestion speaker, while the red has an unmarked driver with what appears to be a small circular mesh-covered vent in the center of the magnet. I wonder, is this the original speaker in this one?

    That's all I can see, and I can't for the life of me find the answers on the searches... Anything else I should know? Thanks!
  17. If I remember right, the red logo models came out after Steve Rabe sold the company and the new owners started changing the line. My white logo model did have the pull-out limiter defeat.
    Both had the same power and features.
    Just my opinion, but I think the older black face with white logo models were better built. Mine worked fine for solo practice but needed an extension cab to sound loud enough for playing with a band.
    When originally designed, the WM12 was very nice with pro style DI, a smaller size, and 44lb weight, but with today's lightweight Neo cabs and under 20 lb heads I don't see as much appeal for the WM series. I think any of the new lightweight heads and a UL112 cab would weigh less (combined) than a WM12 with better volume and tone. IMO they were expensive (new) for a 112 combo (I bought mine used). :D
  18. HotRatz

    HotRatz Guest

    Mar 13, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Ahh yes, but the used market is totally my bag. I think that at the price that discontinued WM's are going for, they are some of the best value on the market right now. I could totally Thunderfunk & Epifani my way around town in style, if I had a spare kilo-dollar hangin around. I just need something for practicing and for boosting upright bass on acoustic gigs, and under 3 bills is where my budget lives. :) Life can be good as a gear bottomfeeder - the patience is the only hard part. (of course, it's easy to be patient when you don't have the money anyway! har)

    Thanks for your comments on the amp differences. Cheers!
  19. Crabby


    Dec 22, 2004
    I have had my WM12 since 1998 and just love it. Its the white logo original model and I paid over $700 Canadian new for it. It was a lot of cash back then and its not worth a whole lot to sell or tade now a days. Everytime I think I'm gonna get rid of it, I plug in and change my mind as this still is a very sweet sounding little combo amp.

    I recently obtained an SVT12HE cab which is very similar to the Aggie 112. Paired with the WM12 it makes a pretty sweet little mini stack and can go pretty loud without clipping.

    The extension cab makes a big difference but I only ever bought the WM12 for small coffee house gigs and home practice. For me, this is a fantastic at home amp that still inspires me to play through it.

  20. Glad I was able to help :D :D